December 2020: Featured Lessons – Grades 6-8 ELA/Social Studies

Check out December’s featured resources – seasonal lessons, subject area content, and some of our staff favorites too! 

Hackathon Part 1

Grade(s): 6, 7, 8

Subject(s): Math, ELA, Science

Learning to code is something everyone can do. This project makes use of resources published for the Hour of Code and organizes them into a “hackathon” for upper elementary or middle school students. Resources are easily followed and the teacher can learn with the students in a collaborative environment.

The project uses the Rank and Reason Tool and video to kickoff and engages students at the Wannabe level. Students can then move through tasks at the Junior Coder level, Code Monkey level, and finally Hacker Level – reflecting on their learning as they go.

Marketing Madness

Grade(s): 8

Subject(s): ELA

In Marketing Madness, students use their favorite food or beverage to practice argument reading and writing in a real world context. As marketing analysts, for a food or beverage company, they have to write a marketing proposal to decide which country to expand into with their product. They read other marketing proposals and analyze data about consumption internationally, before deciding on a country to expand into and justifying their decision. They have to meet with their team to come to agreements, before writing their final marketing proposal. The task ends with the opportunity to develop argument writing in several ways.
This performance task has editions for 6 foods and beverages, including milk, bottled water, and chocolate.

The Six Tasks of Mesopotamia

Grade(s): 6

Subject(s): ELA, Social Studies

The Six Tasks of Mesopotamia will begin your journey with the geography and culture of this ancient land between two rivers. The Mesopotamians left a significant record of their lives and the development of their civilization for us to interpret and appreciate.

From the study of Hammurabi to cuneiform writing, to a biography or memoir of a significant Mesopotamian and appreciation for the geography, the six tasks will open your eyes to the contributions of its people.

Exploring Maps

Grade(s): 6, 7, 8

Subject(s): Math, ELA, Social Studies

In this activity, students have the opportunity to explore different ways that maps can communicate information. They will explore different interactive maps and see the power of this type of technology for learning and understanding information.

Language Arts standards about listening and speaking as well as integrating visual information are addressed in this activity. Students will also utilize math skills to redraw an existing map of the Quadrilateral Union (a made up country) based on data about each state.

Shopping Spree

Grade(s): 6

Subject(s): ELA

In Shopping Spree, students use real information on their favorite store to practice argument reading and writing in a real world context. As shoppers, they have to put together an argument to win a contest for a $50 store credit. They review information on the store and examples of argument writing and plan out their own claim, reasons and evidence. They then meet with their friends to practice convincing the store they deserve to win, before writing their final contest application. The task ends with the opportunity to develop argument writing in several different ways.

This performance task has editions for 9 stores, including Aeropostale, Justice & Brothers, and H&M.

World History Museum

Grade(s): 6, 7

Subject(s): ELA, Social Studies

World History Museum can be effectively repeated during the year as students move through their study of world history. As historians, students will investigate artifacts found in the civilizations and eras they visit. Each time their work will be displayed in a school museum gallery. Just as active history museums do, student historians will also create a styled information card or a write a blog to be placed with their artifact for visitor education.

At the first stop on their journey, they will investigate an electronic artifact; at the second stop, they will replicate and investigate an artifact; and at the third stop, they will either replicate or use an electronic version, but they will investigate scientific inventions.

Annotating Poetry – Phenomenal Woman

Grade(s): 8

Subject(s): ELA, Social Studies

Poetry can seem complicated because the form and language used are so different from the way we normally communicate. Yet, when the code of poetry is unlocked, we find that the poet has a message for the reader and this message is open to interpretation.

Unlocking a poem’s code through annotation of key words, identification of form, and making margin notes can bring a poem to life and make clearer the author’s intent and message to the reader.

This lesson will instruct students on how to annotate a poem using Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou so that they can come to a valid and supported conclusion as to what the poem means. In this lesson, students will learn to note key words, identify form, and make marginal notes (annotations) to assist in understanding the poem.

Be sure to check out all our 6-8 ELA/Social Studies content here.