6th Grade ELA Curriculum from EL Education

Each of the four modules in the Grade 6 curriculum is built around a fiction or nonfiction book that guides the learning and helps students connect to the module topic. These books act as portals, giving students access to the perspectives of diverse characters and to the academic challenges required for grade-level success.

The books selected for Grade 6 take students on a journey to a mythical training camp, the true story of a village in Malawi, a 1930s boarding school in Oklahoma, and the busy offices of NASA in the years before the moon landing. Despite the variety of their content, the central texts have this in common: rich, complex language; important and compelling themes; exciting plots with meaningful conflicts; and thoughtful characters or historical figures who, in their own ways, aim to be ethical people who contribute to a better world. By the end of the school year, through work with these books and related texts, students will be more effective, more strategic, and more joyful readers.

Module 1

Module 2

Module 3

Module 4


Greek Mythology

Critical Problems and Design Solutions

American Indian Boarding Schools

Remarkable Accomplishments in Space Science


Reading, Writing, and Speaking Grounded in Evidence

Researching to Build and Present Knowledge (Science)

Analyzing, Interpreting, and Evaluating Text

Researching to Write and Present Arguments


Students meet figures from ancient Greek mythology in The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan who are placed in a contemporary setting and evaluate how stories from a different time and place continue to resonate today.

Students read the true story of William Kamkwamba in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind and about how he used design thinking to confront the devastating effects of famine on his country, Malawi.

Through their reading of the historical fictional narrative Two Roads by Joseph Bruchac and several supplemental primary texts, students uncover an unacknowledged aspect of US history—the forced acculturation of American Indians through boarding schools.

Students learn about remarkable accomplishments in space science, specifically the accomplishments and people that may have gone overlooked. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly tells the story of the “West Computers,” the first black women hired by NASA whose talents helped land human beings on the moon.

Anchor Texts

The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan

Literature 680L; one per student


The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Young Readers Edition), William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

Informational 850L; one per student

Two Roads, Joseph Bruchac

Literature 740L; one per student

Hidden Figures (Young Readers’ Edition), Margot Lee Shetterly

Informational 1120L; one per student

Supporting Texts

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief (DVD), Chris Columbus (director) (Literature film)

 “Why Ancient Greek Mythology Is Still Relevant Today,” Geri Mlleff (Informational)

 Greek Myths: “Theseus and the Minotaur” (RL 870L),

“Cronus” (Literature 990L),

“Medusa” (Literature 1000L),

“Hestia” (Literature 870L),

“Prometheus” (Literature 1030L),

“Helios” (Literature 1170L)

TED Talk Transcript: William Kamkwamba, “How I Built a Windmill” (Informational)


“William Kamkwamba’s Electric Wind,” Cynthia Levinson (Informational 940L)

 “The Hippo Roller,” EL Education (Informational 1100L)

"The Land of Red Apples” (RI 1040L) and “The Cutting of My Long Hair” (Informational 900L), from American Indian Stories, Zitkala-Sa

The Problem of Indian Administration: Report of a Survey Made at the Request of Honorable Hubert Work, Secretary of the Interior, and Submitted to Him, February 21, 1928, Lewis Meriam (Informational)

“The Advantage of Mingling Indians with Whites,” Proceedings of the National Conference of Charities and Correction at the Nineteenth Annual Session Held in Denver, Col., June 23–29, 1892 (Informational)

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race, Margot Lee Shetterly and Laura Freeman (Informational 980L)


“Special Message to the Congress on Urgent National Needs,” President John F. Kennedy (Informational 1370L)


“This Is How the Space Race Changed the Great Power Rivalry Forever,” Martand Jha (Informational 1310L)


“Moon Dust and Black Disgust,” Booker Griffin (Informational 1190L)

Module Guiding Questions

Guiding Questions and Big Ideas for Module 1: Greek Mythology

What is mythology, and what is the value of studying mythology from other cultures?

  • A collection of stories featuring traditional figures that explain natural phenomena and convey the values of the culture.

  • Studying stories from other cultures introduces alternative perspectives and amplifies one's worldview.

Why have stories from Greek mythology remained popular?

  • They teach themes that are still relevant.

  • They contain figures whose attributes are valued across time.

  • They ask questions about the human condition.

  • They remain relatable because they can be reimagined to fit different environments and time periods.

How does point of view change with experience?

  • A narrator's or character's understanding of an experience changes depending on one's point of view.

  • Examining multiple points of view supports a more complex understanding of our own and others' choices and beliefs.

Guiding Questions and Big Ideas for Module 2: Critical Problems and Design Solutions

How can design thinking help solve a critical problem?

  • Design thinking is a scientific and systematic practice of inquiry that allows for creativity and innovation.

  • Design thinking requires scientists to identify and research problems, build prototypes, test and evaluate solutions, and redesign as needed.

What habits of character can help solve a critical problem to contribute to a better community?

  • Effective learners demonstrate perseverance when they research, build prototypes, reflect, and revise.

  • Ethical people contribute to a better world by applying their learning to help one's school, community, and the environment.

Guiding Questions and Big Ideas for Module 3: American Indian Boarding Schools

Why were American Indian boarding schools first established?

American Indian Boarding Schools were established to assimilate Native Americans into white American culture through education and erasure of Native American identity.

What kind of experiences did students have at American Indian boarding schools? How did these experiences impact students?

  • Students may have experienced forced aesthetic changes (e.g., their hair was cut and their clothes were changed), linguistic changes (e.g., they were not allowed to use their Native American languages), and identity changes (e.g., their names were changed).

  • Students may have experienced abuses or cruelty at the hands of the school's administration.

  • Students may have formed strong bonds with other students and exchanged tribal knowledge that actually strengthened their ties to their heritage (e.g., stomp dances, sweat lodges, language, oral tradition).

What factors influence our identities?

  • Our peers, our school, our families, and our experiences can affirm or threaten our identities.

  • Identities are dynamic and change in response to experience, awareness, and self-reflection.

  • Identities are complicated and conflicting, and tensions may exist among our different identities.

Guiding Questions and Big Ideas for Module 4: Remarkable Accomplishments in Space Science

What were the main events of the Space Race, and in what scientific, political, and social context did it take place?

  • The Space Race was an international competition of space exploration that began with the Soviet Union launching the Sputnik satellite and culminated with the United States sending the first human being to the moon in 1969.

  • Scientifically, sending a human being to the moon seemed an impossible undertaking that required deep understanding of many scientific phenomena (e.g., wind tunnels, supersonic flight, trajectories, advanced aircraft).

  • Politically, the United States and the Soviet Union were at odds, and the Space Race became a symbol of innovation and power.

  • Socially, the Space Race took place at a time of rampant discrimination against black Americans in the United States. At that time, women of all races were also generally excluded from well-paying jobs in math and science.

What were the accomplishments of the "hidden figures" at NACA, and why were they remarkable?

  • The West End Computers at NACA, or the hidden figures, impacted scientific progress by using their exceptional talents in math and science to advance key projects in space science.

  • The hidden figures impacted social progress by being the first black women to assume positions at NACA, which, like many institutions of the time, had long enforced discriminatory hiring policies.

  • The hidden figures used their personal strengths and professional talents to help themselves, their families, their communities, NACA, and the United States, thus contributing to a better world.

Why is it important to study the accomplishments of the "hidden figures" and of others whose stories have gone unrecognized?

  • Hidden figures are often "hidden" due to discrimination in the way history is written.

  • Our study of history is most accurate when we celebrate the contributions of all involved.

  • The accomplishments of hidden figures are remarkable, especially because they are achieved in the face of adversity.