Sixth-Eighth Grade Language Arts - S.T.E.M.

“We are not what we know but what we are willing to learn.” – Mary Catherine Bateson, Writer and Cultural Anthropologist



Our Language Arts teachers often incorporate S.T.E.M. in their classrooms through project-based learning.  

The ELA standards for Tennessee are designed to prepare students with the most important knowledge and 21st century literacy skills necessary to succeed in post-secondary and workforce arenas. The standards emphasize critical and divergent thinking, problem solving, active listening, recognition of patterns and anomalies, and evaluation and questioning of source material, skills all integrated with S.T.E.M..  It is an integrated approach to science and literacy that increases engagement and anchors literacy instruction with fictional narrative and informational texts.  

Learning beyond the book

At the start of the school year, each grade level at CMS decided to use one book for the entire grade level to read.  Not every students is able to imagine and picture in their heads the plot changes, scenery, and characters as they are described.  Some need to touch it, feel it, experience it first hand.  By incorporating many hands on STEM challenges throughout these novel studies, student were better able to observe a physical manifestation of part of the story and understand it on a deeper level.  


The entire sixth grade read C.S. Lewis' fantasy novel, "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe".  In the story another world is developed, visualized and analyzed through its passages.  It is a world of snowy bleak winters that yearns for spring.  Reading and listening to stories with a STEM theme is an effective way to build literacy skills while learning STEM content and cultivating dispositions of science.  Students examined in depth the author's intent.  Inquiry experiences, and grasping science concepts they explored the strange creatures and their revolution to overthrow the forces of evil, using the very same STEM thinking strategies such as observing, classifying, inferring, predicting, and communicating.


The entire seventh grade read the first book, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.  In it Harry Potter learns on his eleventh birthday that he is the orphaned son of two powerful wizards and possesses unique magical powers of his own.  From potions to inventions unknown to the Muggle World, students learned concepts such as Point of View, Character Analysis, Figurative Language, Plot, and Theme. They were able to write, re-read, analyze, work in teams, draw, seek evidence, and practice many more priceless skills through the activities.


The entire eighth grade read the first book, "The Lightning Thief" of the Percy Jackson and the Olympian series by Rick Riordan.  In it Percy Jackson finds that he is on the most dangerous quest of his life.  He "must journey across the United States to catch a thief who has stolen the original weapon of mass destruction -- Zeus' master bolt.  Along the way, he must face a host of [Ancient Greek] mythological enemies determined to stop him."  There's elements of betrayal and redemption as Percy learns of his true powers and his past.


Classrooms of eighth grade ELA students at Cleveland Middle School have done a project based on the Holocaust. The lesson, taught by Angela Wright and Cana Kirksey, is titled, “Reading, Research and Remembrance: A Presentation and Living Timeline of the Holocaust.” It is intended to “open the eyes of students who do not quite understand the impact that the Holocaust brought to cultures around the world,” states Jake Pelley, a student taking part in the project. 

Field trip to theJewish Cultural Center to Research more on the Holocaust 

8th Grade Student Ambassadors traveled to Whitwell Middle School and the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga to continue Holocaust Education. These students will be returning to their classrooms to teach what they have learned themselves.


Project Based Learning (PBL) is a constructivist instructional approach where students are engaged in meaningful inquiry of personal interest to them and where collaboration and personalized learning are emphasized. Research confirms that PBL is an effective and enjoyable way to learn and develop deeper learning competencies required for success in college, career and civic life.




Cleveland Middle School

S.T.E.M. Team

© 2020-2021 by G.M. Dyrek

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