Jim Murphy, The Great Fire - Grade 6


The Great Fire by Jim Murphy provides the text for a study of the Chicago fire of 1871. The plan is designed as a close reading activity so that all learners have the same background information require for writing. Richly detailed, the plan also includes photographs of Chicago, historic and contemporary articles, and directions for an argumentative writing assignment. A great resource.

Resource Details

Instructional Design
Choral Response
3 days

Paragraph Writing, Part 1: How Esperanza Responds on the Train (Revisiting Chapter 5: "Las Guayabas/Guavas")

When your class members have completed the novel Esperanza Rising, they will be ready to write an expository essay on how Esperanza responds to events and what this says about her character. Set your pupils up for success by starting out with text-dependent questions about the chapter that will be the focus of their writing, in this case chapter five. Then, using the provided graphic organizer, lead them through planning and writing a paragraph that uses evidence effectively. For homework, have them do the same process on their own. A strong scaffolded writing lesson.

Everyone Can Write Poetry

Embark on a journey of writing several different types of poetry. Fifth graders read several examples, and use the examples to model their own writing. Each poem is to be accompanied by a different art visual representation. In the end, each young poet produces his or her own poetry books for evaluation.

Lesson Plan 3: Great Book, Gross Book

It's time for your scholars to become book reviewers! Start with a fun review of foods: are they good or gross? Learners apply these evaluation techniques to books, recording their thoughts on large pieces of butcher paper. Simply have them recall books they have read recently, marking down reasons they were good or gross. Learners work independently using a worksheet, and then compare their lists with others. Part of a large writing series, the worksheet can easily be found online.

Paragraph Writing, Part II

Come up with a list of requirements for this expository essay on Esperanza's character in Esperanza Rising as a class and use the list to guide class writing. Here, learners will complete the first paragraph, discuss their notes for the second paragraph, and then compose the second paragraph. Instead of think-pair-share, have your class members ink-pair-share as they write! They will write a few sentences, and then share will their small groups for feedback. The writing they do will be used during a final assessment for the unit.

Rubrics for Assessing Student Writing, Listening, and Speaking Middle School

This is a fantastic collection of a wide variety of rubrics for writing, listening, and speaking! The resource contains over 14 rubrics for assessing such items as a summary, autobiographical sketch and narrative, speech, oral report, short story, and much more.

The Great Chicago Fire: Did Mrs. O'Leary's Cow Really Cause It?

Students research the Great Chicago Fire and its myths on how it started. They use their critical thinking skills to determine what really happened. They write an essay supporting their opinion on the fire.

The Great Chicago Fire Survivors

Students compare and contrast the experiences of two survivors of the Great Fire of Chicago using a Venn Diagram.

Worth the Risk?

Students explore the reasons people have chosen to live near Colorado's Pike National Park despite the common occurrence of forest fires. Then, they explore the drawbacks and benefits of living in other high-risk areas.

The Great Fire Chapter 6: The Ghost of Chicago

In this reading comprehension worksheet, students answer 10 multiple choice questions that pertain to chapter 6 of The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard.

How to Write a Movie Review from a Pet's Perspective

When would two paws up denote a blockbuster film in your classroom? Only when young writers create movie reviews from a pet's perspective in this imaginative expository writing practice. This engaging topic begins with a class discussion to brainstorm and list the criteria for a good movie. The procedure follows with the reading of a model pet movie review of a fictional remake of Goldilocks and the Three Bears by two off-beat iguanas, Eggbert and Delbert, from the workbook Lights, Camera, Woof! Writing for Pet Entertainment Television.  Precise language, supporting evidence, a strong voice, and ability to persuade are targeted skills developed through pre-writing questions. Shared responses in both human and pet voices provide a platform for drafting teacher models that can be reviewed with the included criteria chart. Finish with a class assessment that uses close-reading strategies by highlighting effective text elements. While written primarily for use by middle school students, the activity can be adapted to younger grades by making expectations developmentally appropriate. 

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