Ms. Gray 6-8th Grade ELA/GT

Welcome to the Gateway Program for ELA at YDMS


Recommended Summer Reading 2020 from LYRC

From the 2020-2021 Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice (LYRC)

6-8th Grade Nominated Title List

Tight by Torrey Maldonado

Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin), 2018, 192 pages, Hard Cover: 978-1524740559, $16.99/ Paperback:  978-1524740573, $7.99

Summary: After his quick-tempered father gets in a fight and is sent back to jail, sixth-grader Bryan, known for being quiet and thoughtful, snaps and follows new friend Mike into trouble.

Awards: A Washington Post Best Children’s Book of 2018

Accelerated Reader: IL: MG – BL: 3.9 – AR Pts: 5.0 AR Quiz No. 196890


 The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

Kokila (Penguin Books), 2018. 272 pages, Hard Cover: 978-0735228511, $16.99. Paperback: 978-0735228528, $8.99

Summary: Shy twelve-year-old Nisha, forced to flee her home with her Hindu family during the 1947 partition of India, tries to find her voice and make sense of the world falling apart around her by writing to her deceased Muslim mother in the pages of her diary.

Awards: A 2019 NEWBERY HONOR BOOK, A Walter Dean Myers Honor Winner, An ALA Notable Book, A Malka Penn Award Recipient, A New York Times Editor’s Choice Pick, A Junior Library Guild Selection, Named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, Kirkus Reviews, The New York Times, NPR, School Library Journal, and The Washington Post.

Accelerated Reader: IL: MG – BL: 4.5 – AR Pts: 8.0 AR Quiz No. 194398

The Storm Runner (Book 1) by J.C. Cervantes

Rick Riordan Presents, 2018. 448 pages, Hard Cover: 978-1368016346, $16.99. Paperback: 978-1368023603, $7.99 [13 y/o male protag, Maya mythology, people disabilities, fathers and son, Maya gods, southwest United States, Los Angeles, humor, adventure, Mexican Americans, for fans of Percy Jackson]

Summary: To prevent the Mayan gods from battling each other and destroying the world, thirteen-year-old Zane must unravel an ancient prophecy, stop an evil god, and discover how the physical disability that makes him reliant on a cane also connects him to his father and his ancestry.

Accelerated Reader: IL: MG – BL: 4.4 – AR Pts: 14.0 AR Quiz No. 197586




































Field Trip Photos

Ms. Gray’s Family


About Ms. Gray’s Classes

Instructional Goals

During our school year, we will explore language through reading and writing about both literary and informational text. At the end of this course, you will be able to read, understand, explain, and analyze increasingly complex texts; and further develop skills & understandings mastered in preceding grades.*

*from Louisiana Student Standards for ELA

Required Materials:

To experience daily success in this class, you will need to bring the following items:

  • current unit of study materials, such as novel and printed resources
  • binder (2 tabs for ELA: “handouts” & “vocabulary”)
  • a composition notebook
  • pens, pencils, & highlighters
  • loose leaf paper–lots and lots of paper
  • school planner or personal assignment book
  • a positive attitude and willingness to learn

  • Google Classroom –
  • Louisiana Department of Education website –
  • Youree Drive Middle School website –
  • Useful Apps(see your device’s app store)
    • Youree Drive App
    • Google Classroom & Drive & Docs & Slides
    • Remind
    • Kindle
    • Overdrive and Libby (public library apps)
    • Kahoot
    • Quizlet
    • Thinglink
    • Skitch
    • Phonto
    • Pic Collage
    • SimpleMind
    • SoundCloud
    • GeauxVote
    • Snapverter
    • PointsScanFree
    • EdPuzzle

Syllabus by Grade Levels

6th Grade Coursework

Please sign up for text and/or email messages about our class at by clicking here or sending @9c3bdc in a text message to the short code 81010.

1st Unit: Survival

Anchor Text: Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen

Students read literary and informational texts to understand how positive thinking, slowing down to think clearly, problem solving, and constant vigilance support survival in the face of grave danger and overwhelming odds. Students express their understanding of characters in literature by analyzing the struggle of man versus nature and the life lessons we can learn from others’ survival situations.

2nd Unit: Identity

Anchor Text: The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare

Students read to understand the influence of family expectations and religious values on the development of one’s personal identity. Students express their understanding of how informational texts in coordination with literary texts enhance their comprehension of time periods and the theme and setting of the novel.

3rd Unit: Overcoming Adversity

Anchor Text: Out of the Dust, by Karen Hesse

Students read to understand how people respond to adversity, the lessons that can be learned from hardship and failure, and what happens when we take good fortune for granted. Students express their understanding of the social and environmental issues farmers faced in the 1930s, noting how reading literary and informational texts enhances their understanding of the topic.

4th Unit: Perseverance

Anchor Text: Steve Jobs Commencement Address, Stanford University

Students read about the role of failure in success. Students understand that success takes hard work, deliberate practice, and the ability to learn from failures and persevere. They express their understanding by exploring how an author’s word choice, use of evidence, and selected organization reflect a text’s purpose and then by writing their own personal narrative based on the models.

7th Grade Coursework

Please sign up for text and/or email messages about our class at by clicking here or sending @bbfk2d in a text message to the short code 81010.

1st Unit: Utopian Society

Anchor Text: The Giver, by Lois Lowry (Students will also read several student selected companion novels.)

Students read dystopian literature and related informational texts to understand how individual perspectives are shaped by knowledge and memory and to determine whether perfection is worth the sacrifice. Students express their understanding by analyzing how a theme is developed through characters and their contrasting points of view and also comparing and contrasting the themes of similar texts.

2nd Unit: Impact of Literature on Society

Anchor Text: A Christmas Carol,by Charles Dickens

Students read literary and informational texts about the meaning and redemption found through selflessness and valuing people over material possessions. Students understand how writers use stories to teach us these lessons and how characters’ choices affect the plot and build the theme of a story. Students express their understanding by exploring how literature resonates with readers and has “staying power,” becoming a part of our language, culture, and moral code.

3rd Unit: American Civil War Society

Anchor Text: excerpts from Behind the Scenes, or 30 Years a Slave and 4 Years in the White House, by Elizabeth Keckley (This book is available at school and does not need to be purchased. We will also read several student selected companion novels.)

Students read literary and informational texts about the Civil War, a tumultuous period in our country’s history. Students understand that by examining different perspectives through various accounts, real and fictional, they can gain a deeper understanding of the time period and express their understanding through identifying and then comparing and contrasting different accounts of people, events, and ideas of the time.

4th Unit: How to Write a Memoir

We will read student-selected companion novels along with excerpts from several memoirs.

8th Grade Coursework

Please sign up for text and/or email messages about our class at by clicking here or texting @ck9kfg to the short code 81010.

1st Unit: IQ

Anchor Text: “Flowers for Algernon” short story by Daniel Keys; additional student-chosen companion texts

Students read literary and informational texts about knowledge and intelligence to understand what happens when humans try to manipulate the minds of others and how our understanding of intelligence has evolved over time. Students express their understanding of these ideas by exploring how authors draw on traditional stories and develop characters and themes to teach us about ourselves and others.

2nd Unit: Voice

Anchor Text: “The Tell Tale Heart” short story by Edgar Allen Poe; additional student-chosen companion texts 

Students read literary and informational texts to understand the role of the narrator and point of view. Students also understand how the narrative voice of a text can blur the line between fact and fiction. Students express their understanding through writing in different points of view and examining motives and bias in various media.

3rd Unit: Economy

Anchor Text: Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science, by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos

Students read informational texts about the historical significance of the sugar industry.

4th Unit: Holocaust

Anchor Text: Night, by Elie Wiesel; additional student-chosen companion texts

Students read texts focusing on the tolls of war on society – individuals and nations – and explore the potential of conflict to rob innocence while forging identity. Students will explore the human attempt to make sense of the tragedies of war by means of connecting to others, often through art. This unit can connect to Social Studies. The literary focus for this unit will be analysis of a drama.

Each unit is subject to change and modification, as necessary.

  • Tests and quizzes will be announced and posted in class and online.
  • Benchmark and progress achievement tests will not be announced and will be on-going throughout the year, culminating in the LEAP in April & May.

Policies and Procedures

General Rules:

Spartans are…

  • Prompt – This means you enter the classroom quietly, on time, and ready to learn.
  • Prepared – Have your materials ready, complete all assignments, and study for tests.
  • Polite – Always, always treat others with respect and kindness.

Grading Policies:

You will receive your grades from a variety of different sources:

class assignments                       projects          quizzes

homework assignments          tests                 daily bell ringer activity

Make-up & Late Work:

  • In accordance to CPSB policy, if you have an excused absence, you will receive three days to make-up your assignment(s) for full credit.
  • It is your responsibility to get the make-up work for the day(s) that you missed and turn it in.
  • Late work due to unexcused absences or student apathy will be accepted for partial credit of the original grade. The partial credit will be based upon type of assignment, point value, and date of submission.

Contact Information:

If you have any concerns throughout the year, please to contact me, via our text messages, e-mail at, or through the school office at 868-5324. You will receive notice at least 2 weeks prior to IEP meetings. To schedule a conference, please contact our counselors’ office at 364-3092.

“I tell my students,

‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that

if you are free, you need to free somebody else.

If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”

― Toni Morrison