The AR 6-8 model utilizes a project-based learning design to engage middle school students in a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to literacy. Each module revolves around a central theme, cleverly weaving STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) concepts into the exploration of literature. Students go beyond traditional reading comprehension by actively participating in hands-on projects that encourage critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration. The modules align with CTL’s Postsecondary Success Skills model, as well as incorporating Science and Engineering practices found in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), equipping students with the necessary tools to thrive in their future academic endeavors. Through AR 6-8, students develop not only their literacy skills but also gain valuable scientific and technical expertise, all while fostering a love of learning.

Sample 6-8 Modules

Imagine a classroom filled with vibrant student-created art, including mandalas and miniature treehouse models, reflecting their interpretation of the story. Students actively engaged in discussions about how the environment effects us, and planning collaborative projects that have students working with a local agricultural extension agent to have trees planted in the community.

Lessons include;

In the Treehouse Tinkering lesson, students imagine and design a treehouse as the central feature of a park, drawing it to scale and constructing miniature models with available materials. This hands-on activity fosters creativity, problem-solving, and spatial awareness, while engaging students in a collaborative and imaginative experience.

In the Mandala Leaf Prints lesson, students analyze and draw mandalas, reflecting on their visual and emotional responses to the designs. They then create their own mandalas on paper leaves using concentric circles and shapes, fostering creativity and mindfulness .

Up in the leaves

Pink is for Blobfish

Imagine students engaging in creating their own pink-themed infographics, analyzing pink objects for a Wunderkammer display, and constructing collaborative art projects inspired by pink animals. In preparation, they would participate in a Socratic Seminar about color theory and its emotional impact in order to incorporate these insights into their creative expressions and presentations.

Lessons Include:

In the Made Ya Look! lesson, students explore book covers to understand design elements such as layout structure, compelling images, typography, and color palette. They then select a nonfiction book cover that interests them, analyze it using these design elements, and provide a rationale for their choice.

In the Tickled Pink lesson, students bring in pink items to create a Wunderkammer display (a curated collection of unique and intriguing items that reflect a specific theme or interest), applying their knowledge of pink color theory to their chosen objects. They then write and share curator comments about their items, discussing similarities and categorizing the objects with peers .

How AR: 6-8 Addresses Needs

Interdisciplinary connections:

The AR: 6-8 modules integrate literature with other subjects, such as STEM, to enhance students’ understanding and engagement. For example, the “Pink is for Blobfish” module incorporates color theory and emotional impact discussions alongside literary analysis, fostering a holistic learning experience​

Creative Expression and Critical Thinking

Students are encouraged to engage in creative projects that require critical thinking and problem-solving. In “Up in the Leaves,” students design and build miniature treehouses, applying engineering principles and artistic creativity. This hands-on approach promotes deeper comprehension and retention of the material

Postsecondary Skills Development

The modules support the development of postsecondary success skills through a blend of  tested literacy and arts-integration strategies. These modules encourage multiple skills, including critical thinking, creativity, and effective communication, which are essential for future academic and career success. Students engage in detailed observation and reflective writing tasks, which enhance their analytical and expressive abilities​. Other modules include active learning that  involves collaborative projects and research-based writing, fostering teamwork, research skills, and the ability to synthesize information from multiple sources​.

Social-Emotional Development

AR: K-5 encourages and supports students in expressing and talking about their emotions. Students engage in discussing quotes and connecting them to personal experiences, fostering an environment where they can articulate their thoughts and feelings openly​. During collaborative projects, students are asked to respond to reflective questions that prompt them to consider and share their emotional responses to the texts as well as their own creations​. Through these guided discussions, writing tasks, and creative projects, students learn to identify, articulate, and reflect on their emotions, enhancing their emotional literacy.