Rules to Live By | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G6:M2A

Rules to Live By

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What are "rules to live by"? How do people formulate and use "rules" to improve their lives? How do people communicate these "rules" to others? In this module, students consider these questions as they read the novel Bud, Not Buddy, Steve Jobs' 2005 commencement address at Stanford University, President Barack Obama's Back-to-School Speech, "If" by Rudyard Kipling, and informational research texts.

At the start of Unit 1, students launch their study of Bud, Not Buddy, establishing a set of routines for thinking, writing, and talking about Bud's rules to live by. They read the novel closely for its figurative language and word choice, analyzing how these affect the tone and meaning of the text. In the second half of the unit, students engage in a close reading of the Steve Jobs speech, focusing on how Jobs develops his ideas at the paragraph, sentence, and word level. Students use details from the speech to develop claims about a larger theme. During Unit 2, students continue to explore the theme of "rules to live by" in the novel as well as through close reading of the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling. Students analyze how the structure of a poem contributes to its meaning and theme. In a mid-unit assessment, students compare and contrast how Bud, Not Buddy and "If" address a similar theme.

Unit 2 culminates with students writing a literary argument essay in which they establish a claim about how Bud uses his "rules": to survive or to thrive. Students substantiate their claim using specific text-based evidence including relevant details and direct quotations from the novel.

In Unit 3, students shift their focus to their own rules to live by and conduct a short research project. Students work in expert groups (research teams) to use multiple informational sources to research that topic. As a final performance task, students use their research to write an essay to inform about one important "rule to live by" supported with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, and examples. This performance task centers on ELA standards RI.6.1, RI.6.2, W.6.2, W.6.4, W.6.5, W.6.9, L.6.1 and L.6.2. 

Guiding Questions and Big Ideas

  • What are "rules to live by"?
  • How do people formulate and use "rules" to lead better lives?
  • How do people communicate these "rules" to others?
  • People develop "rules to live by" through their own life experience.
  • These "rules to live by" are communicated through a variety of literary modes.

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards. However, the module intentionally incorporates Social Studies and science content that may align to additional teaching during other parts of the day. These intentional connections are described below.

Social Studies Core Curriculum

Unifying Themes (pages 6-7)

  • Theme 1: Individual Development and Cultural Identity: The role of social, political, and cultural interactions supports the development of identity. Personal identity is a function of an individual's culture, time, place, geography, interaction with groups, influences from institutions, and lived experiences.
  • Theme 5: Development and Transformation of Social Structures: Role of social class, systems of stratification, social groups, and institutions. Role of gender, race, ethnicity, education, class, age, and religion in defining social structures within a culture. Social and political inequalities. Expansion and access of rights through concepts of justice and human rights.

Social Studies Practices, Grades 5-8:

  • Descriptor 4) Gathering, Using, and Interpreting Evidence
  • Descriptor 5) The Role of the Individual in Social and Political Participation

Texts and Resources to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
Bud, Not Buddy
by Christopher Paul Curtis
One per student
ISBN: 978-0440413288, 043940200X


Each module is approximately 8 weeks of instruction broken into 3 units. The "week at a glance" chart in the curriculum map gives the big picture, breaking down the module into a detailed week-by-week view. It shows how the module unfolds, the focus of each week of instruction, and where the six assessments and the performance task occur.

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