6th Grade Language Arts

“Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion has no hold on the mind. Therefore do not use compulsion, but let education be rather a sort of amusement; this will better enable you to find out the natural bent of the child” — Plato

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” — Groucho Marx

Getting to know your new ELA class

Hello, my name’s Greg Cunningham and I’m the sixth grade ELA teacher.  I’m also a PK lifer – in fact, I grew up across the street in that beige house (1060). I’m little brother to PK grads Chip, Lynn (Balck), Bruce and Gary.


I’ve taught middle grades ELA at PK since 2000. I have a wife named Paula and two sons who both graduated from PK.


I’m really old and I know a lot about reading and literacy.   I also know a lot about FCATs old and new, Florida’s Standards, high-stakes testing and all that stuff. I spend most of my waking moments trying to figure out how to get kids’ literacy where it needs to be, without making everyone miserable. I don’t like miserable.


Daily Routine

Routine is good.  It doesn’t mean boring, it means knowing what to expect.  Routine reduces stress.  Sometimes there are awesome reasons to break from routine, and that’s ok.

  • Journaling, book club activities, and individual reading – about 40% of our time together. Every time we meet you will be spending some time alone silently reading whatever you want. Our individual conversations about your reading are just about the most important thing we’ll do.
  • ELA / PBL – about 40% of our time together. Completely my agenda – brain-stretchingly challenging texts, literary cannon, analytical essays. Literacy learning within the context of projects that actually change the world! Not to worry – remember, I don’t like miserable.
  • 20% Projects – about 20% of our time together (go figure). Monday’s are all about learning what you want – and communicating with the folks back home. Each semester you’ll present what you’ve learned.


Year-at-a-Glance:  Hydrosophy. Don’t feel bad if you don’t know that word – I made it up – English teachers get to do that. It means water wisdom. (Hydro = water and sophy = wisdom)Everybody needs to be wise about water – especially in Florida, and especially if you have an impacted, urban stream running through your school!



Mr. C’s Core beliefs:


I am honored to be associated with this school and your families. It is a privilege I take very seriously.  But just because the work we do is very, very important, it doesn’t have to hurt.


Around 380 BCE (even before I started teaching) the Greek philosopher Plato wisely wrote “Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion has no hold on the mind.  Therefore, do not use compulsion, but let education be rather a sort of amusement…”


And Alfred Mercier, a scholar of Creole literature from the late 1800s wrote “What we learn with pleasure we never forget.”


Later, John Dewey, the father of progressive education and inspiration for the 1934 founding of the PK Yonge Laboratory School wrote “Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.”


So, enjoying learning and learning-by-doing are very old and time-honored traditions whose time has come again.


Welcome to 6th grade.

Greg Cunningham Email: gcunningham@pky.ufl.edu Phone: 352.392.1554 x344