In this transitional year, students are expected to be more personally responsible for time management and self-advocacy. They are supported by their teachers who help them move from concrete to abstract thinking.
All sixth graders also take Transitions, which teaches essential study skills and supports sixth graders in all areas leading to student success. They learn how to organize, plan, and prepare their schedules with regard to navigating homework, co-curricular commitments, and the life of the school day.
Building community is a primary focus in the sixth grade. Students are developing critical thinking skills and habits of the mind. Teachers facilitate the growth of each student’s abstract thinking and logical reasoning Skills like empathy, team-building, and inclusion are accomplished through grade level retreats, meetings, classes, and trips. ability. This takes place in all aspects of the sixth grade experience, including experiential activities like Surgery Day, where hospital personnel bring authentic surgical equipment and materials to the classroom to give students hands-on practice with various medical and surgical techniques.
Sixth graders rotate through woodshop, drama, studio art, and music during the academic year so that they can gain a wide appreciation for the different art forms.
- How can I manipulate sound, vibration, and silence?
- How does my body respond to music, sound, and silence?
- Why do people tell and listen to stories?
- How do we use physicality (bodies and facial expressions) to communicate a character?
- How do art/artists make artifacts that best reflect cultural values?
Woodshop: Students use hand and power tools to construct and finish wooden boxes with rabbet joints. Along with joinery, students learn shop etiquette and safety, practice measuring and layout, and develop basic skills in finishing techniques and using essential hand tools. Later in the year, students carve spoons or other small objects with a knife and gouge, introducing students to tools and techniques that can be easily replicated at home without a specialized work space or expensive equipment.
Drama: This class is a dynamic and playful exploration of theatrical storytelling and welcomes students at all levels of experience and interests. Students study basic acting and theater skills, including improvisation, puppetry, mask work, and mime. The work culminates in students writing an original play and performing it for an audience.
Studio Art: The focus is "problem solving" using different mediums, including A4 printer paper, colored construction paper, green foam, and clay. Students learn how to use tools, such as exacto knives, rubber cement, scissors, drawing pencils, erasers, and carving tools to create original art in the studio. Students engage in beginning, middle, and final critiques, as well as artist statements for each completed original artwork. Students also document their artwork for future reference.
Music: Students apply elemental form to melodic and rhythmic concepts, and explore these concepts through percussion instruments, ukuleles, and garage band composition on iPads. In terms of movement, they define levels and body leading to help them understand the body as an artistic musical instrument and to increase their comfort level with movement. To build ensemble skills, students work on pentatonic-based pieces. Students discuss musicological concepts, such as lyrical text painting, tempo, and form so that they can be applied to music experiences outside the classroom
Understanding their identity, applying advocacy, and learning to be an upstanding citizen are important parts of the sixth grade. The annual developmental theme revolves around “protest and advocacy” and the curricular features are expository texts, plays, and narrative voice.
- Who has voice? Who is muted?
- What are contributing factors to having voice or being voiceless?
- How do you give voice to those without it? Is it the role of those who are heard to help those who are not?
- Do people have an obligation to help give voice to all communities? Does giving voice to others diminish the power of those who have it?
Students read three major texts in various genres and three texts in the literature circle format, meaning that students in small groups choose their own reading materials, set their own reading calendars, engage in small group discussions, and present a group project.
As writers, students produce poems, stories, and essays, taking all major pieces through the writing workshop process: pre-writing, drafting, peer responding, revising, proofreading, and publishing. At the end of the year, each student produces a Google Site that will highlight a protest movement of their choice.
- Creating and delivering a TedTalk
- Creating their own book
The transition from 5th grade to Middle School is an ideal time for students to learn about managing stress. The developmental theme is “changes,” and the curricular feature is independent learning.
- What am I doing to stay well?
- How do I take care of my changing body?
- How do I make healthy choices around substances?
There are two primary objectives: developing strategies and resources for wellness and understanding the impact of media, including the dangers of social media and inaccurate information, as this is a time when student use of technology increases.
Students will learn about media balance by evaluating their digital footprint and digital citizenship. Topics covered include media impacts on our brains, extensive data sharing, privacy, cyberbullying, and responding to hate speech online. Through activities, demos, videos, and group/class discussions, students will explore how these concepts and philosophies apply to their own life. Students will be encouraged to think and act from a place of thoughtful interactions and decision making through understanding the effect it can make on their lives.
Students also focus on better understanding themselves and others. This includes taking care of changing bodies, learning about the impact of dopamine on the brain, recognizing nicotine products and their impact on the systems of the body, understanding reproduction, conceptualizing gender differences, LGBTQ orientation, and gender fluidity. These topics provide a starting point for discussion about bullying and teasing, and recognizing discrimination and harassment.
Most students take the 6th Grade Math course, which is designed to integrate a prior foundation of number sense and basic operations with more complex calculations and problem-solving.
- Introductory statistics and probability
- Understanding of and operations with integers
- Order of operations including exponents and integers
- Integration and application of fractions, decimals, and percent
- Understanding of ratios and proportional reasoning
- The use of basic algebraic expressions and equations
Students gain proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The developmental theme is “increasing students’ independence in accessing resources and identifying strategies for linguistic growth.” The curricular feature is the influence of culture and/or religion in a language.
- Who will I become as a learner?
- How do I develop self-awareness?
- How do I build language proficiency?
- How can knowledge of language and culture influence my life goals?
The focus is on learning the structure of the language and practical vocabulary words that are relevant and meaningful to personal and school life. As much of the instruction as possible is in the target language. Teachers partner with students to instruct in best learning strategies, then experiment and refine them.
By the end of the year students will be skilled at using rote memorization and formulaic expressions to communicate and will have increased their understanding of linguistic comparison.
Sixth graders are exposed to basic skills and strategies needed to participate more fully in games and activities and with greater success and self-confidence.
- What does it mean to be physically fit?
- How does my fitness level impact my success in a variety of activities/sports?
All aspects of PE are experiential, as it involves kinesthetic learning, or learning by doing. Examples include throwing and catching in a variety of sports basic racquet skills (grip, body position, etc.), practice in body positioning and athletic stance.
The developmental theme is “engineering, technology, science, and society,” and the curricular features are Earth’s place in the universe; matter and its interactions; molecules to organisms: structures and processes; and engineering design.
- What is our place in the universe and what makes up our solar system?
- How does water make Earth ripe for life and influence weather and climate?
- What are the basic structures and functions of all living organisms?
Students model the Sun-Earth-Moon system to explain the cyclic patterns of moon phases, eclipses, tides, and seasons and to begin to formulate an understanding of gravity and how mass and distance between objects affect the gravitational force between them. They use models, demonstrations, and experiments to consider and explore a range of questions around what makes Earth most conducive for life.
After exploring the necessary conditions for there to be life, students delve into what life is itself. Students gain skills in microscopy, using what they know to make an argument backed by evidence, and engage in research into various cell types. Students further look at scale and proportions, down to the nano level.
- A class trip to observe patterns in the tides, moon, planets and constellations
- Collecting micrometeorites on campus and using microscopes to observe them
- Using the school campus to model the solar system to scale
- Making a sundial
- Using liquid nitrogen to explore the properties of phase change and energy transfer
- Making a thermos to minimize energy transfer in water
- Using a microscope to observe and identify protist, plant, and animal cells
Social Studies in the 6th grade explores the histories of our early human ancestors with special emphasis on Africa, Asia, and the Americas before the Common Era (B.C.E.).
To assist students in their journey to the ancient past, this course applies the 8 Cornerstones of Complex Communities framework as an organizational tool and lens to focus our investigation. Archaeological evidence for this time period can be limited, yet it is expanding every year with new technologies and interpretations. Therefore, students are challenged to remain critical yet curious during their studies.
- Investigate primary and secondary sources that shape our current understanding of ancient history
- Identify additional perspectives and evidence needed to establish a more accurate, inclusive, and clearer understanding of early human communities
- Demonstrate your learning process, both individually and collaboratively, through a variety of creative and academic representations
- Identify historical events that inform your understanding of the world today
- Historian’s Toolkit: How and Why We Study the Past
- Identifying the 8 Cornerstones of Complex Communities: Early Africa, Asia, and the Americas
- End-of-Year Final Project: Build Your Own Complex Community
- Timekeeping Calendar Comparison Research Project
- The 8 CCCs & Me Photography Gallery
- Museum Walk
- Build Your Own Complex Community