Sixth Grade Curriculum
Design & Engineering
Students are introduced to the basics of the Engineering Design Process (EDP), computer coding, computer aided design (CAD), and fabrication. Most of these topics are presented within the context of Robotics. The EDP includes team collaboration, problem solving, evaluation, and iteration. Students will construct robots and then program the robots to perform specific tasks. Students are introduced to elementary CAD and design projects that are 3D printed or fabricated using other maker-space tools.
Students in sixth-grade English build skills that include reading comprehension, responding to and developing opinions, and knowing the parts of speech and proper punctuation. They create standard paragraphs and write in genres that include literary analysis, narrative, persuasion, exposition, and poetry. Units of study include short stories, mythology, poetry, and historical fiction. All units have experiential elements, including field trips, public speaking, and multimedia capstone projects.
Sixth-grade geography is designed to introduce a globally literate student with the critical thinking skills to analyze information and statistics and use this information to make informed decisions about world events and issues. During the course of the year, students will learn about how physical and human geography inform each other. In a survey study of each continent, students will focus in on particular cultures in order to make connections and learn to solve problems using geographic skills. Experiential lessons include world map drawing, Map Master, done-in-a-day projects, global conversations via Skype, and field trips.
There are two sections of sixth grade math: Math 6 (Fundamentals) and Pre-Algebra. Appropriate placement for these classes will be decided upon review of the student’s academic records.
The goals of Math 6 include understanding and accurately applying concepts of arithmetic; using quantitative reasoning to understand the world; preparing for success in future math courses; and, becoming inspired to study mathematics further. Students will investigate prime numbers, positive and negative numbers, integers, coordinate planes, ratios, measurement, angles, metrics, and probability, among other lessons. Experiential projects throughout the year may include making cardboard models of fractions, measuring liquids to learn operations with fractions, applying Cartesian coordinates on an outdoor grid, using tiles and blocks to understand factoring, exponents and measurement, and discovering capabilities of calculators.
Pre-Algebra introduces students to explorations in algebraic thinking and concepts, and working with algebraic symbols. These early experiences are foundational for their later formal studies in algebra. Students study topics including proportions, rational number relationships, probability, topics in geometry, and learn to use functions, sequences, graphs and tables to represent linear relationships. They learn to appreciate math both as a collection of skills and as a field of discovery and invention, and they explore the connections between the procedures and the concepts. Experiential programs in Pre-Algebra include a celebration on Pi Day, linear function labs predicting the rebound of golf balls and the height of stacked cups, predicting the population of fish in a lake, and gumdrop geometry.
The focus of sixth-grade science is threefold—environmental science, human biology, and physical science. The year’s lessons are experiential by nature, with hands-on experiments, field trips, and group projects. Students begin the year preparing for their trip to Catalina Island, then move to studying plankton tows, turbidity, salinity, and other water chemistry measurements. Utilizing the nearby beaches, students examine the local sandy beach wrack community, complete a sand grain analysis, and learn about beach profile mapping. Shore bird identification and a bird beak adaptation lab complete environmental studies before students shift to human biology, where they create anatomy modeling projects, and models of the human heart and great vessels. Physical science is explored through labs illustrating Newton’s three Laws of Motion.
Students continue to build their typing skills, while also learning to utilize digital formats for organization and how to apply strategies for identifying and solving routine hardware and software problems. In collaboration with other classes, students utilize the Internet for research, citations, and communication. Applications widely used include iMovie, PhotoShop, and Google applications that include Drive, Calendar, and Sheets. Digital citizenship and responsible use lessons that focus on digital media, online presence, and gender stereotypes are also covered.
Sixth-grade library classes focus on study skills that include, but are not limited to, note taking, time management, and reading for information. Students are also introduced to digital and media literacy, appropriate laptop care and usage, and advanced research and works cited instruction using print and digital materials. Students are also encouraged to continue a love of books and reading through engaging discussions.
Performing Arts introduces students to a variety of theatre arts and musical skills. Students will learn to use their bodies, voices, movement, and more to develop their performing arts skills. They will participate in character building, improvisation, scene work, monologue work, song writing, rhythm and tempo and Greek Chorus technique. Students are also encouraged to participate in the Music Hour, the Upper School Musical, and Vibes (marimba & percussion musical club), as well as join the year-round Technical Theater Crew. Tech theater is a great opportunity for students to learn about the behind-the-scenes world of theater as they help run daily Assemblies, as well as several full-scale productions for the Lower and Upper School students.
The purpose of the sixth-grade physical education program is to contribute to the preparation of the student for a life of physical wellbeing. The program will enhance the student’s sense of self, and develop their understanding of many sports. Teachers motivate each student to choose a lifestyle that is active, healthy, and meaningful, working with them to develop their personal and social skills by encouraging positive attitudes and values in their interaction with others. They will develop a variety of basic movement and manipulative skills so they experience success and feel comfortable during present and future physical pursuits. Units focus on learning basic skills and the rules of play in flag football, volleyball, soccer, basketball, ultimate frisbee, softball, hockey, and track and field. They will also demonstrate and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical fitness with testing through the Presidential Fitness guidelines.
Seminar: Character Education
The first few Seminar meetings focus on the transition sixth-grade students have made from self-contained classrooms in elementary school to the departmentalized set-up of middle school, as well as preparation both socially and emotionally for the class trip to Catalina. Other topics include: building supportive relationships with peers, making good decisions when faced with peer pressure, and understanding and addressing the various roles involved in bullying. Learning strategies and study skills are also addressed.
The goals of the Spanish program are to provide opportunities to listen, read, write, and speak in the target language and to foster an appreciation of Spanish-speaking communities, locally and globally. We use the Five C’s of the National Standards for Foreign Language Education as guiding principles at all levels of the program: communication, cultures, connections, comparisons and communities. In sixth grade, students study ser and estar, present progressive, and descriptive adjectives, among other concepts and vocabulary. Experiential opportunities include decorating sugar skulls, authoring and illustrating children’s books, and organizing a Peru and Inca themed feast.
Sixth-grade student art curriculum focuses on “Art Around the World.” Students will study the crafts and cultural traditions of peoples from around the world, which includes learning about how arts and crafts relate to spirituality, identity, functionality, and cultural traditions. Students will also learn how art serves as a different perspective on history. Studio skills learned include development of fine motor skills through weaving, metal tooling, clay, fiber arts, and printmaking, as well as a growing independence in the art studio. Artists will also be introduced to critique.