Welcome to the Sixth Grade!

This document is intended to outline the academic goals for the sixth grade, identify some of the primary resources that are used to instruct your child, the duration and frequency of instruction, and the outcomes that are targeted to be developed by the end of the year.

We recognize that students learn at differentpaces and occasionally in developmental “spurts”. With this in mind we focus on each child’s individual progress. This progress is monitored through periodic skills assessments, teacher observations and classroom assessments (an inventory of these assessments is available if you are interested). Instruction is regularly augmented by the classroom teacher, differentiation teachers and, if necessary Special Education teachers, for students that would benefit from additional instruction.

We hope that this document adequately introduces you to what you can expect over the next 10 months, but does not replace the opportunity to discuss with you directly the specific questions you might have in greater detail and specificity.

Sixth grade follows the Math Thematics series, which engages students in learning by using a thematic approach that connects mathematical concepts to real-world applications and students’ interests. Students engage in active learning as they explore, model, and communicate mathematical ideas using a variety of tools with partners and in small groups. The class meets six times per week: five times for 50 minutes and once for 45. The essential skills for sixth grade are based on the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) focal points.
Our goal is that students exiting sixth grade will be able to
  • Classify and compare numbers
  • Add, subtract, multiply, and divide whole numbers, decimals, and fractions
  • Analyze sequences and write equations
  • Understand prime factorization and powers of numbers
  • Work with ratios and rates
  • Solve basic proportion problems
  • Relate fractions, decimals, and percents
  • Work with experimental and theoretical probability
  • Classify angles, polygons, and three-dimensional objects
  • Work with similar figures
  • Solve problems involving perimeter and area of polygons and circumference of circles
  • Choose appropriate averages
  • Work with plots and graphs to analyze data
  • Apply the four steps of problem-solving in a variety of contexts

The essential skills of sixth grade mathematics are
  • Developing an understanding of and fluency with multiplication and division of fractions and decimals
  • Connecting ratio and rate to multiplication and division
  • Writing, interpreting, and using mathematical expressions and equations

Sixth graders explore literature and its relationship to world history, diverse cultures, and society. Class meets five days a week for two 45-minute sessions and three times a week for 90-minute blocks. Students gain an understanding of the importance of reading and writing in their individual lives and develop spelling, vocabulary, mechanics, and grammar skills. Students read books of their choice as well as required whole-class literature, including short stories and novels such as Ray Bradbury’s “The Pedestrian,” Yoshiko Uchida’s “The Bracelet,” Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting, Lois Lowry’s The Giver, and Mildred D. Taylor’s Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry. Students are expected to read for 30 minutes each night and record their progress. The writing curriculum focuses on the development of both creative and expository writing skills. Students become familiar with the writing process and foster an appreciation for writing as they maintain a year-long writing notebook and portfolio.

Some of the “essential questions” explored in sixth grade language arts include:

  • Why do people read? 
  • What happens when two cultures or distinct groups of people meet?
  • What can we learn about history from reading fiction?
  • How do good readers make meaning from what they have read?
  • How do good writers express themselves?
  • How can people connect what they have read to broader world concepts and issues?
I: Reading Strategies/Comprehension/Exploring Reading Identities

II: Story Elements:
  • Plot Structure
  • Characterization
  • Setting
  • Theme
  • Author’s Craft
  • Introduction to Figurative Language

III: Spelling/Vocabulary

  • “An Integrated Approach for Middle School”: Weekly Lessons
  • Vocabulary acquisition through use of context clues and dictionary skills, mnemonic devices, and application

IV: Writing Workshop

  • Memoirs and autobiographical writing
  • Narratives
  • Persuasive Essays
  • Writing to inform
  • Poetry
  • Letter Writing

Our goal is that students exiting sixth grade will be able to:

  • Understand and accurately apply content knowledge
  • Connect experiences/conditions outside of the classroom to knowledge and concepts studied within the classroom
  • Recognize the role of context, perspective, fact, and opinion in critical thinking
  • Organize information in order to present it in a logical progression
  • Adapt presentation of information to specific audiences
  • Seek and incorporate feedback as part of the revision process
  • Effectively convey their thoughts, feelings, and perspectives
  • Apply knowledge across academic disciplines
  • Use a breadth of vocabulary and proper grammar to communicate meaning effectively

The Sixth Grade Science program follows a general science curriculum and uses the Scott Foresman Science, sixth grade edition, text . Life science, physical science, and earth science topics are explored. Classes meet four and a half periods a week. Homework is assigned four nights a week and occasionally on weekends. Grades are based on 30% homework and classwork, 35% labs, and 35% exams.Topics covered include:
  • Activities of cells
  • Activities of flowering plants
  • Life in the ocean
  • Change over time
  • How living things interact
  • Elements and compounds
  • Chemical and nuclear change
  • Light, sound, electrical energy
  • Beyond the solar system
  • Weather and climate
  • The school science fair

Essential skills covered in the class:

  • Use of appropriate tools to make scientific measurements
  • Making accurate observations
  • Design and performing of experiments using the scientific process
  • Use of classification methods to identify organisms
  • Analysis and description of systems
  • Use of models to represent structures and concepts of living things
  • Understanding of the relationship of the structure and function of organs/organelles in living things
  • Working effectively in groups toward a common goal

The Sixth Grade Social Studies curriculum focuses on American history from the pre-Columbian era through the end of the Civil War. We use the series A History of US by Joy Hakim, which presents historical information, strategies, and techniques for interactive learning through team and individual student activities. The program is designed to promote sound historical reasoning and thinking skills, extend students’ reading and writing skills, and contribute to character education. Our class meets for four 50 minutes classes and one 45 minute class each week. Students should expect to work for fifteen to twenty minutes on assignments outside of the classroom several times a week.

Our goal is that students exiting sixth grade will be able to
  • Extract pertinent information from a variety of print resources and use it purposefully
  • Write a well developed essay response to questions
  • Apply the tools of the historian in their learning

The Sixth Grade French curriculum begins the first formal instruction of this language. The students have textbooks and begin learning how to conjugate verbs and construct sentences. Students practice their speaking skills in a variety of activities. We use the textbook series Discovering French Bleu, which is coordinated with DVD and CD resources. These valuable resources present and enable practice of vocabulary and grammar in authentic cultural contexts. The sixth grade French class meets two days a week for 50 minutes, and one day each week for 45 minutes. Homework can be expected at least one night a week.Our goals are to
  • Build skills for more accurate communication
  • Increase confidence in reading, writing, and speaking French
  • Offer real-world activities that promote cultural awareness

Our goal is that students exiting sixth grade will have developed or be developing the ability to

  • Use appropriate linguistic tools to enhance communication
  • Use a breadth of vocabulary and proper French grammar to communicate effectively
  • Confirm their understanding and seek clarification of areas of uncertainty

In sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade classroom settings, as appropriate with grade level and developmental expectations, students should be working to develop and/or displaying the ability to:
  • Participate respectfully in class
  • Work independently
  • Complete homework as required
  • Articulate and share their ideas
  • Recognize available resources
  • Develop effective/efficient written communication skills
  • Self advocate
  • Shift focus from product to process
  • Allow group contributions to move from teacher directed to self-directed
  • Experiment with learning styles to develop effective study skills