Building meaningful connections: self, other, the world at large
Four 40-minute and one 90-minute classes per week.
The Sixth Grade curriculum is organized into six mathematical content strands that cover a number of skills and concepts. Attention is paid to numeration and computation without neglecting geometry, data, and algebraic thinking. Along with the basic four operations on fractions, decimals and integers, students study persuasive statistics and data analysis, as well as exploring scientific notation and patterns and generalizations that lead to solving equations and inequalities, and help students begin to formally recognize mathematical properties. The study of geometry covers understanding of vocabulary and notation, plane—such as area and perimeter, spatial relations in two and three dimensions, and construction of angles, simple figures and congruent figures. Student also study length, mass and capacity in both the metric and customary systems of measurement.
The Sixth Grade Math curriculum is guided by the University of Chicago Mathematics Project Everyday Mathematics text. Information is disseminated through teacher lecture, class discussion, mini discovery labs and peer mentoring. Information is further reinforced using arts integrated projects, cross-curricular projects, games and individual exploration reports and journaling. The curriculum is organized around five process strands: Problem solving, reasoning and proof, connections, representations and communication, which work to ensure deeper understanding of mathematical concepts. Furthermore, the program is set up to spiral, enabling lessons to build on and extend concepts and understandings so that children approach each new challenge from a firmly established foundation. This mathematics program is aligned with the NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) standards.
- Exploration of a variety of written formats including (but not limited to) narrative, descriptive, argumentative, process analysis, and research writing as well as poems, plays, short stories and essays
- Social Studies that look broadly at cultural diversity, geography, civics, politics and economics as the foundation for global citizenship
- Intellectual and study skill development to support academic growth in interpreting, organizing and synthesizing knowledge and modeling the concept of lifelong learning
- A multiple entry port curriculum that provides “hooks” for children to engage in differentiated learning
- Socratic dialogue where all members of the class engage in active analysis of core issues
Sixth Graders participate in co-curricular classes. They have French, art, music, science, computers, library, and P.E.
In his book, "Teaching for Thoughtfulness – Classroom Strategies to Enhance Intellectual Development", John Barell discusses what it means to help children learn to how to think critically.
Thinking, then, as I define it involves responding to problems and perplexities, some of which will be thrust upon us unexpectedly and others which we will consciously seek out for the fun or adventure of it. Either way, we begin to think when we recognize such an uncertainty and decide to do something about it.
By challenging students to take on not only scientific problems but social issues too we help them to learn to take personal control of their own lives now and in the future. Learning to create their own pathways is inherently a self-directed experience, not one where a student follows blindly and/or willingly someone else’s direction. In a our science classroom students are challenged daily to figure out how to solve problems, work together and reflect on their work and its implications outside of the classroom.
Our Middle School Science curriculum is built around the following throughlines:
- What tools do scientists and artists use to make sense of their world?
- How does reflecting on my actions help be further my understanding?
- What does it mean to be a good steward?
- How are all things connected?
With the above ideals in mind, our Sixth Graders begin the year outdoors with an in-depth look at the local environment. Students study interactions between organisms and the abiotic features of the world outside their door. Food webs, the role of decomposers, energy transfer and how matter cycles through our environment are topics addressed. Students then become zoologists, botanists and environmental scientists traveling to virtual biomes applying what they have learned at a local level in order to gain a global perspective. As the weather turns the students spend more time indoors looking at the life cycle of cells incorporating genetics. Students round out the year with a closer look at matter, fossil dating, and the rock cycle.
The arts are integrated into the curriculum by the classroom teachers, with enrichment projects through cooperative ventures with the art teacher, such as creating art from a given country from a social studies unit. Students meet twice a week with the art teacher. They are given the opportunity to become more proficient with the variety of media available. They work with clay, markers, tempera paint and watercolors, collage, printmaking (using linoleum blocks and water based inks, plus plastic engraving plates with oil based inks), colored pencils and constructions. Students begin looking at the Art History timeline, covering artwork from Prehistoric through Modern times. They create works of art using natural found materials, clay and construction materials. Students look at and interpret the work of artists from the Impressionist Period. They also draw self-portraits and learn perspective techniques. Sixth graders may elect to take the Design and Production class, which offers projects in vehicle, home and furniture design, as well as the opportunity to work on the sets for the drama production. MIADs available to them in the visual arts domain are drawing and painting, clay and studio art.