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Sixth Grade

Some of the exciting and engaging projects students in Grade 6 look forward to:

Welcome New Students Assembly - Students in Grade 6 introduce all new students to the entire school in both English and the foreign language they are studying.

Research Projects - Students compose two research essays based on one topic of their choice in both the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance. The children examine how their topic evolves over time.

Explorer Presentation - Students research an explorer from the Age of Exploration and present the explorers accomplishments in character. 

Columbus Primary Resources - Students investigate Columbus and his influence on the Americas during the Age of Exploration, examining several primary sources from different perspectives. The project culminates with a written analysis of Columbus and why he should not be celebrated and revered. 

Un Voyage en France – Students create travel guides to different provinces in France and present them orally to the class with a homemade dish representing the cuisine of their province.

National French Exam – Students in Grade 6 participate in the National French Exam, which is administered in March.

English Language Arts

The sixth grade language arts curriculum hones specific strategies for reading, writing, speaking, listening, and forming ideas. As students are transitioning through the top of the Middle School into the upper grades, they are capable readers and writers ready to adopt responsibility for independently developing literacy, both individually and as a class. Ultimately, the classroom is a space for self-motivated readers, writers, and thinkers to cooperatively explore language, with the underlying support and facilitation of the teacher.

In such an environment, the teacher and students work together to select independent reading books (IRBs); the ideal is for each student to select works that are comfortably challenging and topically interesting. At times, their IRB assignments divide students into small cooperative groups.  Each student regularly critiques his or her IRB in the form of a brief review. Over time, literature becomes thought provoking instead of just entertaining, and students feel a sense of responsibility to analyze what they read.

With whole-class literature, instruction focuses on the skills that move beyond comprehension--interpreting and extrapolating literature, applying literary terms, and analyzing style and theme. Through project work and papers, students delve deeply into the texts or connect them to other works and their contexts, often across subject areas. Although the literature is the emphasis, the students regularly practice comprehension skills in isolation, such as drawing inferences and determining main idea.

An emphasis on reading literature leads naturally to a focus on writing; students write regularly in class in a variety of forms, including expository self-reflection, informational reports, and critical analysis essays. They follow the same progression of writing skills as presented in fifth grade, following the Write Traits program, Lucy Calkins’s Units of Study for Teaching Writing, and Poetry Matters by Ralph Fletcher. Students build upon the multi-paragraph critical essay they were introduced to in fifth grade, following the writing process from the first stages of prewriting, with an emphasis on locating evidence and organizing ideas, to final editing and proofreading. With interdisciplinary report assignments in history and science, students receive a thorough and steady grounding in practical research skills and methods, as codified in the TPS Manual for Research and Process Writing. Teacher feedback is given via traditional handwritten comments and comments that may be posted on an online document. A number of critical thinking and presentation skills emerge naturally for practice, including reasoning logically, utilizing evidence, and maintaining audience awareness.

The ultimate goal of the writing program is to help students become expressive, skillful, and intelligent communicators.  Therefore, learning the structure of the English language through systematic grammar lessons is integrated into our program.  Using the Voyages in English program, the students focus on parts of speech, usage, mechanics, agreement, and punctuation and capitalization rules, thus preparing them to be masters of the written and spoken word.

As educators, we know that the greater store of words we have, the better we are to comprehend what we read and express what we think. Therefore, as part of our sixth grade program, vocabulary words are introduced regularly through the Vocabulary for Achievement program, a systematic approach to word learning.  The source for most of the word lists was SATs published by the College Entrance Examination Board.  In addition, the words were also chosen for usefulness, appropriateness to grade level, themes, and word elements.  The students learn new words through a structured program using dictionary, reasoning, context, test-taking, and word structure skills. 

Texts and Literature:

Wonder, Palacio 
Selected Short Stories from Twists 
Midnight Magic, Avi

Catherine, Called Birdy, Cushman
So Far from the Bamboo Grove, Watkins
Freak the Mighty, Philbrick

Poetry Matters, Fletcher

Mathematics

The Middle School mathematics curriculum recognizes and builds on students’ capabilities by expanding the range of their mathematics experiences and ideas. Course work helps students make the transition from concrete operations to abstractions and skills with symbols. The curriculum builds the foundation they will need for algebra, geometry, and data analysis courses.

Mathematics is also integrated into other curriculum areas. Teachers help students explore applications in science and social studies, the origins and uses of the language of mathematics, and the close relationship between mathematics and the arts. Students learn to communicate mathematically amongst themselves and with their teachers. Partner and small group activities help students to share their thinking and ideas with their peers in a cooperative environment, while cross-grade collaborations deepen the experiences of the students. 

This course continues to reinforce arithmetic skills, introducing computations with integers and rational numbers. Students apply these skills in the context of geometric relationships and basic statistical analysis. In addition, they begin to use proportional reasoning to solve problems with rates, ratios, and percents. Their study of percents includes applications with data representation and probability. The course introduces the use of variables and variable representation on the number line and coordinate plane, and students begin to write and solve basic linear equations of one variable. Students who excel in this class will be prepared to begin the formal study of algebra in seventh grade.

 

Text: 
Mathematics Course 2, Prentice Hall 

History

The sixth grade history curriculum begins with the fall of Rome and stretches to the end of the Age of Exploration. Students analyze how and why the powerful Roman Empire declined, before examining life and changes during this time for the people in Europe and the Byzantine Empire as well as in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Mesoamerica. Tracing cause and effect, students examine the erudition of the Renaissance, with a special focus on art, leading to the final religious turning point, the eruption of the Reformation, as well as the Age of Exploration, which is the turning point for modern world history. Throughout these periods, students examine the role that religion, art, gender, class, and politics play.

A thorough grounding in the research process is central to the course. The students each write a major research paper. With frequent teacher conferences to keep them on track, students research and write in-depth reports or analytical essays. Through this process, students hone their research and writing skills, including preliminary work such as choosing a topic and evaluating appropriate sources from the library and Internet, taking and organizing notes, and developing outlines. After writing informational reports, students learn to cite their sources and write a bibliography. Their skills develop over the course of the year, with expectations rising concomitantly. The process follows MLA format, as expressed in the TPS Manual for Research Process and Writing.

Throughout the year, students examine the cause and effect relationships between the historical events they study, and the political, social, military, religious, and economic factors that affected people’s lives during the times of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Age of Exploration. They consider how these factors relate to their modern lives. Students practice extracting main ideas and important details through reading the text as well as through lecture and discussion. To contextualize learning, there is a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary work, combining history with art and English to enhance the students’ educational experience and solidify the relevance to their studies. Examples include Renaissance art analysis projects, as well as exploring architectural styles, stained glass creations, and illuminated letters. A field trip to the Cloisters Museum and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine brings the students’ historical studies alive. 


Texts:
Medieval Times to Today, Prentice Hall

Medieval Realms: Heinemann History

The Crusades: Heinemann History

The Italian Renaissance: Heinemann History

Science

The Middle School science curriculum is designed to give students a broad understanding of topics in physical, life, and Earth sciences throughout their three years in the program. Each year, the students develop their science process skills through an interactive science inquiry approach that allows them to use their experiences to develop a deeper understanding of abstract science topics. Students work cooperatively throughout the year, wherein group members work together in creating models, collecting data, analyzing information, drawing conclusions, and reporting results.

Sixth grade science focuses on active learning. Students begin the year with an exploration of the final human body systems: nervous, endocrine, and reproductive. From there, the curriculum spirals back to physical science, looking at forces and motion with an emphasis on free fall. During this time, students complete the egg drop project where they engineer their own contractions designed to protect an egg in free fall. Students present their contraptions and findings during their science symposium. Students then study astronomy. The focus is on the Earth, Moon, and Sun relationships and the solar system as a whole. During the spring, they begin an investigation of fossilization and geologic time, exploring the fossil record and Earth history in detail. The year concludes with an in-depth look at environmental science. This unit begins by developing an understanding of ecosystems and the natural environment and then shifting to human uses of the environment and what impacts this causes. This unit relies heavily on the immediate local environments and culminates with an overnight environmental camping trip in the spring.

All sixth grade students participate in the science symposium at TPS. Students write oral reports and create multimedia presentations. The purpose of the science symposium is to give students the opportunity to design their own scientific exploration, collect information and data, draw conclusions from their findings, and present the conclusions to a larger audience beyond the classroom.

Interdisciplinary work is a hallmark of the science curriculum in the Middle School at TPS. The astronomy unit links well to the study of the Renaissance in history and the advent of the scientific revolution. Human body systems continue to be linked with physical education as well as discussed in health class. The science symposium provides opportunities for students to hone in their writing and public speaking skills. Data analysis is often tied to current math practices.

Texts and Materials: 

Astronomy, Science Explorer Series, Prentice Hall 
Human Body Systems, Interactive Science Series, Pearson 
Forces, Motion, and Energy, Science Explorer Series, Prentice Hall 
Ecology and the Environment, Interactive Science Series, Pearson 

French

In their final year of Middle School French, sixth grade students work to perfect their basic written and oral skills and to think about the role of French throughout the world. The bulk of this course is made up of mastering concepts such as:

  •  the present and simple future tenses; 
  • gender-noun agreement;
  • common conversational phrases;
  • conjunctions; 
  • pronouns;
  • prepositions. 

Students rapidly acquire a whole new set of vocabulary words in their sixth grade year while consistently revisiting the often repeated high-frequency vocabulary they learned earlier on. Students are encouraged to engage in spontaneous conversation almost daily, to share their own personal stories entirely in French, and to read French books independently. Students embark on their personal journey as lifelong learners as they begin to understand how they learn language, how to study language both at home and at school, and how to understand both the parts of language and whole sentences. Grammatical and written accuracy are stressed throughout the year, and by June students have moved beyond proficiency to fluent use and understanding of French. Classes are conducted entirely in the target language and use the communicative method of instruction. Songs, videos, readings, and art supplement the teaching of both language and culture.

Text:
Bon Voyage Level 1B Textbook & Workbook, McGraw Hill

Latin

First Year Latin is an introductory course in Classical Latin that focuses on morphology, syntax, and semantics while simultaneously providing insight into everyday life during the ancient Roman Empire. Unit 1 of the Cambridge Latin Course follows the affluent Caecilius family, living in Pompeii during the first century A.D. The fun-to-read stories offer an engaging and historical account about all things Roman-- the Forum, gladiators, and the climactic and fateful eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Students gradually learn more vocabulary and grammar with each story as they learn more about ancient Roman life. 

Unit 1 is divided into twelve sizeable yet fast-paced stages, each of which has one or two new grammatical points as well as roughly fifty words introduced over the course of three to six stories. Exposed to the grammar points and vocabulary so often in the stories, students are required to do less rote memorization to grasp the material than other Latin courses. Weekly assessments of vocabulary, grammar, and translation as well as a test every two to three stages ensure that the students are keeping up with the material. Highlights of the grammar include: 

  • three verb tenses (present, imperfect, perfect); 
  • three noun cases (nominative/subject, accusative/direct object, and dative/indirect object);
  • singulars and plurals.

By the year’s end, students have a solid vocabulary base of approximately 600 words. 

First Year Latin completes Unit 1 and immediately commences Unit 2. Students follow one member of the Caecilius family who survives Mount Vesuvius to Britain, where the stories shed light on the imperial prowess of ancient Rome. 
The Cambridge Latin Course is well-known for its atypical, gradual approach to acquiring the Latin language. Students are exposed to small, easily digestible amounts of material, instead of being forced to memorize entire charts of forms. They gain an appreciation of the ancient Roman culture while reading and understanding Latin at the same time.

Text: 
Cambridge Latin Course Unit 1 and Unit 2

Spanish

After having taken Spanish in fifth grade, sixth graders complete Level 1 of a high school Spanish course by the end of their sixth grade year. Studies for the year are set in the cultural context of: 

  • Spain;
  • Mexico; 
  • Central America; 
  • the Caribbean;
  • and South America. 

In addition, students learn the language for handling situations such as: 

  • talking about family members, birthdays, and parties; 
  • describing people and things; 
  • ordering a meal; 
  • describing a house; 
  • going shopping, talking about clothing, talking about gifts and accessories;
  • describing vacation spots and talking about leisure activities;
  • discussing places in a community and volunteer work. 

Conversations include language presented in both present and past tense. Classroom activities, such as analyzing and listening to song lyrics, discussing video clips, engaging in spontaneous conversation, acting out dialogues, and essay writing, emphasize the development of all four essential language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. 

Students read lengthier texts for cultural enlightenment, enabling students to discuss information on several different levels. They find the main idea in an advertisement or a text, understand the plot of a story, predict what may happen next, and analyze more critically the characters’ motives and decisions. During this year, students gain the confidence to participate in non-academic activities in the target language, such as watching T.V. series episodes or listening to Spanish music.

Text: 
Realidades, 1B, Prentice Hall

Art

Sixth graders work in many mediums to create projects that build abstract and independent thinking skills and frequently connect with other curriculums. Past examples include:

  • creating a replica of ancient Chinese bronzes;
  • using aluminum to create a repoussé panel in the style of a medieval reliquary as the cover of a book which included illuminated 
  • letters and watercolor paintings (based on the unicorn tapestries that the students view while on a field trip to The Cloisters); 
  • constructing ceramic bookends by creating two related sculptures to brace books;
  • making marionettes for which the students wrote plays and then performed for the Primary School students.

Music

Students in Grade 6 continue their music education through participation in Band or Chorus.

Physical Education

Through active participation, students learn to play cooperatively with one another, stay physically fit, and develop the skills needed to take part in sports. Along with those goals, we encourage each student to grow individually and gain an appreciation and love of all kinds of movement. We are striving for active students, but--more importantly--we are striving for active lifetime participants. 

The program builds upon the sports skills learned in fifth grade and introduces skills that are more advanced. Each child works to improve individual skills so that he or she may be an active player during game situations. We emphasize fair play and teamwork during game play. These sports include basketball, field hockey, flag football, floor hockey, lacrosse, softball, soccer, team handball, track, and volleyball. Individual sports of badminton, climbing, and gymnastics fill out the curriculum.  

At the conclusion of each sport, students take a skills assessment. Fitness continues to be a large part of the curriculum. Students are encouraged to set attainable fitness goals and work to achieve these goals throughout the year. Heart rate monitors provide data on individual heart rates and level of exertion.