Sixth Grade Curriculum Overview
Sixth grade is an exciting year of growing responsibility and new experiences. After completing the transition to middle school in 5th grade, 6th graders have the opportunity to become more independent learners, namely by designing their own exhibition project at the end of the year. Students work with a dedicated math specialist and take their first overnight trip to a city – in this case, Washington, D.C. Sixth graders also earn the privilege to periodically eat lunch off-campus.
In both Literacy and Humanities, the overarching theme of 6th grade is power. Students begin to understand that power comes not only from external forces, grappling with the idea that power also comes from within and can be influenced by choices made and not made. Students become more independent while continuing to positively contribute to the community and taking on leadership opportunities including Student Mentoring, where students are paired with a younger student to build confidence and self-esteem or simply settle into a new year.
Explore what your child will learn in each of the following subject areas:
- Social-Emotional Learning
- Specials Classes
- Homework and Assessments
Sixth grade students participate collaboratively in literature circles, where they analyze literary elements such as characterization, plot, setting and theme. Students explore the connection between literature, society and life and expand their independent reading stamina and skills. Students are asked to examine questions including:
- Whose stories are told and not told?
- How can we identify and disrupt biased stories?
- What can we do to make sure more stories are told and heard?
- Why do authors make certain choices, and how can I apply those authorial choices to my own writing?
Through these explorations, 6th graders develop annotation strategies, develop thesis statements, and write in a multitude of genres.
- Analyze text, cite textual evidence, determine an author's point of view, bias, or purpose in a text
- Identify, understand and use literary elements
- Write a range of texts for specific purposes and audiences, develop a thesis, cite evidence, demonstrate writer's craft, follow conventions of grammar, spelling and MLA format
- Engage in a meaningful revision process to strengthen a first draft into a polished final draft
- Song for a Whale
- Hidden Figures
- Dear America
- The Giver
- City of Ember
- Long Walk to Water
- The Diary of a Young Girl (or, The Diary of Anne Frank)
- American Born Chinese
The focus of 6th grade math is building the foundation necessary for success in the study of algebra. Students learn pre-algebra with a special emphasis on the representation of the number system: decimals, fractions, whole numbers and percentages. As students learn about the number system, they will learn to represent the numbers on the number line. Sixth graders will learn to represent ratios in multiple ways and model them as verbal descriptions, equations, tables and graphs. They will also learn to model real‐world situations using ratios, rates and percentages in order to solve problems.
Students will also learn how to write algebraic expressions to represent situations in the world around them. They work on deriving formulas for areas of triangles, parallelograms, trapezoids, and regular polygons. Students use the formulas to find areas, surface area, and volume and, given an area or volume, identify unknown dimensions.
Units of Study:
- Whole Numbers, Prime Numbers, Prime Factorization
- Number Line and Negative Numbers
- Fractions and Decimals
- Rates and Speed
- Algebraic Expressions
- Equations and Inequalities
- The Coordinate Plane
- Area of Polygons
- Surface Area and Volume of Solids
- Introduction to Statistics
- Measures of Central Tendency
Sixth graders examine history and social studies through the lenses of power and choice. Through studies of stolen artifacts, citizenship, ancient empires and the Holocaust, students explore shifts in power throughout history, as well as the human behavior and choices that influenced them.
- How does a civilization establish power?
- What patterns exist across civilizations, throughout time and space?
- How do historical events shape and influence geographical boundaries and culture?
- How does the influence of the past shape the present day?
- How does the distribution of power shift?
- How is history biased, and what can we do to negate this bias in our own study?
- How do choices made (and not made) affect the course of history?
- Demonstrate understanding of causal relationships and historical timelines
- Interpret and synthesize primary and secondary sources, including both written texts and artifacts
- Conduct and present historical research on a topic of choice using a variety of credible sources, correctly formatted on a works cited page
- Make connections and identify patterns within and across cultures
- Archaeology, stolen artifacts and repatriation
- Rise and fall of Ancient Rome
- Citizenship: Ancient Rome vs. United States
- The Byzantine Empire
- The Holocaust and human behavior
With inquiry at its core, the 6th grade science curriculum aims to guide students to collaboratively and independently investigate issues through observation, research and experimentation. As students investigate real examples of science applications they discover the dependencies and tensions between ethics, culture, economics, and environment.
In 6th grade, students select a topic from their studies to delve more deeply into for the annual Science Expo, where visiting scientists attend and assess projects students have designed, implemented and evaluated.
- Understand and explain scientific concepts
- Use structured processes to solve problems, gather information and draw conclusions
- Record observations and thought processes, measure with accuracy, and communicate with relevance, meaning and insight
- Energy, Forces and Motion
- Earth’s Dynamic Systems I
- Earth’s Dynamic Systems II
The Classroom Advisory Program (CAP) builds upon community building lessons that take place in the lower grades. Our middle school CAP program focuses on identity, health and wellness, communication and interpersonal relationships. CAP provides students with a spiraling curriculum that allows for a deeper dive into character education, social-emotional learning and citizenship as students progress through Middle School.
Sixth grade topics include:
- Making decisions
- Coping with anxiety and anger
- Time management
- Managing stress in healthy ways
- Social skills and interpersonal relationships
- Confronting bullying, bias, and discrimination
- Upstander vs bystander
- Responsibility and accountability
- Effective communication
- Resolving conflict
- Study skills
- Peer pressure
- Conflict resolution
- Mental health awareness
- Puberty, hygiene and hormone changes
- Computer science and robotics
- Problem solving and computing
- Web development and introduction to HTML
- Expressing ideas through graphic design, filming and video editing
- Digital citizenship
- Media balance and well-being
- Privacy and security
- Digital footprint and identity
- Relationships and communication
- Cyberbullying, digital drama and hate speech
- Media literacy
Sixth graders continue their formal study of art with a focus on the element of lines. Letterforms are drawn with lines and students use digital tools to explore typography and the visual inflection of type design. Vexillology, or the study of flags, extends their graphic designing with digital tools, adding the elements of shapes and colors to create signifiers of identity and inclusion with minimalist visual communication. Students step back into the Classical world as makers of tile mosaics and Greek vase forms.
Units of Study:
- Line art exploration
- Vexillology (the study of flags)
- Tile mosaics
- Ancient pottery
- Drawing homework focusing on foundational drawing skills
Beginning in 5th grade, students choose between Spanish and Mandarin as their World Language course.
Students learn Spanish vocabulary, grammar, culture and history through the lenses of different countries including Spain and Spanish-speaking countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean. Sixth grade students practice their speaking and listening skills three times per week.
- The house
- Furniture and objects in a house
- Household chores
- Leisure activities
- Article Agreement with nouns
- Expressing existence. The verb Haber
- Expressing location
- Regular ar verbs, present tense.
- Regular er and ir verbs, present tense
- Expressing obligation
- Adverbs of frequency
- Cultural Backdrop: Puerto Rico
- Old San Juan
- El Yunque National Forest
- Salsa, the essence of Puerto Rico
- The United States and Puerto Rico
- Review of:
- Pinyin, tones, strokes, radicals
- Dates, ages, telephone numbers
- Family members
- Daily Routine
- Countries and languages
Beginning in fifth grade, Electives are offered once per week to middle school students in mixed group settings. This is a chance for students to have choice and voice through personal selection and an opportunity to work with peers from other middle school classes. Offerings change from year to year and have included Photography, Creative Writing, Fiber Arts, Tinkering and Makerspace, The Art of Public Speaking, Healthy Habits and Nutrition, Service Learning, Theatre, Coding, and Ethics Bowl.
Sixth graders can expect daily homework that is purposeful and helps students manage their time and workload responsibly. Students are assessed in a variety of ways, including class discussions, homework assignments, comprehension questions, essays, end of unit tests, quizzes, and research projects. Stevens uses authentic observation, testing and ongoing assessment to provide a comprehensive evaluation of each student. In the fall of 6th grade, students take the CTP-5 standardized test, administered by the Educational Records Bureau (ERB).
In addition to exploring relevant curriculum connections through local day trips to museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, students participate in a fall overnight trip to the Poconos Environmental Education Center (PEEC) for two days and one night focused on enhancing teamwork, leadership and self-confidence. In the spring, students attend their first overnight city trip for three days and two nights to Washington, D.C.