Discovering personal greatness in pre-school through grade 8 students - Burlington, Vermont

6th Grade

Math

Sixth grade math is the start of three years of cohesive middle school math. Elementary skills such as fraction operations, decimal operations, factors and multiples are wrapped up and practiced for mastery. New middle level concepts of ratios, rates, variables, expressions, equations, and statistics are introduced. As students move from 6th to 7th and eventually 8th they will continue to revisit and build upon these concepts.

Science

The curriculum for Science at the Mater Christi School is often described as “spiraling” because students investigate 3 areas of Science each year (Physical, Earth/Space, and Life).  Students build their knowledge and skill base each year after a brief review from content presented the previous year. This allows students to receive more consistent exposure to the material than in a more traditional “single content area per year” model.

Students in Grade 6 begin the year with a study of Metric Unit measurement and basic dimensional analysis. Students continue their investigation of the Physical sciences by studying mechanical advantage, Newton’s Laws, simple machines, and some physical properties of matter (especially phase, mass, density, and volume). In the Earth and Space Science portion of the year, students investigate our solar system, the Sun, the planets, and the Earth/Moon System. Finally, during the final segment of the year, students study Ecology. Special emphasis is placed on investigating Biomes, the movement of energy through Ecosystems, and Evolution. Students in grade 6 also learn about Human reproduction and the development of the Embryo, as well as some basic introduction to DNA and genetic inheritance.

Literature

Literature for 6th, 7th and 8th grade students is humanities based and is focused on the oral and written analysis of all genres of literature. This includes fiction, short fiction, non-fiction, drama, poetry, art, film and music. The course also covers the historical and social issues surrounding the works being studied. Works spanning the 6th to 8th grade curriculum in general include:

  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  • The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
  • The Pearl by John Steinbeck
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
  • Witness by Karen Hess
  • When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Students will study various other works including music, film, short stories and poems. The course meets and exceeds the Core State Standards for Literature and Writing and includes oral, written, active and creative projects.

A sample of a 6th grade unit is one that focuses on literature of the Holocaust. Students will study the events surrounding this period of history and discover their impact on the world and literature. They will read A Holocaust survivor’s story called Four Perfect Pebbles, by Lila Perl and Marion Blumenthal Lazan, and students will report out on a historical fiction or non-fiction book of their choice dealing with these events.

English Language Arts

ELA: 6th Grade English Language Arts:
In 6th Grade, English Language Arts students will learn to describe and connect the essential ideas, arguments, and perspectives of texts by using their knowledge of text structure, organization, and purpose.
  • Writing: In sixth grade will include narrative, expository, persuasive, and descriptive writing.  All student writing will demonstrate a command of standard English grammar and writing skills. In class, we learn to research, organize, and draft strategies for writing.  We will be doing much of our writing in class and utilize Google Docs. Students will write clear, coherent, and focused narratives, short stories, responses to literature, research reports, and persuasive essays. The writing will exhibit students’ awareness of the audience and purpose. We will utilize the RACES written response strategy:

  • R: restate the prompt,

  • A: answer,

  • C: cite examples from the text and

  • E: explain how your citations support your answer to the prompt.

  • S: Summation

  • Speaking/Listening: Students will have multiple opportunities to deliver information as a team as well as independently. Listening, drawing inferences, and making logical correlations will be integrated into all oral presentations. We will also focus on speech writing and presentation. (see Project Based Learning.) with the support of Google Slides.

  • Grammar:  We use Classroom Cereal in which students practice grammar, and editing through close reading, applying these skills daily to short engaging stories and become more fluid writers.

Vocabulary: Word Within the Word.: The Word Within the Word vocabulary program developed by Michael Clay Thompson teaches our students to identify the stem (root, affix, or prefix) of a word and then apply the meaning of the parts to the whole… Word origin and evolution of meaning are both fascinating and fluid. This challenging program teaches our students the tools they will need in all areas of study – no word, academic, medical, legal, or scientific will be too difficult to break down and understand after this course. I have been teaching with this program for many years, and while students will often stumble (and grumble 🙂 but in the end, this has proven to be a powerful tool they will use for the rest of their lives.  I have students who are now well into adulthood who still tell me they use it.

Social Studies

Students will complete a study of early cultures through the 1500’s, with concepts in history, government, geography, and economics integrated chronologically.  Students will use a variety of processing skills including chronological thinking, organizing and explaining information, analyzing and interpreting data, conducting research, and communicating orally, graphically and in writing.

Students will have major assessments that include tests, writing assignments, and at least one major project each semester.  During each unit of study quizzes, homework, assignments, and on-going assessments will be given to assess progress.  Class discussions and individual conferences will allow me to monitor the comprehension of the material for each student.

French 

The first year of Middle School French serves as an introduction to French for new students to the MCS community, and a comprehensive review of the fundamentals of French for those who participated in our elementary school program. Emphasis is on listening and speaking, while grammar study reinforces basic writing skills. Units will include introducing oneself, time, date, and Francophone culture. Students will also learn how to order in a café and express their opinions on works of art.

By the end of the year, students will be able to talk about themselves, their interests, their families, the weather, etc., in short sentences. In terms of listening, they will be capable of understanding short, simple dialogue and instructions given by the teacher. In their writing they will have the skills to make agreements between the subject, verb, and adjective. For each level of French, the emphasis is on participation, i.e., speaking French every day in class.

 

Religion

Students study the Old Testament. They employ reading comprehension strategies in understanding scripture readings, novels, and periodicals. Technology is used for students to demonstrate their understanding of Catholicism. Journal writing, biweekly reading and writing assignments in current events, as well as research enrich student centered religious studies. Prayer and devotional activities are individualized and inclusive of all spiritual traditions.