In sixth grade, students are more accustomed to the academic and social demands of middle school. They continue to develop their sense of self and independence. Students build organizational and time-management skills as they progress through the school year. Creative and collaborative opportunities for growth arise for students in all classes, building upon the adolescent need for socialization and developing key twenty-first century communication skills.
Faith class in sixth grade begins by focusing on understanding important aspects of the Old Testament. Students learn about key Biblical figures, events, and traditions. There is a special emphasis on the covenants established between God and His people throughout salvation history. Additionally, throughout the year, students learn about key elements of the New Testament and modern events in Church history – such as Marian apparitions, devotion to Divine Mercy, revelation of Jesus's Sacred Heart, and the lives of saints like John Paul II, St. Thérèse, St. Maximillian Kolbe, and St. Faustina. During the class, applications of The Faith to everyday life are made and ideas for further growth are shared.
Our science curriculum is on a two-year cycling schedule. The fifth and sixth grade students work on the same unit simultaneously to accommodate this structure. Some units are further enriched for additional challenges at the sixth grade level.
a. Earth science units are covered in the first trimester of the school year. In Cycle A (2018-2019 school year), the Planetary Systems unit "helps students clarify and expand their knowledge of our solar system, and Earth as a planet, through a series of activities, discussions, presentations, and reading selections" (Carolina Science, 2014). Students learn about planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and meteoroids. In Cycle B (2017-2018 school year), the Ecosystems unit "students set up terrariums for crickets and isopods and aquariums that contain duckweed, algae, elodea, guppies, and snails. Connecting the two habitats to create an 'ecocolumn,' students observe the relationship between the two environments and the organisms living within them" (Carolina Science, 2014).
b. Physical science units are covered in the second trimester of the school year. In Cycle A (2018-2019 school year), the Mixtures, Compounds, and Elements unit "explores the three basic types of matter and the chemical and physical properties that distinguish them. Students are challenged to determine whether samples are pure substances or mixtures" (Carolina Science, 2014). In Cycle B (2017-2018 school year), the Motion and Design unit "combines the physics of forces and motion with technological design. Students use plastic construction materials, weights, rubber bands, and propellers to design and build vehicles, then test how those vehicles respond to different forces of motion" (Carolina Science, 2014).
c. Life science units are covered in the third trimester of the school year. In Cycle A (2018-2019 school year), the Respiration and Circulation unit allows students to study these two systems that help sustain life. Students analyze breathing and examine the design and model of the respiratory system as well as investigating cellular respiration and how the heart pumps blood to the rest of the body, among other topics. In Cycle B (2018-2019 school year), the Plant Growth and Development unit provides students with the opportunity to grow their own plants. "Using plants that complete their life cycle in 35 days, students are able to watch germination and maturation while learning about the specific parts of a plant and the function each serves" (Carolina Science, 2014).
d. In December and January, students participate in the C-STEM fair individually or with a partner. Students come up with original science or engineering-based project ideas that follow either the scientific method or engineering design process. Students first research the concepts and then either perform an experiment or construct their project in order to solve the problem that they have stated. Students are judged, and those with the top projects have the opportunity to move on to a diocesan-wide STEM fair.
e. The main field trip for fifth and sixth graders happens every other year so that each class goes once. Students spend two days and nights at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center in Lanesboro, accompanied by teachers and parent chaperones. This is an awesome opportunity for students to bond while participating in outdoor education! In addition, we go to the Minnesota Science Museum.
Middle School Technology Consists of the following:
- One-to-One computing with iPads (grades 5 & 6) and laptop PCs (grades 7 & 8)
- Keyboarding Skill Development via typingclub.com
- Course-specific technology skills (word processing, spreadsheet, power point, etc.)
- Progressing through the Smart Lab curriculum.
- Use of cloud-based computing via Office 365 and Google G-Suite.
- Coding via the CS First Curriculum, which incorporates the Scratch programming language.
- Units in contemporary technology areas such as VR (virtual reality) and AI (artificial intelligence).
- Technology analysis thing regarding topics such as:
- Which Cloud is Best: Office 365 or Google G-Suite
- Mac v PC
- Database v Spreadsheet
- Dangers of screen time: what is enough and what is too much
Engineering in 6th grade continues in the SmartLab as students continue to explore 8 realms of STEM. Middle school SmartLab® programs emphasize discovery and exploration. Teams of learners apply a wide range of technologies to project work as they rotate through a carefully crafted sequence of learning engagements. This ensures a broad base of foundational experiences and an ever-changing mix of ideas and inspiration. Students are encouraged to choose an appropriate level of challenge, apply their own interests and learning styles, and explore questions of personal relevance. With increased autonomy, ^th grade learners begin to take more responsibility for their learning.
The students continue using Defined STEM, an integrated Project-Based Learning (PBL) curriculum as well. Our PBL course puts the 4 C's of learning into action: creativity, communications, critical thinking, and collaboration in order to meet the needs of 21st century learners. Students participate in performance tasks in either groups of three or four centered around science or social studies topics. They are career-focused and present real-world problems such as analyzing historical coins in shipwrecks, describing the purpose of dams and designing one, and establishing an assembly line for a product of choice. By creating presentations, maps, scale drawings, diagrams, brochures, and reports, students are able to convey the information they find to others.
Pre-Algebra – A 6th grader involved in this course is on the path to take Algebra as a 7th grader and Geometry as an 8th grader. Topics covered in this course include but are not limited to the following: integers; rational numbers; solving equations and inequalities; ratios, proportions, and percents; Geometry: angles, shapes, transformations, area, surface area, and volume; graphing and writing linear equations; real numbers and Pythagorean Theorem; exponents and scientific notation. The textbook used in Pre-Algebra is titled Big Ideas Math Accelerated.
Expeditionary Learning Curriculum (Reading/Writing)
Each grade level curriculum is comprised of four comprehensive integrated Language Arts modules, with 3 units in each. The four modules make up a full year’s curriculum. Each module progresses in a standard sequence:
- Building Background Knowledge (Unit 1)
- Extended Reading and Research (Unit 2)
- Extended Writing (Unit 3).
Each module comes with books – not textbooks or anthologies – which have been carefully selected and vetted by the authors of the curriculum as the best books for teaching grade-level content. These central texts are supported by a list of recommended texts—books, articles, and primary source documents—that balance literary and informational texts at appropriate levels of complexity.
Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction
- Effective literacy instruction through the use of compelling topics that engage students in informational and literary texts, and emphasizes “author’s craft” in accordance with the rigor of the Grade 6-8 standards.
- Students build expertise about a topic and often share that expertise with classmates or a wider audience.
Reading, writing and speaking grounded in evidence from the text, both literary and informational
- Students use evidence to support ideas and engage in periodic self-assessment. Learning is applied to ask strong text-dependent strategic questions as they read and research is grounded in real-world examples.
- Performance tasks require students to cite textual evidence, revise their writing, critique their peers’ writing, and share their writing with a real audience.
Regular practice with complex text and its academic language
- Students are exposed to a wide range of increasingly complex texts to build background knowledge and interest.
- Awakened curiosity gives students a purpose for reading; they are then supported and challenged with increasingly complex texts.
Grammar (Grades 6-8)
- Interactive online program
- Explicit, systematic grammar instruction
- Students practice topic until mastery is achieved
- Weekly practice with subsequent assessments
- Topic-by-topic organization of content
- Caught‘ya! Grammar with a Giggle for Middle School: Giggles in the Middle
- Writing and editing practice curriculum
- Sections of a narrative with grammar and syntax errors given to students daily
- Students rewrite narrative sections using correct grammar and syntax
- Grammar rules and solutions introduced in context (students annotate narrative sections)
- Students exposed to high-level vocabulary through daily narrative texts
- Humorous, engaging stories spark student interest
Vocabulary (Grades 6-8)
- Research-based vocabulary program
- Introduces 20 words at a time to help students deepen vocabulary understanding
- Academic vocabulary knowledge is constructed using contextual and definitional information
- Students work with words in multiple contexts and use words to respond to text-based questions
Grade 6- Sadlier Vocabulary Workshop Achieve Level A 2018
Grade 7- Sadlier Vocabulary Workshop Achieve Level B 2018
Grade 8- Sadlier Vocabulary Workshop Achieve Level C 2018
In 6th grade, we immerse students in history with inquiry-based social studies programs! By using the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Social Studies curriculum, students have the chance to dig deeper into launching the Republic, nationalism, sectionalism, and the Civil War by engaging in classroom activities that include technology and collaboration. To learn more about HMH visit their website at https://www.hmhco.com/programs/hmh-social-studies.