Sixth Grade Curriculum
The sixth-grade classes are the sole occupants of three classrooms and have several teachers visit their stationary homeroom. Each sixth grade has a homeroom teacher who is responsible for overseeing the majority of the academic work performed by a class.
Language Arts in the sixth grade covers the basic parts of speech and sentence structure, with the goal of improving a student’s writing ability and understanding of grammar. Students will learn to recognize verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions and prepositions when they are used in sentences. Students will be able to distinguish a linking verb from an action verb and a common noun from a proper noun. In addition, students will study phrases, clauses and the different types of sentences. Providing a student with a solid foundation in grammar enables him to express himself more clearly and forcefully. The grammar text is Grammar and Writing 6 published by Saxon. It is a workbook filled with concise chapters of distinct grammatical concepts that build on one another and are paired with many practice questions that reinforce what has already been learned. The primary mode of instruction is classroom presentation of the principles in each section followed by homework that is assigned nightly to reinforce the concept covered in class. The principles are reinforced by diagramming sentences in essays written by the students.
Teachers derive words for their vocabulary lessons from the texts students read in literature. Students will be tested on the definitions of words and how to use them in sentences. Teachers supplement their vocabulary lists with textbooks such as Vocabulary from Classical Roots published by Educators Publishing Service. These textbooks teach students common root words, enabling students to surmise the meaning of unfamiliar words. Furthermore, the textbooks test a student’s ability to use words in a sentence, giving him a more vibrant sense of the word.
The sixth-grade literature curriculum is generally geared toward fostering within the student both practical and theoretical pursuits. Therefore, literature is seen not only as a pleasurable interest but as a mode of knowledge, instructing not only the mind but the heart.
Stressing both oral and written traditions, a love for literature is fostered in our students through the study of poetry and stories of various lengths and kinds. The books read in the sixth-grade year include Sounder by William H. Armstrong, The Golden Fleece by Padraic Colum, Gods, Heroes, and Men of Ancient Greece by W.H. D. Rouse, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and Selected Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb. Poems for study are chosen from a working list and by the homeroom teacher’s preference.
The main skills developed through the sixth-grade literature curriculum include reading comprehension, reading aloud, memorization and recitation of poetry, literary criticism, plot mapping, and composition of critical essays and short fiction. The textbook selections in the sixth-grade Literature course recognizes that it is as important to cultivate the imagination as it is to cultivate the will or the intelligence.
This course is a combination of the theory and practical application of arithmetic and geometry. Major concepts covered include the following: the review and mastery of operations with fractions and mixed numbers, reciprocals, ratios, proportions, exponents, square roots, scientific notation, order of operations, algebraic addition, simple equations, perimeters, circumferences, areas, and volumes. Through working with the abstract concepts and relations of numbers and figures, the student develops and sharpens his imagination and reasoning capacity. Because the student must solve problems that require a number of subordinate steps to find a solution, the importance of attention to detail is impressed upon him as well as a stepwise approach to solving problems. Students are encouraged to recognize how a small error in an initial step will affect the conclusion of most math problems. The primary textbook for the course is Math 87 by Hake & Saxon.
This course acts as an introduction to the geological sciences and in doing so also serves as preparation for the study of chemistry. Major topics covered include the following: the earth’s topography, rocks, minerals, water displacement, specific gravity, the earth’s interior, magnetism, fresh water, the oceans, the atmosphere, the planets, and the moon. The course strives to impress upon the student the immensity, order, and beauty of the created world. It gives him a deeper understanding of the physical world with which he has relevant, daily contact. This is an understanding prior to the laboratory and atomic analysis of chemistry. Through classroom demonstrations and activities, habits of observation and analysis are exercised. The primary textbook for the course is Earth Science published by Prentice Hall.
The focus of the American History course in the sixth grade is on the westward expansion of the 1800’s. Students study the plight of the immigrant laborer, the impact of industry and the railroad, the conditions of life in the north and south, slavery, the wars and battles of the West including the Mexican War, the lives of mountain men, traders and trappers, the voyage of Lewis and Clark, the conditions leading up to the Civil War, and the outbreak of the Civil War. Students complete their study of the Civil War when they revisit the topic in-depth during the seventh grade history course entitled Lands and Conquests.
As students learn more about the adventures of westward expansion, they are required to take notes and learn how to outline chapters for later study. History is taught from the perspective of a factual story and in an analytical sense students are expected to understand the major themes of the day and how they relate to one another throughout a course of events. The textbook series used for the sixth grade history course is entitled A History of US by Joy Hakim.
The sixth-grade Religion course guides the student through a variety of topics ranging from the ancestral roots of the Hebrew people to the beginning of Christianity/Catholicism and finally to The Resurrection following the salvific sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s passion and death on the cross. The student will gain a better understanding of the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, and a greater appreciation for the lives and contributions of the saints. They will be asked to write in-depth papers on a variety of content related topics citing specific quotes taken from Scripture and the writings of the saints.
Outside reading includes a book on the life of St. Isaac Jogues and his companions who evangelized and converted multiple tribes of Indians. Also, different chapters from the Bible will be assigned and read in class. The student will develop an enhanced knowledge of the role of Mary, the Mother of God, in salvation history, as well as a more comprehensive understanding and personal appreciation of the powerful mystery of the Holy Eucharist available to us daily in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The student can choose to take advantage of frequent opportunities to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a part of regular chapel services. The class objective is for the student to develop a deeper prayer life as well as a greater understanding of his faith and ways to live his faith. The primary textbook is Following Christ, part of the Faith and Life series published by Ignatius Press.
Art, Physical Education, and Electives
The sixth grade Art class studies perspective, realism, architecture, and color through a variety of media. Students are expected to draw and sketch as well as understand and appreciate great works of art. This blend of experiences is intended to develop an aesthetic awareness in the student. The opportunity is provided for longer-term projects, and an after school Art Club is available for additional developmental time.
Students participate in physical education class on a daily basis. The emphasis of this class is on fitness, skill development, understanding the rules of a variety of sports, engaged participation, and sportsmanship. Students are encouraged to engage in healthy competition and are given the opportunity for exercise on a daily basis. Depending upon the season, soccer, basketball, baseball, and lacrosse teams practice during this class period under the supervision and direction of their coaches. All other middle school sports teams practice outside of physical education class.
Sixth Grade students have the option of choosing a full year of Band or any two of the following semester long courses: Lands and Climates (Geography and the study of climates), Writing Workshop (expository writing), Reading Workshop (critical reading and comprehension).