Sixth Grade Curriculum
Sixth grade students continue to focus on independence and responsibility. Sixth graders participate in a community-building trip in the fall that gives them an opportunity to develop social bonds and learn effective ways to support and cooperate with their sixth grade peers. There is also a more intense focus on developing study skills and implementation of these skills in all subject areas.
The sixth grade English curriculum integrates several areas of language arts into its six weekly classes. The main focus is on reading and analyzing literature, writing, grammar, and vocabulary. The course is designed to build upon the skills developed in the fifth grade.
The students read a variety of genres that represent both the traditional canon of literature and modern classics of young adult and adolescent literature. The students draw connections between the literature and their own lives, as they study the elements of literature represented in each work. At least one novel a year is integrated with the students’ study of ancient civilizations in social studies class — in sixth grade, Black Ships Before Troy is an age-appropriate re-telling of The Iliad.
The St. John’s writing program emphasizes the six traits of writing: ideas, organization, style, word choice, voice, and conventions. Students are guided throughout the writing process as they pre-write, draft, revise, edit, and publish pieces. In sixth grade, students write a variety of types of compositions including narrative, poetry, persuasive, and expository pieces.
Direct grammar instruction takes place throughout the year with an emphasis on parts of speech and parts of the sentence. The students complete Daily Grams to reinforce basic grammar rules, usage, mechanics, and effective sentence-combining techniques.
Sixth grade students build their vocabulary by deciphering the meanings of words in the context of the literature they read. Additionally, they use Wordly Wise to enhance vocabulary acquisition.
The mathematics curriculum is a sequential program and builds in sophistication each year. Sixth grade math provides a comprehensive review of fractions, decimals, data, statistics and probability, geometry, measurement, number theory, and variables, with an emphasis on solving word problems. In addition, students become proficient with operations involving positive and negative integers, and continue their study of algebra by solving one-, two-, and multi-step equations. Students are challenged to apply conceptual understanding to unique situations. Ongoing assessment and feedback enables teachers and students to pinpoint weaknesses and to extend learning to greater depths.
Sixth grade science covers a range of topics from life science to physical science. The goal of the curriculum is to fill in any holes in the foundational science topics. Since the sixth grade will study life sciences the subsequent year, they end the year studying physical science.
The life science topics covered include taxonomy, cells and cellular energy, and genetics and heredity. Labs and activities involve developing a model based on the available observations and then altering the model when new evidence is discovered.
The physical science portion focuses on understanding the foundations of chemistry and the basics of forces and motion. Students explore the different atomic models and develop an understanding of matter and its components. From atoms and elements, they jump into the physics of motion. Examining the concepts of forces, momentum, and inertia allows students to review and use the metric system and begin to fine-tune the definitions of commonly misused physics terms. Through hands-on activities and labs, students experience such concepts as friction, momentum, air resistance, gravity, mass, and inertia.
Social Studies – Ancient World History
Students in sixth grade study ancient history from the earliest humans through the fall of the Roman Empire. Topics covered include early humans and the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt and Africa, Greece, India, China, and Rome.
In addition to the study of specific historical events and people, students also grow as scholars in sixth grade social studies. Emphasis is placed on organization and reading comprehension strategies. Skills covered in the sixth grade course include reading and interpreting various maps, comparing and analyzing information in tables and infographics, interpreting primary and secondary sources, and identifying causes and effects. Students regularly follow the news to foster understanding of contemporary events and how they relate to history.
In sixth grade, students move from the elementary level to an intermediate level of Spanish. Students exchange simple spoken and written information in Spanish. The different units introduce new adjectives, workplaces, rooms of the house, etc., and include expressions of courtesy and descriptions. Sixth grade grammar focuses on stem-changing verbs, direct and indirect object pronouns, reflexive verbs, and the preterit tense. Students understand simple spoken and written Spanish based on familiar topics. They identify main ideas and comprehend more sophisticated grammar structures.
Christian values and ethics are two of the cornerstones of education at St. John’s Episcopal School, which is exemplified in the Religion program. Throughout their academic and spiritual career at St. Johns, students are exposed to all aspects of the Bible. In sixth grade, the emphasis shifts to a deeper understanding of the Old Testament. By focusing on the origins of the Bible, students learn to understand and identify the roots of the Christian faith. Students develop an understanding of the context, lessons, and stories of the Old Testament. Students study the stories and relationships in the Old Testament while they learn to think critically about their own lives, as well as to apply lessons and morals to their everyday lives.
Upper School Performing and Fine Arts
The arts serve a two-fold purpose in education; academic and aesthetic. Students gain a foundational academic understanding of arts through general instruction and, when appropriate, focused on creating and performing opportunities. Students also study the arts to provide an opportunity for social-emotional connections to the general academic subject matter as well as to create an outlet for artistic expression. Intentional arts instruction is fundamental to a well-balanced education.
The students of St. John’s experience and gain understanding of the role of the Arts throughout the world and in their own lives through the acquisition of artistic vocabulary and skills and the exposure to a diverse range of artistic mediums. Students build character and faith through participation in and appreciation of artistic performances both in the school and the community.
Upper School Performing Arts
All Upper School students sing in Chorus and play an instrument in the Concert Band. Students rehearse as a group and study instruments in sectionals led by an adjunct faculty of professional teacher-artists. All students perform in the Winter Christmas Celebration concert and the Spring Festival of the Arts concert.
Advanced performing arts students have opportunities to participate by audition in groups like our OASIS Theatre Ensemble and OASIS Jazz Ensemble. These groups focus on building skills for competitive high school arts auditions and experiences.
The sixth grade art curriculum focuses on a further exploration of artistic techniques and provides opportunities for students to experiment with different artistic mediums. Students engage with a variety of media and techniques which can include: graphite and ink drawing, acrylic painting, watercolor painting, ceramics, and more. Students participate in an in-depth study of 2-point perspective drawing, understanding proportions, compositional balance, and design. Art demonstrations and step-by-step verbal explanations are used to ensure student understanding of the art assignment or art project. The Upper School visual arts curriculum includes cross-curricular projects to promote further understanding and connections between subjects, as well as weekly art sketches that focus on creative design and technical drawing.
The goal of St. John’s Physical Education program is to facilitate the development of skills to enable students to safely and successfully participate in team, individual, and life sports. Students learn the traits for success while participating in a variety of cross-curriculum-integrated activities. Building on the planned activities that were completed in fifth grade, sixth grade students continue to touch on the basic rules, skills, and tactics of the planned activity, but try to advance to an intermediate level of understanding. At all levels, physical fitness activities encourage the children to challenge themselves to set individual goals in order to lead a healthy lifestyle.
As part of the annual International Festival, students are assigned a different country each year; in physical education, they learn a traditional dance from this country which they perform in the festival.
Every sixth grade student is assigned an advisor with whom they meet in weekly small groups. The advisor is a teacher or administrator who is an advocate for the student and offers academic, social, and emotional support. Advisory reinforces our traits of success, organization, and study skills, and gives students an intimate forum in which to have discussions regarding academics, character, and faith.
Each year, the students participate in the International Festival. One week is devoted to the study of a country. The selection of a country is made on a three-year cycle. During this time, children are immersed in the study of the selected country, with all classroom activities, literature, and projects centering on that country.