— Grade 6
6th Grade Curriculum Overview
Texts: Literature: California Treasures, Course 1 by Glencoe, Vocabulary for Achievement by Great Source, Prentice Hall Writing and Grammar by Pearson, and select novels/literature
Our theme for the year is “Connections.” Change is everywhere in middle school, and it may feel impossible that ANYTHING has its rhyme or reason, let alone a connection. Fear not! Already your child has seen that what we have done yesterday has connected to something we learned today.
Throughout the year, the students will be reading, writing, and learning new vocabulary and figurative language terms. They will be performing dramatic readings in October, embarking on a poetry unit in April, and engaging in debate and public speaking — all of which use the mastery of correct grammar usage. Connections!
Students will work in assigned Writing Crews on occasion and read several books in small Literature Circles. Thought-provoking Essential Questions (EQ) will be determined before, and reviewed after each unit. Vocabulary tests will alternate every week. There are no longer weekly spelling tests, but the class will engage in dictation exercises and mini spelling bees that focus on the “must know” list of the 6th grade core spelling words. The students’ comp books will be used almost daily. It is where they will wake up their brains, write notes, review concepts, take quizzes, and even draw pictures. We’ll also toy around with some of Aesop’s fables throughout the year, connect their morals to other readings, and debate whether it really is better to “look before you leap” and determine if “honesty (truly) is the best policy.”
Sixth grade writing focuses on Fabulous First Lines (FFL), age-appropriate transition words or phrases and conclusion sentences, and more of their higher level vocabulary will come from selected reading texts.
Finally, we’ll cross curricula and work in connection with social studies, religion, science, and even math. We’ll also head to the computer lab for research, keyboarding, document formatting, and experiment with applications and programs such as spreadsheets, PowerPoint, Garage Band, and iMovie.
Texts: Progress in Mathematics by Sadlier-Oxford and Common Core Progress Mathematics by Sadlier School
By the end of sixth grade, students will have mastered the four arithmetic operations with positive and negative numbers, whole numbers, fractions, and decimals. They will be expected to accurately compute and solve problems as well as apply their knowledge to statistics and probability. Students will understand the concept of calculating the range, mean, median, and mode of data sets. They will analyze data and sampling processes for possible bias and misleading conclusions, and they’ll use addition and multiplication of fractions routinely to calculate probabilities for compound events. Students will work with ratios and proportions as well as compute percentages (e.g., tax, tips, and interest). Students will understand π and the formulas for the circumference and area of circle. They will use letters for numbers in formulas involving geometric shapes and in representing an unknown part of a ratio. They will also solve one-step linear equations.
Texts: Blest Are We and Family Life by RCL Benziger
This year, we will focus on the Old Testament and how the stories are connected to our Catholic Faith. Students will read from the Hebrew Scriptures, and we will focus on the connections they have to the Scriptures of the New Testament. We will also learn the Rosary in depth (focusing on all 20 mysteries) and begin to pray in a more meditative and contemplative way.
We will also work from the Grade 6 Family Life book. This year, our focus will be on the mission of the Church — that every human being is a person with dignity and that every body is sacred.
Junior High Service Learning Program
6th, 7th, and 8th grade will take part in the Service Learning Program. Rubrics and paperwork for each grade will be posted on School Speak. Service grades will be a part of the student’s final religion grade for each trimester.
Text: California Focus on Earth Science by Prentice Hall
The approach to our program is hands-on and activity-oriented. Students get a solid foundation in science investigation skills including observation, measurement and data collection, analysis, prediction, experiment design, research source evaluation, and communication. When possible, the curriculum includes differentiated lessons so a student can proceed at a pace that is comfortable, yet challenging.
Each student creates a PowerPoint presentation. Sixth graders will choose a science-related topic, research the topic thoroughly, develop a thesis, design a presentation, and then present it to the class.
Units studied are based on the Content Standards from the California Department of Education. Sixth grade focuses on earth science and utilizes the textbook California Focus on Earth Science by Prentice Hall. Curricular units for sixth grade include soil, rocks and minerals, weathering and erosion, heat, plate tectonics, earthquakes and volcanoes, weather, and natural resources.
In addition to daily labs and activities, students also have the opportunity to attend a week long Science Camp in April. The camp focuses on environmental investigations and problem solving.
Note: California is an active participant in creating the Next Generation Science Standards which are based on the Framework for Science Education. Both documents are in the initial implementation stages at present.
What this will mean statewide is a greater focus on engineering and doing, rather than just learning concepts. Key practices include asking questions, designing experiments, analyzing information, communicating information, etc. The number of core ideas will be limited, allowing more in-depth study and experimentation. When the state implements the new standards, the curriculum at St. Justin School will also be revised. However, our current curriculum already emphasizes most, if not all, of the new practices and standards. While we cannot be a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) school due to very specific facility/personnel/structure demands required to earn that designation, the Junior High curriculum does provide many of the same opportunities.
Text: Ancient Civilizations by Glencoe
We will begin the year with the students learning how to navigate their textbook and use resources to improve their reading skills. After our review of geographical terms, we will investigate the development of early civilizations in the Middle East. We will follow this with an examination of the ancient civilizations of India, China, and the Americas. We will continue our historical journey with our much-anticipated units on the Ancient Greeks and the development of the Roman Empire. Our year concludes with the students learning about the Rise of Christianity.
Students will learn to take notes from their textbook using Outline Format. We will work on our test preparation skills and initially take open-book or open-note tests. We will normally have homework, guided reading packets, and other related activities with each chapter studied. There will be two long-term written projects based on the material studied. We will study geography throughout the year, and there will be occasional map tests given as additional support of the geographical areas covered in our textbook. As we approach the third trimester, students will select, write about, and share with the class current events taken from their local newspaper or online source. Students will be introduced to Socratic Circles, where they discuss readings from their textbook using student-driven discussion.
Text: Elementary Spanish Level 2 by Frank Schaffer Publications
The 6th grade Spanish curriculum emphasizes the second language acquisition in developing basic language skills: listening comprehension, oral communication, written expression, culture, and communities.
A variety of pedagogical techniques is emphasized and adapted to the needs of the learners such as:
- oral drills
- group activities
- creative writing
- cooperative learning