Sixth-grade Humanities begins with a unit on world geography and mapping skills that raises students’ awareness of the location of continents, oceans, and the countries of the world. It culminates in a research project on various countries that includes presentations using digital media, writing, and providing citations. Our next unit is a comparative study of
the five major world religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Both the geography and world religions studies raise awareness of cultural universals and diversity, as well as examinations of identity and stereotypes. A significant portion of the year is devoted to an in-depth study of the European Middle Ages beginning with the Dark Ages and proceeding through successive examinations of the three “estates” of medieval society — the nobility, the peasantry, and the clergy. This study also involves the creation of a Medieval Museum and a research report on cultures around the world outside of Europe during the same period. The year concludes with a shorter unit on the European Renaissance. Students gain knowledge and develop critical thinking through activities such as reading, discussion, writing, research, using technology, art, and projects, with frequent written responses to issues and ideas.
English (Literature): The sixth-grade literature program exposes students to a variety of literary genres and terms, inspires them to enjoy and deepen their understanding of literature, and teaches them to respond actively, expressively, and critically to what they read. Class literature is largely integrated with the History curriculum through several works of historical fiction. In addition to independent reading and books read aloud, class books include The House on Mango Street; Catherine, Called Birdy; A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver; and A Boy of Old Prague.; and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. At the end of the year, the girls break into book groups tothat each read one of fourseveral different books set during the Great Depression, an additional unit of historical learning.
English (Language): Writing, both expository and creative, is a major emphasis of the sixth-grade English curriculum. In the writers' workshop, students develop their abilities to express ideas clearly and effectively in a number of genres (personal narrative, fiction, paragraph composition, essays, poetry) and to read and respond to others' writing critically. Writers' workshop offers students the opportunity to practice techniques of brainstorming, revision, editing, and proofreading; to identify and practice the traits of good writing; to expand their knowledge of conventions in grammar and writing mechanics; and to explore different modes of written expression. Writing is taught and critiqued using the 6 Traits of Writing: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and correctness of conventions. Emphasis is placed on both personal expression and discovery of one's own voice, as well as on clarity of exposition that stresses precision and efficiency of language. There are also ongoing classes on grammar, including parts of speech, punctuation, and sentence combining; vocabulary development (using content from literature, writing, and History); spelling; speaking, listening, and study skills.
Trimester grades are determined by averaging the grades earned on homework, quizzes, tests, and the writing portfolio, with larger projects and tests weighted more heavily.