Grade 6 Central Subject: Africa
Naturally embedded in any academic curriculum are human themes. In keeping with Shady Hill School’s traditions, we aim to integrate within all subjects themes regarding character, values, respect for self and others, and the responsibility children have as members of the community.
In Grade VI we build on ideas introduced in previous years to address concerns that 11- and 12-year-olds are typically beginning to confront: assumptions, stereotyping, peer pressure, inclusion/exclusion, community service, and social justice. Because we are especially mindful of the important developmental transitions experienced by sixth graders, we link much of our curriculum to the central theme of “rites of passage.” Throughout the year, students earn beads that symbolize their achievements in meeting certain social, emotional, academic, and physical challenges. These accomplishments promote a sense of individual progress for each child and enhance the cohesiveness of the entire age group.
Science In Grade VI
(Four periods/210 minutes per cycle)
This course emphasizes the use of Shady Hill's outdoor campus, as well as our conviction that the best way to understand our complex planet Earth is to begin by paying close attention to one’s home in nature. Students learn about the natural environment in order to see how all parts are interconnected. Observational techniques and careful record keeping is practiced. Students then share information with the whole group to allow them to practice communication skills and increase their understanding of the area.
Studies begin with a survey of trees as examples of living things. The rocks and soil of the area are then examined along with plate tectonics in order to connect how the non-living parts of the natural community affect the living parts, and why things change over time. Topographic maps are used to learn about the landscape. Students consider the reasons for large-scale geographic change, both natural and man-made. After experimenting to derive laws of motion and designing experiments to mimic effects of seasonal sunlight, students support and defend different ideas of planetary motion. This leads to how changes in celestial objects affect us on Earth.
In the spring, classes spend time examining climate data, looking at adaptations through bird watching and other similar activities, to come to a better understanding of the larger topics of evolution and climate change.
Mathematics in Grade VI
(Five periods/260 minutes per cycle)
The Middle School mathematics program at Shady Hill School guides students in constructing new mathematical knowledge built upon deep understanding and prior learning. The program provides students with meaningful learning experiences through discovery and exploration, complemented by the formalization of requisite algorithms and skill work. Students work both independently and collaboratively in class. They develop skill in problem–solving, and further their ability to communicate and justify their reasoning. They are encouraged to represent their thinking in both oral and written form. Students make connections to mathematical ideas and to real-world experiences. The use of manipulatives and technology allows students to move from concrete to abstract thinking in the ongoing development of mathematical ideas.
The Grade VI math curriculum explores new concepts with number and operations while continuing to work with whole numbers, fractions, decimals, percentages and measurement. Work with fractions includes multiplication, division and operations with mixed numbers. Number theory comprises primes, factors, multiples and Venn diagrams. The study of geometry covers angle measurement, classification of geometric figures, area, perimeter and volume. Opportunities for algebraic reasoning occur throughout the curriculum in order to build the foundation for the formal study of algebra in the upper grades.
Library In Grade VI
(One 50-minute period per cycle)
Students alternately meet with a librarian or use the period for Quiet Reading, an independent reading program supported by the librarians but overseen by the Gradehead. Librarian led classes include book discussion, research instruction and the fine-tuning of library skills. Students also use the library on a flexibly scheduled basis throughout the year to complete research projects.
Art Studio In Grade VI
(One 90-minute period per cycle for half the year)
Sixth graders have studio instruction with either Kirk Goetchius or Aparna Agrawal. While the classes complete different projects, students continue to build skills and a personal language in art making through observation and landscape drawing, portrait and textural painting, and sculpture — all in various materials. Sixth graders work on elements of design, leading to textured acrylic paintings inspired by traditional African architectural motifs and use clay to make vessels and sculptural objects and learn the basics of throwing pots on the wheel. Students are encouraged to discover which media interest them the most and use the longer periods, and their growing maturity, to develop skills in those areas.
Music & Performing Arts In Grade VI
(Two 50-minute periods per cycle)
Each sixth grade class meets for music twice each cycle for 50 minutes of general music. In addition, students may elect to participate in the school orchestra, chorus or jazz band, which rehearse after the regular school day has ended.
Physical Education in Grade VI
(Four 55-minute periods per week)
Students in Grade VI will participate in a full interscholastic athletic program. Depending on interest, Shady Hill offers up to six interscholastic sports (cross country, field hockey, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, and track and field), fielding approximately 14 teams. Sixth graders will participate in one activity each season with fitness offered in the winter and physical education offered in the spring as an alternative to the interscholastic options during the winter and spring seasons. We believe strongly that the natural progression provides our students with a rich athletic experience. In all parts of the program, there is a three-pronged emphasis: the pursuit of fitness, cognitive understanding of concepts, and the development of self-confidence. The ultimate goal is team and personal success while modeling Shady Hill’s core values.
Woodshop In Grade VI
(One period 90-minute period per cycle for half the year)
In Grade VI, students design and carve a mask project. We begin with an examination and discussion of mask making across cultures, both modern and primitive. Students arrive at their designs by exploring symbolism and the transformative nature of masks through drawing. They are required to consider the meaning and symbolic value of their designs and are encouraged to develop a character or story that their mask exhibits. The work requires training in and proficient use of hand and power tools including saws, drills, a wide variety of carving tools, and the lathe. Upon completion of their mask, students may choose another project if time allows.
Technology In Grade VI
Today’s technology is well-suited to support Shady Hill’s emphasis on creative, student-centered, project-based learning. Using the shared laptop cart, class sets of iPads and campus-wide wireless network, sixth grade students employ a range of software and internet-based programs that enable collaboration, research, data collection, digital storytelling, and mastery of skills. Examples of the types of software that students use over the course of the year include: Inspiration, iMovie, Garage Band, Comic Life, Keynote, Google Earth and Google SketchUp; as well as Internet-based programs such as Voicethread, Quizlet, Google Docs, and Sheppard Software. By integrating technology into the classroom and the existing curriculum, as opposed to teaching it as a stand-alone course, students are able to learn new ways to demonstrate their knowledge while gaining an understanding of the practical application of the tools themselves.
Middle School Community in Grade VI
One 50-minute Assembly per cycle
Assembly is a regular time designated for Middle School students, faculty and staff to build and maintain community. A variety of activities are scheduled during this time, from large group games and icebreakers, to classroom sharing and performances by visiting artists and outside speakers. Each assembly is punctuated by community singing.
Morning Meetings, Tuesday and Thursday, 8:10-8:20 AM
Weekly meetings of Grades V-VIII, led by Grade VIII students, provide opportunities for school and division-related announcements, class sharing and brief performances. This informal blend of news, information and entertainment builds community spirit and Middle School unity. In addition, these meetings feature Grade VIII “declamations” of original written compositions.