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Sixth Grade

"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." – Albert Einstein

Courage. Compassion. Cooperation. These three words capture the essence of the sixth grade experience. Sixth grade is a year of changes and challenges. Our students learn much about themselves and what it means to be part of a community. We explore diversity, within the class and beyond—diversity of life experiences, of opinions, of fears, of hopes and dreams. We become more independent, making decisions based on a growing understanding of our own needs and those of the people around us. We learn to persevere and accept more responsibility for ourselves and our actions. We face the fears that limit us and we become empowered, knowing that we are capable of changing ourselves and the world in which we live. With support, compassion, and cooperation we will build a community of learners of which we can be proud.

The sixth grade curriculum provides many opportunities for the students to express themselves and to demonstrate their learning. Thematic units ignite imaginations with new ideas and possibilities, and encourage the children to make cross-curricular connections. The performing and visual arts are an integral part of their experience and allow us to accommodate a variety of learning styles and preferences. Partner and group projects develop communication, planning, and leadership skills. Positive interaction skills are also taught. By reaching out to others, be it through our Buddy Program, in which we work with younger students, or through community service activities, the students discover the many ways in which they can give to others while enriching their own lives.

As we travel along this sixth grade journey, we celebrate ourselves and each other, and the many accomplishments and goals that have been reached!


Language Arts

Sixth grade students learn to be more reflective learners through frequent self- evaluation of their experiences both as individuals and as part of a group. Process and outcomes are considered, and provide the basis upon which they set future goals. Both in writing and during oral discussions, students are encouraged to share personal opinions while respecting differing points of view. Personal reactions are honored, but they are asked to move beyond initial reactions to those informed by fact. Expressing themselves, orally and in writing, with logic and clarity is a yearlong focus.


Students read a variety of fiction and nonfiction, as a class and independently, in order to develop comprehension skills and an appreciation of a literature. Genres include realistic fiction, historical fiction, biography and autobiographies, short stories, and poetry. Nonfiction often accompanies our novel studies; students research issues related to our novels, and/or explore topics of interest and relevance. Strategic reading is emphasized. Students practice what good readers do to enhance comprehension and literary appreciation. Book discussions allow for personal responses and develop awareness of genre characteristics. Literary techniques are examined. Traditional assignments demonstrate their comprehension as do creative assignments, and include the visual and performing arts.


Writing is a daily activity in sixth grade and is a tool for learning in all subjects. Students learn to make lists, paraphrase what they hear or read, summarize, hypothesize, synthesize, and make connections across disciplines. Students are encouraged to share their ideas, and experiment with techniques and types of writing. Students plan, draft, revise, and edit their writing. Activities include daily writing prompts, creative writing in a variety of genres, as well as nonfiction writing (expository and personal response/research). Both formal and informal writing is practiced. Attention is paid to content (idea development, clarity, style) as well as to mechanical accuracy and structure. Developing a sense of audience is important and the classroom provides a “safe” environment that encourages students to expand their repertoire, share their writing, and seek feedback.

English grammar is reinforced through written expression, using transitional sentences and phrasing. Students will demonstrate consistent verb tense in all written work with attention to editing skills for punctuation, capitalization, and pronoun usage.

Language Arts also includes vocabulary study with words drawn both from the literature and from the Vocabulary Workshop series that is used throughout the Middle School. SAT words are incorporated into instruction as well.


Sixth grade math is the study of pre-algebra. This course introduces basic algebraic concepts, and reinforces those concepts, building upon previously mastered content.

We use the Prentice Hall Course Pre-Algebra textbook and Glencoe workbooks. The emphasis in pre-algebra is to apply computational skills (using integers, fractions, decimals, and percentages) to the understanding of beginning algebraic concepts. Our program offers strategies to learn mathematical ideas, to develop thinking and problem solving skills, and to maintain and apply basic computational skills.

The sixth grade pre-algebra course includes limited topics in geometry and statistics that also involve arithmetic review and the introduction of skills and concepts needed for algebra. Our program emphasizes both mastery of the facts and skills of mathematics as well as the development of abstract concepts and logical reasoning.

Social Studies

In sixth grade, we explore the fascinating world of Ancient Civilizations. To prepare the students for our studies, we begin by familiarizing them with physical features and biomes found around the globe. Students learn how to read and create maps, graphs, charts, and timelines. Next we investigate archeology and anthropology and learn how scientists use fossils and artifacts to learn about ancient man. These introductory units provide a context and foundation for the rest of the sixth grade curriculum, which includes an exploration of the Fertile Crescent, Egypt, India, and China.

Critical thinking skills are developed through a variety of activities and projects. Identifying central issues, bias, cause and effect, distinguishing between facts and opinions, and drawing conclusions are all skills that we build throughout the year. Essay writing is taught and the students have many opportunities to do so. Research skills are emphasized, including the evaluation of websites, with the goal of creating efficient and effective learners. Both note-taking and note-making skills are practiced on a regular basis. These skills are strengthened throughout the year as students engage in exciting research projects.

Students are given the opportunity to read and review primary and secondary sources, conduct interviews, and use electronic databases and web sources, as well as reference books and atlases(print and on-line sources).

Readers’ Theater scripts introduce the children to roles and experiences that were common in ancient times, in an interactive and entertaining manner. The students enthusiastically participate in simulations that require individuals to make “real-life” decisions just as early man was required to do. They learn the consequences of their choices, and the role that luck, skill, and knowledge plays in determining their fate. Presentation skills are enhanced during the year as students share what they have learned with parents and peers. Strategies include the creation of written and oral presentations and the incorporation of the visual and performing arts.


Sixth grade students study Earth Science and cover topics from rocks, to volcanoes, to space. We also do a series of in depth studies on specific historical natural disasters. The students participate in hands-on lab activities, such as creating models of the Earth’s layers, and inquiry based projects, such as building a water tower that will survive an earthquake. (a bunch of stuff about virtual science fair was taken out here)

We also build upon the basic information learned in the elementary school grades, and help students learn how to expand the ideas and concepts that were previously taught. Students explore the steps of the scientific method and apply them to lab activities throughout the year. As a class, we work on developing note taking and study skills, as well as reading comprehension and writing. The students, through their lab reports, continue to sharpen their technical writing skills, and work on the research process and technical reading comprehension.


Students in fifth through eighth grade learn Spanish through immersion experiences to strengthen speaking proficiency and cultural appreciation. Middle School Spanish students focus on the four key areas of foreign language study: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Each unit consists of a new vocabulary theme and grammar concept, reading and listening comprehension activities, speaking and writing activities, multimedia cultural presentations, and interactive activities and practices that reinforce vocabulary and grammar.

By the time students depart eighth grade, they are proficient in Spanish in the areas of communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities.

In 5th and 6th grades, Spanish meets three times a week for 45 minutes. Students are exposed to the language in a variety of ways that trigger linguistic growth and maximize language skills. They read and write in Spanish and practice speaking through oral presentations, story writing, dynamic performances, and dynamic collaborations with the School´s art program.

Physical Education

Sixth grade students continue to work cooperatively to succeed in monthly team-building challenges. Life time adventure activities such as ultimate Frisbee, touch football, self-defense, Frisbee golf, capture the flag, and a variety of strength training exercises strengthen student's bodies and spirit. Sports skill-development also continues with each sports unit of instruction.

Each unit begins with fundamental skills, then lead-ups, small games, and then large games. Technically correct skill acquisition and working cooperatively with others are the two main goals per unit. Detecting, analyzing, and correcting errors in personal movement patterns is demonstrated. Learning the rules and scoring of the game, along with recognizing fundamental components and strategies is necessary.


The study of art in the sixth grade consists of an overview of ancient civilizations through the lens of artifacts, mythology, belief systems, and traditions of ancient cultures from around the world. Students invent their own artifacts and bring them to life using clay. While learning about Ancient Egypt, each student creates a God rendered in the style of Egyptian art but with contemporary symbols and powers. Stop-motion animation is embedded into the curriculum, and students learn to work in groups to create collaborative animated films. Research and writing are an important part of almost all projects. Art is scheduled three times a week for 45 minutes.


Students continue to progress in both piano and guitar, and have opportunities to experiment with other musical instruments. They are encouraged to form groups with their peers to combine the sounds of a variety of instruments. Their music experience also includes dramatic performance and choreography for different dances. Continued study of a variety of composers is accomplished via technology.


The sixth grade student is an independent library user who enjoys the full range of electronic and print resources through the library catalog and subscription databases. The Information Literacy library class builds on lessons in fifth grade to instill competency in the areas of digital citizenship, research and technology, and literature appreciation.

Sixth grade students have an exploratory unit on research taught by the librarian and the sixth grade social studies teacher based on a unit of study from the ancient civilizations curriculum. Students formulate note cards on paper and/or electronically on the EasyBib web page. The students review MLA 7 citation style and the use of a citation generator, EasyBib.

Sixth grade students can choose to participate in the Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Reading program. Students are encouraged to select and checkout books from the library’s print or the ebook collection.

An independent private school in
Montgomery County, Maryland
offering innovative preschool
through 8th grade programs.

Barnesville School

21830 Peach Tree Road
PO Box 404
Barnesville, MD 20838

p: 301.972.0341
f: 301.972.4076


We offer a vigorous academic program for students as well as engaging, hands-on learning experiences.


Our positive, supportive learning environment promotes imagination, exploration, personal growth, and achievement.

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