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Grade 6 Course Overview

Language Arts:

The language arts program is designed to expand each student’s ability to communicate effectively through reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Students practice speaking and listening through regular classroom discussion and the oral presentation of projects. They develop their reading skills through a varied program of independent reading, guided reading of short stories and novels, shared reading, and participation in literature circles. The focus of writing will be on personal narratives, informational texts, essays, and realistic fiction. By learning to keep a writer’s notebook, students will develop and apply literary techniques to enhance their writing abilities.

Math:

Students in the sixth grade expand upon their computational skills and number sense acquired in earlier years, and apply them in problem solving situations. Fluency with rational numbers such as fractions, decimals and percents as well as whole numbers is stressed while studying proportional reasoning, geometry, probability and statistics, and algebraic thinking. Combining these understandings with the ability to explain their thinking and reason mathematically prepares the students for further mathematics and applications to everyday situations.

Social Studies:

Sixth grade social studies students will be challenged with the task of answering essential questions about their pasts, such as: What can we learn about ourselves by studying the first humans? How did early societies evolve into increasingly sophisticated civilizations? How have various civilizations influenced the world we live in today? and Are we civilized? The attempt to answer questions like these lends itself to academic discussion and debate, benefiting students by providing a better sense of what life was like for humans of the past as well as offering insights to the present and future. Utilizing information about various civilizations throughout history, sixth graders are offered the opportunity to analyze and evaluate the tenets which bind cultures together across millions of years.

In an exciting integration of old and new, sixth graders will strive to gather evidence to support their answers to these essential questions using a technology-enriched curriculum. The natural integration of social studies and technology will aid in the research and presentation of a variety of topics, giving the students the opportunity to utilize information from a myriad of sources. Aside from basic keyboarding and word processing skills, sixth graders will be exposed to a variety of Web 2.0 (shareware) programs, library databases, and iPad apps which will be used to help stimulate discussions, organize ideas and concepts, and present information in various formats. They will become accustomed to a standardized process of research, and will be expected to credit source information they gather to create their final products. Finally, students will gain an understanding of the social factors associated with living in an era of connectivity, and will be expected to make healthy decisions based on such knowledge.

Science:

What are the qualities of a good scientist? Sixth grade students build the foundation of their MS science experience. Content is learned through hands-on inquiry based activities, including lab experiments, field trips and research projects. This course provokes students’ thinking, creativity and problem-solving skills by learning specific science tenets and how they apply in today’s world.

Major Concepts Studied:

  • Scientific Inquiry: What is it and how do we use it in our everyday lives? What are the proper tools and procedures used for measuring in a science laboratory?

  • Features of the Earth’s Surface: How do scientists know what they do about Earth’s past? What is the importance of each layer of Earth and how do scientists know about the interior of Earth?

  • Nature of Matter: What are the different phases of matter and what is matter made of? What is the basic structure of an atom and why is the Periodic Table arranged the way it is?

  • Ecosystems: How do living and nonliving factors interact in an ecosystem and how do humans play a role in keeping ecosystems balanced?

  • Energy: What are the major forms of energy and how do they impact our lives?

Beginning Band

Beginning Band teaches musical concepts on woodwind, brass or percussion instruments. Musical concepts include posture, tone, note reading, rhythm reading, technical precision, solo and ensemble performance practice, instrument assembly and maintenance.  All instruction is done in a class setting with mixed instruments. Sixth grade students who play violin, viola, cello or bass instruments may continue to play these instruments in class with the understanding that the rest of the students are new to their instruments and will be at a different level.

6th Grade Choir

Choir provides all students with the opportunity to appreciate the work and dedication necessary for singing in a chorus. The joy that results from connecting with a piece of music, bringing both the notes and text to life, is a feeling unique to the choral classroom. During their time in choir, students will sing in unison, two-part and three-part harmony, and will be exposed to varying musical genres, dance and movement, and a range of languages.

For many students entering 6th grade, the use of a choral score is brand new. New choir students will be taught how to navigate a choral score, as well as how their individual part fits in with the whole. Sixth graders will also study how the vocal cords work to produce sound, learn new vocal techniques for their changing voices, and learn to use and implement Solfeggio in both warm-ups and concert literature.

Physical Education:

The PE program emphasizes a curriculum that develops the knowledge, skills, and behaviors necessary to engage in a physically active lifestyle.  As a result, students learn to be engaged, confident and competent movers who are intrinsically motivated to be healthy and active.  Our learning progression is designed around the five standards determined by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE).  These standards are intended to provide students with the necessary knowledge, processes, and skills to become physically educated, physically fit, and responsible in their physical activity choices and behaviors for a lifetime.

The middle school physical education program emphasizes broad exposure to various physical pursuits so that students will have a wide range of transferrable skills.  This allows them the maximum amount of choices of healthy activities when they are making lifestyle decisions on their own.  The MS program strives to offer age and ability appropriate challenges which provide a physically and emotionally rewarding experience.

World Languages:

TAISM’s World Languages curriculum is based on the standards and benchmarks developed in the National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project.  Spanish, French, Arabic Heritage Language, and Arabic as a Foreign Language are offered to sixth through eighth-graders. 

World Language courses are characterized by a high degree of participation in student-centered learning activities. Students spend most of their class time interacting with the teacher and with other students in order to develop communicative competence in the language. 

Courses in the middle school offer a balanced approach to language learning, placing equal emphasis on the three modes of communication: Interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational, in accordance with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). 

Focusing on the cultures of Arabic, Spanish and French-speaking countries, a major goal of the program is to foster an understanding of and an appreciation for other cultures, in general, and to cultivate within each student lifelong habits of curiosity, empathy, and intercultural awareness. The study of World Languages also aims to reinforce and endorse students’ knowledge of their native language and of other disciplines.

A special note about TAISM’s Arabic Heritage Language Program:

TAISM offers an opportunity for heritage speakers of Arabic to study in their native language within the regular school day. A heritage speaker is an individual who has a personal interest or involvement in an ancestral language. An Arabic heritage student is a student raised in a home where Arabic is spoken, who speaks or merely understands the heritage language, and who is to some degree bilingual, but not necessarily fluent in Arabic.  The results of this intensive study of the Arabic language will be improvement in students’ command of written and oral expression, which will support them in using Arabic in a practical fashion in their day-to-day lives going forward.

English Language Learners (ELL):

The English Language Learner (ELL) program at TAISM is designed to enable students to be academically successful in their regular content area classes. The course builds proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in English in an academic setting.

Course Content:

  • Phonics and spelling skills: Students will explore how words work and the relationship between spelling and meaning.

  • Academic vocabulary: Students will study the most common academic words used across the content areas in middle and high school. They will acquire a working knowledge of word families that allows them to understand and use new vocabulary in the content areas.

  • Grammar: Our focus is on understanding correct grammar and using it to communicate effectively in speaking and writing. This includes studying parts of speech, verb tenses, and using a variety of sentence structures.

  • Comprehension: Students will learn a variety of listening and reading comprehension strategies for various texts. They will be expected to practice these strategies regularly through reading assignments at home.

  • Clear communication in speaking: Our goal is to build proficiency in academic speech. In class, students will participate in a wide variety of activities such as partner and small group work, reading aloud, giving short presentations, and class discussions.

  • Academic writing: Students will learn about organization for different types of writing, including writing paragraphs and essays. A major emphasis will be for students to edit their own work for mistakes. Again, students will be expected to practice these skills regularly through both in-class and at-home assignments.

Trimester Offering

The following three courses are one trimester (12 weeks) in length. Students rotate through the three offerings in the course of the school year.

Art: 

Much of what we do in Middle School Art is intended to strengthen each student’s powers of observation and provide hands-on experience with of a variety of media tools. Many of the learning strategies and observational skills used within art are transferable to other curricular areas and aspects of a student’s life. Foundation skills in the visual arts are based on the Elements of Art and Principles of Design, which are introduced at all grades, with emphasis in particular Elements and Principles addressed within each grade level. Lastly, students will have opportunities to explore and define the creative process while producing works of art that communicate personal perspective and experience.

Grade Six Focus (Line, Shape, Space, Color, Pattern and Unity)

• Continual reinforcement of all Elements of Art and Principles of Design.

• Continual reinforcement of color theory.

• Learning to create an infinite array of hues from primary colors.

• Extensive exploration of line, shape, space, pattern and unity.

• Learning to bypass visual preconceptions through contour drawing exercises.

• Identifying pattern and repetition within natural and human-made objects.

• Exploration of the cultural significance and universality of motifs, symbols and ornamentation.

• Exploration of primitive design/motifs of Oceanic, Australian, African and North American cultures.

• Exposure to artists whose works emphasized motif, symbols, patterns and primitive design.

Grade Six Artists (may include, but not limited to): Adolph Gottlieb, Joan Miro, Jasper Johns, Henry Matisse, Keith Haring, Mark Toby, Robert Indiana and Wassily Kandinsky

Please take a look at our Middle School Art Gallery

Speech:

In speech class, students will work to become effective communicators. Building strong communication skills will help them unlock the door to a better self-understanding. In many ways, speech is an extension of the important work students are doing in Language Arts, generating ideas, drafting and revising speeches, and presenting a final product. Units in this class include: expository speaking (speeches to inform); storytelling and drama (speeches to entertain), and research speeches (speeches to persuade). These major speeches are supported by a number of in-class activities that help foster strong communication skills.

Health:

Health Education provides the knowledge necessary to establish positive health behaviors and to make informed choices and decisions. Sixth-grade health students learn that health is a state of physical, mental/emotional and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease. Students learn ways to achieve balance in all of these areas of health during their middle school years. In partnership with parents, sixth-graders will have opportunities to clarify their personal values about a variety of health topics. Students will also have the opportunity to teach a lesson to elementary school students about a health topic, to develop advocacy skills and to promote health in our community.

Areas of study include: understanding health and wellness; the decision-making process; introduction to drug awareness; nutrition foundations; communication skills; cyber-safety; and growth and development (focus on puberty in males and females).

 
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