In English, students focus on reading, writing and critical thinking. Active reading strategies are reinforced through annotation (modeling it on iPads in the fall) and class discussion, working up to Socratic seminars in the final term. Students build writing skills, starting with paragraph construction and culminating with four-paragraph literary essays using text support. Grammatical instruction focuses on parts of speech and is reinforced through writing workshops. Our vocabulary study is drawn from the class literature and augmented by a word study program that focuses on word etymology.
The overarching theme of sixth grade history is empires. Our study includes, but is not limited to, the Egyptian Empire, Hebrew Kingdoms, Roman Empire, and the Islamic Empire. Research skills include active reading, note taking and evaluating Internet sources. Writing skills include paragraph development, essays and creative journal assignments.
The ongoing goal of the sixth grade math program is to continue to develop students who are resilient, resourceful, and independent mathematical thinkers who are able to apply their skills to solve a variety of problems. The materials used are from Math in Focus (the American publication of Singapore Math) and the major topics include negative numbers, powers and roots, multiplying and dividing by decimals and mixed numbers, ratios, solving percent problems, simplifying algebraic expressions, using the coordinate plane, finding areas of polygons and circles, and calculating surface area and volume of prisms. Students will regularly work in small groups to apply different strategies for problem solving, explain and defend strategies, use bar models and sketches to help visualize, and encourage each other to reason abstractly.
Sixth grade science inspires students to explore their world by engaging in physical, life, and earth sciences. Students have opportunities for scientific research and data collection in order to better understand the scientific method. Emphasis is also placed on experimental design, as students cooperate with partners and small groups during lab experiments, projects and various creative exercises.
Emphasis is placed on developing basic speaking, listening, reading and writing skills in the language. Frequent review of key vocabulary and gradual introduction to new grammar concepts assure a supportive pace. Use of small and large group communicative activities is an integral part of the program. Key grammar concepts such as word order, present tense of regular and selected irregular verbs, and plurals of nouns and adjectives are studied in depth.
Students begin their drama experience at Pike in sixth grade. In their first year of drama, the focus is on building trust and a common vocabulary, storytelling and understanding the role of the director. In addition to daily skill building activities, students write and perform in a formal scene project. Students also participate as directors for these formal scenes. As directors, they practice giving helpful, clear and supportive feedback to actors. They end the term with a presentation of scenes for the entire sixth grade and their teachers.
In the sixth grade, students are immersed in a performance-based music curriculum. We use a variety of instruments that work with iPads to create rock bands and learn how to create effective covers of pop songs. Through the process of creating cover songs, students learn the basics of music theory and notation. Some of the instruments we use include Jamstik+ (guitar that works with iPad), Xkey Air (keyboard that works with iPad), electric basses, and electric drum kits. As part of our class, students learn basic skills on all four instruments. In addition, they have ample opportunities in school to further explore the instruments outside of class time. These performance experiences help reinforce the value of teamwork, work ethic, and collaboration.
In the Upper School visual arts program, emphasis is placed on balancing fundamental skill development, individual creativity and hands-on experience with a wide variety of materials and techniques aimed at opening as many creative and inspirational doors as possible. In the sixth grade, that begins with a focus on self-expression and observational drawing. This begins with an introduction to the elements of art and principles of design as well as their expressive capabilities. These skills are practiced and developed through a series of exercises and brought together in a culminating work of art that utilizes visual elements to communicate and/or express something about themselves. All students’ finished work will be showcased in the annual art show.
The goal of the curriculum is to develop versatile movers with the confidence to learn new skills and the desire to engage in physical pursuits on a lifelong basis. The three areas of focus include lifetime fitness and activities, traditional sports and an outdoor challenge course unit. Students are exposed to a wide variety of activities to help them discover their personal interests. Some of the activities include fitness, handball, volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, basketball, and floor hockey, to name a few.