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Grade 6

Sixth grade students continue to focus on independence and responsibility. Sixth graders participate in a community-building trip in the fall that gives them an opportunity to develop social bonds and learn effective ways to support and cooperate with their sixth grade peers. There is also a more intense focus on developing study skills and implementation of these skills in all subject areas.


The sixth grade English curriculum integrates several areas of language arts into its six weekly classes. Students read a variety of genres that represent traditional literature and modern classics of young adult and adolescent literature. The students draw connections between the literature and their own lives, as they study the elements of literature represented in each work with emphasis on analyzing plot structure, conflict, and theme. At least one novel a year is integrated with the students’ study of ancient civilizations in social studies class. The writing curriculum emphasizes the six traits of writing:  ideas, organization, style, word choice, voice, and conventions. Students are guided throughout the writing process as they pre-write, draft, revise, edit, and publish pieces. In sixth grade, students write a variety of types of compositions including narrative, poetry, persuasive, and expository pieces. Direct grammar instruction takes place throughout the year with an emphasis on parts of speech and varied sentence structure.  Sixth grade students build their vocabulary in the context of the literature they read. Additionally, they use Wordly-Wise to enhance vocabulary acquisition.

The mathematics curriculum is a sequential program and builds in sophistication each year. Sixth grade math provides a comprehensive study of fractions, decimals, data, statistics and probability, geometry, measurement, integers, and variables.  In addition, students continue their study of algebra by solving one-, two-, and multi-step equations with all rational numbers. Students are challenged to apply conceptual understanding to rich math tasks, and ongoing assessment and feedback enables teachers and students to extend learning to greater depths. Sixth grade students also have the opportunity to place into an accelerated curriculum that will prepare them for a seventh grade algebra class and an eighth grade geometry class. 

 In sixth grade, using hands-on exploration, the students are introduced to matter and energy types ending with thermal energy and the universal trend towards entropy. We then introduce Earth’s systems, weather in the atmosphere, minerals and rocks in the geosphere, and plate tectonics. We end the year with living things in the biosphere where we will start in 7th grade.

Students in sixth grade study ancient history from the earliest humans through the fall of the Roman Empire. Skills covered in the sixth grade course include reading and interpreting various maps, comparing and analyzing information in tables and infographics, interpreting primary and secondary sources, and identifying causes and effects. Students regularly follow the news to foster understanding of contemporary events and how they relate to history.

Every sixth grade student is assigned an advisor with whom they meet in weekly small groups. The advisor is a teacher or administrator who is an advocate for the student and helps the students navigate the social and emotional dynamics of middle school. Through a vertically aligned curriculum, the upper school advisory program reinforces our traits of success, organization, and study skills, and gives students an intimate forum in which to have discussions regarding academics, character, and faith.

In sixth grade, students move from Elementary school to Middle school. The goal for this grade is to make them confident using conjugations in Present tense regular verbs and some Present tense irregular verbs. In order to get that, students work with grammar in specific contexts where they can comprehend more sophisticated grammar structures. Students also exchange simple spoken and written information in Spanish. Students are assessed on their participation in class by class assignments, tests, and homework. 

During sixth grade, students develop an age-appropriate understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations, building on their previous years’ experiences. By the end of sixth grade, we expect St. John’s students to be able to work independently in all programs that we use throughout the year. Sixth graders are expected to be able to research using different online databases and create presentations using a variety of programs.  References are cited in proper MLA 9 form.  Sixth graders also do an in depth dive into digital citizenship as they begin to embark on social media platforms in their personal lives.

Sixth Grade artists continue their exploration of art mediums which can include: graphite and ink drawing, acrylic painting, watercolor painting, ceramics, and more. Students learn two-point perspective drawing and focus on realistic drawing along with technical design. Visual art demonstrations and step-by-step verbal explanations are utilized to promote comprehension. Students engage in cross-curricular projects to promote connections between academic subjects, as well as art homework sketches that display students' creativity and advanced drawing skills.

All Upper School students sing in Chorus and play an instrument in the Concert Band. Students can choose either a brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. Additionally, students also have the option to play keyboards, guitar, and electric bass in the concert band as well.

Christian values and ethics are two of the cornerstones of education at St. John’s Episcopal School, which is exemplified in the Religion program. Throughout their academic and spiritual career at St. Johns, students are exposed to all aspects of the Bible. In Grade 6, the emphasis shifts to a deeper understanding of the Old Testament. By focusing on the origins of the Bible, students learn to understand and identify the roots of the Christian faith. Students develop an understanding of the context, lessons, and stories of the Old Testament. Students study the stories and relationships of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in the Old Testament while they learn to think critically about their own lives, as well as to apply lessons and morals to their everyday lives.

The goal of St. John’s Physical Education program is to facilitate the development of skills to enable students to safely and successfully participate in team, individual, and life sports. Students learn the traits for success while participating in a variety of cross-curriculum-integrated activities. Continuing to build on the planned activities completed in previous years, eighth grade students incorporate much more gameplay into units of study. Emphasis continues on cooperation and communication skills inside a team. Students are encouraged to be moving and engaged. At all levels, physical fitness activities help students to challenge themselves to set individual goals in order to lead a healthy lifestyle.