Art class meets one trimester a year. 
Sixth-grade students review the elements of art: line, shape/form, color, texture, value, and space. The students work on utilizing the elements in an intentional way, including exploring and creating with various mediums such as drawing, painting, fiber, and ceramics, including both flat and dimensional work. Student work is focused on building skills with the selected medium and encouraging good crafting techniques.

Sixth grade English is a literature-based course of study. Students read, discuss, and write about the books they have read. Many of these books require students to create projects related to the topics being discussed. These novels are often integrated with social studies, math, art, health, or science units. Using these novels as “springboards,” this class focuses on a different theme each trimester. Themes include such topics as “journeys,” “mystery/adventure,” and “diversity.” The historical and realistic fiction genres that we read are both entertaining and informative. Grammar, public speaking, accurate listening and note-taking, vocabulary development, and research skills are integrated with the study of young adult literature.

Writing is an important part of this course. Students journal about various experiences and assigned topics. Many of these journals are “on demand” responses. They focus on the students’ ideas, not on the various mechanics of formal writing. However, students also explore and use the “Writing Process,” which includes the formal techniques of using a pre-write, first draft, self-edit, second draft, peer-edit, copy for grading, and final publishing copy. Students explore the genre of poetry. They read and write many styles of poetry that are related to the novels they are reading, seasons of the year, or personal experiences. The opportunity for publishing their poetry is available and is achieved by many students each year.

Students in sixth grade choose a three-year sequence in French, Spanish or Chinese. All four basic skills—listening, speaking, reading, and writing—are practiced. Completion of the level I curriculum, over the course of three years, allows for a variety of supplemental and enrichment activities in addition to the instruction provided through the textbook series. Students who successfully complete the Middle School program are prepared for level II French, Spanish and Chinese in ninth grade. Students may select French, Spanish or Chinese at the Upper School to fulfill the three-year Global Language requirement for graduation.

Sixth-grade students may elect to take Latin in addition to their global language (French, Spanish, or Chinese) course. Students explore the Latin language, which plays a fundamental role in English grammar and “lives” in 70% of English words. A goal of this course is to strengthen English grammar and vocabulary skills. Students use English grammatical terms to identify parts of Latin sentences, which they analyze through diagramming. Students also learn Latin vocabulary by using English word derivation to identify the meaning of words. Students also learn the skill of breaking down an unfamiliar English word to the Latin origin and translating the meaning. While exploring the Latin language, students’ English grammar and vocabulary will simultaneously progress. Students also learn to pay close attention in both reading and writing in English and Latin.

The sixth-grade health and wellness education classes encourage students to develop strong decision making, communication, and refusal skills by providing accurate developmentally appropriate information and opportunities for carefully guided discussions about peer pressure, puberty, consumer health, media influences, and cyber safety. The objectives are to enable students to make sound decisions that lead to good physical health, mental health, and social health. In addition, students explore human anatomy and physiology, including puberty and physical changes which occur to the body. HIV awareness education and changing nutritional needs are explored and discussed. Consumer health, cyber safety and the influence of the media on what we buy are woven into the curriculum. A unit on first aid teaches students how to recognize and care for victims of injury or sudden illness plus how to treat cuts, bruises, bone and muscle injuries, shock, bleeding and other first aid emergencies.

Sixth-grade students study either Mathematics 6 or Pre-Algebra. In mathematics, an objective is to refine and master many topics learned in the Lower School, including number properties, the order of operations, operations with decimals and fractions, ratios, proportions, and topics in geometry. Several themes of algebra are introduced and explored to show various ways of using this tool to solve problems. Goals include writing algebraic equations and expressions, completing function tables and writing function rules.

Each student studies music during one trimester of the year. Students study biographical information on various composers and examples of music from all historical periods and in all styles. The social studies and music curricula dovetail to provide an interdisciplinary experience. Music Ace Maestro software enables the study of music theory through lab work and includes all basic concepts and rudiments. Performance is strongly encouraged in the classroom and in various ensembles which include Chorus, Handbell Choir, Concert Band, String Orchestra, Jazz Band and Chapel Musicians, all of which are open to grades sixth, seventh and eighth grades, and meet during the school day.

The middle school physical education curriculum is dedicated to meaningful instruction in developmentally appropriate movement experiences that will lead to an active and healthy lifestyle. A goal of the program is to promote a positive self-concept through fitness, sport and lifetime activities. All middle school students will have two periods of physical education per cycle throughout the year. By becoming and remaining physically, mentally, socially and emotionally healthy, students will increase their chances of achieving their highest potential.

The sixth-grade course is a study of life science. The major units include scientific inquiry, metric system, cell biology, scientific classification, the five kingdoms, zoology, human biology, and genetics. The students learn proper digital microscope techniques throughout the year and perform a variety of animal dissections during the study of the animal kingdom.

Sixth-grade world civilizations is an introductory course that focuses on beginning foundations of the earliest civilizations (Mesopotamia, Egyptians), as well as Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Medieval Europe, Ancient Korea, and Japan. Students will learn to apply the eight key features of civilizations and the five themes of geography to each civilization explored. Beyond the textbook, authentic literature is integrated into the curriculum as an enrichment learning experience. The novels add depth and personal perspective of two of the ancient civilizations to be studied. Throughout the school year, study skills, writing assignments, creative projects, and the skill of note-taking will also be emphasized.

All middle school students will experience learning off campus. The sixth-grade travels to a camp and conference center in the Pocono Mountains for two days, visits museums in Philadelphia, travels back in time to the Renaissance Faire and has community service opportunities throughout the school year. Sixth graders may also participate in our international travel program.

Merle Smith Campus

Downtown Campus