Middle School

Children are naturally eager to question, develop their own theories — even change a point of view.

Sixth Grade

Spanish

Our middle school Spanish program focuses on communication. Students take Spanish four times a week in order to focus on consistent speaking, listening, and language comprehension without sacrificing the teaching of grammar and vocabulary. Our teaching approach maximizes the students’ communication skills. The model is based on working in small groups so the students can practice newly acquired skills together.

A large part of our themes and vocabulary are based on what the students are learning in their classroom. We work on building a strong vocabulary and learn basic phrases. 

This is an introductory course for middle school students. The primary goal of sixth grade Spanish is to develop oral proficiency in the Spanish language, as well as reading and writing. Spanish is taught in the context of the Spanish-speaking world with readings and discussions of those various cultures. Class work involves communicative activities, dialogues, music, and paired/group practice. Students also explore geography and culture of the Spanish-speaking countries.

Goals and Objectives

Listening Comprehension:

  • Introduce themselves and others
  • Greet people appropriately
  • Listen and comprehend short conversations

Speaking:

  • Respond to questions in Spanish
  • Talk and describe situations according to the theme in the chapters
  • Employ the appropriate word order on a sentence while speaking

Reading:

  • Understand short, simple written texts
  • Use appropriate intonation while reading

Writing:

  • Be able to write compositions according to the basic grammar (conjugation of verbs in present tense, likes, dislikes, prepositions, time, location and a variety of common vocabulary used in ordinary situations in the Spanish speaking world).

Major Projects:

  • Oral presentations from specific topics chapter based.
  • Hands on projects
  • Use of iPads as a great and fun tool to improve the Spanish language skills
  • Research information about interesting facts of the Spanish-speaking countries 

Integrated Curriculum:

  • Social Studies: Diversity in the communities of the Spanish-speaking world
  • Science: Meteorology skills (the weather in Spanish)

Community Integration:

  • Kermess: a unique festival common to the Spanish-speaking countries where the whole school community participates.
  • Día de los muertos art projects exposition

Assessment:

  • Quizzes and tests
  • Oral presentations
  • Short compositions
  • Special projects

Resources:

  • Textbook: Realidades Level A
  • Workbook: Realidades Level A
  • iPads
  • Laptops
  • Realidades web page
  • Web pages (used for projects, games and review grammar)
  • Document camera 

Local Resources:

  • Cultural related performances are brought to the school community honoring the folklore of the Spanish-speaking countries showing their traditions through music, dances, and artistic presentations in Spanish for the enrichment of the skill community.  
  • Different cultural groups that present the art of the Spanish community and the spanish language for the enrichment of the skill community.
Social Studies

Sixth grade social studies is taught conceptually. This means that the goals and objectives of the class will reflect the students’ understanding of and ability to apply concepts found in civilizations (technology, religion, language, food supply, government, and social structure) instead of their comprehension of specific facts. That being said, sixth grade explores ancient world history in five units: global studies, ancient Egypt, ancient India, ancient China, and ancient Greece.

Goals and Objectives:

  • Define the concepts of technology, religion, language, food supply, government, and social structure
  • Apply the concepts of technology, religion, language, food supply, government, and social structure to ancient Egypt, Canaan, India, China, and Greece
  • Apply the concepts of technology, religion, language, food supply, government, and social structure to any geographic local at any point in history
  • Locate Egypt, Israel, India, China, and Greece on a globe or map
  • Solidify a research question
  • Compare and contrast Hinduism and Buddhism
  • Identify the best source available to answer a research question
  • Evaluate sources for bias
  • Document sources correctly, including completing a Works Cited
  • Use the Internet to research safely and efficiently
  • Present research in multiple final writing products (e.g. historical biography, essay, letter, Keynote, fiction story, scripts)
  • Summarize, respond to and analyze the impact of current events
  • Present research verbally with appropriate posture, speed, volume and expressio 

Projects and Class Trips:

  • Out-of-class research projects comparing and contrasting three generations of family histories
  • Informal letters from ancient fictional characters to government leaders about the injustice and struggles of ancient lifestyles
  • Historical biography honoring an ancient leader
  • Hindu inspired myth writing to explain modern day phenomenon or mysteries of the natural world natural world after we tour Hindu deities and avatars at the Asian Art Museum
  • Dramatic interpretation explaining ancient Greek myths and the legacy of such tales
  • Debates persuading peers to see a differing point of view design and produce tour brochures sharing the historical significance of Chinatown they discovered during the Chinese Heritage Walk 
Science

Sixth grade explores the world of earth systems science through the study of the rich local ecosystems of Marin County. We begin with an overview of whole-systems thinking and the resurging scientific perception that Earth is an interconnected whole. The different areas of science are related to our field studies and project-based learning approaches. Earth systems science is a major thread of the sixth grade class’s commitment to interdisciplinary studies. The boundaries are erased through the study of relationships and connections. Science may yield the topic for a language arts essay, or an experiment may generate the data for math class. This approach to earth science aids in the development of a language that coordinates science throughout the middle school, creating students who are ready for high school, college and beyond.

Goals and Objectives

Earth Systems Science - Planet Earth:

  • Explain and demonstrate concept of wholeness by mind-webbing and storytelling
  • Explain and give examples of how the “Earth is Whole”
  • Give examples of how a system is different from its parts
  • Give examples of how a part of a system can be described as a system
  • Give examples of how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts
  • Describe how a system functions as a whole
  • Describe the three main systems of the Earth
  • Describe/demonstrate as to how earth is a closed system in relationship to matter
  • Describe/demonstrate as to how earth is an open system in relationship to energy
  • Explain how the functioning of our planet relies on input from the sun
  • Describe and give two examples of how earth’s life is organized in various networked systems

Introduction to Earth Science:

  • List major branches of earth science
  • Describe careers associated with different branches of Earth science
  • Explain the scientific method and how scientists use it
  • Apply the scientific method to an Earth science investigation
  • Identify the importance of communicating the results of a scientific investigation
  • Describe how scientific investigations often lead to a new investigation
  • Demonstrate how models are used in science
  • Compare mathematical models with physical models
  • Explain the importance of the International Systems of Units
  • Determine appropriate units to use for particular measurements
  • Explain how a naturalist uses all areas of Earth science
  • Identify lab safety symbols and determine what they mean

Models, Maps, and Reality:

  • Describe directions on a globe
  • Explain how a magnetic compass can be used to find directions on earth
  • Distinguish between true north and magnetic north
  • Compare a map with a globe
  • Sescribe the three types of map projections
  • Describe recent technological advances that have helped the science of mapmaking progress
  • Describe how contour lines show elevation and landforms on a contour map.
  • Demonstrate ability to create a mind map following the successful elements of mind-webbing
  • Describe a simple system as a mind-web

The Restless Earth and Matter Cycles - Plate Tectonics:

  • Identify and describe the layers of the Earth by what they are made of
  • Identify and describe the layers of the Earth by their physical properties
  • Explain how scientists know about the structure of Earth’s interior
  • Describe Wegener’s theory of continental drift, and explain why it was not accepted at first

Understanding Earthquakes:

  • Identify different types of earthquakes
  • Describe how earthquakes travel through the Earth
  • Explain how earthquakes are detected
  • Describe how the strength of an earthquake is measured
  • Explain earthquake hazard
  • List ways to safeguard buildings against earthquakes
  • Outline earthquake safety procedures
  • Describe how seismic studies reveal Earth’s interior

Volcanoes:

  • Distinguish between non-explosive and explosive volcanic eruptions
  • Explain how the composition of magma determines the type of volcanic eruption
  • classify the main types of lava and volcanic debris
  • Compare the different types of volcanoes
  • Describe the formation and movement of magma
  • Explain the relationship between volcanoes and plate tectonics
  • Summarize the methods scientists use to predict volcanic eruptions

Matter Cycles: 

  • Describe how earthquakes, volcanoes and geysers indicate the high temperature and pressure that exist in Earth’s interior
  • Describe how Earth has dry land because the processes of mountain creation equals erosion
  • Describe how the Earth is about 72% covered in water
  • List the main reservoirs of the water on Earth’s surface
  • Give several examples of how Life is connected through location and time by the water cycle
  • Describe how the atmosphere is the most sensitive and changeable of Earth’s material spheres
  • Model the Earth’s carbon cycle and describe the various time scales
  • Describe why scientists believe that the carbon cycle is currently not in balance
  • Describe how the carbon cycle affects climate
  • List several behaviors and actions that have a positive affect on the carbon cycle

The Earth’s Resources - Minerals of the Earth’s Crust:

  • Explain the four characteristics of a mineral
  • Classify minerals using common mineral-identification techniques
  • Describe what makes a mineral crystal a gem
  • Describe the environments in which minerals are formed
  • Compare and contrast the different types of mining    

Rocks: Mineral Mixtures

  • Describe two ways rocks were used by early humans, and describe two ways they are used today
  • Describe how each rock type changes into another as it moves through the rock cycle
  • List two characteristics of rock that are used to help classify it
  • Explain how the cooling rate of magma affects the properties of igneous rocks
  • Identify common igneous rock formations
  • Describe how the two types of sedimentary rock form
  • Explain how sedimentary rocks record Earth’s history
  • Describe two ways a rock can undergo metamorphism
  • Explain the changes in mineral composition of rocks as they undergo metamorphism

Energy Resources:

  • Determine how humans use natural resources
  • Contrast renewable resources with non renewable resources
  • Explain how humans can conserve natural resources
  • Classify the different forms of fossil fuels
  • Determine how fossil fuels form
  • Identify where fossil fuels are found in the United States
  • Explain how fossil fuels are obtained
  • Identify problems with fossil fuels
  • Describe alternatives to the use of fossil fuel
  • List advantages and disadvantages of using alternative energy sources
  • Describe how energy and peace are interrelated

Ecology and the Web of Life - Thinking Globally:

  • Describe why scientists believe Life on Earth cannot be destroyed
  • List how changes on a planetary scale to the condition of Earth can affect humans
  • Compare how species extinction over the history of the Earth differs from the current extinction rate 

Act Locally

  • List several ways our daily world is unsafe with regards to air, water and food
  • List several ways our daily world is improving the quality of air, water, and food
  • List the three R’s and give several local examples
  • Describe why local ecosystems are so vital to sustainable progress and development
  • List several ways of increasing energy reduction
  • List several ways of increasing energy efficiency
  • List several way to make a positive impact on Earth
  • Describe how small actions can make a large environmental impact.
  • List several ways that what you have learned can inform your actions
  • List several hopeful ideas from Dr. Art’s Guide to Planet Earth
Language Arts

Powerful writing is defined by creative, well-defined thoughts coupled with strong fundamentals. Sixth graders have writing workshop four days a week, which allows students to practice writing mechanics, participate in mini-lessons, explore different writing styles, peer edit, revise, and publish their final pieces in the following genres: short story, poetry, research, book review, and memoir. The hour-long blocks create an opportunity for students to write in class, discuss their writing and build a portfolio of their best work where they will evaluate themselves based on the six traits of writing (content, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions). While revision poses the greatest challenge for writers at this age, the workshop approach creates a community of writers who share a language and goal. This environment allows even the most reluctant writers the safety to take risks and the most talented to take flight.

Integrating reading and writing instruction helps students make the connections to literature as writers, not just readers. Learning to personally connect to literature is the primary goal of the sixth grade reading program. Through a consistent and personalized weekly homework assignment, each child reads for a minimum of thirty minutes and reflects on the reading throughout the week, supporting the development of mature comprehension and inference skills. Students rotate between teacher-assigned literature and student choice reading.

Goals and Objectives

Reading:

  • Identifies connections between literature and personal experiences, the world, and other texts via characters, plots, settings and themes
  • Compares and contrasts characters, plots, settings and themes between texts and situations
  • Infers information about characters, plots, settings and themes while reading
  • Asks probing questions while reading
  • Makes logical predictions while reading
  • Reads aloud fluently with appropriate speed, expression and volume
  • Identifies which available materials will best meet their academic needs
  • Uses reading “tricks” and “clues” to assist in finding information (i.e. skim and scan, headings, boldface words)
  • Understands the different elements of fiction, non-fiction, historical fiction, biography, poetry, theatrical script, short story, article, editorial and graphic novel
  • Identifies author bias or influence 

Writing:

  • Identifies and utilizes the steps of the writing process
  • Presents and supports an argument in any writing form
  • Presents research in multiple writing forms (i.e. essay, brochure, short story, poetry)
  • Understands the requirements of specific writing forms (e.g. poetry vs. editorial vs. essay)
  • Identifies what writing form is most appropriate for a given assignment
  • Utilizes appropriate software to brainstorm
  • Alternates possible beginnings and endings to a piece
  • Writes complete paragraphs
  • Recalls spelling patterns when necessary

Handwriting and Typing:

  • Writes and reads cursive
  • Practices and applies typing skills daily

Grammar:

  • Ises end punctuation, commas, apostrophes and capitalization correctly
  • Identifies nouns, adjectives, verbs, pronouns, adverbs, conjunctions and prepositions
  • Uses and punctuates dialogue correctly

Vocabulary:

  • Determines if unfamiliar vocabulary can be defined by context
  • Utilizes new vocabulary in speech and writing
  • Uses the correct homophone

Listening and Speaking:

  • Gives and accepts constructive criticism
  • Dialogues with others regarding connections, inferences, questions, and predictions during reading discussions
  • Participates during grammar, vocabulary, and peer and self-evaluation activities
Math

The sixth grade math program focuses on “Math in the Real World.”  Math, math literacy, and confident conceptual math thinking are practiced as activities. The whole class participates in, and contributes to, each project together. This process allows the direction and focus of the course of study to unfold naturally and with direct relation to each student. Students learn as individuals within our group context. The applied math skills of problem solving, conceptual understanding, and computational accuracy are developed through project-based and cooperative learning.

Goals and Objectives

Number Sense:

  • Write, compare, and order decimals
  • Write decimals as a percent and a percent as a decimal number
  • Convert between, compare, and order fractions and mixed numbers
  • Identify and write integers, opposites, and absolute values
  • Perform combinations of operations with integers
  • Possess a working understanding and usage of basic math facts

Data Analysis:

  • Identify types of samples, identify bias, and draw conclusions
  • Interpret frequency tables and line plots
  • Make and analyze graphs
  • Make circle graphs using percent

Measurement:

  • Convert customary and metric measures of length, weight, and capacity
  • Estimate, measure and calculate perimeter
  • Find the circumference of a circle
  • Estimate and write the area of polygons
  • Estimate and write the area of a circle

Operations and Computation:

  • Evaluate expressions using exponents
  • Evaluate expressions using order of operations
  • Write sums, differences, products and quotients of decimals
  • Write rations, rates, unit rates, and proportions
  • Write and apply prime factorization in exponent form
  • Write and apply greatest common factors and least common multiple
  • Write fractions in equivalent and simplest form
  • Represent and use equivalent representations for fractions; decimals, including terminating and repeating; and percent
  • Write products and quotients of fractions and mixed numbers
  • Write equivalent forms of percent, decimals, and fractions
  • Solve real-life percent problems involving tips, discounts, sales tax, and simple interest

Geometry:

  • Identify, classify, and draw points, rays, lines, and planes
  • Identify, classify, draw and measure angles
  • Identify, classify, and draw triangles, quadrilaterals, and other two-dimensional figures
  • Identify and measure parts of a circle

Algebra:

  • Write and evaluate numerical and simple algebraic expressions
  • Solve addition and subtraction equations
  • Solve multiplication and division equations
 
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