In sixth-grade English, student learning focuses on three types of writing: narrative, argument, and informational. Students develop their narrative writing skills by crafting two personal narratives alongside a study of mentor narratives. Students then write literary essays focused on character and theme and finally write a comparative essay. After learning nonfiction reading skills, students research and create an informational book on a topic of their choice. For reading, students read a selection of short stories, historical fiction, and nonfiction, alongside sustaining an independent reading life. Throughout the year, students review and develop foundational grammar concepts and build their vocabulary.
In sixth grade, students transition to Spanish immersion, in that the majority of class discussions, activities, and exchanges is in the target language. Students study grammar and vocabulary, and they read and write about the Spanish and Latin American culture. Students learn through a variety of engaging, multi-modal experiences to develop listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in Spanish.
In health, sixth graders delve into a deeper discussion of puberty and other topics related to human sexuality; issues are presented in concrete terms and as unbiased factual information. The curriculum also explores gender, healthy relationships (What makes a good friend?), negotiating peer pressure, bullying, rumors and gossip, and internet safety.
Sixth-grade students are in advisory groups, made up of 13-14 students and one faculty/staff member. Advisers have daily touch points with their students during Homeroom, every afternoon before dismissal, an advisory period twice an eight-day cycle, and occasional study halls. The grade-level dean leads the advising team, which collaborates to prepare a curriculum that supports social-emotional learning and helps students navigate through the years of middle school. In sixth grade, the program includes community building, organization, time management, and relationship building (peer-to-peer and peer-to-teacher). Advisories stay together for all three years of middle school.
Sixth-grade history focuses on ancient civilizations. After an introductory unit on early human migration, students study Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus Valley, China, and Greece. Their learning is guided by an essential question: "What makes a civilization successful?" At the end of the year, they apply their knowledge by creating their own ancient societies during the Civ Project.
In sixth grade Mandarin, two learning pathways are offered to students: one focuses on acquiring the tones of the Mandarin language and developing an emerging understanding of the foundational concepts and skills for those who have not previously taken Mandarin. A second path is for students continuing their learning of Mandarin from elementary school, where they continue building language skills to communicate and express themselves in Mandarin. For all learners, various cultural topics are intertwined into language learning as students deepen their understanding of Chinese characters, reading, and writing.
Sixth graders in music are introduced to the ukulele at the start of the year, and learn C, F, G, Am, Dm, Em, and Bb chords. They play songs using all the chords, learn various strumming patterns, and learn how to play with each other. In the fall, students choose a song democratically, rehearse it as a class, and perform it at Generations Day and Winter Concert. In the spring, students compose, rehearse, and perform short songs to represent original cultures they conceive in the cross-curricular "Civ" project. Students participate in critical-listening activities in which they are introduced to different elements of music.
Physical education focuses on refining techniques, introducing tactical and strategic practices, and having students apply these ideas in both group and team-based settings. Students have the opportunity to exercise their leadership skills and are encouraged to step out of their comfort zone. They learn to maintain a healthy lifestyle through individual and collaborative fitness components throughout the program. Class content and social emotional development is geared to help students prepare for high school and beyond.
In 6th-grade math, students are immersed in a learning environment that encourages students to meet mathematical challenges head-on and where errors are viewed as learning opportunities. Through small groups, whole groups, and differentiated instruction, students apply mathematical concepts to various real-world experiences. Students also learn mathematics through games and engaging activities. With a focus on number sense and operations, students continue to develop an understanding of fractions, decimals, percents, and the concept of ratios. Students develop algebraic thinking skills and concepts by translating, simplifying, expanding, factoring, and evaluating expressions and solving multi-step equations.
Sixth graders, in DBi, begin the year deconstructing a mechanical object in a collaborative unit with their art class called, 'Things Come Apart.' Later, they use these mechanical parts to build a mutant toy inspired by Sid from Toy Story. Students build digital portfolios and learn beginning graphic design skills. The year concludes with a 'Design For Change' project where students work in teams and apply their design thinking skills to tackle social justice design challenges.
Sixth grade service learning focuses on local endangered species and habitat restoration. Students explore the essential question - What can we learn about the reason for locally endangered species becoming so and how can we help?
The sixth-grade drama program is designed to help students expand their comfort zones as performers and public speakers. The drama curriculum addresses theatre games, improvisation, an introduction to Shakespeare, and an entry into performing as a group. Improvisation and theatre games allow students to develop their skills in the core facets of "improv" (listening, creativity, and "yes, and..."). Students explore public speaking through informative speaking and learn best practices for presenting with a slideshow. Outside of class, sixth graders have the opportunity to participate in the Winter One-Acts, an extracurricular drama production, that serves as an introduction to the Redwood Day mainstage theatre productions, including the Spring Musical, which is open to all students grades 6-8.
Sixth-grade science focuses on Earth and environmental sciences, where students develop observation and modeling skills through phenomena-based learning. Focus areas include Earth as a system, Earth's changing surface, and climate.
Middle School art provides students space to continue practicing, experimenting and reflecting on their creative expression both technically and conceptually. Students are introduced to and reacquainted with a variety of mediums as well as a diverse group of artists. They are asked to think about the impact of art on society as they become more aware of their own impacts on their communities. Sixth graders learn how the skills and concepts they learn in art can be applied through collaboration in DBI and History. In 'Things Come Apart,' our DBi collaboration, students pick an item to take apart completely and make art out of all of the pieces before putting it back together as something else entirely. Students use photography and photo editing before moving on to digital self-portraits. From there, they transition to wet media before finishing off the year with a mixed media project they design themselves.
Outdoor Education takes students outside of the familiarity of the classroom, encourages them to stretch, try something new, support their classmates, and connect to learning beyond school walls. In April, sixth-grade students go to the Marin Headlands on the traditional and unceded territory of Coast Miwok, Ohlone, and Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, where they participate in a hands-on environmental science program and connect with their peers, explore the outdoors, discover themselves, and develop a lasting relationship with the natural environment. This experience is led by Nature Bridge and is chaperoned by the sixth-grade advisory team and three additional chaperones from Redwood Day.
In sixth grade, Equity and Inclusion groups are centered around race and gender identity. In addition to schoolwide assemblies, students engage in intentional, facilitated discussions for 6-8 sessions throughout the school year. Working towards the goal of creating a safe, inclusive school for people of all identities, students will:
Examine their own racial and gender identities
Understand how their identities may impact their experiences
Gain empathy for people with different identities
Learn how to be allies around issues of race and gender