Sixth Grade Curriculum
“We may be uncomfortable talking about race, but we can no longer afford to be silent. We have chosen a profession that—like parenting—requires us to put our comforts second to those of children.”
As a school district, we are questioning our practices and finally asking, “How can we listen to and support students, teachers and communities of color who have been systemically silenced for too long?”
DES houses mostly students and teachers who have benefited from white privilege. It can be easy to lack the perspective to push back on institutional malpractice or racist mindsets that may be present. In addition, it is difficult to convince those with power and privilege to give those privileges up without clear education and work to understand why doing so is a necessity for true justice in our society.
By aligning on a shared vision focused on three dimensions of student achievement—mastery of knowledge and skills, character, and high-quality student work—I honor students’ full humanity.
I embrace a vision of education as a powerful engine for disrupting structural racism, and fulfilling our nation’s promise of equal opportunity for all. I believe that educational equity means that all children experience:
Instruction that challenges, engages, and empowers learners
Access to standards-based, content-rich, culturally affirming curriculum
Explicit anti-racist discussion, practice, and action
School culture that fosters positive identity, belonging, agency, and purpose
Lasty, I want to be clear about the language used in 6A: the words that I use and teach are important because they allow us to build shared understanding. Diversity means cultivating a wide representation of people, ideas, processes, and experiences. Equity recognizes that we are born into unequal and unjust circumstances—and these factors should not predict our ability to fail or succeed. Inclusion means creating the conditions that foster belonging—harnessing what makes us unique to strengthen our community and amplify our impact. Excellence is defined as transformational impact in Student Achievement. Anti-racism means taking an explicit stand against racism.
English Language Arts:
Tenets of Reading Workshop:
Text Choice - students will have the right to choose what they read.
Reading texts they can access independently most of the time. Levels are one great tool but not the only one. We will often use various digital tools that can help students access material first such as videos, articles and other multimodal resources.
Opportunities to read more challenging texts with support.
Lots of time to read - the more students read in class, the more they will read at home!
Time for student response - kids think about the way they want to respond to texts - sometimes digitally, sometimes through conversation and sometimes written.
Students will learn skills using a variety of strategies.
Students will be taught to self reflect and read with agency.
Sixth grade students will read a variety of genres such as fiction, nonfiction, poetry and biography. We will use novels, traditional literature, picture books, magazines, and other reference materials. Throughout the year, my goal is to help students nurture a passion for reading and to support them in their lives as readers. This is done through individual conferences, reading partners, book clubs, assessment, and feedback.
All teachers in Deerfield Elementary use the Units of Study For Teaching Writing written by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University. In our Writing Workshop, students will explore a writing skill or strategy together and then have opportunities to apply that to their individual writing. The curriculum builds on their skills acquired in earlier grades, continuing to support students in crafting more complex writing. Students choose the topic of their pieces during units within Writing Workshop. They will engage in the writing process - collecting ideas, planning writing pieces, creating several drafts, revising writing, editing pieces, and eventually choosing and publishing work.
The scope of writing instruction in sixth grade ranges from writing complex narratives to literary essays to informational texts to poetry. Throughout each unit, there is a focus on structure, development and conventions.
Watch this video on how you can become an effective writing partner to your child.
Watch this video to gain a strong understanding of the foundations of essay writing. Students in 6A will write approximately 7-10 essays this year. In the winter we write essays on a variety of claims or, as we call them "Ideas Worth Spreading" (named after the well-known TED Talks).
I will keep you posted about our publishing parties.
The math curriculum in 6A follows the focus and coherence of the Common Core State Standards and carefully sequences the progression of mathematical ideas. I use various curricular materials gathered from Engage NY, Connected Mathematics and Cathy Fosnot's Contexts and Khan Academy.
Connected Mathematics 3, or CMP3, is an inquiry-based mathematics program for Grades 6-8. It helps students actively focus on math problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, representation, and connections. These math practices require students to look deeper and connect problem solving to practical situations. CMP3 provides a powerful inquiry model for learning mathematics.
Because math is taught so differently from how it was taught previously, it is important to understand the reasoning behind those changes. Therefore with each new module being taught, families will receive a letter/flyer with a summary of what is being taught; terms, phrases and strategies that will help with mathematical concepts; examples of mathematical models; and how you can help at home.
Watch this video for a brief definition of "geometry" and learn more about the difference between points, lines, line segments and rays.
How you can help at home: REVIEW
When given a large, multi-digit number, ask your child what each digit represents. For example, "What does the 4 signify in the number 34,500?" Answer: 4,000
Help practice writing numbers correctly by saying large numbers and having your child write them down. Students can create their own place value charts to help.
Place Value, Rounding, and Algorithms for Addition and Subtraction
Students have learned to extend their work with whole numbers, first with large units (hundreds and thousands), and then develop their understanding to 1 million. They practice and deepen their facility with patterns in the base-10 number system.
Review: Watch this video on how to use "bundling" when adding large numbers
Our curriculum begins with a study of the World Geography with an emphasis on map skills. Throughout this unit and subsequent units of study, students are supported in the development of research skills such as gathering information, note-taking, comparing, contrasting, inferring, and drawing conclusions. We will be utilizing news publications as well as various primary and secondary source materials to explore.
As the year progresses, students continue the work of thinking critically and hold debates on which country is the best one to live in. Students learn to read a variety of maps to help them gather meaningful evidence based on facts. Map titles include the following:
High School Graduation Rates
Eventually students create their own country that incorporate the five themes of geography: location, place, human-environment interaction, movement, and region. This is an exciting and engaging opportunity for students to use what they have learned about the world and use their own creativity to represent their understanding. Students create maps based on the following: regions, population, climate, rainfall and other themes they are interested in developing. In addition, students will, based on the location of their countries, create and represent a cultural artifact that represents their country. Previously students have created cuisine, dances, music, art, sports, and games. In creating the artifact, they will need to consider close by countries that are an influence as well as climate and location.
Students in 6A study the systems of the human body.
The Weather: Students will learn that
Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, altitude, and local and regional geography, all of which can affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns.
The ocean exerts a major influence on weather and climate by absorbing energy from the sun, releasing it over time, and globally redistributing it through ocean currents.
As part of the Weather Unit, students will participate in engineering a solution to a problem resulting in climate change:
Students work as teams of engineers who have come to help solve the drought problem. While the engineers can’t change the weather, they can help solve the problem by designing innovative ways of conserving water. Each team of engineers is tasked with designing a building that has a roof to catch rainwater and snow melt. The water is collected (also called “harvested”) and stored in tanks so that when there is a drought, residents and businesses will have a reserve of water. Students design, test, and will have an opportunity to redesign their roofs.
Students are given the following GOALS/CRITERIA:
Catch as much of the rainwater/snowmelt (1 cup) that falls on the roof as you can.
Create a roof with no leaks. The inside of the building should remain dry.
Maximize square footage inside the living space. In other words, make as much space available inside your building as possible as long as your building fits inside the tub.
As they create a model of a roof catchment system, there are a few CONSTRAINTS:
Students will choose from the materials listed in a chart.
Each material has a cost.
They have a budget of $50 and cannot go over budget.
They must work within the time given.
Watch the video to see how students respond when it "rains" over their roof.