Discovering personal greatness in pre-school through grade 8 students - Burlington, Vermont

6th Grade

Math

“The laws of nature are but the mathematical thoughts of God.” -Euclid

Our goal in the middle grades is to foster an appreciation of mathematics and to build a foundation of understanding and fluency. For students to gain the most from this experience they need to bring no more than eagerness and grit.

The middle school mathematics curriculum is a comprehensive program, which spirals from the 6th through the 8th grades. It has a particular focus on the notion of proportionality and maintains an algebra strand throughout its progression. In Grade 6 the curriculum moves specifically through the topics of ratios and unit rates, fractions, decimals and arithmetic operations, expressions and equations, geometry, and statistics and probability. In Grade 7 it progresses through the topics of ratios and proportional relationships, exponents, signed numbers, algebraic expressions and equations, percents, geometry, and statistics and probability. The Grade 8 curriculum exposes each student to the major topics of Algebra I. Therefore, students work at developing fluency in proportional reasoning, percents, algebraic expressions and equations, linear, exponential and quadratic functions, radical expressions, factoring, and geometry.

Science

The curriculum for Science at the Mater Christi School is often described as “spiraling” because students investigate 3 areas of Science each year (Physical, Earth/Space, and Life).  Students build their knowledge and skill base each year after a brief review from content presented the previous year. This allows students to receive more consistent exposure to the material than in a more traditional “single content area per year” model.

Students in Grade 6 begin the year with a study of Metric Unit measurement and basic dimensional analysis. Students continue their investigation of the Physical sciences by studying mechanical advantage, Newton’s Laws, simple machines, and some physical properties of matter (especially phase, mass, density, and volume). In the Earth and Space Science portion of the year, students investigate our solar system, the Sun, the planets, and the Earth/Moon System. Finally, during the final segment of the year, students study Ecology. Special emphasis is placed on investigating Biomes, the movement of energy through Ecosystems, and Evolution. Students in grade 6 also learn about Human reproduction and the development of the Embryo, as well as some basic introduction to DNA and genetic inheritance.

Literature

Literature for 6th, 7th and 8th grade students is humanities based and is focused on the oral and written analysis of all genres of literature. This includes fiction, short fiction, non-fiction, drama, poetry, art, film and music. The course also covers the historical and social issues surrounding the works being studied. Works spanning the 6th to 8th grade curriculum in general include:

  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  • The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
  • The Pearl by John Steinbeck
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
  • Witness by Karen Hess
  • When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Students will study various other works including music, film, short stories and poems. The course meets and exceeds the Core State Standards for Literature and Writing and includes oral, written, active and creative projects.

A sample of a 6th grade unit is one that focuses on literature of the Holocaust. Students will study the events surrounding this period of history and discover their impact on the world and literature. They will read A Holocaust survivor’s story called Four Perfect Pebbles, by Lila Perl and Marion Blumenthal Lazan, and students will report out on a historical fiction or non-fiction book of their choice dealing with these events.

English

Mater Christi’s English Curriculum is based on three core components: grammar, vocabulary, and writing. We address each area independently and then apply them to the writing process as a whole. Our 6th grade grammar instruction focuses on the identification and use of the 8 parts of speech in order to write in a clean, direct style.  The class uses Sadlier-Oxford’s Vocabulary Workshop Level B. In addition, students build their vocabulary in class with vocab stories, skits, imagery, and interactive games.

Writing instruction is based on the 4 major rhetorical modes: narrative, descriptive, persuasive and expository. Emphasis is placed on the daily habit of writing by having our classes journal on various prompts at the start of every class. The 6th grade long term writing projects include a procedural paper which prepares students for the style of writing they will need during our science fair, the art of story telling which incorporates a plot chart and imagery into the writing process, and a persuasive letter which addresses an issue in our local community.

Social Studies

Students will complete a study of early cultures through the 1500’s, with concepts in history, government, geography, and economics integrated chronologically.  Students will use a variety of processing skills including chronological thinking, organizing and explaining information, analyzing and interpreting data, conducting research, and communicating orally, graphically and in writing.

Students will have major assessments that include tests, writing assignments, and at least one major project each semester.  During each unit of study quizzes, homework, assignments, and on-going assessments will be given to assess progress.  Class discussions and individual conferences will allow me to monitor the comprehension of the material for each student.

French 

The first year of Middle School French serves as an introduction to French for new students to the MCS community, and a comprehensive review of the fundamentals of French for those who participated in our elementary school program. Emphasis is on listening and speaking, while grammar study reinforces basic writing skills. Units will include introducing oneself, time, date, and Francophone culture. Students will also learn how to order in a café and express their opinions on works of art.

By the end of the year, students will be able to talk about themselves, their interests, their families, the weather, etc., in short sentences. In terms of listening, they will be capable of understanding short, simple dialogue and instructions given by the teacher. In their writing they will have the skills to make agreements between the subject, verb, and adjective. For each level of French, the emphasis is on participation, i.e., speaking French every day in class.

 

Religion

Students study the Old Testament. They employ reading comprehension strategies in understanding scripture readings, novels, and periodicals. Technology is used for students to demonstrate their understanding of Catholicism. Journal writing, biweekly reading and writing assignments in current events, as well as research enrich student centered religious studies. Prayer and devotional activities are individualized and inclusive of all spiritual traditions.