Sixth graders feel their weight on the earth, physically and mentally. They notice their bones, the weight of their bodies alongside the gravity and breadth of human emotion. The pre-adolescent looks at the world and forms a perspective: the curriculum meets them with this wondrous, complicated planet.

The 6th grade student takes on a feeling of “I,” finding their place in class, in community, in the larger world.

With this increased awareness of their own physical body, the 6th grader tackles the earth’s physical aspects in geology. Students learn the evolving forces creating the shape of the earth’s surface. In astronomy, the students study the relationship of the earth to the sun and moon, the apparent movement of the stars and constellations, along with the steadfast North Star. In physics, the students study acoustics, optics, heat, magnetism and static electricity through a series of phenomena-based demonstrations. Using their eyes and ears, they connect to the physical world. In explaining what they observe, the lessons linger in the realm of wonder. Each student develops a project for the Middle School Science Fair.

History uncovers the founding of Rome, its transition from Republic to Empire, its fall, the Dark Ages and the subsequent rise of Christianity and Islam in the Middle Ages. The rise and fall of Rome provides material for seeing value in decisions, discussing meanings of right and wrong. The Romans left many permanent structures on the land, even as their patrician and plebeian social structure provokes questions. The 6th grader stands firmly on the ground, feeling limitless abilities, not unlike the Romans. They may feel a reorganization happening within, leaving some things behind, seeking solid facts and stories to complement that new footing. Arthurian legends and religious tenets elicit student questions and their own expectations around chivalry, honor and respect. Geography lessons vary in the middle school years based upon a teacher’s preference, but in addition to Australia and Antarctica, European, South American, African, and Asian geography are all covered over the three years.

6th grade language arts concentrates on grammar and learning the intricacies of advanced writing and speech. In a business math block, students study percents, cost, price, interest, how banking works. Euclidean geometry launches a separate concentration. Students construct accurate geometric shapes with a compass and straightedge. Form drawing takes on a different, external hue: tools and new precision allow for spectacular images.

After years of integrated main lesson art training, the 6th grade curriculum now also builds in a designated Art class with a specialized teacher. In addition, three trimester classes enrich the curriculum: Woodworking, Songwriting and Gardening. This year also begins a 6th and 7th grade introduction to Mandarin. In Handwork, students design and hand sew their own doll, a study in the human form and characteristics that form a personality. In Spanish, students are writing, speaking, and singing. In Movement, team games and sports offer new challenges, particularly with soccer and basketball skills. In Orchestra, musical arrangements become more complex. The 5th and 6th grade Choir sings a-cappella, accompanied by piano, in two and three voice parts; all students learn to play the alto recorder together. The 6th grade student takes on a feeling of “I,” finding their place in class, in community, in the larger world.