Fifth to sixth graders read a wide range of children’s literature. Some units are approached using a whole class structure; while other units include small literature circles or independent reading. The Units of Study Writing Program, developed by Lucy Calkins at Columbia Teachers College, provides the foundation of the writing program from Pre School to Eighth grade.
The essential aspects of the program are that
- Writing needs to be taught with explicit instruction.
- Children deserve to write for real, to write the kinds of texts that they see in the world
- Children need to be immersed in a listening and storytelling culture where their voices are valued and heard.
- Children need explicit instruction in spelling and phonemic awareness. K to -
Grade 3 students receive daily training in phonological awareness, phonics and word study, fluency, spelling, and handwriting based on the Wilson Fundations program. There is a scope and sequence for spelling and grammar instruction from first to eighth grade.
- Writers read! For children to write well, they need opportunities to read and to hear texts read and to read as insiders, studying what other authors have done that they too could try.
- Children need clear goals and feedback.
In the Units of Study program, each grade level includes four six week units of writing with some combination of the following: narrative, opinion/persuasive/ argument, and informational. Instruction builds on itself from one year to the next. Teaching follows the gradual release of responsibility model of teaching. Students can first learn from a demonstration, accompanied by explicit teaching, then from guided practice in which the amount of scaffolding they receive lessens over time.
In the 5th and 6th grade we build upon the foundations taught in 4th grade to a deeper degree. We begin with number sense to gain a strong base to start the year. Several lessons are spent reinforcing operations with fractions and decimals. We introduce algebra concepts early, and in the 6th grade concepts are aligned to Middle School expectations. Geometry is a major topic in both grades; students will calculate the perimeter, area, and circumference of a variety of shapes. Throughout the year 6th grade relates algebra to topics covered such as geometry, and solving equations with fractions and decimals. End of chapter assessments are used to measure students’ mastery of the material covered. Pearson’s enVision Math textbook and supporting materials are used in these courses.
Social Studies and Science
Memorizing facts and information is not the most important skill in today’s world. Facts change, and information is readily available. Our goal is to develop and nurture in our students the inquiring attitudes necessary to continue the generation and examination of knowledge throughout their lives.
Developing thinking skills helps students become effective learners. Important skills include inquiry, creative thinking, information processing, reasoning, and evaluation. Essential personal skills include communication, diligence, reliability, the mindset necessary to improve, collaboration, and ethical awareness.
Science topics for sixth graders include properties of matter, atoms and elements, world biomes, electricity, and the nervous system. Inquiry Projects, with a focus on technical writing, are displayed at the GHCDS Science Fair, where students have the opportunity to present their research to an audience of professionals and parents.
In the fifth and sixth grade social studies is organized on a two year rotation; with the focus of the first year on geography of the eastern hemisphere; and the second year geography of the western hemisphere. In the third quarter the social studies and science curricula are integrated in preparation for the Science Fair. In the fourth quarter students are involved in a World Religions unit in the first year rotation, and in an oral history project in the second.
The Intermediate Technology curriculum develops young learners to be the next generation of creative thinkers and problem solvers. Computer and classroom teachers collaborate to make connections between computer and core classes. As students move to fifth and sixth grade, they deepen their understanding of software applications (Microsoft Word, PowerPoint , Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, GarageBand, iMovie, Lego Digital Design Studio, 3D Tin), and acquiring applied skills (computer programming, robotics, brainstorming, and financial literacy). Applications gradually advance in difficulty and build upon previous programs. Students apply their knowledge to real-world problems and use their skills to create unique solutions. Technology standards covered in class: Creativity and Innovation, Communication and Collaboration, Research and Information Fluency, Computational Thinking, Technology Operations and Concepts, and Digital Citizenship.
The focus of Intermediate Art is on aesthetics, balance and creativity – the ABC’s of art. Throughout the year children develop an appreciation for diverse art forms, work to respect individual and group needs and use their creativity as a hands-on approach to problem solving. The art curriculum is organized into units involving sculpture, design, drawing, and art appreciation. When appropriate, art projects are coordinated with social studies, language arts, science and computer classes. Students enjoy participating in local and national art competitions when possible. Student art is showcased at the annual Student Art Show in April.
The Intermediate Spanish program focuses on building a strong foundation in the four areas of foreign language study: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Sixth graders develop correct pronunciation and build their repertoire of practical vocabulary related to topics such ass school, home, family, food, and daily routines. An emphasis is placed on correct pronunciation, intonation, fluency, grammar and verb conjugation. Students practice verbal skills while performing skits, singing traditional songs from Latin America, and playing group games. Through craft-making activities, reading stories, and watching foreign language videos, students also learn about Latin American customs and holidays, such as the Day of the Dead, Cinco de Mayo and Navidad.
Sixth graders are given the choice of taking band or chorus. New students entering sixth grade who would like to play an instrument but have not had fifth grade band must attend weekly after school help sessions for ½ hour when they can learn the band instrument that they have chosen with individual instruction. This afforest the students the opportunity to catch up to the level of the rest of the band and be able to participate in the holiday concert.
In Physical Education students are introduced to the following activities: volleyball, soccer, basketball, softball, fitness activities/games, cooperative games and aquatics. Sportsmanship and cooperation take precedence over winning. The focus is on physical fitness, skill development, knowledge of the game: positioning and in some cases the history of the game.
This year we will use FitnessGram to assess our students’ physical fitness. FitnessGram is the most widely used youth physical fitness assessment, education and reporting tool in the world. Based on Healthy Fitness Zone® standards, FitnessGram uses criterion-based standards, carefully established for each age and gender to assess the five components of health-related fitness: Aerobic Capacity, Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Flexibility, and Body Composition. In comparison with the former Presidential Fitness program, FitnessGram offers more options for evaluating each student, which will make the experience more comfortable for a wide range of students, and in turn provide a more accurate view of each student's fitness level. Students will be introduced to the components in the fall so that they can set physical fitness goals for themselves. In the first year of implementing the program, we will formally asses once in the third quarter. Our goal in the second year is to assess twice.