6th Grade Course Descriptions

6th Grade Course Descriptions

Core & Required Courses

Academic Literacy: The purpose of this course is to ensure that students possess the academic skills required to succeed not only at SJBMS, but also in their future academic careers. This requires a student to practice the many skills that are presented, and maintain an open mind to exploring new methods of learning material. Topics covered will include note taking, listening, thinking, test taking, memory, and study skills. Students will learn how to recognize various features and structures of informational text as well as comprehend, interpret and analyze informational grade-level text. This is a required semester course.

6th Grade Science (Biology): The 6th grade curriculum will focus on life sciences. The curriculum includes cell biology, heredity, evolution, and ecosystems. Students will start the year with STEM activities to give them the knowledge of the scientific method process, which they will use to create a major science fair project. Each 6th grade student will attend the school science fair held in January. Throughout the year, the students will be involved in labs/experiments, projects, daily journals, critical thinking tasks, STEM activities, memorization, reading informational texts, taking notes, and writing activities. Technology will be incorporated throughout the year as well.

Exploratory: Students will explore a variety of courses that reinforce the content of core classes. They will experience 5 units throughout the year:

Academy Awards of Books: Lights! Cameras! Action! Have you ever wanted to develop your own movie script and win an award? Students will read a book and discuss it in a literature circle format. After completing the book the students will write a script based on the book, rehearse it, film it, and premiere it during Academy Awards of Books. This class will help students with comprehension, writing skills, and speaking skills.

Current Events: In this course, students will be researching current events from around the world. The types of events range from economical, to political, and religious. Students will focus on events from the places within the 6th grade Social Studies curriculum. Students will be reading, summarizing, and presenting these articles in front of the class. This unit connects what is happening in modern time to the ancient world being studied. Through this course students will form an educated opinion about what is happening in the world.

Robotics: In this course, students will utilize the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robot set to resolve a problem related tospace science. Students will be part of a team that will use STEM to find a solution for their scientific problem. Teams will build LEGO® missions, design their own mat, and learn to program their robots to perform a series of tasks using the robot software program. Critical thinking skills, as well as creativity, will be used as students work together to solve their problem.

Search and Re-search: This course will provide students the opportunity to learn how to begin research. They will learn to define a topic, read for meaning, find keywords, take notes and utilize different graphic organizers, practice writing, and evaluate their work. Students will use both print and technology and work in the classroom, library, and computer lab and with a classroom set of iPads. They will develop skills they will use throughout their school years.

Problem Solving 101: Real-world application begins with a solid understanding of the problem. In this class, students will learn a four-step approach to use with story problems. Once they have a plan, students need a variety of tools at their disposal to use to solve the problem. This class will equip students with strategies including finding key words, working backward, extending a pattern, making an organized list, guess and check, compare and contrast, and logical reasoning.

Language Arts: In sixth grade Language arts, students are encouraged to explore new books and given the opportunity to choose their own reading that they are expected to complete outside and inside of class. Multiple cross-curricular activities such as science research papers and a novel with emphasis on neurology and perception engage all types of learners. A heavy emphasis is placed on correct grammar in both the spoken and written language. Students will interact with a wide variety of technology and media in order to deepen their understanding of vocabulary (Membean), empathy, writing, and the world beyond them.

Literature and Composition: Literature and Composition is a one-year accelerated course for the self-motivated learner, one that has a passion for language and the motivation to excel. Students will have higher expectations placed on them in all areas of language, including but not limited to grammar, oral communication, inference making, reading, and writing. This class moves at a faster pace in order to explore ideas in text more deeply and have critical in-class discussions and debates. This course also creates the opportunity to survey more types of works and forms of writing. Heavy emphasis on peer editing will be taught so that students are able to not only help one another effectively, but also hone their own editing abilities—a vital skill for autonomous revision and self-correction. There is a required summer project.

Math: Students will be reviewing and expanding their knowledge of math vocabulary, perform operations with integers, fractions, decimals, percentages, solve equations, use geometry, measurement, data analysis, problem solving, and graphing. Students will represent and solve mathematical situations with algebraic symbols. (Saxon Math Course 1)

Accelerated Math: This course is meant for students who have a solid understanding of basic math facts and can grasp new concepts very quickly. There is a placement test score that must be met to be enrolled in this class. (Saxon Math Course 2)

Religion: Students will explore the history of salvation, focusing on the Old Testament while also exploring its fulfillment in the New Testament. They will follow the stories of the Chosen People while reading, studying and reflecting on excerpts from the Pentateuch, Historical, Prophetic and Wisdom Literature. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the sacraments, the liturgical year, moral life, family life topics and the lives of the saints. Finally, they will grow in their experience of different forms of prayer, including the devotion of the Holy Rosary.

Social Studies: In this course, students will be studying World History. It is designed to give students a broad understanding of significant cultures, ideas and events that have shaped the course of human history up until this point. The course progresses chronologically, starting with prehistoric human life and ending with the Explorers of the 1500s. Throughout the year, the students will be developing their skills in reading, writing, geographic literacy, cultural awareness and critical thinking. Students will be asked to form their own opinions on the difficult questions that often arise from studying history while also listening to and respecting the opinions of others. Through the study of history, students will learn to make moral judgments guided by the foundational Catholic values from which the educational philosophy at Saint John the Baptist is derived and grow toward becoming lifelong learners and responsible citizens.


Art: This is a beginning course to introduce students to the many different types and styles of art. The class focuses on the five elements of art, which serve as the foundation, or building blocks, of creating artwork. After being presented with a famous work of art, and learning about the artist, medium, and style, students will then create their own masterpiece; providing an overview of Visual Arts while studying a broad variety of art tools and materials. The class will learn how to understand and create meaning in art, as well as learn to discuss and critique art constructively and with confidence. This is a semester course.

Computer Technology: This semester elective course is an introduction to computer technology that will help 6th grade students acquire basic computer skills that will benefit them throughout their personal and professional lives. Students will learn and have a basic understanding of word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and improvements in keyboarding skills. This is a project-based elective that strives to reinforce and incorporate core curriculum standards into a technology-based course of study. Expect to learn a lot and have fun doing it!

Dance I: Students will investigate many styles of dance including jazz, ballet, hip-hop, liturgical and contemporary. Vocabulary, health and fitness will be introduced through reading articles, journal writing and physical exploration. Students will develop their cardiovascular endurance, flexibility and coordination. Students will learn the tools of choreography and compose their own dance with a group of their peers. Students will learn performance techniques and have the opportunity to perform in a concert at the end of the semester. This is a semester course.

Dance II: Students will investigate many styles of dance including jazz, ballet, hip-hop, liturgical and contemporary. Vocabulary, health, history and fitness will be taught through reading articles, viewing video clips, journal writing and physical exploration. Students will develop their cardiovascular endurance, flexibility and coordination. Students will learn the tools of choreography and compose their own dance with a group of their peers. Students will learn performance techniques and have the opportunity to perform in a concert at the end of the semester. This is a semester course. Placement class required.

Music: Is organized into different musical areas:

Band (Beginning): Students in Beginning Band will choose from either a woodwind or a brass instrument. No experience is required. Students will learn the fundamentals of music, sight reading of notes and rhythms, and the basics of ensemble playing. They will be exposed to a variety of styles of music and will perform at least once per semester at a concert. This is a yearlong course.

Band (Intermediate): The SJBMS Intermediate Band is for students with at least one year of experience on their instrument. Students that have completed a year of beginning band in either 5th or 6th grade are welcome to sign up. Students with less than one year experience or outside experience through private instruction can audition to join the group with instructor permission. We will continue to refine musicianship and explore more complex literature in this course. We will also perform in Jr. High School festivals in our area. This is a yearlong course.

Choir: The Middle School Choir is an ensemble of 6th, 7th and 8th graders who present concerts and public performances in addition to leading music at school and parish Masses. Students will learn to read a vocal score, learn basic music theory lessons in note-reading and rhythm, and will exercise proper vocal production and breathing techniques. With exposure to a broad range of musical genres and frequent performance opportunities, students will deepen musical appreciation and develop skills necessary for public presentation. Students will also work on pieces to present for a festival competition during spring semester. This is a yearlong course.

Orchestra (Beginning) - This class is intended as an introductory course for students who are wish to learn a string instrument. Students will learn to produce beautiful tone, to read and interpret music, and to perform various styles of orchestral music. They will at least once each semester and participate in other school and community events where available. Students must provide their own instrument and book. Contact Jed Blodgett at for more information. This is a yearlong course.

Orchestra (Intermediate): This class is designed for string students who have had one or more years of previous experience on their instrument. Students will learn about classical, romantic, and baroque music as well as fiddle, Celtic, and mariachi. They will learn to read and understand music and music history in addition to basic music theory. They will also perform in 3-4 concerts throughout the year and participate in other school and community events where available. Contact Jed Blodgett at for more information. This is a yearlong course.

Percussion I (Beginning): This class is designed to introduce students to the world of percussion. Students will learn proper snare drum technique and will be introduced to a variety of concert and ethnic percussion instruments such as marimba, xylophone, crash cymbals, djembe, congas, cajon and more. Students will also be introduced to the music of Cuba, Brazil and Africa as they explore the instruments of these countries. This is a yearlong class that does require the purchase of some materials. Contact Jed Blodgett at for more information.

Physical Education (PE): This course presents physical education as a lifetime commitment. It is designed to be a wide variety of lifetime sports and games experienced by the students. All students will understand in greater detail the function of the body, understand the nutrition required by a healthy body, understand the difference between anaerobic and aerobic training, apply movement concepts and principles to enhance motor skill development and develop knowledge of the rules and strategies of various games and sports. This is a semester course.

Spanish: Students will begin their exploration of Spanish through speaking, reading, writing and listening in the present tense. Activities include dialogues, skits, visual displays, memorization games, weekly quizzes, monthly exams, films and more. By the completion of the course students will have completed the equivalent of the first half of first year high school Spanish. This is a yearlong course.