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6th Grade Team Page

Students in a circle with green notebooks
Sixth graders hard at work at The Ecology School on the coast of Maine.


English Language Arts

MCS English:

The English Language Arts program at Marion Cross School seeks to create a community of learners immersed in reading, writing, speaking and listening throughout the curriculum. Through engagement with a variety of developmentally appropriate literature, students develop fluency, exercise analytical skills, build vocabulary, practice comprehension strategies, and make meaning. Across grade levels, ongoing writing instruction and practice provides opportunities for students to develop confidence and skills as they generate ideas, draft, revise, and edit original works in a wide range of genres. Discussion-based classrooms, project based learning, and presentation opportunities, within and beyond the classroom, encourage students to develop and hone communication skills, promoting active participation in the school community and larger society.

The 6th grade English/Language Arts curriculum is designed to provide students with opportunities to develop and apply skills, find relevance and meaning, explore various genres, express themselves thoughtfully, and find enjoyment in reading and writing. During 6th grade ELA, students will read, discuss, think critically about, and respond to literature from a variety of genres; develop written expression, composition skills, revision strategies, and stamina as they regularly engage in creative and formal writing opportunities. Students discover, practice, and build vocabulary, grammar, and mechanics through authentic exposure and in context during literature circles, writing workshop, and interactive word studies.


Numbers and Numeration

  • Demonstrate the inverse relationship of addition and subtraction, multiplication and division
  • Read, write, and compare whole numbers, fractions, decimals, integers and percents, ratios and proportions
  • Know place value to a million, decimals to thousandths
  • Round whole numbers to 1,000,000, decimals to hundred thousandths
  • Use the commutative, associative and distributive properties, and the identity properties of zero and one
  • Recognize odd, even, prime, composite, and square numbers
  • Understand prime factors, greatest common factors, and least common multiples

Computation and Estimation

  • Add and subtract 5-digit whole numbers and decimals • Multiply whole numbers and decimals with regrouping, with up to a 3-digit multiplier
  • Divide 5-digit whole or decimal numbers by 2- digit whole or decimal numbers
  • Add and subtract any three proper or mixed fractions
  • Multiply any combination of fractions, mixed or whole numbers
  • Divide fractions, mixed or whole numbers
  • Introduce percent problems
  • Solve one, two and three-step word problems
  • Find equivalents of decimals, fractions, ratios and percents


  • Measure length, perimeter, area, volume, circumference, surface area, and time
  • Convert units within a system of measurement
  • Estimate and measure angle degrees


  • Classify angles
  • Identify and classify polygons
  • Identify the center, radius, diameter, and circumference of a circle
  • Identify pyramids, spheres, cubes, cylinders, and rectangular prisms
  • Use protractor and compass

Data Collection and Analysis

  • Collect, organize, represent, and interpret data using lists, tables, graphs (bar, line and circle)
  • Interpret data using the mean, median, mode and range
  • Predict, perform, record and analyze simple probability experiments
  • Use calculators and/or computers to process data

Problem Solving, Reasoning and Communication

  • Approach problem solving systematically and creatively
  • Develop flexibility, confidence, perseverance, and persistence both independently and in groups
  • Use concrete, informal and formal strategies to solve mathematical problems in real-world situations

Patterns, Functions and Algebra

  • Identify, describe and extend patterns
  • Use order of operations to solve equations involving parentheses and exponents
  • Use tables, graphs and verbal or symbolic rules
  • Understand the use of variables in equations
  • Solve simple algebraic equations
  • Graph, describe and compare equations on a Cartesian grid


Process Skills

Analyze data, verify information, experiment, plan experiments, use equipment to collect data, record data in a variety of ways, discuss and analyze data, control and manipulate variables, validate reliability of results, invent, make inferences, use knowledge to solve problems, generalize, expand knowledge to analogous situations


Forces in Motion:
  • Galileo’s pendulums
  • Principles of pendulums
  • Construction of pendulums Simple
  • Six simple machines and how they work
  • Simple, series and parallel circuits
  • Materials and conductivity resistance
Gases and Airs:
  • Properties of air (composition, pressure, oxidation)
  • Properties of vacuums (expansion, contraction)
  • Ocean waves, currents, sea water, sand, ocean floors,
  • Man’s effect on the oceans
  • Adaptations of life cycles
  • Anatomy and function
  • Memory, laterality and language
  • Color theory and visual perception
  • Patterns of inheritance: punnet squares and pedigrees
  • Nature vs. nurture
  • Reproductive System and Reproduction
  • Drug Education/Substance Abuse
  • HIV

Social Studies

Historical Perspective and Sources

  • What’s in a name?
  • Forensic anthropology
  • Interpreting material culture
  • Analyzing primary source documents
  • Arts: portraiture, culinary, and dance

World History

Atlantic World (1500-1800)

  • Expansion of world view (exploration maps)
  • Cultural and ecological encounters (Colombian Exchange brochures)
  • West African kingdoms & the slave trade
  • Historical & cultural geography of the Americas

U.S. History “From Colonies to Country”

  • What happened in Jamestowne?
  • Salem Witchcraft Trials *
  • French Connections: The Acadian Odyssey French & Indian War
  • History and legacy of slavery
  • Causes of the War of Independence (colonist diaries)
  • War of Independence * (newscast presentations)
  • The aftermath American systems of government Legacy of victory/defeat

* includes historical fiction component

Research Skills

- integrated with ELA

  • conduct short and more sustained research projects based on focused questions demonstrating understanding of subject
  • gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources
  • draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support research and learn to avoid plagiarism

Study Skills

  • read and reason from different sources
  • analyze the structure of text and visuals in terms of organization and purpose
  • ask specific and expansive questions on a grade appropriate topic
  • identify the main idea of a paragraph or essay
  • select examples of supporting details illustrating a main idea
  • acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate academic and domain-specific words and phrases
  • distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgement
  • follow precisely a multi-step procedure
  • initiate and complete assignment guidelines and planning
  • record daily assignments in a homework planner
  • complete daily assignments and turn them in on time
  • make a plan with teachers to complete assignments missed due to tardiness or absence
  • understand that people learn in different ways
  • practice different strategies for learning success
  • follow directions, written and oral
  • work independently, carefully, and cooperatively

Social Skills

Civic and Social Responsibility

  • Stay current with work assignments
  • Be of service to community


  • Advocate for self

Personal Development

  • Solve problems
  • Negotiate and compromise


In their last year at the Marion Cross School, the sixth graders continue the tradition of adding their piece to the all-school art creation. The projects for the rest of the year involve longer, multi-tasked, intricate art forms. Students are encouraged to take time during the design phase of their projects as well as to work carefully creating their final products. These include: ceramic mirror frames, various types of sculpture, scenery for 6th grade plays, dyed paper and reed mobiles, design problems, Impressionist water colors, Inkle loom weaving, Shibori fabric dying, LEEEP habitat artbooks (oceans), open studio art, as well as the traditional 6th grade “What’s in Your Head?,” silhouette drawings (displayed with their first grade self-portraits) and the most anticipated and remembered Gingerbread houses.


In sixth grade French, we work on all skill areas: listening, reading, speaking, and writing. Our class discussions begin to incorporate complex themes as we read more sophisticated material and students have a larger vocabulary which they can use to express themselves. Students are able to make predictions about plots and characters in stories we read or videos we watch. Students use poem memorizations and dictations to deepen their understanding of the connection between written and spoken French. While we continue to study grammar in context, students begin to learn specific grammar terms: agreement, conjugation, etc.


The school counselor, Katie Cormier, visits with the 6th grade classes during elective time. Each class meets five times throughout the year, for an hour and fifteen minutes. The health based curriculum is designed to help students learn about themselves as well as how develop positive relationships with others. The school counselor co-teaches with the school nurse, Pam Hausler, during these lessons. They use the Life Skills health/guidance curriculum to teach sixth graders about self-esteem, decision making, positive and negative stress, verbal/ nonverbal communication, advertising, peer pressure, assertiveness, tobacco/drug/alcohol use, and reproduction. Students use class discussions, role-playing, videos and writing to supplement student learning. Mr. Minelli, MCS’s technology teacher, also comes in to co-teach for two lessons with Katie on internet safety during two 45 minute study hall times based on common sense media’s digital citizenship program.

Information Technology

Best practices in education show that technology is best incorporated into a student’s education as an embedded “tool” used to support learning in the major curricular fields. This means that tech isn’t something just to “do” for students; rather it is used where appropriate to help students succeed in their other subject areas.

Accordingly, 6th grade students continue to strengthen their word processing skills (using the programs, MS Word and Google Docs) to write, edit, format, save and publish a variety of written assignments. These skills are facilitated through our Google accounts and students log onto hanovernorwichschools.org accounts and access Google Drive for creating and storing their documents. All teachers center their teaching through a Google Classroom and students are able to work on their assignments both at home and at school.

MCS uses the assessment software, Track My Progress, and 6th grade students are testing 4 times per year in Math and ELA using a computer adaptive test that can help teachers and parents understand the student’s strengths in various areas of these subjects. Some 6th grade students also are using Symphony Math to help improve their math concepts and understanding and are also given subscriptions to iXL mathematics to improve their math skills. These programs can be used both at school and at home to improve math skills.

Along with Katie Cormier, our school counselor, we also teach a select group of lessons with 6th grade students about the topic of safe computer use. These include such areas as computer safety, privacy, Gender Bias, and the prevention of Cyberbullying. The lessons come from the highly regarded I.S. site, Common Sense Media.

6th grade students have a computer elective 6 times per year on Wednesday afternoons, and the focus is on the Maker Movement. In 6th grade we use the Maker tools, Little Bits and Lego WeDo Robotics to learn both design and inventing. We also have an introduction to 3D Design and Printing, and student create and print their own invention on the school's 3D printer. Finally, MCS is strongly committed to the Hour of Code and in school and at home, students work through a 20 hr. class on beginner computer programming.


The Marion Cross community sings. We sing silly songs and mundane songs, great classics and new “pop” songs with surprisingly profound meanings, songs written by the students and songs in other languages from across the world, and just about everything in between.

MCS students learn all about music in other ways, too. They listen to it, talk about it, write about it, move to it, and dance to it. They learn it “by ear,” they read it on the staff, and they write a fair bit of it on their own, too. They learn to play instruments in the school’s chamber orchestra, band, and electives.

Music in Sixth Grade

Fifth graders learn to read, write, sing, and play music in any key signatures. This enables them to be independent musicians who can seek out their own opportunities in middle school and beyond. They apply this learning to their favorite songs, many of which they learn to sing in solfege. In the spring, the learn folk music to perform at their Acadian Odyssey play. Sixth graders are also allowed to participate in music electives like Ukulele.

5-6 Chorus

The Grade 5-6 chorus, with the help of our wonderful accompanist Victoria Dobrushina, puts on an annual program of 5 or more songs. Their music is selected by the sixth graders and includes songs with historical significance, songs from other cultures, familiar songs, songs by contemporary composers, and songs that they feel send a powerful message to the community. In chorus they learn to be contributing members of a large ensemble. They sing challenging literature in two and three parts with precision and expression (every year they amaze me a little bit more!).


Each sixth grader composes two works. In the winter, they write a piece for solo piano; in the spring they compose a rhythm piece inspired by African or Latin American cultures.


Many of the fifth graders who learned an instrument continue to share their talents with us in band.

Library Skills

Most of the year is devoted to a single research project, which culminates with students choosing the type of presentation they would like to give. This may be creating a movie, song, play or game, or it could be a mock interview or news broadcast. It could be writing a diary as if you were a particular character or creature.

Topics in the past have included Black History, environmental issues or environmental issues specific to the study of oceanography.

Students learn:

  • about issues surrounding copyright, plagiarism, fair use, Creative Commons licenses, public domain
  • how to evaluate resources for bias, relevancy, currency, accuracy and appropriateness
  • how to find images in the public domain
  • how to cite sources and create a bibliography using the online website called NoodleTools (this is also used at Richmond Middle School and Hanover High School
  • note-taking skills
  • to synthesize the information they found on their topic to effectively communicate their knowledge via their presentation to the class


The goal of the fifth and sixth grade physical education program is to help students enhance their physical skills and awareness, refine skills learned in grades 3, 4 and 5, and practice good sportsmanship and team play. Students learn about and begin to take personal charge of the following: personal fitness and wellness (fitness tests, fitness activities and warm-ups), sportsmanship and social interaction (New Games, cooperative learning situations, problem solving skills, recognizing own strengths and strengths of others, accepting differences), locomotor skills (dance, gymnastics), non-locomotor skills (high and long jumping, balance activities), striking skills (volleyball, pickleball, paddle tennis, badminton, whiffleball), movement concepts (general and personal space, speed, force and flow of movement, offense and defense), and manipulatives of circus arts activities (juggling scarves, balls and clubs; spinning diabolos and plates). In addition they are introduced to and play modified games of lacrosse, whiffleball, volleyball, basketball, ultimate frisbee, and soccer. Track and field events are taught and practiced, and we continue to occasionally play some large group games.