Learning / Middle School

Sixth Grade Glimpse


Chinese Curriculum Unit: 孔子说什么 What Did Confucius Say?

In Chinese class, students are getting up close with Confucius, so to speak. They divide the research load and dive deep into the life and lessons of this luminary to tease out who he was as a teacher, as a thinker and philosopher, and as a lasting influence on the way people think and act. A small group of students pore over notes on the impressive array of subjects he taught and assemble a picture of Confucius as an influential and historic teacher. Another group of students explores the timeless proverbs from Analects to draw connections between the impact of his philosophy and the modern world. Students enjoy a-ha! moments as they connect Confucius’ quotes to their own life experiences, making the words especially meaningful and useful. Learning about his background, students analyze the concept of 仁 benevolence that Confucius promoted thousands of years ago. Pulling all their findings together, the class creates a multimedia presentation to bring Confucius to life for the audience of today.

English Curriculum Unit: Magazine Project

Down the hall in English class, students are writing editorials, biographies, short stories and informational pieces for the magazines they have been creating for the past month, based on their self-selected topics. One student’s magazine focuses on ancient ruins in Mexico. His research about ancient sites includes information he learned in science class about simple machines, as well as the architectural design of the pyramids that he learned about in social studies. Meanwhile, another student is editing an interview about her grandmother’s immigration to San Francisco for her magazine on Chinese culture. Two students refer to their rubrics while peer editing their essays on whether iPads should be allowed in schools and the benefits of coding. One child incorporates his English lesson on the importance of symbolism and theme as he writes a story about a grandfather and grandson. He describes their ritual of watching an otter splashing in the lake each day at sunset and reflecting on the nature of their relationship when the otter does not return on the final day of summer. Having crafted their magazines independently, at the end of the unit, they look forward to a publishing party and reading one another’s magazines.

Math/Science Curriculum Unit: Simple Machines

In science class, the students are gathered in teams around friction boards with spring scales. They take careful notes as they experiment with the force necessary to pull a block up the surface of an inclined plane with a variety of surfaces such as sandpaper, waxed paper, petroleum jelly and carpet. Last week, one team devised an experiment measuring the effort in pulling a block across a flat surface and across dowels that roll across a flat surface, like a primitive wheel. Another team’s experiment, seeking to explore friction reducing efficiency, involved measuring the time it took for a ball to roll down an inclined plane with various surfaces. A third team rigged various pulleys to measure the work required to lift stacks of books. The class reflected back on content from Chinese class when they read about Qin Shi Huang’s standard cart axles and how roads were decreed to be the same width to create standard ruts. At the conclusion of the unit, one student built a fanciful Rube Goldberg machine using levers, pulleys and rolling objects to turn on a fan while another student chose to animate an elaborate machine she designed to erase the whiteboard.

Examples of Enduring UnderstandingsExamples of Essential QuestionsFocus of Integration

Unit: What Did Confucius Say?
Philosophical views and thinking shape people’s ways of thinking, ways of life, and ways of being in the world.Who is Confucius and what does he represent?

What does “仁 benevolent“ mean and how is it achieved or demonstrated?

Self Development

Unit: Magazine Project
Writing an editorial article helps one to identify multiple perspectives on an issue.

Development of a strong opinion requires research and factual evidence, as well as a logical, organized argument.
How does a reporter/writer investigate a topic from multiple writing angles?

What are the skills needed for effective written communication across a variety of genres?
Innovation and Creativity

Unit: Simple Machines
Simple machines are fundamental building blocks for technology and are the parts of compound machines.

Simple machines accomplish more work and magnify human effort.
Where do simple machines occur in your everyday world?

How do simple machines assist human activity?

How did ancient civilizations use simple machines?
Innovation and Creativity,

Change and Continuity