In grade six the content and number of subjects expand to meet the needs of the pre-adolescent. In addition to deepening the work with previously experienced material, new subjects are introduced, helping the student maintain a healthy interest in the world. The curriculum encourages pre-adolescents to direct their gaze enthusiastically and sympathetically out as far as the stars and to look also at interactions between human beings and the decisions that can impact those interactions. History study turns to Rome, from the idealism of the early republic to the building and dissolution of the empire, and the Middle Ages, where many of our modern social forms are rooted. The curriculum continues to work with strengthening the forces of memory and gives the student opportunities to express their emerging personal individual identity.
Main Learning Objectives
The Main Lesson study in sixth grade turns to Rome and the Middle Ages, with students called upon to take notes from teacher presentations and write individual synopses of those presentations. Individual student writing continues with books reports, and short independent essays. Longer dictations, grammar, spelling, vocabulary development and research skills are emphasized. Novel study expands to look at writing style, and the class continues to practice recitation and offer dramatic presentations. Often a class play on Roman history is presented to other members of the school community.
Practice with fractions, decimals, and multi-digit problem solving and story problems continues. The class makes steps towards algebra in beginning to look for the unknown in arithmetic equations, and geometric drawing with precision tools is introduced. Students use the skills they have developed handling decimals and percentages to study how mathematics works in the world of commerce.
In grades six, seven, and eight, students begin the study of physics, investigating heat, light, magnetism, sound, electricity and mechanics. Each year builds on the year before, observation as a scientific method is developed further each year, and the students, noting with care and accuracy what they observe, are able to reach a working understanding of these basic phenomena of our physical world.
The study of geology in grade six builds understanding of the world on which we live, and includes field trips to local geological formations, caves and the Grand Canyon. The study of astronomy through night sky observations awakens students to the order and rhythm of the universe.
The entire earth is the focus of geography study in grade six, and earth study expands to science in the study of geology.
Study of the history of the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages in Eurasia is the focus of the sixth grade history lesson blocks. Students begin to see their own culture emerging in the stories and personalities of these times.
The practice of artistic skills in many mediums continues, as students draw, paint, and sculpt projects that expand and complement their Main Lesson work. Teachers bring new media to the students, and ink becomes a primary sixth grade experience as the students explore the manuscript and birth of the book.
Instruction in recorder begins in grade six, our consort including soprano, tenor, alto and sopranino instruments. Classes in vocal and in instrumental music prepare for middle school ensemble work, as students explore new ways to make music with one another.
Spanish and German classes continue, studying grammar, conversation and culture.
Hand sewing projects fill the year, heading toward puppetry, and shaping of wood with hand tools continues in woodworking class. Students create spoons and bowls from a block of raw wood. Students also make regular visits to the biodynamic farm for gardening, River Road Gardens, right outside their classroom door on the River Bend campus.
In sixth grade, music classes practice choral singing and making music with string, wind, and percussion instruments.
Ball games, juggling and archery highlight the movement curriculum in grade six. Instruction in team sports and basic skill development prepare the class for the Medieval Games, a regional event with other Waldorf schools, usually held in the spring.