Sixth Grade

In addition to the academic schedule, sixth graders waltz their way through the year in Mr. Barnes's ballroom dancing class and have the opportunity to participate on several Griffin athletic teams.

Dad will always be in the partner rotation.


The sixth grade English curriculum offers students daily opportunities to read and write in two 45-minute class sessions. The literature class focuses on developing strong, thoughtful readers. The year begins with award-winning novels such as Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Tuck Everlasting, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and The Giver. Students read memoirs by Jerry Spinelli, Walter Dean Myers, Sandra Cisneros, and others; short stories by Langston Hughes, Toni Cade Bambara, and others; science fiction by Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke; and current informational nonfiction articles. They read the Newbery-winning Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! In conjunction with their history study of the Middle Ages. They end the year with texts such as The Call of the Wild and poems by Blake, Whitman, Poe, and many others. Students respond to their reading with frequent journal entries to encourage close reading, inference and connections. Independent reading plays a key role in the development of sixth grade readers. Students have a nightly reading assignment, time in class to read daily, and access to a first-class Middle School library and a skilled librarian.


In the sixth grade mathematics class, effective study and organizational strategies continue to be modeled, but greater responsibility is shifted to the students. The transition continues from concrete to abstract thinking by stretching familiar concepts while examining patterns and models. Algebraic concepts provide many opportunities for independent thought.

A primary goal is to achieve competence with integer operations focusing on negative numbers. Fraction and decimal operations are reviewed and expanded through conversions. Proportional reasoning is developed by examining concepts of ratio and percent. Geometric concepts of perimeter, area and volume are expanded and include work with unknown sides and composite figures. Simple geometric constructions of lines and angles are introduced.

Students are encouraged to ask meaningful questions, seek additional help when they do not understand and follow the organizational structures provided by teachers. In a similar way, the demands of the academic program increase as students face developmentally appropriate challenges designed to enhance their available tools for lifelong learning. These include effective oral and written communication, creative and well-reasoned solutions to problems, critical examination of the ideas of others, logical construction of arguments and the development of a strong knowledge base.


Sixth grade science curriculum is an integrated course that explores topics in life, earth and physical science. The first semester is spent exploring Earth’s place in the universe, Earth systems and interactions, and Earth’s dynamic structure. Second semester focuses on energy, an introduction to plants and animals, and a health unit on the human reproductive system. Students work in collaborative groups during laboratory activities, class discussions and projects. These activities provide students opportunities to investigate science topics of relevance to their own lives and build understanding of essential learning in science.


The sixth grade history curriculum follows the Silk Road exploring the many goods and ideas that spread along this ancient trade route. Beginning the year at the eastern starting point of the Road, the students study Chinese culture and innovative contributions. They then learn about the history of the Road itself, pausing to investigate the religions of Buddhism and Hinduism in India. Continuing their travels westward, the students touch upon the three Abrahamic religions and learn about the amazing contributions of the early Muslim empires. Still further west, they investigate the impact of the Crusades on Europe and create a medieval festival to be enjoyed by all. While the Road itself only briefly touched Africa, the ideas and goods that it spread played a major role in European advancements making exploration possible. Over the entire year, students are taught the modern country maps of these areas adding to the scope of that map each time they learn a new region.

Foreign Language


Students acquire an understanding of basic vocabulary, grammar and syntax in preparation for the translation of elementary texts. Reading, speaking and writing skills are emphasized as the students build a foundation for future study. Oral drills, group activities and multimedia resources are used to reinforce individual and collaborative efforts. Students of Latin learn to think precisely about words and sentence structure, as Latin grammar is rarely ambiguous. This enhances their use of English. The study of Roman history and culture complements the exploration of the structure of the language. The students finish their year with a good idea of how to succeed in foreign language, whether they continue with Latin or begin their study of a modern foreign language.


Sixth Grade Spanish is taught primarily in the target language, recognizing that immersion is a vital element in language acquisition. The incorporation of cognates (words similar in Spanish and English), repetition, gestures, props and dramatization facilitate comprehension. The primary goals of Sixth Grade Spanish are to establish a level of comfort, confidence and familiarity with the language as well as to develop cultural awareness. Students are expected to follow both written and oral instructions in Spanish. In addition to building a base of vocabulary and developing proper pronunciation, students are introduced to basic sentence structure, noun/adjective agreement and the concept of verb conjugation. Development of the basic skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking prepares students for a more in-depth study of grammar in Level 1.

Art (Elective)

Sixth grade art establishes an environment for problem solving and creative thinking. Through the vehicles of line, color, volume, composition, pattern and form, students are encouraged to develop their own ideas and use media expressively. Lessons are planned to accommodate the interests, skills and abilities of students as well as to develop their aesthetic perceptions, ability to evaluate art and knowledge of art history. Drawing, painting in watercolor and acrylic, collage, sculpture and ceramics units spanning over several class periods or even weeks expand students’ art knowledge by incorporating sources of information from a variety of art history resources. By the sixth grade, students have a working vocabulary of art terms and are able to make informed judgments about their work and the work of others.Sixth grade art is a course filled with projects that develop artistic skills and cross curricular ties as well as encourage personal growth and expression. Some student favorites include Day of the Dead paper mache masks, oil pastel landscapes, self-portraits and ceramics. In the spring, each student chooses a piece to be displayed in the Middle School Art Show.

Band (Elective)

Sixth grade beginning band at Spartanburg Day School is an opportunity for students to learn to perform music on a band instrument. Students will have opportunities to perform in large ensembles, chamber groups, solo settings and audition situations. The band performs two concerts a year on the SDS campus. Select auditioned students will get to participate in the SDS Middle School Honors Band that travels to adjudicated events throughout the state.

Ballroom Dance

All sixth grade students at Spartanburg Day School participate in a ballroom dancing curriculum. The students learn to dance the Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Cha-Cha, Rumba, Swing and several line dances. Students learn the etiquette and courtesies of dancing with partners. The culminating activity of the class is a ball with live music supplied by the Upper School Jazz Band.