The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA
Lower School

Grade Six

Grade Six

As our sixth graders conclude their Lower School experience and prepare for their transition to the Upper School, they continue their journey of understanding who they are as learners and what it takes to be a successful student at Fay. Sixth graders start each day with Homevisory, which combines the best elements of homeroom and an advisory program and offers a home-base for sixth graders that supports their academic and social-emotional needs. Academics are departmentalized in sixth grade, and students participate in an engaging program that includes reading, English, mathematics, science, social studies, foreign language, music, art, principles of design, digital literacy, and library. Instructional routines and practices are aligned with the developmental, cognitive, and emotional strengths and needs of each particular group of sixth graders, and teachers encourage increased independence and responsibility for one’s learning as the year progresses. A highlight of the year is a grade level experience that provides closure to Lower School as students look forward to entering the Upper School in the fall.

List of 12 items.

  • Mathematics

    The goal of Lower School mathematics is to encourage and support students as they develop number sense, computational fluency and efficiency, strategies for problem solving, and a beginning understanding of the connectedness of mathematical topics and procedures. The curriculum offers opportunities for self-discovery and exploration of concepts and personal strategies as well as exploring and understanding traditional algorithms. Visual models are used at every level to provide concrete examples of abstract concepts.

    Grade six expands upon the goals and objectives of grade five mathematics. Students practice computational skills and application of whole number operations; they also build conceptual and procedural understanding and manipulation of positive and negative fractions, decimals, and percents. Students also explore two-dimensional geometric concepts and measurement. Writing is a significant component of the sixth grade program, and students are frequently challenged to clarify, justify, and support their thinking in their mathematical writing. Teachers work closely with Upper School math teachers to provide and support an instructional progression in preparation for Upper School math classes. Students continue to develop and extend mathematical proficiency in the following areas: number and operations; fractions, decimals, and percents; measurement, geometry; data analysis and probability; and algebraic thinking.

    Students who successfully complete the grade three mathematics program will be able to fundamental understanding of topics in the following categories:

    Number and Operations
    • Understanding the inverse relationship between multiplication and division
    • Applying and extending previous understandings of arithmetic to positive and negative integers
    • Developing algorithms for adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing positive and negative numbers
    • Locating positive and negative rational numbers on a number line
    Fractions, Decimals, Percents
    • Developing algorithms for adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions
    • Developing algorithms for adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing decimals
    • Using benchmarks and estimation strategies to estimate the result of fraction operations
    • Solving problems using fraction and decimal operations
    Geometry & Measurement
    • Understanding measurement as a counting of iterated units and differentiating between types of units (ex: linear, square, and cubic units)
    • Developing and applying strategies for measuring the areas of rectangles, triangles, and parallelograms
    • Measuring the perimeter of two-dimensional shapes
    • Developing and applying strategies for measuring the volume and surface area of rectangular prisms
    • Measuring and categorizing angles using an angle ruler or protractor
    • Describing the relationship between the interior and exterior angle sums of polygons
    • Classifying two-dimensional shapes based on properties such as regularness, concavity, and complexity
    • Classifying three-dimensional shapes as polyhedra, prisms, and pyramids
    Data Analysis & Probability
    • Visually representing data to use as a tool during the analysis process
    • Summarizing numerical data sets in relation to their contexts
    • Defining ways data can be collected
    • Investigating, creating, and interpreting scatter plots
    Algebraic Thinking
    • Representing, analyzing, and generalizing patterns with tables, graphs, words, and, when possible, symbolic rules
    • Relating and comparing different forms of representation for a relationship
    • Identifying functions as linear or nonlinear and contrast their properties from tables, graphs, or equations
    • Showing an initial conceptual understanding of different uses of variables
  • Reading

    Literature is a tool for understanding the world and the people in it. Exposure to a broad range of literary styles and subject matter in grade six encourages students to develop their own interests, tastes, and critical skills. Teachers select books because their content parallels material studied in other classes, because they relate to a larger theme, because they are part of an important body of literature, or because they support a community of learners. Finally, selected titles provide important connections for the reader: to himself, to peers, to other generations, to other cultures, to other periods, to other philosophies, and to other worlds.

    Strengthening the sense of being a part of a community of readers is an important aspect of the reading program in grade six as students are encouraged to share their interests in books. Students read a variety of material and develop an in-depth appreciation of language and style. The course emphasizes a more complex literal and interpretive comprehension of plot, character, and theme. Students analyze reading for meaning and value, critiquing an author’s intent and synthesizing and exploring information. Students are encouraged to develop critical standards and awareness of the richness of language.
  • Writing

    Through the Lower School writing program, students learn what it is to be a writer working within a community of writers. The sixth grade writing program is based on the Writing Workshop model. Students write during class and learn how to express their ideas in a variety of creative and expository genres. One-on-one conferences with the teacher provide students with the appropriate individualized guidance to improve their writing skills. Students use Google Docs, a platform that facilitates writing instruction through collaboration and feedback.

    The sixth grade writing program builds on the objectives established in grade five. Students explore new literary genres by developing pieces that follow the distinct structure and purpose of each genre. At this stage of the writing program, students become more proficient at revising their work independently. Facilitated by their stronger metacognitive skills, students take more of a leading role in writing conferences. A greater focus on grammar and vocabulary study supports the sixth grade writer’s readiness to experiment with varied sentence structures and use increasingly sophisticated written language. 

    Integrated grammar and vocabulary instruction supports the students’ development as writers. Grammar lessons are woven throughout the Writing Workshop curriculum as students directly apply new rules to enhance their writing. The objective of the grammar program is to provide students with an increasingly sophisticated understanding of language conventions to continuously hone their craft. A formal study of vocabulary is integrated, assessed, and applied in both reading and writing.Through instruction in Greek and Latin roots, prefixes, and suffixes, students expand their vocabulary base and are better able to infer the meaning of unknown words.

    A hallmark of the Lower School writing program is the tradition of public speaking. As in grades three, four, and five, students develop ideas, draft, and revise their speeches in a context of structure and support. Delivering their speeches to an appreciative audience encourages students to develop confidence and comfort with public speaking. Our commitment to developing poised public speakers is a yearlong objective, as students frequently share and celebrate their writing with peers and other members of the Fay community.
  • Social Studies

    In sixth grade social studies, students continue their study of American history. The year begins with a review of the topics, themes, and concepts studied in fifth grade before the introduction of new topics such the American Revolution, the creation of the republic and the U.S Constitution, expansion, slavery and the Civil War, as well as a number of other topics and themes of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Throughout the year, students learn history through storytelling; they continue to practice recognizing and applying the historical thinking skills of context, perspective, and cause and effect. The students culminate the year with a research project on a topic related to the period of study.

    Students who successfully complete the grade six social studies program will be able to:
    • Interpret, analyze, and synthesize information from both primary and secondary sources
    • Recognize and apply historical thinking skills
    • Organize and articulate their understanding of the topics studied both verbally and in writing
  • Science

    The Lower School science practices have been adopted from the National Research Council’s A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (2012) and directly build upon skills and material covered in Primary School. Students who demonstrate success in Lower School science courses will be able to:
    • Ask clarifying and extending questions
    • Apply the scientific process to creative real-world projects
    • Create and follow a written plan for an investigation
    • Understand how to gather, organize, and explain data
    • Predict the outcome of an investigation and analyze the results
    • Collaborate effectively to complete investigations and solve problems
    • Use evidence from real-world observations to demonstrate conceptual understanding
    • Communicate concepts and observations through writing and drawing

    Students in sixth grade ask, “How can science inspire new ideas and explanations?”  In the fall, sixth graders study the solar system and learn about the Mars 2030 Challenge as they explore the future and possibilities of space. Students also “travel” to Mars, and they participate in an engineering design project in which they create a Mars Lander/Rover. The focus then shifts to Earth and its structures which includes a study of landforms and erosion as well as an Earthquake Design Challenge as they are introduced to the constantly changing planet surface.  The year is finished with a deeper look inside of Earth as they learn about earth systems and resources.  Students explore the resources available to humans and consider how these resources should be used while also looking closely at several of Earth’s cycles and systems and the importance of their interactions.

  • Digital Literacy

    Digital Literacy provides students with key technology skills that they need to be successful both in and out of the classroom. Students learn how to leverage technology to achieve their goals; they also learn how to be responsible digital citizens by using technology in safe, legal and ethical ways. Digital Literacy also focuses on learning how to use technology as a tool for productivity, with a focus on construction, design, thinking, communication, and collaboration. The Digital Literacy curriculum is based on the International Society for Technology in Education Student Standards. In grades 4 - 6, students participate in a Digital Literacy Badging program where students learn discrete skills that they can apply both in school and at home.

    Each Lower School student has access to a Chromebook for use in all classes throughout the day, and students use a range of Google Education tools, including Gmail, Google Classroom, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Drawings, Sites, Jamboard, and Keep. Students also participate in activities that utilize tools including Seesaw, Adobe Spark, Common Sense Media, and a range of coding and keyboarding practice applications.
    Each Lower School student has access to a Chromebook for use in all classes throughout the day, and students use a range of Google Education tools, including Gmail, Google Classroom, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Drawings, Sites, Jamboard, and Keep. Students also participate in activities that utilize tools including Seesaw, Adobe Spark, Common Sense Media, and a range of coding and keyboarding practice applications.
  • Principles of Design

    Principles of Design classes meet once per rotation in grades 5 and 6. The course is designed to create a solid foundation for Creators courses in grades 7 and 8. Materials and skills that are covered in Principles of Design include ideation, iteration, brainstorming, hand drawing and CAD Design, environment and design, sustainable design, logo design, and the connection between culture and design. In grade six, students learn to identify and describe ways in which designers help develop a society in positive and negative ways; apply their knowledge of a designer's role in developing a society to ideate and design solutions to a problem; and construct, test, and evaluate their solutions.

  • World Languages: Spanish and French

    Fay’s Lower School French and Spanish program is based on F.L.E.S. (Foreign Language in the Elementary School). The F.L.E.S. methodologies are based on the developmental progression of first language acquisition, which involves the active use of and exposure to the language being learned. Listening and speaking skills are emphasized through interactive activities such as games, choral repetition, TPR (Total Physical Response), acting out dialogues, and music. Through the use of Francophone and Hispanic children’s literature, students develop basic reading and writing skills. The study of culture continues to be a highlight of the program, as it allows the students to learn and appreciate French and Spanish speaking communities. The students are encouraged to use French or Spanish to express basic ideas and to participate in brief conversations.

    In grade six, students apply their knowledge of the language acquired in previous years to more advanced written and visual projects, skits, and class performances. While oral communication in the language continues to be important, there is continued emphasis on the development of basic reading and writing skills, as well as on grammar. Authentic children’s literature is employed along with age and level-appropriate music, videos, and games. Cultural proficiency and knowledge of basic historical events continue to be a very important part of the curriculum and are tied in closely with the relevant vocabulary and grammar. At this level, the class is mostly conducted in the language, so that by the end of the year, students demonstrate confidence in their ability to understand, read, speak, and write in Spanish or French.
  • Music

    In grade six, students elect to participate in Band, Chorale, or Beginning Strings.

    Beginning Band is open to students in grades five and six. Students learn how to assemble, hold, play, and care for their instruments. No previous instrumental experience is necessary. During the year, students learn note reading, fingering, rhythm, articulations, intonation, dynamics, posture, and appropriate music symbols. By the end of the year, students play beginning-level music as a band. Success in this course requires practice as homework. Instrument choices include flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet, trombone, and baritone horn. Students wishing to play oboe or French horn are required to seek additional support through private lessons.

    The Lower School Chorale is open to students in grades five and six. The chorus is a treble choir that sings pieces in unison and two parts. Students also practice music reading and listening skills through the use of movable do solfege and rhythm syllables.

    Beginning Strings is open to students in grades five and six. Students learn how to assemble, hold, play, and care for their instruments. No previous instrumental experience is necessary. During the course of the year, students learn note reading, fingering, rhythm, bowing, intonation, dynamics, posture, and appropriate music. By the end of the year, students play beginning-level music as an ensemble. Success in this course requires practice as homework. Students may choose either violin or cello; students wishing to play viola are required to seek additional support through private lessons.
  • Art

    Grade six students draw and explore positive and negative space. They learn about folk art and create a painted one-stringed musical instrument as well as a ceramic face pot. They look at Japanese and Chinese brush painting and create their own work in a similar style.

    Students who successfully complete the sixth grade art program will be able to:
    • Use media and tools appropriately
    • Listen to and understand multi-step directions
    • Understand principles of proportion and design
    • Understand African-American folk art and artists
    • Care for their materials and maintain a clean workspace
  • Athletics

    The fifth and sixth grade athletic program at Fay is designed as a bridge from the physical education curriculum taught in Kindergarten through grade four to interscholastic athletics in grade seven. The focus of this program is to introduce students to a variety of activities, provide sport specific instruction, foster appropriate levels of competition, and provide opportunities for individuals to learn about teamwork, sportsmanship, and fair play. The program creates a fun and challenging environment where players have the opportunity to learn and grow as athletes. Coaches focus on technique and skill development and, as competency increases, tactical elements and game situations.

    The three primary components of the program are:
    • Instructional: Sport-specific instruction focused on skill development, technique, knowledge and understanding of rules, team concepts, and fair play
    • Intramural: Competition against peers to build teamwork and camaraderie within the sport setting
    • Interscholastic: Appropriate levels of competition against peer schools to provide a fun and positive experience

    Sports offered:
    Fall: cross country, field hockey, flag football, soccer
    Winter: basketball, fitness and games, hockey, squash, wrestling, drama
    Spring: baseball, dance, lacrosse, softball, tennis, dance
  • Wellness

    Sixth grade Wellness classes meet once per rotation. As students prepare for the social dynamics of the Upper School, Wellness classes begin to delve more deeply into topics relevant to adolescence, including peer pressure, time management, sleep, stress management, physical boundaries, responsible online behavior, nutrition, getting oneself out of uncomfortable situations, and bullying. They also continue to expand their repertoire of mindfulness techniques.
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