Sixth Grade

In sixth grade, Norwood Students continue to be part of an advisory. Sixth graders take a leadership role, providing guidance and assistance for their younger peers just joining the Middle School, and serving as the more experienced players on their interscholastic athletic teams. In all of their classes, sixth graders continue to be challenged by new concepts and skills. Their social studies journey takes them from where they left off in the Middle Ages to the European Renaissance, the Silk Road, South American and African Kingdoms, the Scientific Revolution, and the Age of Exploration. Toward the end of second quarter, they return to local waters, studying early American history with a focus on the colonies and the Revolutionary Period. They continue to hone their critical reading and note-taking skills, and add to their research repertoire as they complete a more sophisticated research project at the end of the Civil War unit. In math and language arts, sixth graders master many of the skills introduced in fifth grade and take on new challenges. In math, for example, they start writing and solving equations in preparation for pre-algebra. In language arts, they write longer essays, face increased expectations for revision and editing, and have the opportunity to memorize and recite a poem as part of Poetry Day. Our sixth grade scientists enjoy a year focused primarily on biology, with extensive exploration and lab work connected to the human body, genetics, and evolution, and an independent science fair project for our annual Sixth Grade Experiment Expo. Students continue with their world language studies of Spanish or French and have the option to switch to Mandarin. They enjoy practicing and performing with their music ensembles and may also elect to perform in the Sixth Grade Variety Show. As in fifth grade, sixth graders celebrate the end of the year with an overnight camping trip that includes a number of outdoor challenge elements and group activities.

List of 10 items.

  • Reading/Language Arts

    In sixth grade, students address questions like, “How does literature bring its readers to a deeper and more complex understanding of the world?” Students read a wide variety of genres written for young adult readers. Selections range from fantasy to historical fiction; through class discussions and seminars, students engage the texts through multiple lenses. The writing program in sixth grade encourages students to reflect on different types of writing and apply the appropriate form to the correct audience. Students write frequently, with assignments ranging from the personal narrative to informational and persuasive pieces. Through mini-lessons and one-on-one conferences, students continue to refine and develop their understanding and application of grammar. Poetry Day, an opportunity to perform is a highlight of the year for the entire Norwood community.
  • Math

    In sixth grade, students transition to the Glencoe Middle School Math Program. They also are placed into more homogenous groups in order to provide the appropriate level of rigor. Students continue to practice fundamental math skills such as multi digit computations. Area and volume are studied in greater depth and as an element of spatial analysis. Additionally, students begin to study pre-algebra. As in prior grades, students apply their skills and fluency in math to solve open-ended problems as well as real world applications of math. The accelerated sixth grade math course covers additional topics like probability and statistics, inequalities, and linear and non-linear functions. Additionally, some students, based on a portfolio of information, skip sixth grade math and take pre-algebra honors with seventh graders. They then take honors algebra in seventh grade and honors geometry in eighth grade.
  • Social Studies

    Sixth graders tackle the questions, “What is history?” and "Who writes history?" and study events from multiple points of view. Picking up with the European Renaissance and the Age of Exploration, students dig deeper into their study of history as a discipline. They transition to a study of the colonization of the Americas and the founding of the United States. As they explore the complex beginnings of our country, students consider many experiences and perspectives, including using numerous primary resources. They also begin to learn about civics and the roles and rights of citizens. The year concludes with an in-depth research project on UNESCO sites in a student's country of choice.

  • Science

    In sixth grade, students take on a greater degree of responsibility and demonstrate their understanding of the scientific process by participating in the Experiment Expo. Each student designs and conducts a unique, individual experiment. They learn about the key components associated with experimentation: writing a hypothesis, conducting trials, collecting and analyzing data. They then present these findings to the community during the school-wide Super Science Week. Students also study units of genetics followed by a diversity of life unit where zoology is studied through the lens of evolution; we explore a variety of living organisms and preserved organisms as well as completing their first scientific dissections of earthworms, starfish, and perch.
  • World Languages

    The middle school Spanish program expands upon the foundation set in the Lower School. In fifth and sixth grades, students delve deeper into the topics presented in Lower School. Maintaining the emphasis on communicative activities, students expand vocabulary and mastery of grammar structures allowing them to communicate at a more sophisticated level. Students talk and write about family units, housing, schools, time, meals, restaurants, sports and health. Students relate their own customs to those of Spanish-speaking countries throughout the world.

    The French program introduces students to practical vocabulary and grammatical structures that enable students to communicate in French. They learn the basic vocabulary of everyday life situations, how to greet people, colors, numbers, family, body parts, animals, house, city, sports, and food. New vocabulary is introduced through different kinds of activities: games, role play, interactive PowerPoints, contests, as well as technological and hands-on activities. The course focuses on speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Oral communication is stressed, and by the end of sixth grade, students participate in short conversations, asking and answering questions.

    Studying the fundamentals of Mandarin Chinese, students develop the four language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Through the use of communicative activities, students learn to introduce themselves, describe families, school life, and converse using typical greetings and daily expressions. Students study the structure of Chinese characters, Chinese phonetic (Pinyin) writing, speaking tones, and characters’ strokes. Students study culture through exposure to Chinese art, songs, and games.
  • Art

    Addressing questions like, “How does art help us experience and see the world more clearly?” fifth and sixth grade art builds on the foundations set in Lower School. Students delve deeper into many media and styles, including drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, computer graphics and ceramics. Exploring space, line, shape, color, texture, movement, and perspective, the classes emphasize discovery and expression as articulations of the world around us. We strive to educate an artistically competent, adventuresome and confident student, who is generally comfortable thinking outside the box in all areas of study.
  • Music

    In fifth and sixth grade, students select among three music tracks: orchestra, choir, and band. Building on the general skills students learned in lower school classes, these tracks apply students’ musical understanding to specific musical areas. While some students have prior experience with instruments, no experience is required and students are encouraged to stretch their musical abilities. Each group participates in seasonal concerts throughout the year, including a winter and spring concert.
    Orchestra members begin their study with proper techniques particular to their instruments, note and sight reading, learning to play as an ensemble, as well as basic music theory. Throughout their time in the orchestra, students’ build their skills year-to-year as they play musical selections from a diverse set of musical styles, from a range of cultures and religions. Importantly, as an ensemble, students learn to work collaboratively as a musical unit.
    Curriculum for the course extends the skills and concepts introduced in general music classes in the lower school. Playing a diverse range of music, students begin with fundamental lessons in particular instruments; as they develop competency with those, they are encouraged to branch out to work with other band instruments. As with the orchestra, skills build year-to-year and students participate in seasonal concert opportunities.
    Middle school choir builds habits that lead to successful performance. Students continue to develop a healthy vocal range and an aural image of good singing, while working on musicianship skills by solidifying their understanding of basic musical notation. Students continue to actively perform diverse musical selections that push them to develop a broad range repertoire of abilities. The selection of those pieces comes in part through student input. As the class learns about and discusses music from different cultures, eras, religions, and composers, they, in collaboration with the instructor, select performance pieces.
  • Physical Education & Athletics

    The physical education curriculum in sixth grade includes using increasingly complex motor skills with an emphasis on the core sports, physical fitness, teamwork, and team challenges. Students continue to broaden their understanding of the value of sportsmanship, teamwork, and respect for others. Importantly, lessons are differentiated to allow students of different abilities to engage the activity at an appropriately challenging level. Additionally, a consistent emphasis is placed on healthy eating habits, daily exercise, and the importance of a balanced lifestyle. Fifth and sixth graders have the option to participate in after-school interscholastic athletics during the fall, winter, and spring sports seasons.
  • Library & Technology

    Sixth grade students attend regular library media classes, which cover content in digital and textual literacy. Students familiarize themselves with their "new" library through activities such as book scavenger hunts that offer hands-on experience in finding materials. They apply these skills to projects in other classes. Students also learn how to use more complicated databases for online research and continue to learn about the ethical synthesis and production of information. Sixth graders continue to work on skills such as file management, finding best resources for a project, and utilizing software applications to complete assignments. Additionally, students continue to learn about the fundamentals of computer science, including lessons on hardware functions and the basics of coding. 
  • Life Skills

    As part of our commitment to the whole child, Norwood School’s Life Skills Program introduces students to age-appropriate information about personal and community health and well-being that will help them lead happy, healthy lives and make positive contributions to their community from early childhood through adolescence and beyond. Topics include:

    • Personal and Interpersonal Skills
    • Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
    • Human Growth and Development
    • Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention
    • Safety
    • Media and Technology
    • Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Social Justice
    Specific topics for middle school students include nutrition and fitness, personal safety, hygiene, puberty, the reproductive system and reproduction, decision-making, stress management, interpersonal skills, social media, peer pressure, peer relationships, substance abuse prevention, identity, stereotypes, bias, discrimination, and positive action. Depending on the grade and topic, coordinated instruction occurs in homeroom, advisory, science, physical education, and/or dedicated life skills classes. At all ages, the program establishes skills and strategies for lifelong well-being and promotes caring for the well-being of others. Throughout the program, teachers emphasize the important role students’ own family members play in guiding goal-setting, problem-solving, and decision-making.
A Week in the Life of a Norwood Sixth Grader

Each morning starts with a community gathering to focus on the value of the month and to prepare for the day ahead. Sixth graders then enjoy a balanced schedule combining science, world languages (Spanish, Chinese, French), social studies, reading and language arts, art, recess, math, PE, Life Skills, and music (strings, band, chorus).


List of 5 members.

  • Photo of John McCune

    Jack McCune 

    Sixth Grade Homeroom Advisor
    Boston University - B.A.
  • Photo of Mary Mulligan

    Mimi Mulligan 

    Sixth Grade Homeroom Advisor
    Stanford University - B.S.
    George Washington University - M.Ed.
  • Photo of Victoria Wilbur

    Victoria Wilbur 

    Sixth Grade Homeroom Advisor and Middle School Reading and Language Arts Coordinator
    Dickinson College - B.A.
    University of Virginia - M.A.
  • Photo of Carole Freret

    Carole Freret 

    Sixth Grade Homeroom Advisor
    Smith College - B.A.
    Georgetown University Law Center - J.D.
  • Photo of Neelam Minera

    Neelam Minera 

    Sixth Grade Homeroom Advisor
    University of Maryland - B.S.
    Montgomery College - A.A.


  • Advisory
  • Optional Interscholastic Athletics
  • Chapel Presentations
  • Geography and Spelling Bees
  • New Option in World Languages: Mandarin
  • Variety Show
  • Experiment Expo
  • Supply Drive for Local Animal Shelter
  • Newspaper Publishing
  • Trading Day
  • Poetry Day
  • 2nd Grade Buddies
  • Camp Horizons Overnight
Located in Bethesda, MD, Norwood School develops students in grades PK-8 into confident lifelong learners who have the academic, character, and leadership skills to succeed in high school and beyond. Recognizing that children are multi-faceted, Norwood provides many opportunities for safe risk-taking, exploration, discovery, and growth in a nurturing, supportive, and inclusive school community.