ISD - The International School of Dakar

Grade 6

OVERVIEW

Middle School is a special time in a child’s educational experience, and our middle school teachers know well the challenges and rewards of working with these learners. Students in grades 6, 7 and 8 grow and work together as a cohesive community. To help build community teachers address specific interests, concerns and needs in small advisory groups.

Advisory & House Events

Sixth graders take part in daily advisory lessons that address topics and issues pertinent to them. Teachers work with students to develop efficient academic study and organizational skills, enhance social-emotional well-being, engage in service learning and build skills necessary to be successful in the workplace. House Groups meet once per week. Each house group has approximately 10 -12 members made up of a mix of 6th, 7th, & 8th graders. This grouping gives students a chance to build relationships across grade levels and offers our youngest middle school students the opportunity to learn from slightly more experienced mentors. House Groups hold formalized half-day athletic and academic competitions approximately 3-4 times per year.

Community Meetings

All middle school students gather twice per month to attend community meetings, lead by the middle school student council. These meetings offer a venue for sharing information, celebrating success, reinforcing CORE values and building division-wide initiatives.

Middle School Retreat & Week Without Walls

Sixth graders, like their seventh and eighth-grade counterparts, participate in field experiences away from school. In October, sixth graders join other middle school students for a one-day retreat on Tahiti Beach to participate in community-building activities. In the second semester each grade participates in its own off-campus learning adventure, Week Without Walls. Sixth graders connect their studies with a three-day adventure in Lompoul and near-by villages, building lifetime memories of Senegal and their sixth-grade year.

Middle School Assessment

Assessment is a vital part of school. Its purpose is both to inform instruction and to evaluate achievement and learning.

Assessment for learning, or formative assessment, occurs daily in sixth grade classrooms. Teachers use observation, student feedback and anecdotal information to determine instructional needs in all subject areas.

Assessment of learning, or summative assessment, is achieved through a variety of methods and formats. Student literacy work is often evaluated using rubrics or target checklists. Mathematics progress is plotted using unit tests and student work. Project-based assessments in social studies and science provide evidence of understanding and acquisition of targeted content and skills. Students use self-reflections to reflect on their learning. Report cards are shared electronically twice per year, at the end of each semester. Parent-teacher-student conferences occur in October and March.

Students in grade six take the MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) two times per year. This adaptive test provides an ongoing snapshot of student progress along a continuum of learning. Teachers and students use MAP results to set individual and classroom goals and provide more individualized and targeted instruction.

GRADE 6 CURRICULUM

The beginning of middle school is an important time in your child’s life. The transition to middle school brings anticipation, new opportunities and challenges.

ISD sixth grade program marks the beginning of multiple teachers in multiple classrooms. Students in grade 6 take four core classes with four different teachers. In addition, they participate in four year-long courses in French, physical education, Communication Arts (technology, reading and Writing) and Visual Performing Arts (Music, Art, and Drama).

Students are assigned to an advisory with one of the middle school teachers. On alternating Wednesdays, the advisory block is reserved for house activities or division-wide events.

Sixth grade units of study are anchored to Essential Questions and designed to foster in-depth understanding of ideas, knowledge and skills through inquiry-based learning. Topics are relevant and engaging; learning targets are aligned to international educational norms and shared with students.

Homework is viewed as an opportunity to practice previously taught skills or connect and extend daily learning experiences. Sixth grade homework should be completed in approximately 1 hour per day. In addition, students are expected to read for pleasure on a daily basis.

Middle school sets the stage for future success in high school and college. You can help make the transition a success and help shape your child’s future. Talking, listening to your child’s concerns, and highlighting the positives about middle school will help with the adjustment.

Language Arts - Mr. Terrence Reuwer

Grade six Language Arts classes consist of studies in literature, vocabulary, grammar and writing, and offer many opportunities for students to develop language skills in large and small group discussions. Abiding by the Language Arts Common Core standards, students work to improve listening skills, as well as learn to speak with increasing confidence and fluency. Students become increasingly aware of their audience and different purposes for writing, with an emphasis on both analysis and creativity. Students develop an ability to think about writing strategically by implementing “6 Traits” writing and through frequent exposure to the writing process with strict attention to proper citation using the MLA format. While expanding their own reading ability, students explore literature in a variety of genres, developing critical thinking skills and drawing connections with their own lives. Students read in all core areas, exploring the differences in text structure and complexity.

Sixth grade units include:

  • Memories
  • Fantastic Fiction
  • The Hero’s Journey
  • Poetry and Drama
Mathematics - Ms. Sitara Engelbrecht-Larkin

All sixth graders participate in the middle school Integrated Math 6 course. This course is aligned with Common Core standards and sequenced with ISD mathematics courses that range from Math 6 up through IB HL Mathematics. The primary resource textbook is Mathematics for the International Student (Haese and Haese, MYP 1). Skill development in various math content areas lead to real world applications and problem solving.

Sixth grade units include:

  • Ratio & Rate
  • Rational Numbers
  • Expressions & Equations
  • Statistical Thinking
Social Studies - Mr. Kent Blakney

The middle school social studies curriculum is a three-year World History course, presented in a chronological format. Sixth graders begin this study with early humans. Later, they explore ancient civilizations of the world, including the factors that contributed to their rise and flourishing as well as their contributions and lasting legacies. Using simulations, texts and primary sources, students participate in engaging learning activities that promote cooperation and communication while developing analytical and critical thinking skills. Social studies learning benchmarks are aligned with AERO (American Education Reaches Out) standards using command terms from the IB program.

Sixth grade units include:

  • Early Humans
  • Ancient Civilizations in northern Africa, the Middle East and Asia
  • Ancient Greece
  • Ancient Rome
Science - Mr. Marc Guillaume

The ISD middle school science department uses an integrated science curriculum. Every three weeks a different area of science is studied. There are three major thematic areas covered on a rotating basis. Science benchmarks are aligned to the NSES (National Science Education Standards).

Sixth grade units include:

  • Chemistry- Acids and Bases, States of Matter
  • Physics- Energy Transformations and Force
  • Biology- Microorganisms and Disease, Human Body
French Language

Students receive instruction in the French language every other day for 75 minutes. Based on AERO (American Education Reaches Out) and French National standards, the curriculum offers opportunities for integrated reading, writing, speaking and listening, as well as for exploration of the French and French/Senegalese culture. French teachers work as a team to provide multi-leveled instruction to students by determining individual level of skill at the beginning and end of the year.

Visual and Performing Arts: Music, Art, Drama

Sixth graders cycle between art, music, and drama in 12 week sessions. In music, students learn to create and interpret musical compositions, and improve instrumental skills. Art allows students to participate in drawing, painting, ceramics and other art forms. Students perform in school-wide concerts and art exhibitions throughout the year. Drama is an introduction to theatrical elements and an opportunity to develop their creativity, speaking skills and perform on stage.

Physical Education & Health

Physical education is offered two to three times per week in 75-80 minute sessions based on the rotation schedule. During this time, students learn the skills and strategies for team and individual sports, fitness, health components, dance and movement. Participation, effort and sportsmanship are highly emphasized, and students learn to work together in cooperative teams. Swimming instruction is offered in two 4-week units, in September and in May. Middle school students are expected to wear an ISD uniform for PE classes.

Communication Arts : Technology, Reading, Writing

ISD’s technology curriculum is an integrated program that infuses critical computer literacy benchmarks into existing grade level units of study. Students create media-based projects that build 21st century digital skills. Learning targets are aligned with ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) standards.

Community Service Learning

ISD takes pride in starting a 3-year long (2015 - 2018) community service learning program in middle school to bring about a strong awareness of service learning to our students. This year 1, students use their advisory classes to go through the principles of service learning, studying the main stages of service learning so that they will be able to conduct any service activities afternoon using the tools they will be. By the end of this school year 1, our middle school students should already be able to present to the community their reflection about what they learned and planned about service learning and how they will virtually want to implement it.

We are aiming to have service learning highly effective and operational in classrooms and in the school curriculum by the end of this 3 years period to allow our students to participate positively in activities with local and international organizations in the city as well as with our school-based initiatives.

English Language Learners

ISD offers a sheltered immersion program for English Language Learners. Students are assessed at the beginning of the year to determine needs. Non-English proficient (proficiency levels 1 - 3) students receive daily support with the ELL specialist during the Language Arts instructional block (45-90 minutes daily). Limited-English proficient (proficiency levels 4-5) students are supported in after-school programs. The ELL specialist works with teachers to employ a wide variety of differentiation strategies to meet the needs of English Language Learners in their classrooms.

Learning Support

The middle school learning specialist advises and collaborates with Middle School Teachers grade teachers to offer differentiation strategies for students who are experiencing academic difficulties. Students with diagnosed learning differences as evidenced by an educational evaluation, are eligible to receive an PEP (Personal Education Plan) and small-group academic support from the learning specialist during the daily French instructional block. Students receiving this academic support do not participate in the French program at ISD.