About Our Grade 6 Program
Sixth grade is a year of exciting growth and transition as students move from the homeroom model of 5th grade to the advisor and subject specific model of grades 6 – 8. At this age, students learn how to organize and manage important aspects of their lives: time, materials, friendships, personal boundaries, and the independence that comes from having new kinds of responsibilities. Our sixth grade program explicitly teaches the study skills required for academic success. Students receive regular practice with organization, planning, prioritizing, time management, self-monitoring, and emotional regulation. Project-based learning and cross-curricular projects woven throughout the sixth grade curriculum encourage students to explore themselves, their communities, and the world. With each, comes the opportunity for students to grow their perspectives, build compassion and empathy, exercise curiosity, deepen imagination, and hone their organization and design skills. Throughout the year, our sixth graders gain a sense of responsibility not just for themselves but for the well-being of all.
Fostering Growth: Faculty Advisors
Beginning in sixth grade (and continuing through seventh and eighth grades), students work collaboratively with faculty advisors who help guide, direct and support their growth throughout the school year. Advisors serve as student advocates, keeping current with each advisee’s academic, social and emotional status and are the primary contact for parents when questions or needs arise. Sixth grade advisory groups consist of 8-9 students who remain together throughout the school year. To discuss and debrief life as a sixth grader, advisory groups meet regularly: most mornings from 8:20-8:30, once a week for a 30-minute advisory period, once a week during a 45-minute Personal Growth and Development period, and occasionally for advisory lunches. Students and advisors also connect as needed throughout the week. Although advisors play an integral role in sixth graders’ life at school, academic teachers remain the primary point of contact for course-specific academic needs.
Risk-Taking & Teamwork: Heron Cup Houses
Taking a page from Harry Potter, Upper Schoolers are sorted into one of ten constellation-themed Heron Cup Houses. These houses build connections and community by mixing students across grades. Houses eat lunch together once a week and participate in playful competitions that involve risk-taking, teamwork, and a healthy dose of team spirit.
Building Relationships Across Grades
As part of our Personal Growth and Development (PGD) program, sixth graders meet with second grade buddies regularly to foster a greater understanding of what it means to be an empathetic and responsible member of our school community. It is a wonderful opportunity for both the younger and older students to form relationships that last throughout their years at Brookwood.
Sixth graders read critically, write articulately, and explore grammar and mechanics of the English language. Students learn to sharpen factual and inferential reading comprehension skills, analyze overall craft as well as setting, theme, character and plot development, and critically deconstruct published writing. In addition to reading assigned books, short stories, articles and poems, students are encouraged to read independently for pleasure. Sixth graders develop a stronger grasp of grammar and mechanics, and their skills are practiced and applied in context and in writing exercises. They learn how to respond to teacher and peer feedback with effective revision, and also how to self-evaluate effectively, recognizing errors and opportunities for revision in writing. A focus on organizing facts and thinking into cohesive pieces, from simple paragraphs to more complex multi-paragraph essays, encourages students to process ideas efficiently and concisely. Everyone practices public speaking skills such as eye contact, volume, pace, tone and expression. Students write persuasive essays, analytical paragraphs, poetry, short stories and more, almost all project-based. Projects include TED Talks, debates, short stories, podcasts (including interviews), poetry declamation, and much more.
Sixth grade students participate in Brookwood’s annual Harold W. Wise Declamation contest, which was named by longtime teacher and administrator Dan Wise for his father who, as a would-be actor, struggled to memorize his lines. Through the years, hundreds of Brookwood School students have participated in the event. With a lower level division for fifth and sixth graders and an upper level division for seventh and eighth graders, the process begins when students choose their own readings with guidance from faculty. They memorize their selections and hone public speaking skills by reciting their poems in front of audiences ranging from small peer groups to their entire class. Declamation semi-finalists are selected during grade-level rounds, and the event culminates at School Meeting in May when finalists compete on stage in front of the entire Brookwood community. A panel of guest judges ultimately select one winner from each division based on a variety of criteria, especially the declaimer’s ability to convey the feeling and meaning of the poem to what is always a rapt audience.