(Just a brief and gentle reminder, this post is copyrighted. If you want to use something from this post in a public way, PLEASE link to it or credit my work in some way. There have been a lot of moms on Facebook and in Yahoo groups asking for plans for Main Lessons for these upper grades, but yet many of us with experience are reluctatant to share in any truly organized fashion as it becomes fodder that someone else’s uses and charges in their own work without any attribution for the original work. Just a thought!)
Grades sixth through eight are my favorite grades to teach, so I wanted to share some of our plans as we foray as a family into our second time in sixth grade. Here are a few of my notes by block:
We are starting the year with Astronomy. As part of this block we are looking at how the First Peoples of the Americas saw various cosmic phenomenon, how we recognize the cosmos and earth inside of our own bodies, how to understand the rising and setting of the sun in relation to the axis of the earth, the affects of the moon on the earth, the circumpolar stars, comets, meteors, the planets in our solar system, our solar address in the universe, and some biographies of great astronomers. We will be working on memorizing about 70 lines of poetry this block, writing from diction, reviewing the metric system as well as an introduction to scientific notation along with wet felting, drawing with pastels and pencils and crayon resists and painting. (3 weeks)
Next we are going to move into the earthly realm and study Mineralogy. For this block we will be learning poetry, expressing linear equations graphically, and reviewing the geographic zones of our state. We will be looking at the layers of the earth and an introduction to plate tectonics and the types of movement of plates, and how our state’s landscape was shaped, which was mainly through erosion and a network of streams that cross our state. We will be looking at mountain building and the four types of mountains, volcanoes, types of rocks and the rock cycle and the types of rocks found in the geographic regions in our states. We have a lot of granite and monadnocks in our state, so that is a special type of rock for us to focus on, along with kaolin. Our state is the leading producer of kaolin in the United States. We will look at a walk through time and fossils, but the fossils of our state especially. Lastly, we look at coal and oil and a discussion on fracking and sustainable resources. So many wonderful projects and field trips are in this block! (4 weeks)
In European Geography, the geography necessary to understand Roman History will be introduced and more European geography will be worked into Roman and Medieval History. In the stand-alone portion of European Geography, I will introduce the European continent, the regions of Europe, and tie back into our Ancient Civilization studies by looking briefly at the Ancient River civilizations along the Danube River. I choose this river because it greatly influenced the Roman Empire and because I wanted to tie back into Ancient Studies. I want to talk about the very first peoples of Europe of the Varna area (modern day Bulgaria) and then trace the Danube. Then we will move into the geography of Italy. In the course of our history studies, we will look at the other parts of Europe and European geography as well. I hope to focus on modeling during this block. (2 weeks)
In Roman History, my plan is to begin with an introduction to the three phases of the Roman Empire. When we move into Rome as a Republic, we will see how Rome was organized similarily to the way the United States is organized, the growth of the Roman Army, the plebeians and patricians, the slave trade, the making of Roman law, and a soldier’s life and the Roman fort. Then we will move into Carthage and the story of Hannibal, the battles against Greece, the ideals of Roman citizens, slave uprisings, especially Spartacus, the rise of Julius Caesar and his assassination, Caesar Augustus, Mark Anthony and Cleopatra. The last part of our block will be the life of Jesus of Nazareth, His miracles and parables about the Kingdom of God, the historic Jesus, the Ancient Church and Paul the Apostle along with the symbols of early Christianity, and the decline of the Roman Empire, Emperor Constantine and the first of the desert hermits. Our last week will look at a comparison of the Roman Empire and the Han Dynasty in China – the origins of the Han Dynasty, the acheivements of the Han Dynasty, the Sack of Chan’gan, the decline of the Dynasty and its legacy. This continues our study of China from Fifth Grade. The Empire of Askum, the Queen of Sheba, and King Ezana will end our block. One of the main features of this block outside of the artistic work (mainly charcoal drawing, black and white drawing, mosaics and clay) will be training like a Roman soldier, complete with Roman marches and other forms of Roman training, and making and playing Roman games and writing compositions and more dictation. (6 weeks)
In Medieval History, we will begin with the Byzantine Empire, iconoclasm, Byzantine society and move into Gregory the Great. I will start to paint a picture of how life in Western Europe became isolated as roads and cities decayed. Feudalism and monasteries will play a large role in this block,the code of chivalry, the castle, the role of women and children and the peasant and the life at a manor will all be investigated. We will also look at what is happening in the Americas during this time with the Ancient Puebolans of the United States, and the Maya. The Maya will be studied more in-depth in seventh grade, but I felt it good to introduce here. Then we will move into an entire week of study on not just Muhammed, but Islam itself, complete with Islamic Geometry, Islamic poetry, and the achievements made in this time period as the scholars of the Muslim world improved upon the knowlege of Ancient Babylon, Greece, Rome, Persia, India and Egypt – especially in optics and the life of Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham (which also ties in well to physics). Charlemagne, the Vikings, William the Conqueror, Eleanor of Aquitaine, King Richard the Lionheart and Saladdin will be studied. Lastly, we will end with the story of St. Francis of Assisi. I have notes for the Kingdom of Zimbabwe the Mali Empire, Sundiata and Mansa Musa, the Songhai Empire, and the gold for salt trade, but if we get behind I normally do a very extensive block on Africa in seventh grade and could integrate those notes there. If we have time, I would also love to spend a week on Feudal Japan. The structure of Japanese Medieval Society and the Samurai, the growth of Zen Buddhism, would all be wonderful for this grade, along with a study of the haiku and Basho the poet. I have this planned out, but will have to see how far we get. (8 weeks total; I may split out Medieval Africa and Japan)
In Business Math, I am planning to use this block to brush up on decimals, work on percentages and look at how we start to use formulas in preparation for our algebra block in Seventh Grade, this history of money and different systems of money and how they were used historically. We are going to look at American money and also the buffalo nickel as a piece of American history and American art. We will look at how we earn money, how taxes work, how banks work. We will work with budgets, tips, commissions, and calculating simple and compound interest. We will end with the ideas surrounding philanthropy and investment. We will be painting and drawing during this block, along with some field trips and large scale charts to keep track of things we discuss (3 weeks). In Geometry, which I hope to run in weekly lessons instead of one long block, we will focus on Islamic geometric forms along with forms from nature.
Physics will encompass acoustics, darkness and light, heat, and magnetism. I have 3 weeks set aside for this block to encompass lab reports, main lesson book drawings, and experiments. This is one of my favorite blocks from the first time we went through sixth grade, and to me encompasses the qualities of development of this age, so I am looking forward to this.
Lastly, I want to finish with a zoology block. Torin Finser’s book “Towards Creative Teaching” had a small section that I am working off of for my little animal lover. I am sure this block will be the highlight of the year, and I am still planning this. The number of weeks will depend upon how much time we have left in the school year, but hopefully we wil have 2-3 weeks to delve more into the animal world, which we will pick up again in our Africa and Latin American Geography blocks in seventh grade.
Can’t wait to hear your plans!