Sixth Grade Social Studies

Welcome to sixth grade Social Studies! For many of you, it's the first time you have Social Studies as a separate and unique class. I hope that I will help you see a world beyond the borders of our town, state, and country--and particularly to see the world as it was before our time. 

Social Studies is a subject that includes history, geography, world culture study, and current events. This year our curriculum will be based upon the most influential ancient civilizations in history. 

While we examine the world, and the societies of the past, we will also be working on several important skills such as informational writing and historical research. These skills are important not just for sixth grade, but for the rest of your educational career.

This website is designed with you the student in mind. I hope you find lots of resources on here that help you learn more about my class, about the sixth grade Social Studies curriculum, about the Cluster 3 experience, and about how interesting and exciting world history can be!

Lastly, I want you to know that I have a passion for history, and I hope that it shows in everything I do in the classroom. I like to balance the work you do with a great deal of fun--through interactive projects, a field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, special event days, class discussions, and interdisciplinary units with other subjects, such as Science and Language Arts.

Throughout the year, we'll be working on five important skills during all of our different units. These skills are meant to carry on with you through your years in school and beyond:

Research Skills and Using Resources to Interpret the Past
Informational Writing Skills
Historical Knowledge in Context
Geography Skills
Student Professionalism

Here's a glance at what we'll be learning about this year:

World Geography
    *Continents and oceans
    *Using latitude and longitude
    *Differences between maps and globes
    *Earth's physical features
    *The relationships between people and geography

    *Using sources to learn about the past
    *Primary and secondary sources
    *The layers of an archaeological dig
    *Various methods for dating an artifact
    *The idea of cultural diffusion
    *Modern ways to interpret the past

Human Origins
    *The work of paleoanthropologists Donald Johanson and the Leakeys
    *Human advancement from the Paleolithic Era to the Neolithic Era
    *The major species/stages of development of the human race
    *Human adaptations to the Ice Age
    *How to define and study all aspects of culture

Ancient Near East
    *The influence of the location, geography, and climate on civilization there 
    *The five elements of civilization
    *The origins of technology, urbanization, literacy, and legal systems
    *The first kingship empires: their beginnings, expansion, and collapse 
    *Economic ideas of surplus and scarcity, and the role of trade

    *The influence of the location, geography, and climate on civilization there 
    *The impact of religion on daily life, particularly on burial practices
    *Egypt's economic, social, and political levels within the society
    *Advances in technology, engineering, and literacy 
    *Key Egyptian pharaohs and their accomplishments

    *The influence of the location, geography, and climate on civilization there 
    *The development of democracy, and its impact on governments today
    *Differences between life in Athens and life in Sparta
    *The causes and effects of the Peloponnesian War 
    *Contributions of the Greeks in the areas of philosophy, art,
        architecture, literature, and science
    *Alexander the Great's spreading of Greek culture and ideas

    *The influence of the location, geography, and climate on civilization there 
    *The influence of the Greek culture on the Romans
    *The founding and organization of the Roman Republic
    *The effect of Julius Caesar on the Roman Republic 
    *Augustus Caesar and his accomplishments
    *The successes and failures of the Roman Empire
    *The decline and fall of the Roman Empire
    *The important contributions of the Romans to Western civilization


Classroom Expectations

Students are expected to come to class with all required materials and assigned work. An important part of being a sixth grader is taking responsibility for yourself and having what you need. 

Each day in class, students should have:

     *Pencils and pens
     *A highlighter
     *Lined paper or notebook
     *A "Social Studies" folder
     *A great attitude for learning!

GeoChallenge Warm-Up

The GeoChallenge is an activity done daily that requires students to copy down a question about world geography and answer it using information from a class atlas. The goal is to get students using an atlas, reading and interpreting the maps and charts, and to familiarize students with certain aspects of world geography.

Effort and Class Participation

Each student receives a class grade for academic achievement and a citizenship grade for effort and class participation. In practice, students are expected to come to class ready to learn, to be actively engaged by asking questions and participating in class discussions, and by completing all assigned work. 

According to the school's rubric, the criteria for a high effort grade include:

*Being consistently prepared for class with all homework and materials.
*Participating actively in class activities. 
*Consistently demonstrating behavior that is appropriate and enhances the learning environment.
*Consistently persevering when challenged with new or difficult tasks.


Homework is an important part of a student's responsibilities. The amount of homework varies depending on what is happening in class. An assignment is always due the day after it is assigned unless otherwise noted. Homework that is handed in late will receive only partial credit, and after one week homework will not be accepted and the score will be recorded as a zero.

Sometimes homework can be a few questions to answer based upon a reading, and sometimes it may be part of a long term project. The purpose of homework is to either reinforce or practice skills learned in class, or to prepare students for a class discussion the next day. 

With the implementation of the iPad pilot program, High Rock uses the MyHomework app. Assignments, tests, projects, and lessons are posted along with materials, links, documents, and other resources for students to use. It is important to check and update MyHomework on a regular basis.

In order to receive a high score, homework must:
     *Be done completely and legibly
    *Be done according to the assigned criteria
    *Be typed and have a proper heading
    *Have the student's name clearly on the top
    *Be handed in on time
    *Be done thoughtfully and carefully

Students who have issues around a certain homework assignment, such as difficulty completing some of the work, trouble printing or accessing the online readings, should see me first thing in the morning and discuss the issue with me. It is not acceptable for students to ask to print work in the middle of Social Studies class. Students are ultimately responsible for completing and handing in quality homework assignments.


When students are absent, they are responsible for making up any missed work upon their return. Students have up to one week to complete any missed work once they are back at school. A great way to get caught up on missed work is to make a lunch or after school appointment with a teacher to make a plan on how to complete any assignments still outstanding. Another good resource is the MyHomework app on your iPad, where the entire year's homework assignments are archived. 

According to the policies of the Needham Public Schools, a teacher may not give a student work in advance of a planned absence. Instead, the student is responsible for completing work once they return to school. 


Teachers are available after school Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday until 2:40 P.M. Faculty meetings usually occur on Mondays at 2:15 P.M., so it is important for students to be picked up at that time.

After school is a great time for students to get a start on homework assignments, clarify directions, get extra help from a teacher, work on projects, and collaborate with peers in a focused but informal setting.

Many students view after school help as something only for kids who "don't get it." While some students do come for extra help, most students are actually there to get a good start on their homework, socialize with teachers and friends while staying focused on their work, and putting in time studying or working on class assignments before going home. Very often it is the highest-achieving students staying after school, because they know just how helpful it can be to take advantage of the opportunity. 

During the year, students will have many opportunities to demonstrate their learning through assessments. Assessing student learning helps the students know what they are doing well and what skills still need improvement, helps teachers gauge the classes' understanding of certain concepts, and helps parents see how their child is doing overall and in specific areas. 

Assessments come in many forms: written essays, projects, group collaborations, presentations, technological displays, traditional item-based tests, and other informal ways of measuring student achievement. 

A Final Note

Having described all of the classroom procedures and expectations, I think it's important to say that by holding students to a higher standard, I am then able to do much more with the time we have together. Because students are ready and willing to take on bigger and bigger challenges, I am able to plan and offer projects, activities, and lessons that are dynamic, fun, thought-provoking, and memorable. By knowing and understanding what is expected of you, you are then able to take more and more responsibility. Sixth grade is an exciting time, and I hope you take full advantage of all the opportunities that come your way this year!


A Welcome for Parents!

As you know, a school only works effectively if it is a partnership between teachers and parents. I hope this website serves as a window into what we do every day in class. Sixth grade is such a crucial year for students. As you explore this site, I hope you get a good sense of myself as a teacher, of the Cluster 3 experience, of the sixth grade Social Studies curriculum, and of your child's work here at High Rock.

The sixth grade Social Studies curriculum focuses on the study of ancient cultures, with a concentrated study on the following units: World Geography, Archaeology, Human Origins, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

All units are interdisciplinary in that they include geography, culture, political concepts, the development of art, architecture, economics, education, religion and science. Participation in class discussions is a vital part of the program. Current events are discussed from time to time, including a small activity surrounding editorial cartoons. Our year in Social Studies also includes a field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, special days like Greek Day and Barter Day, the Archaeological Dig, and other interactive class activities. 

Students will practice writing open response answers, in addition to a variety of research projects. Writing strategies are taught and applied to class assignments and projects. Study techniques are emphasized so that students will grow to be more independent learners. Informational reading from high quality texts and other resources is an important part of class as well.

Feel free to explore this site, and the various posts concerning classroom expectations, grading policies, and other related materials. 

If you'd like to contact me directly, you may email me here, or call me at the school. I love to hear from parents, and I strongly encourage you to be as involved in your child's sixth grade experience as you can.