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6th Grade

IS289 middle school offers an inclusive curriculum for all. In the 6th grade students are given a firm grounding in the following subjects:

Literacy, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Technology, Library Studies, Music, Art, Physical Education

For more 6th grade information please see our:

What’s Happening’ Blog, Faculty list and Trip information


Heather Freyman -

Sixth grade brings great changes to our lives, both in and out of school. In literacy class, we help students become agents of change in their own lives as they increase their awareness of the world around them, and of their place in the world. In their reading work, they learn to make inferences and think critically about different kinds of texts. We engage them in writing that will help them articulate sophisticated opinions and reflect back on their experiences in life. We teach students to use tools in their reading and writing work to stay organized and set and meet personal goals.

Curriculum and Philosophy

Literacy at I.S. 289 follows the workshop model. There are two parts to our work together: Writing Workshop and Reading Workshop. Units of Study include:

  • Personal Narrative

  • Non-Fiction Books

  • Persuasive Essay and/or Literary Essay and Poetry

  • Launching our Middle School Reading Lives,

  • Character Analysis

  • Non-fiction

  • Research and Synthesis

  • Social Action/Interpretation

  • Reading

  • Poetry


Each writing unit includes lessons on conventions designed to enhance overall mastery and improve skills that are especially useful in that genre. Students will also receive targeted small group instructions as needed. Students are expected to use what they have previously learned in their in-going notebook work.


Literacy homework is a continuation of the work students are doing in class. Students are expected to be able to self-assign the work they need to do at home to continue the work of the day. Sixth graders should be doing about 30-40 minutes of literacy work outside of class each day.

Reading: In order to become highly proficient readers, the research is clear: Students should read books at their independent level at a high volume. This means at least 40-60 pages total per day(as a combination of in-school and at home reading), or at least 200-350 pages/week. We encourage students to read in a variety of genres across the year. Students reading below grade level will be working to increase stamina and volume to help them move up levels quickly.

Writing: Sixth graders are expected to write at least 10-15 minutes for homework 3nights per week. Weekend writing is optional.


The workshop model 

In its simplest form, the workshop model has four basic parts: opening, mini-lesson, work time, and debriefing/share time. The workshop model is applied in Literacy class as follows:

Mini-lesson: We gather in the meeting area for a mini-lesson on a strategy that students can use in their ongoing reading and writing work.

Work time:

The majority of our class time is spent doing the work of readers and writers. Students may be working independently or with a partner while teachers are conferring with individuals or teaching small groups. The classroom includes many tools and supports designed to help students develop independence in their work.

During worktime, students might be:

  • Reading/writing independently or with a partner.

  • Collecting entries in writer’s notebook or writing about our reading.

  • Planning/drafting/revising/editing or publishing our writing.

  • Reading mentor texts for structure, craft or inspiration.

  • Talking with a partner about our reading or writing work.

  • Conferring with a teacher about our reading or writing.

  • Participating in a small group lesson.

  • Having a conversation about our reading with a book club or partner.

Share/debrief: We gather back together to debrief and reflect on our work, and set goals and next steps.




Chi-Man Ng -


Math class is a student-centered classroom, one where students are presented with tasks, investigations and projects that will enable them to develop confidence in and understanding of mathematics. This environment will allow students to explore, struggle through problems and build meaning.

Starting with their own ideas and strategies, students will move toward more formal approaches and language. Research shows that this process leads to a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts and more efficient and accurate application of skills.



Unit 1 - Number systems

  • Students will engage in learning events that will develop an understanding of relationships among factors, multiples, divisors and products. In addition, students will work towards developing an understanding of why two mathematical expressions are equivalent.

Unit 2 - Ratios and Proportions and Percent

  • Students will engage in learning events that will develop an understanding that fractions and decimals are numbers that can be located on a number line, counted, partitioned and decomposed. In addition students will work towards an understanding that ratios are a comparison of two numbers.

Unit 3 - Operations with Fractions

  • Students will engage in learning events that will develop methods to estimate and perform operations with fractions. In addition, students will develop strategies for determining what operations to use for a particular problem solving situation.

Unit 4 - Measurement

  • Students will engage in learning events that will develop methods for measuring two and three-dimensional shapes. Students will consider things like area and perimeter and will decide when it is most appropriate to use these measurements. In addition, students will explore the relationship between volume and surface area of three dimensional shapes.

Unit 5 - Algebraic Reasoning

  • Students will engage in learning events that will have them look at and recognize patterns, relationships and functions. In addition, students will learn to communicate algebraically using symbols and variables.

  • Preparation for the state tests will happen during this time.

Unit 6 - Data Analysis and Probability

  • Students will engage in learning events that will enable them to look at data and make decisions about using appropriate tools to organize the information. In addition, students will make predictions based on the organized data.



Homework is an essential part of math class. It serves as an application and extension of the current content. It will be assigned nearly every class. Students should have their planners, notebooks and textbooks with them to complete the homework. There will be days when I do not assign an official homework. One of my goals is that students maintain effective habits of mind where they are thinking about math without my prompting. As the year progresses students will self-assign certain homework. They will formulate a plan in their planners for these open-ended assignments. This gives them an opportunity to self- initiate and to reflect on ideas they need to address. Homework is to be completed in a thorough and thoughtful manner.




Brian Gordon –


“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson


At IS 289, science is something you do to understand the world. Content provides the context for the development of skills and understandings. In the 6th grade, students assume various roles in the field of science as they explore concepts relating to earth, physical, and life sciences. They attempt to solve real problems facing scientists and society today. As they engage in authentic tasks and collaborate to create solutions, they acquire and practice the skills and ways of thinking that will carry them through middle school science and beyond.



Unit 1 - Ecology: Diversity of Life & Interdependence

  • How does the transfer of matter and energy through biological communities support the diversity of living things?

  • In what ways are living and nonliving things dependent upon one another?

  • What factors affect the interdependence of living and non-living things?

Unit 2 - Weather & the Atmosphere

  • What causes weather conditions?

  • How do matter and energy interact to produce weather patterns?

  • Why do different locations have different weather conditions?

  • What short-term/long-term solutions can we propose that will help reduce pollution?

Unit 3 - Energy & Simple Machines

  • How do different forms of energy transfer and/or change matter?

  • In what ways can energy be effectively conserved?

  • How do machines use energy to do work?

  • What would energy-efficient machines look like?

  • What strategies/ideas can we pose to promote the effective use and conservation of energy?



Homework is assigned to give students time to reflect on the day’s work, help students prepare for class the next day, and be aware of current news in the scientific community. Science homework may include:

  • My Understanding - a brief reflection on the day’s activities will be assigned when new content is covered.

  • Current Event Articles in Science - a brief summary & reflection of two articles, will be assigned each week.

  • Students are expected to read their notes each night and write down any lingering comments, questions, or concerns in the margin of their notebook.



Social Studies

Carol Shirai –

In Social Studies in the 6th Grade students will learn reading and research skills to gather information, and develop strategies for thinking, writing, and talking about what they have learned. These skills are a critical part of our curriculum. In addition to the major concepts and details about each culture we study, students will learn what kinds of questions historians ask themselves, how to use various resources to answer those questions, and how to develop sophisticated ideas about what they are learning.


Unit 1 -Archaeology and Culture

  • What is culture?

  • What cultures are represented in our class?

  • What methods do archeologists use to study cultures of the past? What can artifacts reveal about cultures?

  • How do archaeologists learn about cultures of the past?

Unit 2 - Forms of Government

  • How do people organize themselves in groups?

  • How do they make decisions?

  • What is the purpose of government?

  • What if there was no government?

  • What are different types of governments?

  • How do they work and how are they different from one another?

  • How do communities balance the needs of the individual with the needs of the group?

Unit 3 - Stone Age Humans and the Neolithic Revolution

  • How did early humans meet their basic needs – food, water, shelter – in the Stone Age?

  • How does this compare to how we meet our basic needs today?

  • What were the effects of the invention of agriculture on human beings?

Unit 4 - Rivers and Early River Valley Civilizations

  • How do river systems work and why do they matter?

  • Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. Why did early civilizations develop along river valleys?

  • How did the geography of the Tigris/Euphrates and Nile River valleys affect how those cultures developed?

  • How do the art and artifacts of these cultures reflect their values and beliefs? How do we know about these civilizations?

Unit 5 - Ancient Greece

  • How was ancient Greek culture similar to and different from our culture?

  • What do ancient Greek myths tells us about the ancient Greeks values and beliefs? What is the power of the dramatic arts/ how might dramatization of ideas and information affect our understanding of culture and history?



Students can expect to have social studies homework (either self-assigned, or assigned by me) three or four nights a week. In general, your child should be writing at least 3 pages in his/her notebook each week. I will conduct spot-checks of homework assignments, and also evaluate quality of work when I collect notebooks.



Barbara Kariya

The goals of the 6th grade Technology class are to engage students, encourage an interest in technology and provide knowledge and exposure to computer programs, applications and skills that can help students be successful both in school, and outside of school. Students will learn how to use a keyboard properly and developing muscle memory for faster and more accurate typing. Students will also explore a variety of computer programs as well as online tools to aid in their learning and development.


6th - Mari Mannino

By adolescence, youngsters have developed powerful new thoughts and feelings that challenge established world-views. As experiences become increasingly conflicting and diverse, so art making becomes a safe arena for experimenting in the construction of new relationships between inner and outer realities. Painting, drawing, collage, printmaking, and art appreciation become important vehicles for testing ideas, making judgments, forming values and exercising curiosity. In particular, the exploration of new and different ideas about the representation of three-dimensional space helps youngsters express new points of view about themselves and their worlds.


Unit 1 - Introduction to Art

  • What topic(s) will be covered?

  • What is Art and why is it important?

  • What is the important vocabulary?

Unit 2 - Elements of Art

A) Line

  • What is line?

  • What are the different forms of line?

  • How does line show unity, symmetry, asymmetry balance and proportion?

  • How can line show movement?

B) Color and value

  • What is value?

  • How does value show light sources?

  • What is color?

  • What are the different grades of color? (Primary vs. Analogous)

  • How does color create moods, and effect emotions

C) Texture

  • What is texture? What does it show?

  • What are different techniques to show texture?

  • Real Texture vs. Implied Texture?

D) Shape

  • What is shape?

  • Positive vs. Negative?

  • Biomorphic [Organic] vs. Geometric?

  • What are Dynamic and Static Shapes?

E) Space

  • What is space?

  • Positive Space vs. Negative Space?

  • What is a composition?

  • What is a picture plane?

  • What is a focal point & how is it used?

  • Linear perspective vs. Non linear perspective?

F) Form

  • What is form?

  • How is form used in art?

  • How does form show 3 dimension?

Unit 3 - Art History

  • How do I find information from various sources and transfer it to an art piece

Unit 4 - Careers in Art

  • What careers are related to the visual arts?

  • What is Unity?


Daryl Grabarek –

Students have one period per week of library studies in the 6th grade. The students are taught research skills while investigating topics covered in their classes. In addition to the resources in the IS289 library, students will learn how to find information on the Internet, gather sources from the New York Public Library, and use electronic databases. They will also learn how to avoid plagiarism and properly cite their sources. 



James Herlihy

The Physical Education program at IS289 introduces students to the fundamentals of team and individual sports, which include skills, rules, and strategies associated with the different sports. In addition, students take part in general physical conditioning activities and fitness. The program promotes qualities such as, cooperation, leadership, fair play, enthusiasm for physical activity and friendly competition.

Through our Manhattan Youth afterschool program IS289 students have the opportunity to take part in the competitive Manhattan middle school sports leagues. A wide range of Junior Varsity and Varsity sport teams are offered, led by our experienced and skilled coaches. Teams include: soccer, football, basketball, baseball, softball, track and field.



Mary Cherney (woodwind) –

John Blevins (brass) –

Jennifer Axelson (strings) –

Students have the choice of participating in the music program for two periods per week. Instrument choices include: Flute, oboe, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, trumpet and trombone. Students will develop instrumental proficiency and music literacy through Western classical music and will have the opportunity to perform as part of an orchestra

In the 6th grade students will learn the basics of playing their instrument, including how to read music and how to play as an ensemble.  Music choices include Western classical music and contemporary orchestra literature.  There are two required orchestra performances during the school year.

Further opportunities for music loving students can be found through our free Manhattan Youth After-School program


6th Grade Trip

In May, the 6th Graders take part in an over-night trip to Camp Ramapo in Rhinebeck New York. The kids and their teachers take part in a variety of group challenges which are not only fun but teach communication, problem solving, and teamwork skills in a scenic, wooded, lakefront setting.

For more information see:

Social Studies
6th Grade Trip
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