Sixth grade is a year in which students transition from a self contained elementary school setting to an 8 period schedule and a departmentalized educational setting. The interdisciplinary team organization assists the students in successfully traversing the period of time between elementary and high school. The Jefferson Middle School sixth grade is comprised of two teams, the Twisters and the Wildfires.
- Sixth Grade Supply List (2019-20)
Each fall, the sixth grade students read the historical fiction novel Stepping on the Cracks by Mary Downing Hahn. Narrated through the lives of a group of sixth graders who are struggling to understand the war and their role as youngsters, the novel depicts life on the home front during WWII. In conjunction with the book, the students participate in many interdisciplinary activities that enables them to learn about what it felt like to live during such a volatile time in history and how much of a role the U.S. citizens played in the war effort whether they were fighting overseas, collecting scrap metal, working in the factories, or planting victory gardens.
The unit culminates with a WWII Day, which usually begins with a speaker. For the past few years, we have had the fortune to host Irene Skolnick, Holocaust survivor and author of In the Shadow of Majdanek, to speak about her family's escape from Nazi occupied Poland. Then students rotate from room to room to take part in wartime activities. A favorite has always been trying Spam and Ovaltine. The day ends with a WWII canteen, which resembles a USO canteen, where soldiers would go to relax and forget about the war for a night.
In 2015, students attended a field trip to the Heinz History Center for the traveling WWII exhibit "We Can Do It!" and a production of The Diary of Anne Frank at Pittsburgh's O'Reilly Theater.
On January 28, 1986, one of the booster engines failed, causing the Space Shuttle Challenger to explode 73 seconds after the launch. In an effort to remember crew members Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith A. Resnik, Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, Ronald E. McNair, Mike J. Smith, and Ellison S. Onizuka, their families decided to carry on their educational mission, resulting in the creation of Challenger Center for Space Science Education.
The Challenger Learning Center, located at Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, WV, is one of several locations globally that simulates a mission control room and a space station. Students role-play jobs that NASA engineers have by conducting missions to help bring space science to life and practice important life skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, communication, and teamwork. The Challenger Centers also aim to engage students in opportunities to promote and raise awareness about careers in STEM fields.
This year, the sixth grade teams participated in the Expedition Mars® Mission, where the students worked together to conduct research and search for evidence for life on Mars.