Curricular Highlights: Sixth Grade


Lake Bluff Elementary School District 65 utilizes a balanced literacy approach. A balanced approach uses a variety of reading, writing and word work instruction, and practice opportunities for students in order to expose them to the rich world of literacy. An essential component of balanced literacy is called “workshop”. Our understanding and implementation of workshop, in District 65, is grounded in the research and practices of Lucy Calkins and her colleagues from the Teachers College, Reading and Writing Project who have developed the Units of Study in both Reading and Writing to guide us.
Reading and Writing Workshops are conducted daily to allow for students to receive personalized learning by engaging with and producing high volumes of both fiction and nonfiction texts of their choosing.  Because all lessons begin with explicit, direct teaching points, workshop prioritizes time for students to be immersed in independent reading and writing work, while teachers provide focused, differentiated instruction in smaller groups. As a result, workshop challenges students to develop the habits and dispositions of lifelong readers and writers. Additionally, mentor texts and student writing will be used to teach grammar in context. Many of our grammar lessons will be embedded in Writing Workshop, striking a balance between encouraging creative freedom and promoting correct conventions.

6th Grade reading

  • Maintaining an Independent Reading Life: This unit launches the work of reading workshop in sixth grade. It supports students in understanding their reading identity while getting readers excited about reading and encourages the selection if engaging text and high volumes of reading.


  • A Deep Study of Character: Students will learn to consider more complex character traits, to investigate how setting shapes characters, and to analyze how characters are vehicles for themes. The unit also helps readers take charge of their reading lives and engages students with close reading, gathering text evidence, and weighing and evaluating multiple theories about complex characters


  • Tapping the Power of Nonfiction: Across this unit, students will develop a solid set of nonfiction reading skills: discerning central ideas, summarizing to create a concise version of a text, synthesizing within and across texts, building vocabulary, growing ideas, and reading critically to question the author’s point of view and perspective.


  • Historical Fiction Novel Study:  Historical fiction helps students see how history is not a collection of old, dead facts to be memorized, but is full of compelling stories that help us understand our present and, perhaps, what we need to do to shape a better future. During this unit, students develop an interest in the genre and generate awareness of how much we have yet to learn from history and the stories of people who struggled, suffered, and persevered as we do today.


  • Shared Novel Experience:  Students will engage in whole-class novel experiences in order to model active reading strategies, build a community of readers, and support students to interpret themes and analyze craft with a common text.  An integration of the workshop model will allow students the opportunity to practice reading skills through mini-lessons and conferences

6th grade Writing

  • Personal Narrative: Crafting Powerful Life Stories: This unit helps students draw on their lives, learning strategies to generate meaningful story ideas, manage pace, elaborate on important scenes, and deepen insights. This unit especially emphasizes the importance of setting goals, practicing strategically, and aiming for high productivity.


  • The Literary Essay: From Character to Compare/Contrast: In this unit, sixth graders learn ways essayists generate ideas based on close readings of a text, learning strategies essayists use to gather, analyze, and explain evidence from the text to support their claims.


  • Research-Based Information Writing: Books, Websites, and Presentations: This unit calls students to explore the broad topic of teen activism in order to teach their readers about a topic, asking them to use increasingly sophisticated ways to draw on and structure information to explain a position or make a call to action


Mathematics instruction in District 65 provides the opportunity for all students to have a rigorous, engaging, and accessible curriculum which focuses on developing students’ deep understanding of mathematics concepts. In order to achieve this, students engage in a high level of discourse and are exposed to multiple strategies in order to solve complex problems. The backbone of this instruction comes from College Preparatory Math (CPM).  CPM has developed a program whose goal is to engage all students in learning mathematics through problem solving, reasoning, and communication.   “CPM teaching strategies focus on how students best learn and retain mathematics. Teaching strategies rely on the recommendations of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and are based solidly on the methodological research in teaching mathematics. The research-based principles that guide the course are:

  • Students should engage in problem-based lessons structured around a core idea.
  • Guided by a knowledgeable teacher, students should interact in groups to foster mathematical discourse.
  • Practice with concepts and procedures should be spaced over time; that is, mastery comes over time.”

Math 1

Math 1 parent guide (.pdf file)

Upon completion of Math 1, students should be able to:  

  • Collect, organize, and display data in multiple ways.
  • Analyze data using measures of central tendency.
  • Represent data sets using various methods and analyze how changes in data impact the representation.
  • Represent and compare quantities using manipulatives, diagrams, and number expressions.
  • Represent multiplication using rectangular arrays.
  • Represent integers on number lines and with manipulatives.
  • Make sense of multiple representations of portions (decimal, fraction, percent) and convert from one form to the other.
  • Compare fractions and generate equivalent fractions.
  • Recognize ratios in tables and graphs and solve corresponding problems.
  • Use ratios to describe relationships with similar plane figures and other situations.
  • Use models and standard algorithms for computations with fractions and decimals.
  • Simplify variable expressions by combining like terms and using the Distributive Property.
  • Evaluate variable expressions and solve simple equations and inequalities.
  • Solve distance, rate, and time problems.
  • Solve percent problems including those with discounts, interest, and tips.
  • Compute area, surface area, and volume of rectangular solids.
  • Represent solids using nets.

Math 2

Math 2 Parent Guide (.pdf file)

Upon completion of the Math 2 course, students should be able to:

  • Use integers and complete operations with integers and rational numbers, including using the Order of Operations.
  • Use diagrams and equal ratios to represent part-whole relationships.
  • Use percents and scale factors to determine percent increase or decrease, discounts, and markups.
  • Use variable expressions to represent quantities in contextual problems.
  • Simplify variable expressions by combining like terms and using the Distributive Property.
  • Solve linear equations, including those with fractional coefficients and those with no solutions or infinitely many solutions.
  • Solve and graph one-variable inequalities.
  • Compare experimental and theoretical probabilities.
  • Distinguish between dependent and independent events and calculate the probability of compound independent events.
  • Represent probabilities of multiple events using systemic lists, area models, or tree diagrams.
  • Design, conduct, and analyze surveys.
  • Collect and compare data and describe the distribution of sets of data.
  • Solve distance, rate, and time problems.
  • Compare ratios and calculate unit rates.
  • Recognize and solve problems involving proportional relationships.
  • Recognize and use the properties of similar figures and scale factors to solve problems.
  • Describe angles, angle pairs, and their measures.
  • Compute area and perimeter of standard and compound shapes.
  • Compute the volume of a variety of solids


Lake Bluff School District has aligned our curriculum to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), adopted by the State of Illinois in the winter of 2015. In an effort to align to NGSS, we utilize the IQWST (Investigating & Questioning our World Through Science & Technology) as our core science program. IQWST is a rigorous, investigation-centered science curriculum designed to challenge and engage middle school students in grades 6 through 8.   In 6th grade, we lean on our core middle school science resource from IQWST, which stands for Investigating and Questioning our World through Science and Technology! The curriculum is based on the very latest research on how people learn, and how students learn science in particular, as it addresses the Next Generation Science Standards. Students will be engaging in many hands-on activities in class, in which they are handling science materials and are experiencing phenomena first-hand. In every lesson, they will be reading about, writing about, talking about, and doing science. Discussion is central to this type of learning. Students will work individually, in pairs, in teams, and as a whole class to “make sense” of how things happen in the world around them or why things happen the way they do.

IQWST 6th Grade Units of Study

Physical Science:

Can I Believe My Eyes? Light, its role in sight and its interaction with matter

Introduction to Chemistry:

How Can I Smell Things From a Distance? Particle nature of matter

Life Science:

Where Have All the Creatures Gone? Organisms and ecosystems

Earth Science:

How Does Water Shape Our World? Water and rock cycles

Social Studies

Lake Bluff school district is aligning to the Illinois Social Science Standards. These standards are based off of the College, Career and Civic Life (C3) standards. The vision of the New Illinois Social Studies Standards is for all Illinois graduates to be civically engaged, socially responsible, culturally aware and financially literate.

  • How Did Geography Affect the Development of Ancient Civilizations?
  • Why Do Empires Rise and Fall?
  • How Does the Past Continue to Influence the Present?
  • How Do the Characteristics of a Civilization Shape Its Citizens?
Unit 1: Introduction to Geography and Ancient Civilizations
Unit 2: Ancient Rome
Unit 3: Ancient Greece
Unit 4: Ancient Egypt
Unit 5: Ancient China
Unit 6: Ancient India
Unit 7: Illinois State Constitution
Unit 8: Early Man
Unit 9: World Religions