Our curriculum is driven by the Diocesan Standards which align with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
The curriculum is based on the four Pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: What Catholics Believe, How Catholics Worship, How Catholics Live, and How Catholics Pray. We focus on building an awareness of how God is at work in our lives. In addition, there is a special emphasis on the Old Testament and our faith ancestors.
In following the teachings of Jesus Christ, all Sixth Grade students are asked to share their gifts and talents by performing at least three community service hours per trimester.
English - Language Arts
Students learn to spell the 850 most commonly used words in their everyday writing through the use of the Rebecca Sitton Spelling Program. The goal of this program is to promote long term mastery of words used in everyday writing and to build students’ accountability for the correct spelling of priority words across the curriculum.
Students expand their vocabularies and improve vocabulary skills through a study of Latin base words. Understanding these roots allows the student to unlock the meaning of hundreds of English words from classic origins.
In Literature class, students gain an appreciation and understanding of traditional and contemporary literary selections including the short story, drama, nonfiction, poetry, the oral tradition, and the novel. They practice active reading skills such as predicting, clarifying, visualizing and summarizing.
Sixth grade utilizes the Step Up to Writing program and introduces formal writing styles of expository (essays and summaries), persuasive argument, research reports with citations, poetry forms, and personal/story narrative. MLA formatting is introduced. The writing program is composed of multiple components covering organizational skills, note-taking strategies, ways to respond to various genres and text styles, and oral speaking and listening skills.
In addition, a formal grammar program covering Parts of Speech and instruction in language mechanics and conventions are also taught throughout the sixth grade.
Our Junior High Math program (Grades 6-8) teaches the California Common Core Math Standards (CCCSS). The CCCSS for Math for these grades focus on five main areas with progress in complexity and depth since research shows mastery is best developed over time. Through this three-year process, which spirals material from concrete to abstract concepts, students gain greater in-depth knowledge and are better able to apply Mathematical understanding to real-world situations. Specifically, for Grade 6 Math, the five main areas are:
- Ratios and Proportional Relationships—Understand ratio concepts and use ratio reasoning to solve problems.
- The Number System—Apply and extend previous understandings of multiplication and division to divide fractions by fractions. Apply and extend previous understandings of numbers to the system of rational numbers.
- Expressions and Equations—Apply and extend previous understandings of arithmetic to algebraic expressions. Reason about the solve one- variable equations and inequalities. Represent and analyze quantitative relationships between dependent and independent variables.
- Geometry—Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, surface area and volume.
- Statistics and Probability—Develop an understanding of statistical variability. Summarize and describe distributions.
In addition, Saint James School follows the California Common Core Math Practices (make sense of problems and persevere in solving them, reason abstractly and quantitatively, construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others, model with mathematics, use appropriate tools strategically, attend to precision, look for and make use of structure, and look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning). These are fundamental learning skills needed to be able to be successful in any Math class.
Students develop knowledge, skills, and citizenship through the study of the earliest people, Early Middle Eastern and North African civilizations, early Asian civilizations, the foundation of Western ideas, and the rise of the Roman Empire.
Classes are held in the school’s 1600 square foot science lab and are taught by the full-time science teacher. Our Science Curriculum follows the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Saint James School uses the Integrated Learning Progression Course. The four units covered in 6th Grade are:
- A cell, a person, and planet Earth are each a system made up of subsystems.
- Weather conditions result from the interactions among different Earth subsystems.
- Regional climates strongly influence regional plant and animal structures and behaviors.
- Human activities can change the degree of global warming and its impacts on plants and animals
In addition, computer coding is learned using dedicated Science Chromebooks and using computer science student volunteers from UC Davis.
Each fall, the Saint James Sixth Grade class spends five days at the Marin County Outdoor School at Walker Creek Ranch in Petaluma, California. This experience is designed to inspire an appreciation and stewardship of the natural world. The school curriculum is aligned with the California State Science Standards. Our “classroom” for the week becomes the natural environment in which students study weather, land, water and sky as well as ecological principles, plant and animal identification, and the human relationships with the environment. In addition, this week spent with classmates and students from other Catholic schools in the Sacramento Diocese provides a unique learning environment where students gain important social skills, responsibility, and independence.
Saint James School educates the whole child. Therefore, Sixth Graders also attend classes in Music, PE, and Technology.