Transitioning to Middle School
Tips for Sixth Graders!
There is much to look forward to as a sixth grader beginning middle school. For example, there is the opportunity to meet so many more students your own age. There are also many opportunities to participate in classes and activities not available in elementary school. Sixth graders and their parents often have many questions about middle school life. Here is some information to help ensure a smooth start for school.
A Glimpse of the Very First Day
On the first morning of school, you will report to a temporary room. During the first 20 minutes, the staff will welcome you. You will receive your schedule of classes and your permanent homeroom assignment. Your homeroom teacher, who may also be one of your academic team teachers, will explain the procedures at your new school and review the school rules. You will also be assigned a locker, which you may need to share with a classmate. Cafeteria procedures will be explained. There will be time to answer all your questions. Don’t be afraid to ask any teacher if you need help finding a classroom or if you don’t remember one of the new rules. No one expects you to know everything in the beginning. Remember, everyone goes through a similar experience and soon you will feel like an old pro!
What Does a Sixth Grader’s Schedule Look Like?
The middle school philosophy is one of exploration, so students take a wide variety of courses. All sixth graders take classes in reading, English, social studies, math, and science. These classes fill five of the periods in the seven-period day. They also take classes in art, family and consumer sciences, keyboarding, and technology education, collectively called Unified Arts. Every other day, all students have a physical education class. On the first day, the physical education teacher will tell the students what clothing they need for class. On the alternating days, students take either band, orchestra, chorus, or general music.
Students Are Part of a Team
Each sixth grader is assigned to an academic team, which may consist of three or four teachers. Students study all of their academic subjects with only the students on that team. That way, students only have to go across the hall or next door as they go from math to social studies to science class. The academic teachers get to know the students on their team very well. Students must travel to other parts of the building for lunch, music, physical education, or unified arts - but when they return to their team area, it has the friendly feeling of a “home away from home.”
Students are assigned to teams through a very thoughtful process. The team placement decision is reached only after the counselors and principals examine many important details from each child’s profile. It is our goal to create balanced and heterogenous teams.
To every extent possible, each team is balanced in the number of boys and girls assigned. Each team reflects the range of abilities and talents found in our North Allegheny student population.
New Experiences at Middle School
Some of the things that may be new to middle school students are:
- Report cards issued every nine weeks for academics and the unified arts, and every twelve weeks for music and physical education.
- Interim grade reports issued halfway through each nine or twelve-week grading period.
- A specific counselor assigned alphabetically to each student to help with scheduling, test results, and specific questions or concerns.
- A school-wide intramural program offering a variety of sports for each season.
- An annual talent show in addition to semi-annual band, orchestra, and choral concerts.
- Interdisciplinary units planned by team teachers.
- Building-wide community service projects.