Sixth Grade Academy progresses in second year

Joe Lister

After a trial year, the Sixth Grade Academy has gone into new subjects, and gone deeper into old ones.

According to Head of the Middle School Mr. Patrick Sillup, the Sixth Grade Academy (SGA) started the same way that it did last year: with a theme.

Last year it was immigration, but this year it is origins. According to Sillup, origins is a little broader theme and it allows for all of the subjects to take part in the interdisciplinary model.

SGA is also doing the topic of sustainability this year again, however “part of the sixth grade group is now partnering with Hope Partnership School,” he said.

The Hope Partnership School is located in Philadelphia, and, according to their website they break “the cycle of poverty through education.”

Even though the students are now working with another school, the biggest difference is time, Sillup said. “Last year at this time [the SGA] was still working on immigration,” he said.

The origins unit was done quickly, that left more time for sustainability, according to Sillup. “I think that it will culminate in a very similar event to what [the SGA] had last year,” Sillup said.

Mr. Rob Buscaglia, a SGA Spanish teacher, said that over the past two years the teachers have developed a “language.”

“Working as a team really pushes you to clarify what your goals are,” he said. “It helps to identify really solid learning outcomes.”

They all have a common vocabulary to talk about learning. “I say ‘let’s talk about your progress in Spanish,’ and I start using words like habits of work,” Buscaglia said.

When Buscaglia starts talking to that person, student, teacher, or parent, he has to make sure that the other person knows what he is talking about.

“It wouldn’t be a very good conversation if we both didn’t agree with what those things meant,” he said.

Wasson said that he has noticed a change in the last two years for the Sixth Grade Academy.

“I think it’s hard to recreate the experience we had last year,” he said. “This thing is ever evolving, and it’s constantly changing.”

“Last year we spent a lot of time on presentation skills and communication skills. This year we’ve been working on habits of work,” Wasson said.

Next year Wasson expects the Academy to do something else, but he doesn’t know what.

“It’s been nice to see the teachers evolve,” Sillup said.