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Family and Community Guide for 6th Grade

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Working Together: To support families, communities, and teachers in realizing the goals of the Colorado Academic Standards (CAS), this guide provides an overview of the learning expectations for 6th Grade. This guide offers some learning experiences students may engage in at school that may also be supported at home.

Why Standards? Created by Coloradans for Colorado students, the Colorado Academic Standards provide a grade-by-grade road map to help ensure students are successful in college, careers, and life. The standards aim to improve what students learn and how they learn in 12 content areas while emphasizing critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, and communication as essential skills for life in the 21st century.

Download the full 6th Grade booklet here.

See all of the Family and Community Guides here.

Where can I learn more?

  • As always, the best place to learn about what your child is learning is from your child's teacher and school. The Colorado Academic Standards describe goals, but how those goals are met is a local decision.
  • The Colorado Academic Standards were written for an audience of professional educators, but parents and community members looking to dig deeper may want to read them for themselves. Visit the Standards and Instructional Support homepage for several options for reviewing the Colorado Academic Standards.
  • If you have further questions, please contact the content specialists in the Office of Standards and Instructional Support.

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Comprehensive Health (adopted 2018)

The comprehensive health standards in grades six through eight focus on enhancing and strengthening skills in the areas of physical, social, and emotional wellness and using those individual skills in family, school, and community environments. In each grade, the standards ask students to deepen their understanding of ways to set and maintain healthy relationships and continue to investigate healthy eating/living habits, positive communication strategies, effective decision making, and ways to ensure personal and community safety.

Expectations for 6th Grade Students:

  • Physical and Personal Wellness: Access valid and reliable information regarding qualities of resources that enhance healthy eating behaviors; assess the connection between feelings, positive decision making, and actions; analyze health behaviors and how they impact a person throughout his/her life.
  • Emotional and Social Wellness: Understand and apply concepts and practices that enhance mental and emotional health.
  • Prevention and Risk Management: Analyze factors that impact a person’s decision whether or not to use marijuana, illegal drugs, abuse prescription drugs, alcohol, and tobacco; use interpersonal communication skills to avoid drug use/abuse; demonstrate skills to prevent violence; advocate for safety and prevention of unintentional injuries.

Throughout 6th Grade You May Find Students:

  • Analyzing appropriate resources regarding healthy eating.
  • Evaluating the need for clear expectations, boundaries, and safety strategies in an individual’s personal life.
  • Demonstrating interpersonal communication skills to express needs, wants, and feelings.
  • Exploring how to be mentally and emotionally healthy.
  • Applying decision-making skills to remain substance-free.
  • Creating a home, school, and/or community emergency plan to promote safety and to help prevent accidents/injuries.
  • Developing strategies to avoid physical confrontations and violence.
  • Evaluating the factors that lead to healthy family and peer relationships.

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Computer Science (adopted 2018)

Computer science may be taught at all levels preschool through high school, but the State of Colorado only has standards for computer science in high school.

Read the high school computer science family and community guide.

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Dance (adopted 2022)

Instead of being organized by grade level, the dance standards are organized into ranges that describe the progression of learning a student should experience as they grow from novice learners to an exemplary learner.

Read the dance family and community guide for secondary (middle school and high school) here.



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Drama and Theatre Arts (adopted 2022)

The drama and theatre arts standards in the middle school years focus on theatrical knowledge and skills, elements of theatrical practice, as well as a more intermediate level of involvement with technical and creative processes.  This ensures a solid foundation for more advanced theatrical studies in high school and beyond. In each grade level, students research and perform various theatre techniques and theatrical genres (scripted as well as improvised works), examine character and setting scenarios, determine how to develop basic ideas as a playwright or director, describe personal preferences for dramatic and theatrical works, while respectfully critiquing individual, personal, and peer performances.  Students in the middle school years are also asked to make connections to self, their communities, and the world through developing their own creative processes, while participating in the dramatic and theatre arts. 

Expectations for 6th Grade Students:

  • Create (Create): Use basic movement, vocal strategies, and evidence from a scripted text to create characters; create an original dramatic work that applies the skills of intuition, curiosity, and problem solving; describe and design the technical theatre elements (scenery, lighting, props, costumes, sound) of theatre in an improvised or scripted work; develop the awareness of interrelationships between self and others to influence and inform work.
  • Perform (Perform/Present): Develop vocal and movement skills to communicate a character's motivation and portray a believable character in an ensemble performance; identify points in a script that require or enhance the addition of a technical element (props), and demonstrate what the script requires.
  • Critically Respond (Know/Comprehend and Critique/Evaluate/Refine/Reflect): Identify cultural perspectives (personal aesthetics, preferences, and beliefs) and the influence of cultural and historical themes in theatrical works; describe the distinct roles and responsibilities of a collaborative theatrical team; give and accept constructive and supportive feedback, and discuss the criteria for a quality performance.

Throughout 6th Grade You May Find Students:

  • Analyzing and discussing the emotional impact of design elements (set, lights, costumes, props, sounds, makeup, special effects, media, publicity) on an improvised or scripted play.
  • Demonstrating the components of the character development process such as gestures, movements, facial expressions, etc. and various vocal techniques.
  • Identifying cultural perspectives that may influence the evaluation of drama theater work.
  • Discussing the importance of constructive criticism and how it helps improve performance.
  • Working collaboratively as a team/troupe to develop a performance.

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Mathematics (adopted 2018)

The mathematics standards in middle school build on students' understanding of number and quantity. Students apply more formal statistics, probability, and algebra to model phenomena in the world around them. Students gain a deeper understanding of geometry and its application. Students also persevere in solving problems as they use strategies to apply their new tools and techniques.

Expectations for 6th Grade Students:

  • Number and Quantity: Compare quantities using ratios and unit rates (such as miles per hour); fluently add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions and decimals; understand the concept of negative numbers and absolute value; extend the number line and coordinate grids to include negative numbers.
  • Algebra and Functions: Analyze relationships between variables using tables, graphs, and equations; solve one-variable equations and inequalities; apply the order of operations to find the value of an algebraic expression.
  • Data, Statistics, and Probability: Create graphs including dotplots, boxplots, and histograms; describe data by examining the center (averages) and spread (variability) of a distribution.
  • Geometry: Apply formulas for the area of triangles and quadrilaterals, including parallelograms and trapezoids; find the volume of rectangular boxes; calculate the surface area of three-dimensional figures.

Throughout 6th Grade You May Find Students:

  • Finding a cyclist’s speed in miles per hour by creating ratio tables, graphs, and number lines.
  • Calculating a better deal (buying a gallon or four quarts of milk) using unit prices or ratios.
  • Explaining the connection between latitude and longitude on a map and the horizontal and vertical axes on a coordinate grid.
  • Recognizing situations involving negative numbers such as temperature, sea level, and bank account balances.
  • Designing packaging by creating two-dimensional cutouts and folding them into three-dimensional boxes.
  • Describing the difference between the independent and dependent variables for a phone plan.
  • Collecting and using data to answer the question: how many hours does the typical sixth-grade student sleep?
  • Explaining why average home prices are reported as medians instead of means.

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Music (adopted 2022)

Instead of being organized by grade level, the music standards are organized into ranges that describe the progression of learning a student should experience as they grow from novice learners to an accomplished learner. 

Read the music family and community guide for secondary (middle school and high school) here.


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Physical Education (adopted 2018)

The physical education standards in the middle school years focus on enhancing health-related and skill-related components of fitness and demonstrating knowledge and applying fitness principles and movement skills and strategies in a variety of physical activities. In each grade, the standards ask students to refine various movement concepts, strategies, and skills, analyze performance and provide feedback to peers, set and assess fitness goals, recognize diversity in skills of others, collaborate with students with varying abilities, and utilize safety procedures during physical activities.

Expectations for 6th Grade Students:

  • Movement Competence and Understanding: Demonstrate beginning skills for a variety of activities, games, and sports; participate in activities that require problem solving, cooperation, and team building; demonstrate beginning strategies for a variety of activities, games, or sports.
  • Physical and Personal Wellness: Understand and apply basic principles of training to improving physical fitness; recognize how health-related and skill-related fitness components contribute to a health-enhancing lifestyle that embraces physical fitness; identify opportunities in school and in the community for regular participation in physical activity to enhance physical fitness.
  • Social and Emotional Wellness: Recognize diverse skill performance in self and in others and how diversity affects activities, games, and sport participation; choose to participate cooperatively and productively in group and individual physical activities.
  • Prevention and Risk Management: Apply personal safety knowledge and skills to prevent and treat intentional or unintentional injury.

Throughout 6th Grade You May Find Students:

  • Combining relationships, levels, speed, direction, and pathways in complex individual and group physical activities.
  • Combining motor skills to play a lead-up or modified game.
  • Developing a cooperative movement game that uses locomotor skills, object manipulation, and an offensive strategy, and teaching the game to another person.
  • Performing flexibility exercises that will stretch particular muscles areas for given physical activities.
  • Distinguishing between health-related and skill-related fitness.
  • Identifying where individuals can engage in regular physical activity to meet their personal fitness goals.
  • Accepting differences among classmates in physical development, maturation, and varying skill levels.
  • Contributing ideas and listening to the ideas of others in cooperative problem-solving activities.
  • Describing and demonstrating the correct form to push, pull, and lift heavy objects.

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Reading, Writing, and Communicating for Middle School (adopted 2018)

The reading, writing, and communicating standards in the middle school grades ask students to be critical readers of complex literary and informational texts. The standards require that students develop the writing skills necessary to convey their experience in the world, to produce thoughtful analyses of academic and real-world topics, and to develop well-reasoned arguments on relevant topics in their lives. The standards foster opportunities for students to work collaboratively with others as they develop the literacy skills to be academically successful and prepared for life after high school.

Expectations for 6th Grade Students:

  • Oral Expression and Listening: Speak and use multimedia to present claims and findings to an audience, placing ideas in a logical order and supporting the main idea/theme with strong details and facts; actively listen to speakers in order to explain and interpret information and to identify supported and unsupported claims that may be made; work collaboratively in a variety of group settings by being prepared, listening actively, and sharing ideas.
  • Reading for All Purposes: Read literary, informational, and persuasive texts from a variety of authors; summarize, analyze, and evaluate themes, characters, and plot in literature or key ideas, claims, and events in nonfiction; examine how text structure, point of view, and word choice affect the text’s meaning, while being sure to use textual evidence to support explanations.
  • Writing and Composition: Use technology to shape, produce, and publish grammatically correct writing that makes an argument, explains or analyzes a topic, and includes an introduction, logical development, and a thoughtful and relevant concluding statement; write narratives that develop real or imagined experiences by starting with an interesting opening, using narrative techniques such as description and dialogue while demonstrating command over different stages of writing (planning, revising, and editing).
  • Research Inquiry and Design: Conduct short research projects to answer a question, gathering evidence from several sources and refocusing the question when needed; evaluate arguments and specific claims that are made in order to figure out which claims are supported by evidence and which are not.

Throughout 6th Grade You May Find Students:

  • Collaborating in groups to explore how folktales, myths, and fables change across cultures and time; defining the characteristics and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of these literary genres; exploring how literature expresses ideas about the place and time in which they are written; studying plays, stories, and poems not just for what they say but how the authors say it.
  • Gathering, interpreting, and synthesizing information regarding how past civilizations told their stories to understand how current societies and cultures tell stories; contributing writing and multimedia texts to a class wiki or blog dedicated to a subject; participating in round table discussions, literature circles, or other groups to debate topics and/or analyze texts; composing shared pieces of writing.
  • Investigating community-based or local stories that reflect culture and identity; composing photo essays and accompanying pieces of short, creative nonfiction; writing personal narratives that reflect an understanding of their relationship with others in a neighborhood, community, or culture.
  • Researching claims that companies make about their products and business practices; identifying which claims are legitimate and which are not; writing a letter or review either praising or questioning a company’s policies.

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Science (adopted 2018)

The Colorado Academic Standards for middle school science are presented as a single 6-8 band of standards, rather than broken down by grade level. This means that your child's school district and teacher are responsible for organizing the middle school science standards into courses that best suit their needs and resources.

Read the middle school science family guide.

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Social Studies (adopted 2018)

Building on the social studies skills developed in the elementary grades, students in the middle school years begin with a study of people, cultures, and ideas in the Western Hemisphere and move from there to explorations of the Eastern Hemisphere, ending with the early history of the United States. In each grade, students investigate historical events, examine geographic features and resources, consider economic decision-making processes, and understand types of governments and civic responsibility.

Expectations for 6th Grade Students:

  • History: Analyze and interpret primary and secondary sources (original documents, maps, artifacts) to ask and research questions about the historical eras, individuals, groups, and ideas in various regions throughout the Western Hemisphere.
  • Geography: Use geographic tools and resources to research regional differences and perspectives and make geographic inferences. Students investigate human and environmental interactions in the Western Hemisphere. 
  • Economics: Identify and explain the different types of economic systems including market, command and mixed economies. Personal Financial Literacy: Investigate the role of consumers within the Western Hemisphere.
  • Civics: Analyze the relationships of different nations in the Western Hemisphere and their systems of government.

Throughout 6th Grade You May Find Students:

  • Analyzing primary and secondary sources such as documents, photos, maps and artifacts to research and answer questions about the Western Hemisphere; exploring the key people, ideas and events from different perspectives and points of view to frame the “story” of history (the Aztecs, Maya, Inuit, Native American Cultures, colonizers of the Western Hemisphere, and the Columbian Exchange).
  • Examining places and regions in the Western Hemisphere through maps, charts, and geospatial technologies (geographic information systems, Google Earth, global positioning systems); analyzing the positive and negative interactions between humans and the physical world (landforms, resources, climate); presenting potential solutions to problems surrounding issues of resource distribution, migration patterns, and population growth.
  • Defining economic systems (traditional, command, market, and mixed economies); use economic reasoning to explain how specialization of production can result in more interdependence of examining how economic systems interact in an interdependent global economy.  Personal Financial Literacy: investigating the role of consumers in the Western Hemisphere. 
  • Analyzing the relationships of different nations in the Western Hemisphere; describing systems of government in the Western Hemisphere. 

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Visual Arts (adopted 2022) 

Rather than being divided by grade levels, the middle school visual art standards are described by levels of experience. The visual arts standards in the middle school years build on the general art knowledge and skills developed at the elementary level. In addition, students explore and examine the role of design and technology in making, documenting, and presenting works of art. Students create, discuss, reflect on, and compare works of art across historical periods and cultures using materials, processes, tools, and vocabulary in more complex ways. Art careers and art related issues that are important to communities are also examined. At this level, middle school art students extend their artistic vision beyond self and look at their artistic practice as part of a much larger community.

The Colorado Academic Standards in Visual Arts are organized by elements of the creative process taught in a cyclical, interconnected manner the way artists learn, connect, think, come up with ideas, experiment, plan, work, refine, share, and reflect in repetitive, spiraling ways.

Expectations for Middle School Level 1:

  • Observe and Learn to Comprehend: Use art specific art vocabulary (elements, materials, media, process, tools, and technology) to talk about and compare how and why art is created by artists across cultures and time periods including today.
  • Envision and Critique to Reflect: Practice academically talking about (critiquing) works of recognizing multiple points of view and incorporating gained knowledge.
  • Invent and Discover to Create: Make multiple plans and experiment with using art materials in new and unusual ways; use technology to document and talk about art work and the art making process.
  • Relate and Connect to Transfer: Explain the importance of art in everyday life for people from various communities or cultures; describe how art can make a statement about an important issue.

Throughout Middle School Level 1, you may find students:

  • Analyzing and interpreting works of art and art concepts using specific technical vocabulary (such as but not limited to symbolism, two dimensional, three dimensional, texture, hues).
  • Using and connecting ideas, themes and issues in art to other subjects such as literature, history, science, mathematics and social studies .
  • Using various approaches for planning, including technology, to make art.
  • Experimenting to use materials in new and unusual ways; considering new and multiple approaches to planning.
  • Examining and explaining the importance and purposes of art across time and culture; and using this knowledge to inform art making.

Expectations for Middle School Level 2:

  • Observe and Learn to Comprehend: Think, respond and write critically about the meaning of art; describe artistic creation in relationship to culture, purpose and style.
  • Envision and Critique to Reflect: Use visual evidence and art vocabulary to interpret and explain meaning.
  • Invent and Discover to Create: Create multiple plans and approaches to develop and create a work of art from a single artistic idea; show evidence of previously learned skills in new artwork.
  • Relate and Connect to Transfer: Apply critical thinking skills used in art (interpret, compare and contrast, analyze, generate ideas) to other aspects of life; use art to bring awareness of important issues identified by a community.

Throughout Middle School Level 2, you may find students:

  • Planning, and then analyzing, their ideas in multiple ways to create works of art and solve design problems.
  • Referencing art from many cultures, both historical and contemporary, to inform art making.
  • Employing a range of technology to plan and create works of art.
  • Documenting the art making process.
  • “Reading” images from multiple sources to determine intent and purpose.
  • Creating and interpreting art to explore ideas and issues grounded in other disciples.
  • Identifying how graphic images/works of art can be used as documents to inform viewers about a particular time and culture.
  • Using critical thinking skills to study personal works of art, as well as the art work of others.

Expectations for Middle School Level 3:

  • Observe and Learn to Comprehend: Consider sources for and of inspiration; use historical and contemporary art from a variety of cultures to inform and support ideas and plans to create art.
  • Envision and Critique to Reflect: Investigate and talk about the meaning of works of art considering multiple points of view; explain how art is personally relevant and of significance to the artist.
  • Invent and Discover to Create: Develop proficiency in handling art materials, tools, processes, and technologies when planning and creating art.
  • Relate and Connect to Transfer: Explain the relationship between art and design in everyday life including art careers; discuss the impact art can have on the way we understand and function in the world.

Throughout Middle School Level 3, you may find students:

  • Describing and defending the intent and purpose of art using appropriate art vocabulary (the composition of stark contrasting colors represents the artist’s intent to share a strong emotion).
  • Investigating and debating quality in art and design.
  • Explaining the reasons for creating a work of art; recognizing the influence of culture on artistic decisions.
  • Describing and debating persuasive techniques used in print and electronic media to influence an audience.
  • Creating innovative works of art that depict personal, social, cultural, and/or political viewpoints as well as other interests.
  • Researching and describing real-world applications of art.

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World Languages (adopted 2018)

Instead of being organized by grade level, the world languages standards are organized into ranges that describe the progression of learning a student should experience as they grow from novice language learners to an advanced user.

Read the world languages family and community guide for middle school here.

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