Sixth grade is an important phase of learning mathematics. The year forms the fulcrum between the early grades’ learning and what’s to follow in advanced math in middle and high school as students learn the number skills needed for algebra. Number skills are formed by working with number theory, operations, decimals and fractions, but students in sixth grade also learn geometry and basic concepts of statistics and probability.
Numbers and Numeration
One of the pillars of sixth grade math is understanding the meanings, uses and representations of numbers. This stream of mathematics breaks down into three main parts: place value and notation, fractions and number theory. Students learn how to translate between decimals, whole numbers and fractions and to identify place value. As with any level of math study, word problems can be used to illustrate the value of fractions and percentages. In sixth grade, students also begin to understand the concept of greatest common factors and the rules of divisibility to manipulate fractions -- the concept that 1/2 is equal to 2/4, for example.
In math terms, computation refers to the process of working out a math problem. In sixth grade, computation focuses on accuracy and estimation. Students continue to refine the four basic computational functions: adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying. These processes are applied to fractions in sixth grade. Additionally, students learn to estimate and to explain how they reached their estimates.
Throughout math study, students have learned how to visualize data using charts and graphs, and in sixth grade these skills become refined with the use of titles, labels and keys. Students also work with charts, graphs and tables to understand data and draw conclusions that apply to the real world and to use the multiplication counting principle -- counting in groups of large numbers -- to make predictions about experiments and to identify all possible outcomes for a particular situation. Teachers can use predictions and data as a link to science curriculum.
In grade six, geometry study expands to include measurement and quantification of geometrical features. This involves adding sums in triangles and quadrangles and using mathematical tools such as protractors to measure angles. Students also learn formulas for calculating perimeter and area of shapes, a building block for later study in algebra.
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