6th Grade

Language Arts

Through the use of Wordly Wise 3000, students will focus on the context, structure, and forms of the words. Emphasis is placed on learning multiple meanings, using vocabulary in context, employing higher-level thinking skills to determine word relationships, and applying this knowledge to writing. Throughout the year, students will acquire and use new vocabulary in relevant context.


Writing is the primary emphasis of the Language Arts program. Students develop their abilities to write narrative, functional, expository, expressive, and persuasive text. Instruction in the Six Traits of Writinghelps students to develop style and an awareness of purpose and audience. Mini-lessons, mentor texts, and detailed, frequent feedback provide students with instruction in the writing process.


The Write Source provides students with a basis for grammar instruction and hones the grammatical, usage, spelling, and mechanical skills necessary for effective writing.

Public Speaking and Visual Presentations

Students will have opportunities to present an organized speech and to participate in debates and group discussions to effectively convey information to a specific audience. Emphasis is placed upon techniques of persuasive communication.


Each common literature selection focuses on characters who are struggling to discover themselves and clarify what is most important to them. Through these shared literature experiences, as well as individual book choices, poetry selections and writing exploration, sixth-grade students will explore this theme of self-identity within the context of larger society.

Students read a variety of common literature selections and will set a personal goals for the number of books to read throughout the year. Students will complete activities and projects as a complement to novel studies, with the primary goal for all students to become skilled, passionate, habitual and critical readers.

Literature class time will also include daily poetry experiences, as well as mini-lessons on reading, comprehension skills and other specific skills related to being better readers. Students will complete letter essays about books, book recommendation cards and written responses.


The Summit School of Ahwatukee math curriculum offers students a broad background in math concepts, reinforced through a significant amount of dynamic, hands-on, interactive activities. Sixth grade prepares students to success in high school level math classes in seventh and eighth grades. All students complete high school level algebra with some advancing onto high school Geometry.

Each year, the Arizona Association of Teachers of Mathematics (AATM) sponsors a state-wide Algebra math competition. Summit students distinguish themselves by scoring 1st, 3rd and 4th in the state, or by scoring in the top 10% in the state.

  • 2015: A Summit student earns the highest math score in the state! A classmate earns the 4th place win, with two other students scoring in the top 10%.
  • 2013: Summit student tied for the 3rd and 4th highest scores in the state. Six additional students scored in the top 10% in the state.
  • 2012: Twelve Summit School of Ahwatukee students scored in the top 10% in the state.
  • 2011: Four students scored in the top ten percent statewide, with two students earning an additional distinction by being among the top 10 highest scores in state.

Students in first through sixth grades are pre-assessed before each new unit of study and are placed, for that unit, in either the grade-level or accelerated paced group. With ability grouping, hands-on learning, and small class sizes, our students successfully learn and retain math concepts at advanced levels.

The mathematics curriculum is distinguished by a number of features which include:

Real-life Applications Throughout each unit, real-world situations are incorporated. Numbers, skills, and mathematical concepts are not presented in isolation, but are linked to contexts that are relevant to everyday lives. The curriculum also provides numerous suggestions for incorporating math into daily classroom routines and other subject areas.

Problem Solving A variety of problem-solving approaches are emphasized to allow students to investigate and understand mathematical concepts. Problems are formulated through everyday situations and are solved by interpreting results and applying learned strategies. As a result, confidence is acquired in using mathematics meaningfully.

Balanced Instruction Each lesson includes time for whole-group instruction as well as small group, partner, or individual activities. These activities balance teacher-directed instruction with more opportunities for open-ended, hands-on explorations, long-term projects, and ongoing practice.

Multiple Methods for Basic Skills Practice Numerous methods for basic skills practice and review are provided. Summit emphasizes learning through a wide variety of math games, written and choral fact drills, mental math, math boxes (daily sets of review problems), homework, and timed tests.

Emphasis on Communication Throughout the curriculum, students are encouraged to explain and discuss their mathematical thinking in their own words. Opportunities to verbalize their thoughts and strategies give children the chance to clarify their reasoning and gain insights from others.

Home / School Partnerships For grades first to third, daily home learning provides opportunities for family members to participate in students’ mathematical learning. Take-home packets are provided for most lessons in grades four to six.


The Summit School of Ahwatukee science program supports learning at multiple levels. The Summit science courses are taught in a state-of-the-art science laboratory facility with science stations, microscopes and all of the tools necessary to make science engaging and fun.

Summit School of Ahwatukee’s scores on Arizona’s AIMS testing, “Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards” are consistently among the top in the state.

In Science, 99% of Summit students meet or exceed the state standards on AIMS, with 84% of students exceeding the standard! See why.

Social Studies

Social studies will be taught based on developmentally-appropriate themes for grade six. The themes studied in middle-school social studies include but are not limited to Native Americans, European exploration, English colonies and independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, political development, foreign affairs, life in the west, Civil War, Industrial Revolution, World War II, the civil rights’ movement and current events.


Sixth graders take Spanish three times each week in a classroom where they develop listening and speaking skills within the context of different real life scenarios. Students are encouraged to ask and answer real-life questions individually, in pairs, and through whole-class discussions. They act out situations and stories using TPR (Total Physical Response) and TPRS (Total Physical Response Storytelling).

The following is a list of student objectives:

-Discuss similarities and differences between cultures

-Work with others to practice new words, sounds, and sentence structures

-Play educational games on the curriculum web site

-Complete written and oral activities using audio files

-Listen to and discuss videos (DVDs) using Realidades DVD Program and En Español DVD Program

-Use technology and internet resources to take virtual tours, connect with other Spanish speaking students in the world, practice vocabulary, listen to audio, and take online tests in the computer lab

-Take a placement test in preparation for High School Spanish II or honors classes (4 out of 5 students were placed in High School Spanish II this year)

-Attend field trips to use Spanish beyond the school setting and practice the language.

Middle School Electives

Summit School of Ahwatukee electives add further dimension and depth to an advanced middle school curriculum. The electives are designed to broaden and enrich each students understanding of the possibilities and directions their lives can lead.

Technology Enhances Learning

Summit sixth, seventh and eighth grade students each bring a personal computer, iPad or tablet to school each day. Why?  We feel it is important to prepare our students as technology-empowered, lifelong learners with the knowledge, tools, and skills to succeed in a high school, college and a global society.

Summit’s success with technology enhanced learning
In the spring of 2010, the iPad emerged as one of the leading new tools in education.  In 2012, after thoughtful consideration and investigation, we selected the iPad as the best instrument to give our middle school students access to the technology they will need in their 21st century education.  At that point our research included the possible use of laptops, netbooks, Android devices, Chromebooks, and we elected to go with iPads.  We studied how other schools had implemented similar programs and what challenges they presented.  We also committed to strengthening our wireless network in order to accommodate new devices.  We were excited about all of the possibilities for learning, productivity, creativity, and strengthening many important skills that would benefit them in the future!

Over the past three years Summit’s 1:1 iPad program has proven very successful.  We have seen amazing 21st Century learning as students used their devices to create, collaborate, communicate and enhance their critical thinking skills.  But at the same time we have seen the technology available change rapidly.  Now tablets of all kinds are available, and families often own tablets or personal computers of differing operating systems.  Students will need to have technological skills that can translate to any platform.  Therefore, our technology model needed to shift to meet this need. Summit now has a “Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program for middle school students.

How teachers empower students by using the latest technology learning tools in a classroom setting

• Gives students instant access to research and information
• Provides multimedia resources to enhance learning
• Personalizes class management and access to curriculum, homework, testing dates, project information and due dates, grades and more.
• Can be used in every subject area and class
• Provide easy communication between students and teachers
• Enable them to create and collaborate together
• Help develop problem solving and critical thinking skills Examples of successful iPads use in classroom learning at Summit School of Ahwatukee Literature/Language Arts
• Students use Notability to mark up articles and short text with annotations, notes, and highlights.
• Students use Notability or mind mapping apps to brainstorm ideas during the writing process.
• Students use Pages to compose a wide variety of documents. Using Dropbox, students can send a copy to the teacher for reference during conferences and can receive written feedback in this same way.
• Students research a wide variety of topics via the Internet, Grolier Encyclopedia, and the Arizona State Library – all accessed via the iPad.
• Students use iMovie to create movies that explain or reinforce concepts learned in class.
• Students use Photogene to create photo collages of work or items related to a concept.
• Students use Schoology to keep track of deadlines, note assignments, and communicate with the teacher.
• Vocabulary notebook – This contains notes, vocabulary and definitions, drawings, and review problems.
• We also will occasionally use the calculator apps, play various math games, and watch math videos.
• Math Homework Sheets (Study Links)
• Create mini math lessons to share with classmates using Educreations • Weekly Problem Solving
• Learnzillion.com mini lessons
• Khan academy research Music
• We use Garage Band to learn, develop, and arrange song structures (chord progressions, bass lines, and drum grooves).
• We also use the iPad as a virtual music binder, with digital sheet music stored on Schoology.
• Video record music performances, demonstrations, and reflections. Science & Social Studies
• The students have their science notebooks on the iPad, so they take notes, complete labs, creating graphs, and annotating pdfs.
• They also have downloaded some interactive magazines with scientific content that we have used in our units.
• Use apps such as Solar Walk.
• Social studies textbook and notebook are online.
• We use the iPad for research, creating movies, creating slideshows, producing visual projects, looking up images.
• Some students have also used animation apps to complete projects.
• Complete online vocabulary exercises using several online websites, uSpeak, Haiku Deck and other educational apps.
• Practice verb conjugation with an online Conjugator known as “Conjuguemos.”
• Create online flash-cards and reviewing activities using Quizlet.
• Film real-life scenarios / record themselves while completing dialogues, etc. Art
• Research and design development ideas
• Portfolio development
• Close reading and Art Criticism
• Art writing and critical writing
• Workshop Documentation – Raku
• Design with Photography
• Fabricated Photography
• Photographic Assemblage
• As a tool to explore urban design and housing concepts
• Animation
• Drawing Technology
• Video projects
• Schoology
• Computer programming lessons
• Students perform their self-assessments on the iPad after class.
• Students access rules of games and watch pertinent videos about game play on the sport/activity that we are working on.
• Students who assume the role of “publicist” take pictures and write short paragraphs like a sports journalist and/or photographer about the teams participating.

Class Size and School Hours

Summit School of Ahwatukee offers two classes per grade. Middle school classes are capped at 19 students per class.

Classrooms are open and ready to welcome students and parents at 8 am, with classes officially beginning at 8:20. These twenty minutes allow student’s time to socialize, and families to get to know each other, enhancing the community feel and fabric of our school for all.

The school day ends at 3:15 daily.

SERVE: Summit Excellence Reflected in Volunteer Experience

Community service is an important aspect of Summit’s excelling middle school program. SERVE teaches students the importance and value of sharing their time and talent with their community.

Positive effects occur both academically and socially when students participate in community service.  Teachers and parents have witnessed the impact on our students global awareness and the kindness of their actions, as they gain understanding that their service for others, both within Summit and the outside community matters.  Our middle school students also grow as strong role models and inspiring leaders to preschool and elementary children.

SERVE Program

8th grade: To graduate, all eighth grade students are required to attend three school sponsored service events and donate an additional 20 hours of their time volunteering at organizations of their choice. Often students do far more than required.

Summit teachers help students find ways to bring value to their school by coordinating activities such reading with children in preschool during after school care, tutoring younger children. Students gain insights into the needs of others, fostering a pride in their efforts and a realization of how they can benefit the world around them.

The experiences culminate with a celebratory SERVE recognition breakfast and reflection held in May for parents and students.

7th grade:  Attends the three school sponsored community service events. Additionally students are asked to complete a minimum of five community service hours, either within the Summit community or an outside organization, and write a reflection based on the benefits and effects of community service as a progression into 8th grade.

6th grade: Attends three school sponsored middle school community service events, one in the fall, winter and spring.

Curriculum, Character, Compassion, coupled with a phenomenal, full liberal arts Curriculum. Summit School of Ahwatukee students are joyful, respectful, and insightful. We are so very proud of our students and our strong partnerships between inspiring teachers and involved parents. Together we are educating confident and caring future leaders.

Get to Know - 6th Grade Faculty

Melissa France

Student Council Advisor
Mathematics, Sixth Grade

Melissa France earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Education in 1998, with a minor in Psychology from Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. She is a member of NCTM, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Mrs. France brought her mathematic and leadership skills to Summit in 2001. She also serves a leadership role in Summit’s math curriculum; supporting teachers in the use of research based best practices, differentiating instruction and challenging students.

 In addition to teaching, Mrs. France serves as Summit’s Student Council Advisor, guiding students in leadership roles for school wide community service projects and spirit building activities. As a result of her service and leadership, she was named Educational Mentor of the Year for 2013-2014 by the Ahwatukee Chamber of Commerce.

In 2006 Mrs. France was a recipient of a “Golden Gator, Excellence in Teaching Award” from Xavier College Preparatory High School. This award recognizes junior high teachers who have been inspirational to Xavier’s freshmen students.

Andrea Gonzalez-Cantwell

Spanish, Fifth through Eighth Grade

Andrea Gonzalez-Cantwell is a graduate of New Mexico State University, where she earned a Masters Degree in Spanish with a concentration in Linguistics, Curriculum and Instruction. A native of Mexico, she has taught in public and private schools, beginning in 2005, with age levels ranging from elementary students, to university pre-service teachers and professionals. She is a member of the Arizona Language Association (AZLA) and the The American Council of Teaching Foreign Languages (ACTFL) She is a bilingual and bicultural individual who enjoys challenging students to gain proficiency in a second language.

Sra. Gonzalez-Cantwell firmly believes that students who achieve fluency in a second language are better equipped to contribute to today’s diverse society, and that 21st century teachers have to be experts in both their subject area, and in the integration of technology into the curriculum. Señora enjoys learning and learns every day with her students, and expands her knowledge through conferences for professional development and online courses. Señora’s latest professional development conference was Creating Engaging Learning Experiences for the 21st Century World Language Learner and Nexus Now Express YoUrSelf at ASU School of International Letters and Cultures. Summit happily welcomed her to the staff in 2011.

Kelly Makay

Literature, Sixth Grade

Kelly Makay earned her teaching degree from Northern Illinois, and holds a Master’s Degree in Education.  Her teaching career began in 1994 at a private school in Evanston, Illinois, where she taught fifth and sixth grade and coached girls’ softball.

Upon returning to Arizona, Mrs. Makay taught in the Kyrene School District. During this time her expertise was called up to lead staff trainings on differentiation, and assisted in developing the district-wide report card. She has also presented to colleagues at the Arizona Association of Independent Schools, on the topic of Project Based Learning.

Mrs. Makay joined Summit School of Ahwatukee in 2007, and has taught in grades 4-7. However, she is most passionate about her current role teaching 5th and 6th grade language arts and literature, saying, “Summit is the best place to teach and learn!”

Meredith Mayefske

Language Arts, Sixth & Seventh Grade
Social Studies, Sixth & Seventh Grade

Meredith Mayefske earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from the College of Teacher Education and Leadership at Arizona State University. While attending ASU, Ms. Mayefske developed her passion for teaching through community service and charitable works projects. She devoted time to the Salvation Army and helped tutor and mentor students in the Phoenix area with the America Reads program.

Her career as a middle school humanities teacher began in 2010. Her experience spans all middle grades ranging from fifth through eighth, and high caliber private education. Her area of expertise is focused in the humanities. Ms. Mayefske absolutely loves the study of history, and is a member of the Arizona Historical Society. Ms. Mayefske joined Summit’s middle school faculty in 2015.

Andrea Yocum

Science, Sixth through Eighth Grades

Andrea Yocum is an Arizona native, born in Lake Havasu City. She graduated from college at Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education and psychology. Mrs. Yocum started her teaching career as a fifth/sixth grade classroom teacher, and then taught science and math units in the Mesa School District before coming to Summit. She began sharing her talents with Summit students in 2002.

Mrs. Yocum enjoys participating in outside training in both teaching and science related professional development. She was selected as one of 272 teachers from 19 countries across the globe, to participate in the Honeywell Space Academy for Educators at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. She is currently taking courses through the National Math and Science Initiative, and was selected to be a member of the University of Arizona Water Education Cohort. Recently, she helped as a science educational consultant for an exhibit at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

 In 2009, 2012 and 2014 she was a recipient of a “Golden Gator, Excellence in Teaching Award” from Xavier College Preparatory High School. This award recognizes junior high teachers who have been inspirational to Xavier’s freshmen students. Teaching middle school science, including chemistry and physics, using predominately lab experiments, and her obvious love of teaching enthralls her students.