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Middle School



The social studies program in middle school builds chronological and thematic understanding of world and United States history, while also developing the social studies strands of geography, economics, political systems, and culture. Each social studies unit is organized around a historical era and a social studies strand. A mix of modern content and the lessons of history provide the background knowledge and thinking skills that prepare students for high school instruction and their responsibilities as citizens, including meaningfully evaluating financial decisions.

In Grades 6 and 7, the focus of study is on ancient world history and culture from Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America. In Grade 8, students learn about the founding and early development of our nation, from the Revolution through Reconstruction. At all grade levels, students build understanding of the modern world by applying concepts of geography, economics, political systems, and culture to present-day scenarios.

Historical Inquiry in World Studies 6 (SOC1001) 
Historical Inquiry into Global Humanities 6 (SOC1009) 

Unit 6.1: Patterns of Settlement

Students learn how from hunter-gatherers, established farming communities to the rise of towns and cities, each society throughout time has exhibited different levels of complexity in their political, social and economic systems. Each society has strived to meet the wants and needs of its citizens and their successes and failures have become the building blocks for future societies to learn from to create more complex and sustaining civilizations. Unit Question: How do complex societies develop over time?

Unit 6.2: The Impact of Economies

Building on the idea that societies are complex due to various factors, students explore which factors makes a civilization an empire. From there, students explore the first dynasties of China to modern day China examining the relationship between the economic and political system and the impact the growth and decline of the economic system has on the structure and effectiveness of China's political system. Unit Question: How does economic growth and decline impact society?

Unit 6.3: Citizenship and Governance

Students learn how a political system, such as a democracy, strives to meet the common good of its citizens through shared accountability. Political systems influence how people in power make decisions that then impact the social and economic system of a civilization , including how they operate and who benefits from the choices. Unit Question: How does a government meet the common good of its citizens?

Unit 6.4: Cultural Systems

Students learn how culture is made up of beliefs, values, religion and traditions. Individuals and groups in societies use their cultural identity to influence structures and processes in their political, economic and social system. Culture is ever changing due to the interactions between groups of people from different societies. It is through these interactions facilitated many times both past and present by trade that people either accepted or resisted changes in their beliefs, ideas or traditions. Unit Question: How does culture influence the development of a civilization?

Historical Inquiry in World Studies 7 (SOC1004)
Historical Inquiry into Global Humanities 7 (SOC1010)

Unit 1:  Students use their social studies literacy skills to investigate the geography of Latin America  and the consequences of geographic modifications. Students will explore life in Latin America at the height of the Aztec and Inca Empire learning how modifications to their environment were essential to their success. Additionally, students will be able investigate and research life in Latin America today and the impact economic choices have had on the environment of their respective region. Unit Question: Why do people modify their environment?

Unit 2:  Students use their social studies literacy skills to evaluate the structures and functions of an evolving political system starting at the height of the Roman Empire, ending with the formation of individual nation states in Europe.  By studying the changing political systems of Europe from feudalism to the emergence of nation-states, students learn how the source of power in the modern age became centralized and dependent on a growing middle class. At the end of the unit students will be able to answer the Unit Question: How is a political system impacted when a society changes?

Unit 3: Students use their social studies literacy skills to investigate the culture of Medieval African societies  and modern day Africa. Students gain an understanding of how culture impacts a society and the decisions made by a society in regards to their political and economic structures. By investigating the culture of African societies,  students will begin to examine their own culture to better understand how the beliefs, values and traditions held by cultural groups impact modern day social and political structures. At the end of the unit students will be able to answer the Unit Question: How do interactions among diverse cultures impact a society?

Unit 4: Students use their social studies literacy skills to investigate the shift to a global market place after the Middle Ages by analyzing the benefits and costs of a world connected by trade. Students end the unit by shifting from how a global market changed the world in 1450-1750 to how it is changing the world today and the institutions put into place to support the global economic and political foundations. Unit Question: How does globalization impact the world?

Historical Inquiry in U.S. History 8 (SOC1021)
Historical Inquiry into American Studies 8 (SOC1020)

Unit 1

Political Change: 

Resistance and Revolution, 


To what extent were American colonists justified in rebelling against British authority and creating their own political system?

Students learn about the purposes of government and how the American democratic system developed to meet those purposes more effectively.  Students study the impact of the French and Indian War and British colonial governance on the colonies and the causes and consequences of the American Revolution. 

Unit 2


Creating a National Political System and Culture, 1785-1823


To what extent did American responses to inside and outside forces contribute to the creation of a national political culture?

Students learn how American culture is grounded in shared values that have shaped the nation over time.  Students learn  about the Articles of Confederation, the Constitutional Convention, the Constitution, and Bill of Rights to understand how the American political system reflects American values.  Students also learn how the U.S. political system was strengthened and challenged by various inside and outside forces during the first five presidential administrations.

Unit 3


Geographic and Economic Change Shape the Nation, 1820-1853


How did geographic and economic expansion impact the rights of diverse populations in America?

Students learn how there are costs and benefits to expansion and how conflict can result when people try to protect or gain rights and resources. Students evaluate the costs and benefits of geographic, economic, and political expansion from 1820-1853 by studying Native American removal, the spread of slavery, Jacksonian democracy, industrialization, the increase of immigration, and the rise of the Abolition and Women’s rights movements.

Unit 4


A Nation Divided 

and Rebuilt, 


How effectively did the U.S. resolve the political, economic, and social issues that led to and resulted from the Civil War?

Students learn about how cultural differences can divide a society and how people react to cultural change and apply these concepts to their study of the causes and consequences of the Civil War, the effectiveness of Reconstruction,  and continuity and change in the postbellum period.



Student Resources

Social Studies Skills Framework (6-8)