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.
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?
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?