Social studies encompasses the study of history and geography, while also incorporating the approaches and strategies of many other disciplines, including economics, anthropology, sociology, political science, and psychology.
The ultimate goal of Middle School social studies is to guide students in their development as culturally competent, active citizens living in a democratic society through cultivation of the four Habits of Mind:
1. Historical Thinking is developing a more complex understanding of past events. This includes:
2. Global Mindedness is understanding how one’s role and responsibility as a citizen of an interconnected world transcends geographic, cultural, and political borders. This includes:
3. Valuing Diverse Perspectives and Developing Empathy involves deeply understanding people and groups by gaining greater insight into their historical, cultural, and political
experience, which are crucial components of culturally competent learning. This includes:
4. Active Citizenship necessitates participation in the public life of a diverse and increasingly interconnected democratic society by taking responsibility and initiative in areas of public concern. This includes:
In the sixth grade, students will learn and practice how to be historians while developing their understanding of the Social Studies Habits of Mind. As students examine and investigate the religions and cultures of several major civilizations, they will hone their geography skills as they scrutinize various types of maps — all while utilizing reading comprehension strategies to analyze both primary and secondary source documents. Through various classroom activities and projects, sixth graders will learn how to evaluate sources and develop key 21st century research literacy skills. Additionally, students will develop their analytical writing skills and will have the opportunity to share what they have learned through various modes of presentation.
In seventh grade, students will work to better understand American identity throughout history and current events today. Through deep dives into relevant moments in U.S. history, seventh graders will examine how systemic power is constructed and protected and how different identity groups fought for, and resisted change. Students will ground their understanding of systems of power by examining the country’s founding documents and working to understand what it means to be included in “We the People.” Possible areas of focus include American Indian history and culture, the history of race in Baltimore, and other issues involving identity, civil liberties, and civil rights. Students will address these topics through exploring primary and secondary sources, conducting in-depth research, engaging in class discussions, writing analytically, and creating projects to share learning with the community. The course culminates in a research project focused on an activist of their choice, complemented by a symbolic hands-on construction project.
Eighth graders start to explore their own roles as advocates through studying the patterns of change in the 20th century world. Using a variety of secondary and primary source texts, students will examine the essential questions of the course: “How does societal change happen? How can people cause change in society? How do conceptions of justice lead to societal change? What methods do successful advocates for change employ? How do the changes in the modern world impact us?” After first exploring the changes in the Industrial Revolution that helped set the stage for the beginning of the century, students then go on to investigate the different political, social, and economic shifts that are brought about through imperialism and decolonization, nationalism before the Second World War, and the Cold War era conflicts. Through readings, discussions, simulations, research, and analytical writing, students will explore the ways in which change in society has a range of complex impacts, and the ways in which social and political advocates seek to address the significant injustices still facing our world. Learning to ground their advocacy in research, the course also supports the growing skills necessary to craft a history research-based term paper using evidence to support a thesis.