Jacob Montwieler - Curriculum Leader
Sixth grade social studies is the first of a two year sequence in World Geography and Ancient Civilizations. In addition to introducing students to the study of geography, the curriculum includes African and Asian Studies. Students learn basic geographic skills and concepts and explore the physical and human geography of Africa and Asia.
In seventh grade, social studies students complete the second of the two-year sequence in World Geography and Ancient Civilizations. The curriculum strengthens geographic and critical thinking skills. The core goals of grade 7 social studies are the rooting of the students in the Five Themes of Geography and the pursuit of essential questions in geography and ancient civilizations. For example, students are asked to consider the following:
- What is geography?
- How does geography shape a culture?
- How does geography impact the development of a country/region?
- What is civilization?
The Five Themes of Geography (location, place, human-environment interaction, movement and region) provide a useful tool for organizing geographic understanding and developing a global perspective.
The eighth grade social studies program focuses on two essential questions:
1. Why does injustice occur?
2. How can we create just communities?
We explore these questions through three major units.
Unit One: Foundations of Justice
In this unit we explore the important roles governments play in establishing justice. We discuss the idea of "unalienable rights" through a close examination of the Declaration of Independence. Then, we study the layout of our national government. Finally, we learn about the Bill of Rights, paying close attention to the First Amendment. In this unit, we will debate a number of Supreme Court cases involving the rights of adolescents.
Unit Two: Fighting for Justice
In this unit we explore the ways men and women outside of governments have worked to create just communities. We begin the unit by learning about the struggle for women's rights. Then, we will examine the legacy of the Civil War and explore how young and old activists fought against racial discrimination. We will pay close attention to the history of school integration, including an in-depth comparison of the crises in Little Rock in 1957 and Boston in 1974.
Unit Three: Justice Denied
In this unit we explore what happens when governments and citizens fail to protect the rights of people. Our primary focus is the Holocaust, the systematic murder of six million Jews by the Nazi government and its collaborators. Our goal is to wrestle with the complex moral questions surrounding this tragedy. We study the origins of anti-Semitism, the rise of Hitler and the use of propaganda. We will also examine the ways in which men and women resisted the Nazi powers and ask who bears responsibility for the Holocaust. Finally, we will compare the Holocaust with other genocides.