Grades six through eight are a natural crossroads already existing between lower school and upper school education, between childhood and adolescence, and between an understanding of the concrete and an ability to tackle the abstract. Therefore, Middle School History lessons and activities are written to develop upper level thinking skills and also inspire a love of history. Students in middle school are called upon to analyze events and defend their analyses. Several lessons focus on what life was like during a certain period of time or how historical events affect them as individuals. The curriculum provides activities that students of various levels of ability and interest can find both challenging and rewarding. While many of the activities culminate in some form of written work, other assignments include working on multimedia presentations, maps, and debates. Students are called upon to gather information from many resources and write clearly about what they have learned. No skill is taught in a vacuum. Perhaps most importantly, students are given the opportunity to act as historians. Throughout the curriculum many primary sources are presented, such as speeches, personal accounts of events, and political cartoons. Teachers may have to help students figure out the more difficult passages, but it is important that every student participates in viewing the past through primary source materials as well as his or her own eyes.
Why did American colonists fight a revolution against the British Empire? How did the new American citizens decide that their government was failing and write, in one summer, a Constitution that is still in use over 220 years later? How did that government almost fall apart during the Civil War? By forgoing the usual “survey” approach to history and examining just a few periods – the “pivotal points” – we find out what makes history both exciting and crucial. Primary sources are stressed throughout the year, and students write, edit and revise analytical, narrative and creative assignments. Give me liberty or give me death!
The primary goal of Current Events Literacy is for students to develop a background in 20th century world issues, which helps foster a stronger understanding of the world today. We cover a variety of historical topics ranging form the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict to Apartheid, while emphasizing overarching themes that include: economy, political systems, the legacy of imperialism, and the changing face of leadership. We use group projects, discussion and debates, and reading a variety of sources to help students develop a sound understanding of current world issues. Critical thinking, collaboration, and writing are all skills emphasized in this class.