Middle School Social Studies
The Scarsdale Middle School Social Studies program is designed to help students develop a better understanding of both the past and the world in which they live today. History is the story of human experiences which includes social, economic, and political developments and interactions. It provides opportunities that promote critical and creative thinking as well as the ability to solve authentic, complex, cross-disciplinary problems. Students develop the intellectual, technological, and advocacy skills needed to excel in society so that they may become effective citizens in an interdependent world. Equipped with these skills and a solid base of knowledge that comes with a careful examination of the values and decisions made by those who came before us, we believe that students will be prepared to deal with the critical issues of their time.
The sixth grade curriculum focuses on geograph, the development and achievements of prehistoric people, early civilization, classical civilization and the European Middle Ages. The seventh grade curriculum begins with the study of our global heritage prior to 1500, and traces the emerging American culture topically from Colonization to Reconstruction. In eighth grade, students examine the transformation of the nation to a world power in the 20th century, as well as the impact of technology.
Social Studies Learning Outcomes
analyze primary and secondary sources
synthesize research and content into an extended writing piece which makes meaning, conveys a message, or persuades an audience
use technology to demonstrate content knowledge
communicate information orally
demonstrate effective study and test-taking skills
develop research strategies and note-taking skills
persevere when faced with a challenge
display empathy and participate in a service learning project
Grade Six Topics
Geography: The study of geography introduces students to the ways in which geography influences the way people live and adapt to particular places on Earth. Students will discover how geography aides us in understanding change and gain an appreciation of other cultures and their values. Students begin to comprehend and acknowledge their role as global citizens. The study of geography offers the students the opportunity to view global issues and use critical/creative thinking to develop potential solutions. A recurring theme throughout the year is the influence of geography on the development of different civilizations.
Prehistory: The study of prehistory encompasses the theory of human origins and the sciences used to gather evidence. Students are introduced to anthropology, archeology, and geology. Students examine the beginning of civilization by focusing on questions such as: What is the difference between history and prehistory? What tools and methods do scientists use to uncover clues about the past?
River Valley Civilizations: The study of early river valley civilizations allows us to use the social sciences to develop and draw relationships about the social, cultural, economic, political, technological, and historic importance of these first civilizations. Students focus on the impact of the Agricultural Revolution and the development of permanent settlements.
Asian Studies: Studying the early cultures of Asia allows students to expand their horizons and develop an awareness of the historical contributions of some of the world's oldest civilizations. The exploration of these cultures leads students to a greater understanding of our interdependent world.
Classical Age: Building on what students have learned from the river valley civilizations, the study of the classical age traces the origin of the underlying foundations of our modern western civilization.
Europe in the Middle Ages: The Middle Ages provides a vivid contrast from the earlier study of classical civilizations. Students learn about feudalism, the rise of cities and a middle class, and events such as the Crusades, empire building, and the Black Death.
Human Rights: Students are introduced to the topic of human rights. Students will use the Declaration of Human Rights to determine what their rights are, how they are protected, and analyze situations in which human rights are violated.
Grade Six Benchmarks:
Geography Research Project
Human Rights Project
Introduction to Document-Based Questions and Essays
Creating the Ideal Civilization Project
Presentations using various medias
Grade Seven Topics
Colonial America: Students probe the foundation of European colonization of the New World, the economic, social and geographic qualities of each colonial region, and the impact of colonization on native peoples.
American Revolution: Students become immersed in the study of the Revolution as they role-play opposing patriots and loyalists. Through individual and group research projects students present and perform their interpretations of the polarizing events and issues of the period.
US Constitution and Government: Students explore how our government came into being by tracing its transformation from a confederacy to a federal system of government. Through an analysis of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, students evaluate the underlying principles of government in our democracy and understand how the government functions.
Presidential Power and Policy-making in Early U.S. History: Students analyze the powers, roles, influences and limitations of the U.S. president. They examine how presidents exercised power and made policy, and evaluate the qualities of Presidential leadership in the history of the early Republic.
Human Rights: Students explore the definition of human rights, investigate how those rights are protected or violated in the U.S. and abroad, and research a human rights problem of their choice. Students create an original public service announcements to raise awareness of their issue and advocate for a specific course of action.
Civil War: Students explore the causes of the Civil War and events leading up to its outbreak. Students investigate the struggle between state and federal power, evaluate the compromises made to accommodate the critical issues of the day and seek to understand the complexity and inhumanity of the institution of slavery.
Grade Seven Benchmarks:
Revolutionary Rally Project
Human Rights Public Service Announcement
Civil War Museum Exhibit: Primary Sources Personalize the Civil War
Grade Eight Topics
The Nation Transformed: The United States Between the Civil War and WW I: Students explore the rise of industry, increased immigration, racial tensions, and the reaction of the government and various groups.
World War I: Students investigate the causes and effects of this global conflict that shaped the twentieth century.
America Between the Wars: Students learn about the multifaceted decade of the 1920s and the various factors that led to the struggles of the 1930s.
World War II: Students trace the rise of totalitarianism and the progression of another global conflict, focusing on America's involvement and the consequences of the Second World War.
Cultural Conflicts Post WW II: Focusing on the modern Civil Rights movement and the Cold War, students consider domestic and international affairs over the past fifty years.
Current Events: Throughout the year, we explore connections between that which we are studying and current events relevant to students’ lives.
Grade 8 Benchmarks:
Document Based Questions and Essays
Presentations using various media
Assessments of topics and skills
Final Project – Interdisciplinary study that demonstrates growth in the district’s and department’s goals