• Middle School Social Studies

    The goal of the Middle School social studies program is to build upon the curiosity and enthusiasm that characterizes middle school students as learners. In doing so we hope to provide experiences that will promote their ability to think critically and creatively, including their ability to solve authentic, complex, non-standard, cross- disciplinary problems. Our aim is to provide opportunities for students to develop the intellectual, technological, social and participatory skills needed to excel in society so that they may become effective global 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.

    In addition to the unit outlines that follow, special emphasis is given throughout the social studies experience to current events and human rights issues. This attention is vital not only as an aid to students' content learning, but as a tool that fosters their reasoning and citizenship skills, enhances their character development, and enables them to become productive citizens in a democratic society.

    Sixth Grade Overview
    The sixth grade social studies program focuses on exploring geography, and immersing students in the rich history, achievements and contributions of past cultures. The study of world history requires students to examine the historical components that have shaped the world as they know it, and to analyze the solutions human beings have devised to the problems they have faced in their efforts to survive and build a society. Looking at these choices, students examine ways in which cultures are unique in the shaping of a people and what people in other cultures share in common with us and with each other. They will be able to understand their roots, and see how they are connected to the past.

    Students learn to think critically, and value the dignity and diversity of all cultures. They use a full range of communication skills and technologies to solve problems and make decisions. This inclusive study of past cultures incorporates an emphasis on social history, encouraging students to appreciate not only the famous figures of the past, but also the everyday lives of ordinary people. The goal is to provide a historical investigation of cultures while encourage students to view the past through a variety of perspectives.

    Seventh and Eighth Grade Overview
    The seventh and eighth grade programs address social studies disciplines, themes and concepts that provide students with an appreciation and understanding of American culture and society. The seventh grade curriculum begins with the study of our global heritage prior to 1500 and traces the emerging American culture, employing a “posthole” approach (examining a few issues in depth) that concludes with a study of the Civil War. The eighth grade units continue this thematic study starting with the period of Reconstruction, proceeding to how our nation transforms into a world power, and concluding with an examination of issues facing us today.

    Although we follow a chronological approach, we do not view the teaching of social studies as a speedboat ride through history, where students' success is measured by how much they have been exposed to in a classroom. Rather, we compare it to a canoe trip, where students and teacher take the time to explore specific themes or issues in detail. This encourages topics to be developed through an inquiry-based model that promotes a better understanding of the people, ideas, and controversies that surround critical issues in our history. Thus, our study of history builds upon our students' sixth grade experience to provide a historical investigation of the past, while encouraging students to view events through a variety of perspectives.

    Media Literacy and Technology Skills
    Throughout the three-year social studies sequence, the department works extensively with Middle School computer teachers and librarians to develop the media literacy and technology skills identified in the District's Scarsdale Education for Tomorrow. Students experience a multi-layered approach to writing, researching, and presenting that requires them to solve complex problems employing the wise use of the most current technology.
    Grade Six Topics
    Geography: The study of geography offers the students the opportunity to view global issues such as child labor, global warming, and deforestation from a variety of perspectives. Guiding questions include: How does geography influence the way people live and adapt to a particular place on Earth? How can geography help us to understand change, and our role as global citizens of the past, present, and future?
    Prehistory: 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? What is culture? How does geography affect civilization?
    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.
    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.

    A Sampling of Guiding Questions for Grade Six Topics

    Guiding Questions for Geography:

    • What is geography?
    • Why is it important to study geography?
    • What tools are used to study geography?
    • How does geography influence the way people live and adapt to a particular place on earth?
    • What is culture?
    • How does geography help us to understand various cultures?
    • How can geography help us to identify and think critically about global challenges and possible solutions?

    Guiding Questions for Prehistory:

    • What is the difference between history and prehistory?
    • What tools and methods do scientists use to uncover clues about the past?
    • What evidence do scientists use to gain a greater understanding of the beginnings and development of human society?
    • What inventions or technology allowed early humans to move from hunting-gathering societies to more permanent agricultural societies?
    • How did agriculture lead to the development of civilization?

    Guiding Questions for the Ancient World:

    • Where were the first civilizations located? Why?
    • What are the characteristics of a civilization?
    • What is the significance of a division of labor?
    • How is a surplus of food an integral part of a civilization?
    • How did geography impact the lifestyles of people in the ancient world?
    • How did contact with others peoples impact life in the civilizations?
    • How do the Classical civilizations compare with earlier River Valley civilizations?
    • Why do civilizations fall?
    • What beliefs, ideas, and contributions from these civilizations have been adapted by modern civilizations?
    • What lessons can be learned from these civilizations?

    Guiding Questions for the study of the Middle Ages:

    • What factors or events led to the rise of this time period?
    • What role did the Church play in medieval society?
    • What political systems developed during this time period?
    • What economic systems developed during this time period?
    • What new hardships did people face during this era?
    • What were the Crusades and why were they undertaken?
    • How did the resurgence of trade lead to the rise of towns?
    • How did contact with the East affect medieval society?
    • What events lead to the Renaissance?
    • What were the contributions and impact of this time period?

    Grade Six Performance Indicators

    Students will:

    • map information about people, places, and environments
    • understand the characteristics, functions, and applications of maps, globes, aerial and other photographs, satellite-produced images, and models
    • describe the relationships between people and environments and the connections between people and places
    • identify and compare the physical, human, and cultural characteristics of different regions and people
    • investigate how people depend on and modify the physical environment
    • formulate geographic questions and define geographic issues and problems
    • use a number of research skills (e.g., computer databases, periodicals, maps, standard reference works, interviews, surveys) to locate and gather geographical information about issues and problems
    • present geographic information in a variety of formats, including maps, tables, graphs, charts, diagrams, and computer-generated models
    • interpret geographic information by synthesizing data and developing conclusions and generalizations about geographic issues and problems
    • explain how societies and nations attempt to satisfy their basic needs and wants by utilizing scarce capital, natural, and human resources
    • define basic economic concepts such as scarcity, supply and demand, markets, opportunity costs, resources, productivity, economic growth, and systems
    • understand how scarcity requires people and nations to make choices which involve costs and future considerations
    • understand how people in the United States and throughout the world are both producers and consumers of goods and services
    • investigate how people in the United States and throughout the world answer the three fundamental economic questions and solve basic economic problems
    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, how early Presidents exercised power and made policy, and evaluate the qualities of good or bad Presidential leadership.
    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 choosing. Students create 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 stateand 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
    • Grade Level DBQ s
    • Human Rights Public Service Announcement
    • Development and Expansion of Human Rights Portfolio
    • Departmental Final Exam
    Grade Eight Topics:
    The Nation Transformed: The United States Between the Civil War and WW I
    Students explore of the rise of industry, increased immigration, racial tensions and the reaction of the government and various groups pressures.
    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 through the past fifty years.
    Grade 8 Benchmarks
    • Research Project
    • Grade level DBQ
    • Culminating Human Rights Project
    • State Exam of grade topics and skills
    • Culminating Assessment Project – An interdisciplinary project to demonstrate growth in the goals stated in the district's Scarsdale Education for Tomorrow.

    A Sampling of Guiding Questions for Grades Seven and Eight Topics

    • Why did people settle in the Americas?
    • In what ways are societies influenced by economics and geography?
    • How did slavery influence the development of American society and politics?
    • How did democratic institutions and ideas develop in America?
    • Why do revolutions begin?
    • How did colonial identity shift from loyal British citizen to independence?
    • How did economics and a shifting political ideology influence events in the years leading up to the Revolution?
    • Why is government necessary in a society?
    • In what ways did the Framers' hopes and fears about government influence the writing of the Constitution?
    • What political ideals are embedded in our Constitution?
    • How does our Constitution protect individual rights and limit the power of government?
    • How do leaders respect or abuse their power? Why do they?
    • How did some presidents broaden the powers of the presidency?
    • How did the early presidential administrations establish precedents and bring stability to the county in terms of our economic policies, international relations, and political practices?
    • Why do societies divide?
    • What role did executive leadership play in events leading to the Civil War? What role did executive leadership play in both the North and the South during the war?
    • How does a government respond to the needs of its people? What role do other countries have in protecting human rights when a government fails?
    • How do the issues of our past relate to issues of today both domestically and internationally?

    Grade Seven and Eight Key Performance Indicators

    Students will:

    • explore the meaning of American culture by identifying the key ideas, beliefs, and patterns of behavior and traditions that help define it and unite all Americans
    • ·nvestigate key turning points in United States history, and explain why these events or developments are significant
    • explain the literal meaning of a historical passage or primary source document, identifying who was involved, what happened, where it happened, and what consequences or outcomes followed
    • explain how societies and nations attempt to satisfy their basic needs and wants by utilizing scarce capital, natural and human resources
    • describe the basic purposes and powers of government and the importance of civic life
    • analyze how the values of a nation affect the guarantee of human rights and make provisions for human needs
    • explain how the Constitution and Bill of Rights are the basis for democratic values in the United States
    • research a public policy problem and propose an action plan to address the issue
    • examine how industrialization led to a need for reevaluating and changing the traditional role of government in relation to the economy and social conditions
    • analyze the role of the United States in international politics, past and present
    • research and synthesize historical information through role-play and reenactment significant events in United States and World History