Middle School
MS Curriculum


The Middle School history program endows its students with the ability to think critically and independently in the study of history and the social sciences as they link the issues and challenges of the past with our own time.
History is more than simply memorizing dates and names; it is a deeply humanistic discipline that builds perspective, empathy, and insight into the reasons behind political and military decisions and actions. Students are introduced to the content and tools they need to become good historians, learning fact and chronology and how to interpret those facts, and they acquire the reading, writing, note-taking, oral, visual and analytical skills needed to accomplish these tasks.

History & Social Science Courses

List of 4 items.

  • History 5: Ancient Cultures: How Do We Learn About History?

    Ancient Civilizations: Growth and Empire

    In fifth grade history, students start the year exploring key concepts of the development of a civilization and by engaging in activities that foster an understanding of how ancient people moved beyond subsistence farming. During the course of the year, students immerse themselves in the study of four ancient cultures: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Each unit combines simulations, informal and formal writing, and reading and note-taking skills. This integrated curriculum provides direct instruction in study skills and content information and requires students to discuss, interpret and present what they understand. For example, in the Mesopotamia simulation, students vying for control of a board based on a map of the Ancient Near East, earn points by completing assignments and by applying what they are learning as they make decisions for their teams. As each team tries to build an empire that will control the board, all of the students learn about how empires were built and at what cost. Each unit reviews the essential questions: What did this civilization accomplish, both for good and ill, through their work as empire builders? How are empires built? Why do empires end?
  • History 6: Discovering History

    The sixth-grade history course focuses on medieval and Renaissance history, beginning with the onset of the Dark Ages in the 5th century, and ending with the revival of European art, literature, and culture in the 16th century. Students will traverse many of the most important events of this period, from the collapse of Rome, the crowning of Charlemagne, and the era of the Crusades. We will also explore the changes brought upon by the Black Death.

    This course pays particular attention to the many facets of history. We look at political history, reviewing the methods and systems people used to govern. Cultural history is studied as well. Students will become familiar with the way people lived during the medieval period. A study of economics and culture is also stressed. Cultural diffusion is also a major subject of this course. Students will learn how watershed moments like the Viking period, and the Crusades, had an impact on the relationships among people from all over the European and Arabic world. Religion is also a major focal point and will be an important topic throughout the course of the year.

    The course also has a strong skills element. Students will begin writing full paragraphs at the beginning of the year, and end writing multi-paragraph works. Annotating skills are also taught. Students will become used to looking at primary sources in order to better understand the past. Much time is also devoted to developing research skills, with students working on numerous projects throughout the year.
  • History 7: Cultural Perspectives: Asia, Africa and Mesoamerica, 1000-1600

    The course examines the histories of cultures in the three regions, exploring themes such as: Cultural diffusion; rebellion and discontent; how governments fail; economies and the basis of value; social structures; definitions of “civilization,” and others. Examples may be found in the Yuan-Ming period in China, the Mali-Songhai in Africa and the Toltec-Aztec in Mesoamerica, among others. The study of these cultures reveals to students the richness of the various regions in the period before European contact. Skills emphasized in the course include research and writing, map skills, debate and the development of sustained argument, and the ongoing skills related to reading, note taking and others found earlier in the middle school curriculum.
  • History 8: History of the Americas

    This course focuses on the history of the Western Hemisphere from the beginning of human settlement to the early 20th century. The class takes the old saying that the United States is a “nation of immigrants” and expands that idea to the Americas as a whole, examining how the processes of migration and revolution shaped the development of rich new identities and cultures on this side of the world.

    As students explore these core themes of migration, revolution, and identity, they will have opportunities to compare the experiences of the different peoples who encountered one another in North America, South America, and the Caribbean. Students will begin the course by examining the arrival of the first peoples in the Americas, and the complex societies and cultures that indigenous peoples built. Students will explore European colonization of the Americas, as well as how both global events and distinctive local contexts ultimately led those colonies to embark on paths to revolution and national independence. Students also will study the origins of slavery in colonial America, with particular focus on how enslaved peoples resisted oppression, built a vibrant culture, and ultimately, played a leading role in their own liberation across the Americas. The course concludes with an examination of migration to and within the Western Hemisphere during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the opportunities and obstacles those new migrants faced in preserving and adapting their identities and cultures in their new homes.

    The content of the course also will serve as a vehicle for students to develop foundational skills in historical inquiry and analysis, including a cumulative research paper focusing on the revolutionary period in the Americas. The comparative framework of the course – including studies of different regions and peoples within the Americas – also will allow students to learn the essential value of exploring varying perspectives as they seek to understand the truth about the past.