Middle School
MS Curriculum


In History, Middle School students are given an introduction to a selected area of humanity’s past record of achievement so that they will understand not only their own civilization, but also better understand themselves.

Closely related is the necessity for encouraging independent study and thought; students must learn to think critically about the problems of their era, and they must be encouraged to pursue their studies beyond the time of the specific course involved.
The study of history is also deeply humanistic. When students immerse themselves in such events as the background of a war or revolution, they ought to become more mature; they will have learned something fundamental about the nature of human beings. History is the great storehouse of human experience; in this sense, it is closely related to poetry, literature and philosophy in its value to the student.

Basic skill building is an important part of the program. Learning how to evaluate evidence, use the library, write cogent and well-organized papers, and read maps and charts are essential features of all courses in the History and Social Science program.

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, Persia, Greece and Egypt. 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 it 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 the Mediterranean world. Students begin the course by studying the rise and fall of Rome and continue on to examine the emergence of Christianity, Europe’s early medieval period, the development of the Islamic Empire and the Crusades. 
    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 of Asia, Africa and Mesoamerica, exploring such themes 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.