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: Religion in World Societies

    The eighth grade course examines major world religions in the context of the societies in which they emerged and with the goal of understanding their continuing importance. Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are studied as they emerge from their particular historical circumstances, but also as systems of thought and belief. Attention is paid to the sacred texts of world religions, and to the moral and ethical systems that blossom from those texts and from some of the major religious figures who have contributed to the development of these religious traditions. Students are asked to understand major tenets of each religion, but also to gain a greater understanding of the questions and answers which overarch religious belief. Emphasis will also be placed on the ways in which religions have survived and changed over time, including the modern era. The course continues to build on skills developed earlier in the middle school history curriculum, including the writing of a research paper near the year’s end.