We believe that the history and social studies curriculum should provide authentic opportunities for students to encounter pivotal historic moments, changing geographic boundaries, developing political systems, economic interchanges and cultural growth and achievement from civilizations past and present. While learning about the peoples of the ancient world through today’s global society, students develop a plethora of skills, such as critical and creative thinking, analyzing cause and effect relationships, evaluating primary and secondary sources, making judgments on the positive and negative effects of historical events, and conducting and implementing research into a variety of written works and hands-on projects. Students also participate in meaningful field trips for a first hand experience of historical events.
Throughout the course of the school year, Middle School students develop and create a timeline of major events occurring in their field of historical study. Students select meaningful topics, including key individuals, cultural achievements, political developments, and historical moments, and then create an entry for their class timeline. To create an entry, students write a paragraph that explains the topic and identifies why the topic is an integral component in their study of history. Entries are then paired with a visual representation of the topic and are placed in chronological order. The grade level timelines appear as follows:
- The Ancient World – 3500 BCE through 500 CE – Fifth Grade
- The Medieval World – 500 CE through 1800 CE – Sixth Grade
- The United States – 1400 CE through 1850 CE – Seventh Grade
- The United States – 1850 CE through the present day – Eighth Grade
Living History Project
The entire Middle School participates in the Living History Project, which culminates in the creation of a Living History Museum. This event is held during the spring. Students conduct research on a historical figure from a specific era within the scope of their history class. Using their research, students prepare and deliver a speech on the person’s life and achievements. To become the person for the Living History Museum, each student designs a unique costume, prepares a set of props, and delivers their speech in the first person before a live audience. Visitors to the Living History Museum can tour the following wings:
- Ancient Greece – Fifth Grade
- Middle Ages to Renaissance – Sixth Grade
- American Reform of the early 1800s – Seventh Grade
- Modern to Contemporary Artists (1800s – present day) – Eighth Grade
History in the Fifth Grade begins with a study of man’s prehistoric beginnings, explores the Neolithic Revolution, and analyzes the development of several ancient civilizations. The curriculum is based on the World Studies textbook series by Pearson and supplemented through literature chosen to bring this era to life. Readings, discussions and activities focus on geography, society, religion, art and architecture, achievements and government. Civilizations studied include ancient Sumer, Egypt, China, Greece, and Rome. Students develop critical and creative thinking skills by connecting ancient history to today’s world through a variety of projects and writing assignments. Many of these projects are integrated into other subject areas, including Language Arts, Art, and Comparative Religions. Such projects provide students with a hands-on, authentic experience of the historical subject matter, making the events, achievements and lessons of ancient history come to life. In addition to the exciting projects, students also take part in several meaningful field trips, during which they can visually experience historical artifacts first hand. Students explore ancient artifacts once used in daily life and art objects, such as Greek painted pottery, Greek and Roman sculpture, Egyptian tombs and grave goods, and Roman frescos and mosaics, during their visits to the Newark Museum, Metropolitan Museum, and various exhibits at the Discovery Times Square Center.
- Iceman Essay – Students write a guided 5 paragraph research essay using primary source evidence
- The Ziggurat Project – Students research and build a Sumerian Ziggurat model and write a companion essay
- Great Wall of China Project – Students research and write an independent 6 paragraph essay using primary source evidence, as well as build a scale model of the Great Wall of China in the classroom
- Greek Pottery Project – Students create Greek pottery from recycled materials and decorate the vessels using ancient art styles
- Roman Building Project – Students research and create models of Roman architecture and write an independent 6 paragraph research essay using several sources
Milestone Project: The Egypt Project
Completed halfway through the school year, this project allows students to increase their study of Egyptian art, artifacts, architecture, religious beliefs and government. Students complete a hands-on activity by identifying sources of information, gathering research, creating an art object, writing a 5 paragraph essay about the art object, and designing a presentation board on the art object. Students then deliver a 5 minute oral presentation on their art object in terms of its design, purpose, and their own experience in creating the object.
Some samples of the hands-on activities are:
- Choose a Pharaoh. Build and design a model of his or her sarcophagus. Use artistic detail to design the sarcophagus. You may also include the mummy, a death mask, and objects inside the sarcophagus!
- Build a pyramid that shows both the outside and the rooms inside. Include grave goods, a small-scale sarcophagus, passages (hallways) and other chambers.
- Create a picture book to teach someone the Hieroglyphic Alphabet. Then, using the Hieroglyphic Alphabet, create an elaborate Cartouche. Dedicate it to a Pharaoh by writing his or her name in Hieroglyphics and include designs.
- Create a piece of Egyptian Art. It could be a sculpture in clay or drawing. It must show the figures using the frontal style. If making a drawing, you can make your paper look like papyrus by cutting the edges to make it look older.
- Build a model of the Sphinx from the art material of your choice. Make sure that it has a Pharaoh’s head and a lion’s body!
The Sixth Grade History curriculum encompasses a wide array of world cultures and tracks their development from the Dark Ages through the Modern Era. Beginning with the rise of the Byzantine and Islamic civilizations and extending through the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, students explore the historical, economic, political and cultural achievements of early societies inhabiting Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The curriculum utilizes the Word Studies textbook by Pearson and integrates rich literature that supports intelligent discussions and meaningful connections to the time periods and cultures studied. A variety of non-fiction and fiction texts are incorporated into the curriculum. In addition, students participate in several integrative projects that connect to other subject areas, such as Language Arts, Art, and Essential Questions. Such projects further students’ abilities to think critically, make judgments about historical events and cultural achievements, and evaluate the positive and negative aspects of the manner in which our world today has been shaped. These projects and writing assignments provide students with a first-hand experience of the historical subject matter. Students also experience several noteworthy field trips, during which they can physically experience the ways of life of past cultures for themselves. Students explored artifacts once used in daily life and works of art at the Metropolitan Museum. They also gained the experience of life on a manor in the Middle Ages through their visit to Medieval Times.
- Islamic Art Project – Students create an Islamic drawing that tells a story using representations from the Islamic religion
- Pueblo Village Bulletin Board – Students create a 3-D pueblo village depicting the Adobe people and their artifacts
- Two Tales of One City Project – Students choose a city and create a poster comparing the city’s past and present; they also research and write a comparison essay on their city
- Industrial Revolution Assembly Line Reenactment – Students recreate the assembly line to demonstrate the production of manufactured objects before and after the Industrial Revolution
Milestone Project: The Medieval Project
Completed three-quarters through the school year, this project provides students with a platform to further explore the artwork, cultural aspects, religious beliefs, social order, and government systems of the Middle Ages. To complete the project, students must select and complete a hands-on project by identifying sources of information, gathering research, creating an object, writing a 5-6 paragraph essay about the object’s purpose and connection to medieval society, and designing a presentation board about the object. Students then deliver a 7 – 10 minute oral presentation on their object in terms of its design, usage, and their own experience in creating the object.
Some samples of the hands-on activities are:
- Make and design a catapult using the materials of your choice. Its design and functionality should reflect that of an actual device from this time period.
- Create your own medieval castle. Be sure to include the various architectural features of the castle as well as surrounding components of a manor.
- Design a knight’s shield featuring a Coat of Arms. Be sure to include symbols on your shield that are significant to your life.
- Design an article of medieval clothing, such as a jester’s hat. Include authentic details and designs.
- Paint or create a stained glass window. The stained glass window should portray a scene from medieval times.
The Seventh Grade History curriculum focuses on America and the formation of the United States. Students begin their study with the onset of the Age of Exploration and continue to examine the development of American geography, economics, politics and culture from the Colonial period through the Civil War. The curriculum utilizes the America: History of Our Nation textbook by Pearson in addition to carefully selected rich literature that provides a platform for intelligent discussions and meaningful connections to this time period. Students forge authentic connections to other subject areas, such as Language Arts, Art, and Inquiry & Action, through hands-on projects, written work, and artwork. Additionally, Seventh Grade students explore historical and current geographical borders, physical regions and natural resources of the United States. Field trips are another way in which students make connections to the subject matter. While visiting Liberty Hall Museum in the fall, students gain a first hand view of life late 1700s New Jersey, including architecture, clothing, and household artifacts, to name a few. Their visit to Museum Village in the spring provides a similar glimpse into life in a mid-1800s village in New York. Students also visit Fort Lee Historic Park, the site from which George Washington and his troops retreated just weeks prior to the historic Crossing of the Delaware and victory at Trenton in 1776. Historical interpreters can also make history come to life. The Seventh graders learn a great deal from Steve Edenbo, an interpreter who takes on the persona of Thomas Jefferson. During Mr. Jefferson’s visit, students participate in high level discourse regarding the various political theories from which the Declaration of Independence was drawn, the ideologies of Mr. Jefferson’s contemporaries and political rivals, and the overall impact of the founding fathers on the formation of the United States of America.
- Mock Trial of Conquistadors – Students prepare for and hold a mock trial of Hernando Cortes and Francisco Pizarro, evaluating their respective effects on the peoples of the New World
- Colonies Brochure – Students research a colony and design a brochure to advertise the geography, natural resources, government, religious affiliations and social climate of the colony to an 18th century European audience
- Informative Posters on Slavery – Students design and post bills to alert a colonial audience about the dangers of slavery in America, citing a variety of moral and social problems surrounding this issue
- Constitution Commercial – Students prepare a commercial prompting the ratification of the Constitution by writing a fact-based script, designing costumes, creating props and acting out the commercial, which is recorded, viewed, and evaluated by their peers
- Government Posters – Students analyze the 3 branches of government and other components of the U.S. government to create a poster on the function and purpose of each component
- Civil War Research Project – Students identify 5 sources to write an independent research paper on a selected topic from the Civil War, with a goal of 3 – 5 pages or approximately 12 paragraphs; this paper includes a title page, outline page with thesis statement, and works cited page and closely follows the MLA writing format
Milestone Project: The Founding Fathers Project
Completed halfway through the school year, this project provides students with an opportunity to continue their exploration of the culture, religion, politics, and society of America through the Revolutionary period, as students conduct an investigation of the life of one of America’s founding fathers. To complete the project, students must select a founding father and complete a hands-on project by identifying 4 sources of information, gathering research, creating a visual representation, writing a 7-9 paragraph (2-3 page) biographical research essay about the founding father’s life and impact on early American society, and designing a power point presentation. Essay includes a title page and works cited page and closely follows the MLA format. Students then deliver a 10 minute oral presentation on their founding father in terms of his life and impact on the political, social, and cultural formation of early America.
Some samples of the founding fathers are:
- Thomas Jefferson
- George Mason
- William Livingston
- Alexander Hamilton
- James Madison
Some samples of the visual representations are:
- Draw or paint a portrait of your founding father
- Draw or paint an important scene from his life
- Make a diorama depicting an important scene in your founding father’s life
- Build a commemorative statue or bust of your founding father using clay
- Make a doll of your founding father
The Eighth Grade History curriculum begins where the Seventh Grade study of American history ends. This survey of American history spans from the end of the Civil War and Reconstruction to modern day. The curriculum again utilizes the America: History of Our Nation textbook by Pearson, as well as carefully selected rich literature that is the impetus for high level classroom discussions and powerful connections to this time period. Students will continue to forge authentic connections to other subject areas, such as Inquiry & Action, Language Arts, and Art, through writing, research, interactive projects, and artwork. Additionally, Eighth Grade students will examine the global influence of the U.S. in a geographic, political and economic context throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Students will examine and analyze historical and present day political maps, identifying areas of U.S. influence throughout the world. The Eighth Grade class will also participate in several field trips related to history. Among the trips planned, students will visit the Jewish Museum as a part of their study of the Holocaust and World War II. This trip will provide an authentic experience of a highly important piece of our U.S. and World history. In addition, the students will be visited by a guest speaker who has survived the Holocaust, an experience that will benefit the students greatly with a true in-depth view of the past.
- The Immigrant Experience Project – Students will read actual narratives and articles written from the perspective or about persons who emigrated to America between 1892 and 1924, then will write and present a narrative based on an actual person’s life and experience in coming to America
- Essay based on “The Jungle” – Students will use portions of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle to evaluate the quality of life in the U.S. before and after the reforms of the Progressive Era, writing a 9 paragraph essay
- Profile of a Nation Project: WWI – Students will each research one nation of the Allied or Central Powers and will write a 9 paragraph essay highlighting the nation’s history, cultural make-up, religious affiliations, politics, economics, level of participation in WWI and the overall impact of the war on the nation
- Cold War Debate – Students will research the communist and democratic viewpoints of nations involved in the Cold War stand off, then prepare to take sides in an active debate in which several historical topics are brought to light again
- Global Crisis Awareness Project – Students identify 7 sources to write an independent research paper on a selected topic relating to a modern day Global Crisis, with a goal of 5 pages or approximately 15-20 paragraphs; this paper includes a title page, outline page with thesis statement, parenthetical citations and works cited page and closely follows the MLA writing format
- Model UN Project – Students will each research the viewpoints of a nation in the UN, then apply the research to a Model UN experiment in which a variety of global crisis issues (some of which relate to the research project above) are brought to the table for discussion, proposal of viable solutions, group consensus and the creation of an Action Plan
Milestone Project: The Holocaust Project
Completed halfway through the school year, this project allows students to further their insights of the culture, religion, politics, and society of America and Europe during the Holocaust and World War II. Students will also evaluate the quality of a variety of primary sources in completing this project, separating fact from emotion while they explore highly sensitive, thought provoking, and emotionally charged topics from this time period. To complete the project, students must select a Holocaust topic to investigate and complete a hands-on project by identifying 6 primary sources of information, gathering research, creating a visual representation or artifact, writing a 12-15 paragraph (3-5 pages) research essay about the significance of the selected topic within the greater context of the Holocaust, and designing a power point presentation. Essay includes a title page, outline page with thesis statement, parenthetical citations and works cited page and closely follows the MLA writing format. Students then deliver a 10-12 minute oral presentation on their Holocaust topic in terms of its impact on the political, social, and cultural formation of the U.S. and Europe from the early Twentieth Century through the present day.
Some samples of the Holocaust topics are:
- Persecution of the Jews
- Persecution of Other Cultures and Groups
- The Euthanasia Program
- Life in Concentration Camps
- Life in a Jewish Ghetto
Some samples of the visual representations are:
- Build a model of an artifact from this time period that relates to your topic.
- Make an article of clothing from this time period that relates to your topic.
- Make a diorama featuring an important scene from this time period that relates to your topic.
- Paint or draw a meaningful scene from this time period that relates to your topic.
- Create a detailed model of a place that relates to this time period, such as a ghetto or concentration camp.
**As this is our first year for our Eighth grade curriculum, projects and programs are still in development and are subject to change
|Fifth Grade||Sixth Grade||Seventh Grade||Eighth Grade|
|Ancient History to 500 CE; Egypt, Sumer, Greece, China, Rome
||500CE to 1800CE: The Fall of the Roman Empire through the Age of Enlightenment
||US History: The Discovery of the New World through the Civil War
||US History: Reconstruction to the Present
Curriculum/Middle School Program: Next Page Science