Social Studies/History

The 5th grade Social Studies program immerses students in the various global cultures of the Middle Ages. With a focus on close reading, research, and critical thinking, teachers encourage students to ask thoughtful questions, especially as they “learn how to learn.” As they travel the medieval globe, students make stops in the Byzantine Empire, the Islamic World, Western Europe, Japan, Mongolia, and Spain. In addition to learning about the cultures of the past, teachers also connect them to the 21st-century world.

The 6th grade Social Studies program centers on world geography (both physical and human), global issues, cultures, and current events. At the beginning of the
year, teachers introduce map skills, the five themes of geography, and the connections among global issues. As students survey regions of the world, they delve into topics such as the definition of culture, distribution and use of the world’s resources, population growth and density, the use of the land, the definitions of “developed” and “developing” nations, how people adapt to and change their environments, and the importance of sustainability in the modern world. Students gain research skills through personal short reports and then write longer papers and complete larger projects.

The Social Studies program for both 7th and 8th grade gives students the tools to build critical-thinking skills, improve their analytical historical writing, and reinforce Quaker values. The emphasis on skill development prepares students for the rigors of the Upper School while they are learning about new content areas.

The 7th grade curriculum introduces the concept of historiography as the bedrock of historical study and tells the story of the United States by examining a diverse perspective of important events and turning points in the country’s history. In 8th grade, students begin a two-year study of world history. The 8th grade portion of the course examines the emergence of humans and a comparative study of ancient civilizations. Students also learn about major religions of the world in their historical context. The second part of this course—covering the Renaissance and Reformation on through to the 20th century—continues in 9th grade.

All 7th and 8th grade students complete an independent research project and paper each year. This project, over and above the content areas noted, allows students to dive deeper into a topic of their choice while adhering to the methodologies of historical research, writing, and citations. Instead of just reporting on a topic, research papers require 7th and 8th graders to prove a thesis using the evidence they collect from primary and secondary sources. Finally, classes in both 7th and 8th grade also include many interdisciplinary opportunities with educators from other departments and special guests from the broader Washington, DC, academic community.