Social Studies

three students working on a project seated at desks

The social studies curriculum is Socratic and relies on students utilizing their listening skills and fully participating in class discussions and role playing. Students are expected to journal, reflect, and develop creative responses to case studies.

They read for meaning and develop their reading comprehension skills including the ability to find clues in context along with identifying the main ideas and details of readings. Students improve their writing ability including grammar, punctuation, and sentence and paragraph development. They practice expository writing and provide critical content. They also develop the ability to provide supportive details. Students learn how to research, including honing their skills at note taking, outlining, and citation formatting. Finally, they gain confidence and proficiency in public speaking including organizing and presenting materials as well as practicing different delivery techniques. 

By the end of eighth grade, students will have developed proficiency in the following:

  • Examining a historic topic from different perspectives
  • Participating in group discussions with respect for ideas one may not share
  • Self management of assignments and due dates
  • Using slide presentation software to create a lesson that guides peers through a class topic
  • Writing a clear expository paper that explains a topic from the class


Sixth grade social studies class focuses on three questions pertaining to ancient civilizations: Who tells the stories? Who benefits from the stories? Who is missing from the stories? Based on these questions, students discuss large issues, such as power, gender, and current events.

The developmental theme is Understand the Complexity and Breadth of Historical Understanding Through Group and Independent Projects. The curricular features relate to the ancient world: First Humans, Migrations, Origin Stories, Mythology, Rise of Civilizations, and Imaginary Civilizations.

Students use these lenses to answer essential guiding questions, including:

  • What does it mean to be human?
  • What is culture?
  • How does humanities past inform our present?

Students explore the variety of ways social scientists—historians, geographers, archaeologists, and anthropologists—study the past and present. They learn to view historical events from multiple perspectives and practice discourse techniques for support and argument. Course work includes examining the five themes of geography: location, places, regions, human/environment interaction, and movement.

Sixth grade social studies students refine their own best learning strategies as the year progresses. Students develop techniques for reading texts containing increasingly challenging vocabulary. Multiple styles of note-taking are practiced and students eventually select the format that works best for them. Students write expository paragraphs with strong topic sentences, ample evidence, and strong conclusions. They receive guided practice in paragraph and essay writing, summarizing, and paraphrasing. They complete a long-term project, design and implement independent projects, and present on a variety of topics.

Students’ experiential learning includes:

  • RICE (Rome, India, China, Egypt) Project – similar to a science fair, but students have displays and presentations on one of these civilizations
  • Publishing student writing on Out of Eden Learn
  • Independent projects


Three major units make up the seventh-grade World Cultures curriculum: an oral history project, geography and the human experience, and cultures from medieval to modern times.

The developmental theme is Becoming Independent Learners and the curricular features are Geography and the Human Experience, FAME (Feudal Asia, Medieval Europe), Revolutions!, and Trip Planning (Country Study).

Students use these lenses to answer essential guiding questions, including:

  • How do new ideas change the way people live?
  • What is power? Who has it?
  • What are the consequences of trade?

The oral history project involves conducting interviews and writing a mini-biography. In geography and the human experience, students encounter mapping software, cartographic tools, and explore contemporary problems such as overpopulation and boundary disputes. In cultures, students explore medieval and modern cultures and civilizations. They study and compare Medieval and Renaissance Europe, the rise of Islam, Medieval China and Feudal Japan; explore the revolutionary times of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries; and research and plan a trip to a modern-day country in the eastern hemisphere.

Students hone skills in reading, vocabulary building, public speaking, writing, researching, and critical thinking. Writing deepens as students defend their ideas through use of evidence. Public speaking and critical reading are reinforced through practice. They successfully complete a long-term project with multiple parts, speak confidently both with and without notes, and read critically for understanding.

Students experiential learning includes:

  • Group Collaboration
  • Blogging
  • Teaching
  • Cooking


Eighth-grade students become more competent and confident in completing high quality work as they prepare for high school.

The developmental theme is Grappling with Complex Social Issues. The curricular features are American Civics, Holocaust Studies, and Multicultural America.

Students use these lenses to answer essential guiding questions that include:

  • What are the roles and responsibilities of United States citizens?
  • In any society, what characterizes equal treatment for all people?
  • By studying human experience, can a person learn to make good personal choices?
  • What stories are and are not traditionally told through the Master Narrative of American History?

Throughout the year students work to deepen critical thinking, their writing becomes more reflective and complex, and they become more comfortable with public speaking. The fall term involves civics, with students studying the roots of U.S. democracy and the founding documents. Students then relate founding principles to contemporary events and issues, writing a formal five-paragraph essay on one topic, followed by a one-on-one debate concerning their issue.

After winter break, students examine what happens when a good government goes bad. Investigating the Weimar Republic in 1920s Germany, and how its failure led to the rise of Nazism and World War II. Studying the Holocaust from the perspective of human behavior allows the class to examine labeling, stereotyping, and targeting. The focus on human rights at the founding of our own country is revisited as a distinct contrast to the fascism in 20th century Europe.

During the spring term, students look at the fabric of multicultural America while gaining an understanding that U.S. history is comprised of stories that originate from many places across the world. Weaving those many stories together is the focus of the unit.

Students’ experiential learning includes:

  • Shared Holocaust unit with English (including Holocaust survivor visits, trips to the Oregon Museum and Center for Holocaust Education and the Oregon Holocaust Memorial, creative writing contests, and Holocaust-themed book group)
  • Debates concerning issues of controversy in American life