Middle School History

Menlo Middle School students present “Great Figures in History.” Photo by Maura Smith.

Historical Thinking. Historical Understanding.

The Middle School History program emphasizes critical writing, reading, speaking and study skills to help students develop historical thinking skills as well as historical understanding of the individual and collective experiences of people across the world. Courses challenge and motivate active, confident learners through a variety of skill-building exercises. In the eighth grade, U.S History comes alive through a class trip to Washington, DC.

Meet our Middle School History faculty.

Course Catalog

  • History 6

    Sixth grade history is devoted to the exploration and understanding of the guiding question, “How do we solve the challenges that we face?” By studying the ancient world, students gain an appreciation for the way groups, societies, and civilizations have identified and solved problems since ancient times. Students are encouraged to examine beneath the surface and develop their analytical thinking skills through collaborative activities, interactive simulations, active reading, written work, and class discussions. Technology is integrated as appropriate throughout the curriculum, and there is also an emphasis on reinforcing overall learning strategies, such as time management, organization, and study skills. Additionally, we spend a significant portion of time examining current affairs, particularly in the parts of the world that we study, so that our students can develop a more comprehensive understanding of life around the globe in 2015.

    We begin the year with a personal history project. Students investigate the history of their first names, through interviews with their families, as well as an etymological study. They are able to practice their research skills, while also sharing some meaningful insight into their cultural background that will build connection and community with their classmates as they embark on their Menlo career. From there, we dive into the ancient world, beginning with humankind’s earliest days, moving on to the agricultural revolution and the shift from isolated, nomadic tribes to permanent settlements, before tackling the great empires of the ancient world. Along our journey, we never forget our guiding question; it sets the context through which we examine those that came before us, while also facilitating our growth and progress as a sixth-grade community and beyond.

  • History 7

    The course emphasizes critical writing, reading, speaking, and study skills. In course readings and writing assignments, students are guided by the thematic question, “Who has the power?” to examine issues of how power is gained, restricted, maintained, and transferred on an individual and societal level.  Students practice the application of academic skills across the curriculum as they learn critical thinking and writing through discussions, debates, and simulations; active reading and note-taking; and library research. In addition, this course actively contributes to the seventh grade interdisciplinary goals of developing study skills, honing organization and time management, and practicing mutual respect and tolerance through cooperative learning.

    In the first semester, the seventh grade History class will focus on the Renaissance and Reformation, the Age of Exploration, the Scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment.  We will then explore Pre-Columbian Native American life and set sail with all of the early great explorers. During the Native American Unit, students are introduced to the research process, including data gathering, organization, and proper citation of sources, including the creation of a Native American museum. We will also study how the thirteen unique colonies were born, each with its own story. Students will also study the Great Depression and Dust Bowl and a timeline of events for the Civil Rights Movement in a short unit that provides background for their reading of To Kill A Mockingbird in their English classes. 

    In the second semester, the course covers U.S. History, including the geography of North America, Colonial America, the Quest for Independence and the Revolutionary War, and an extensive unit on the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Seventh graders will discover how compliant colonials with strong ties to Europe gradually changed their views and wished to become an independent nation. From Colonies to Country is an amazing story of a nation making transformation. Current events are covered throughout the year. The seventh grade culminating project integrates problem-solving, research, and presentation skills across the core classes.

    Students examine the impact of geography on civilization, discuss the interaction between people and the environment, and learn to make connections between history and the world today. Essays and a research paper enhance writing skills, and students work with Kindle textbooks, primary sources, maps, political cartoons and periodicals that broaden their reading comprehension. Technology is learned and applied throughout the year, including Podcasts, PowerPoint/Keynote presentations and Noodlebib.

  • History 8

    Students develop historical thinking skills as well as historical understanding of the individual and collective experiences of people who make up our diverse nation. The course is designed to challenge and motivate active, confident learners through a variety of skill-building exercises. Students gain the ability to analyze historical events and grapple with the complexities of past and current events.

    Eighth grade history curriculum covers the major social, economic, political (foreign and domestic), cultural, geographical, and intellectual developments in American history from 1820 through the 1980s. Year-long current events reports enhance the focus of historical themes as students learn to connect their studies to present-day events. Primary and secondary source materials (political cartoons, music, documents, pictures, etc.) are added to assist in critical analysis: formulating opinions, drawing conclusions, role-playing, and writing with authority. Students strengthen their writing skills and research skills by developing historical essays and research-based reports, which demands evidence to support their position. Students present their ideas in cooperative groups, use technology as a tool to devise and teach, enhance note-taking skills, assist in projects and individual teaching assignments. The curriculum is supplemented with a trip to Washington D.C. in the fall and a student shaped Decades Project in the spring.