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

    History 6

    Sixth grade history is centered around Human Geography and is devoted to the exploration and understanding of the essential questions, “What challenges does our community face?” and “How can we be agents of sociopolitical change?” Students learn about various concepts such as globalization, immigration, inequality, and social justice by examining case studies of historical and contemporary phenomena around the world. In terms of cognitive skill development, history in the 6th grade aims to create a solid foundation for analytical and argumentative writing, academic discussion, and formal presentation. 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 today. Along our journey, we never forget our essential questions; they set the context through which we examine what has happened before us, how that impacts our world today, and what change we hope to achieve, while also facilitating our growth and progress as a sixth grade community and beyond.

    Because learning history is most effective through action, each sixth grade historian at Menlo will culminate the year with the TED Talk Project where they will identify, research, and propose a solution to a problem in their local community. Using all of the critical thinking skills they have learned this year, they will present a TED Talk-style presentation to their peers and key stakeholders. 

  • History 7

    History 7

    The course emphasizes critical reading, writing, speaking, and study skills. 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. 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. In addition, this course actively contributes to the seventh grade interdisciplinary goals of developing study skills, honing organization and time management, resilience, and practicing mutual respect and tolerance through collaborative learning.

    Throughout the course of the school year, the seventh-grade History class will focus on world history and social justice. Students will learn about social, cultural, and technological change throughout world history. We will also read and examine A Different Mirror (for Young People) by Ronald Takaki. Current events are covered throughout the year as well. Lastly, the seventh-grade culminating project, the MOVE project, integrates problem-solving, research, and presentation skills across the core classes. MOVE is an acronym that stands for, “Motivate, Overcome, Voice, and, Empower.” Students are asked to research a modern national problem and create an oral presentation of their findings. 

    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 books, primary sources, maps, political cartoons, and periodicals that broaden their reading comprehension. Technology skills are learned and applied throughout the year. 

  • History 8

    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 experiential, skill-building exercises. Students gain the ability to analyze historical events and grapple with the complexities of past and current events.

    Eighth grade history covers major social, political, cultural, and intellectual developments throughout United States history beginning from the 1800s. We begin with the Colonial Settlement, and continue to the Civil War and Reconstruction Era. The latter half of the year brings us into modern times; the Great Depression, World War II, and the Civil Rights Movement. Year-long current event 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, images) are added to assist in critical analysis: formulating opinions, drawing conclusions, role-playing, and writing with authority. Using corroborated evidence, students strengthen their writing and research skills by developing historical essays and research-based reports. Collaboration is an essential component of the year, enhancing students’ soft skills and self-awareness. Students present their work individually and in cooperative groups. Technology is utilized as a supplemental tool to create and share ideas, students also practice traditional note-taking skills from occasional lectures. The curriculum is supplemented with a trip to Washington D.C. in the fall and a final culminating Impact Project in the spring.