The Social Studies Curriculum Development Team meets weekly to plan professional development, map curriculum, and inventory textbooks and additional materials. The curriculum is made up of inquiry-based, in-depth studies of history, geography, economics, government, and culture. Units of study are planned around essential questions of large, enduring concepts. Lessons are presented in the workshop model (including a mini-lesson, independent/group work and share). Students are engaged in active learning through independent inquiry and cooperative group work in order to make the concepts of Social Studies meaningful and real. Students explore inquiries through authentic research and integration of reading, writing, observation, discussion, and debate. They are guided through an examination of multiple perspectives using primary and secondary resources, interviews, and field trips.
Teachers will be trained on methods to engage and challenge their students by showing the complexities of history in ways that promote critical and creative thinking. We will also adapt several units of study focusing on multicultural awareness and social concerns. Social Studies reading and writing projects will be included in the Traveling Literacy portfolio.
In preparation for the 8th grade state exam, students learn to answer document-based questions (DBQS) in the study of specific Social Studies content. They are also coached in the reading and interpretation of maps, charts, and diagrams.
At the end of 8th grade, students produce an Exit Project in Social Studies in which they research a topic in depth and create a product to demonstrate their skills and knowledge. Projects contain a written, visual, and oral component and are presented in class.