Social Studies

Welcome to Middle School Social Studies

2013-14 MS Social Studies Pacing Guide

Social Studies Letter to Parents 2013

What we did in class and assignments can be found in the Recent Assignment button on the left, under Social Studies.

Recent Assignments

  • Magna Carta Exhibit at the Law School Info

    The text below is copied from an email from the American Bar Association regarding the upcoming Magna Carta exhibit at the Michigan Law School Library. While I haven’t seen this yet, the sponsorship is quite impressive (Library of Congress, American Bar Association, Michigan Law), and students interested in seeing this should attend and write up a reflection. If photos are allowed, take a few to share with the class.  

    Start Emailed Text:

    In anticipation of the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta, the University of Michigan Law School is hosting the American Bar Association Magna Carta: Enduring Legacy 1215-2015 educational traveling exhibit curated by the Library of Congress at the University of Michigan Law School Law Library this fall. The exhibit will feature spectacular images on free-standing banners that will tell the story of the Magna Carta and its catalyst role in promoting the rule of law. This high-quality exhibit is open to the public.


    Display Dates

    Wednesday, October 1, 2014 – Tuesday, October 23, 2014

    The exhibit will be open from 8:00am to 8:00pm Sunday through Saturday.


    Display Location

    University of Michigan Law School Law Library

    Smith Addition (Underground Law Library)

    801 Monroe St.

    Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1210

    The display will be located on sub-1 of the Smith Addition to the Legal Research Building (also known as the Underground Law Library) in the area adjacent to the Jackier Rare Book Room.


    Please review the website below for further information:



  • Social Studies Week 3 (updated!): Sept. 15-19


    We practiced our starting class procedures, including our first warm-up of the year.

    We discussed maps and how powerful and useful they are in so many ways.

    We watched a video highlighting 25 amazing maps.

    We reviewed more map basics, focusing on map projections, and compared mercator and Robinson projections, with focus on how the lack of curved meridians on the Mercator results in significant distortion in the extreme southern and northern latitudes.

    Two more advanced topics were introduced for some students – positive and negative coordinates for GPS, and use of minutes and seconds as sub-divisions of degrees.

    We labelled oceans, continents, and other major earth features.

    Student groups were assigned two landforms to represent with their bodies. While this is something that should be review, we focused on more challenging landforms that most students were less confident about: Moraines, Glaciers, Mesas, Isthmusses, Gulfs, Deltas, Volcanos, Continental Divides

    HOMEWORK: Complete the 1st 4 pages of the Map Skills Toolkit. This will not be posted online because I lack permissions to repost this on a public website.


    Students Presented their landforms. The class guessed what they were. It was explained.

    Students then made 8 word webs – one for each of the landforms. These included a sketch, definition on own words, opposite (if applicable), real world example, explanation of formation (advanced optional)

    Special Constitution Day Lesson (as mandated by Michigan Law!)! (second half of class). This is a simulation that helps students understand some basic Constitutional Principles.

    HOMEWORK: Complete rest of map skills toolkit  (p. 5-7).


    After a brief discussion of the previous class’s simulation, students continued on their word webs.

    HW – Basic Geography Quiz – this is a take home quiz

    Geography Basics Quiz


  • MS Social Studies 2014-2015 Begins!

    Welcome back everyone!

    This year is Eastern Hemisphere Studies! Like all middle school social studies in the state of Michigan, this class will be an integration of History, Government, Economics, and Geography. We will look at classical traditions, world religions, human and physical geography, modern global issues, and market and global economics, primarily within the Eastern Hemisphere.

    We will do projects large and small, both group and individual. We will have engaging classroom activities like simulations and role-plays, read and analyze a variety of texts and media, write a lot, and take quizzes and tests too!

    I am attaching the Detailed Course Plan, which lists the specific topics and some of the activities we will do, and when we will do them. Of course it is subject to change.

    Social Studies Planner 2014-15

    I am also attaching the Course Procedures, which students will be quizzed on Monday (9-8).

    James Class Policies & Procedures – 2014-2015

    We are starting the year out by focusing on basic geography skills. Students took a pre-test in class last week which contained basic physical geography vocabulary. Based on these results, it is clear that we will need to take some time to go over the fundamentals of how we make sense of and organize space on planet Earth. Fundamentals like using latitude and longitude will be explored. Attached is the vocabulary from the pre-test, which students are to study for homework.

    Basic Geography Vocabulary


  • Social Studies Week 36: June 2-6


    We watched most of the rest of Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, except the last 10 minutes. 7th graders were absent. If they want to watch the part they missed, they can find it on Youtube. We discussed the film and students received a copy of James’ notes on the film to compare with the notes they have been taking. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee Notes

    HW: No HW


    Tues = 1st and 2nd Hr, Thurs. = 3rd & 4th

    We finished the keynote presentation on Native Americans til 1900 from 2 weeks ago, especially focusing on the events of the film BMHAWK and some events before Little Bighorn (where the movie begins) which are relevant to the film. We also clarified the details of the Dawes Act and the concept of assimilation.

    We then discussed more of the film and finished the last 10 minutes, which focuses on the main character Charles Eastman struggling with his dual identity as a Sioux and an American Doctor educated in elite schools.

    We wrapped up this topic with a 10 question informal notebook quiz, and discussed the answers.  BMHAWK Quiz

    We then started a review activity in which students identify, in writing, 111 terms, events, and concepts we have studied over the course of the year. Students worked in groups on this, and James checked semester 2 warm-ups in class. 111 U.S. History Terms to know

    HW: 20 minutes working on Review 111 (above)


    We continued with the review 111 identification. James provided additional facts and assistance, and students had a chance to look up missing terms/events on the internet.

    HW: Review the 111 terms/events for a day of review games and discussions next Mon./Tues.

  • Social Studies Week 35: May 27-30

    Mon No School – Memorial Day

    Tues.: No Academic Rotations


    Students started watching Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. Students took notes during the film.

    HW: Draw a scene from the film.


    Students continued watching Bury My Heart At Wounded KNee.

    HW: Inventory Semester 2 Warm-ups

  • Social Studies Week 34: May 19-23


    We spent the 1st half of class visiting our own Civil War Museum and taking 2-column notes.

    We then did an online Jim Crow Mapping Lab using this PBS website:


    This allowed students, in teams of 2, to better understand the specific regional geography of Jim Crow, and to analyze some statistics.

    HW: Study/Catch-up Homework Day



    We spent the 1st half of class finishing a Jim Crow Law analysis activity which we started last Friday (see last week’s post). Students then shared some of the laws they wrote about, and we had a general discussion about Jim Crow.

    The second half of class was a combination of lecture and discussion using this 11 slide KeyNote presentation: Native Americans thru 1900

    HW: Use this blank us map: Blank U.S. Map to create your own map of Native American locations using slide 2 of the above KeyNote presentation. Include the names (of tribes) and shaded areas of the tribes AS OF 1890 on the map.



    We discussed the Dawes Act, and examined the language of the law. We discussed the shrinking lands of Native Peoples, and the concept of assimilation, and how it was implemented.

    HW: Add the locations of key Battles involving Native Peoples and add shading which shows the former lands before they were reduced/stolen to the map from the last HW. Include a key/legend which reveals what the different shades mean. Use the maps from the Keynote Pres slides 2 & 3 for your information.

  • Social Studies Week 33: May 12-16


    Students wrote about The Freedmen’s Bureau – what it was and what challenges it faced. We discussed this in detail, with an emphasis on how the failure of reconstruction contributed to an additional century in which Black Americans would be subject to legalized discrimination, despite the north’s victory in the Civil War. President Andrew Johnson and white resistance to black equality, it was discussed, both were key factors in the failure of Reconstruction.

    The second part of class was devoted to formatting, printing, and mounting the Civil War Projects in preparation for the curriculum celebration this Friday. Students also composed captions to go with their project artifacts.

    HW: Review the Freedmen’s Bureau reading from Friday, as well as Friday’s notes, especially the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments. Freedmen’s Bureau Reading



    We continued an activity from last week in which students analyzed and discussed a primary source document reflecting Black perspectives on Reconstruction. After answering questions, students listed problems and brainstormed potential solutions, then shared their thoughts with the class.

    We then started an activity examining some specific “Jim Crow” laws from a variety of southern states. Students selected 10 laws from the list and wrote about each using a list of guiding questions:

    Was the law cruel
    and/or excessive? Was it strange or bizarre? Would the law be hard to
    enforce? What do you think was the rationale behind the law?

    The laws can be found at this website: http://people.sju.edu/~brokes/jimcrow.htm

    HW: Plessy v. Ferguson Notes. Find 2 different sources (that you can understand) on the internet that explain what this Supreme Court ruling was and what it meant. Use any note form you’d like but make the notes good and thorough. Write down the names and/or URLs of the websites. Do in notebook.


    We continued our examination of the Jim Crow Laws, and groups shared their findings.

    HW: Dawes Act Notes. Find 2 different sources (that you can understand) on the internet that explain what this Law was and what it meant. Use any note form you’d like but make the notes good and thorough. Write down the names and/or URLs of the websites. Do in notebook.

  • Social Studies Week 32: May 5-9



    The Civil War Museum Project is due this Friday. We discussed some details: Written portions shared in drive by Friday. The artifact must be brought in Friday or before. We will format and print these the followng week n class. I will provide the black construction paper. Late projects will be penalized.

    Students briefly wrote about and discussed their own ideas for how to reconstruct the country after the Civil War.

    We wrapped up a discussion of how America changed after the Civil War (and discussed the points on this made in Crash Course U.S. #21, which we watched on Friday).

    We briefly went over the Unit Test’s from last week.

    After briefly reviewing the 3 plans for Reconstruction which students read about and took Cornell Notes on over the weekend, students applied this knowledge in an activity in which they created 4 modified still poses based off a work of art from Reconstruction. This is from a Smithsonian Art Museum Lesson Plan: Reconstruction Art The sheet students filled out in planning the poses is here: Acting Out Reconstruction Plans


    After wrapping up our final poses from Mon/Tues and clarifying the 3 plans for reconstruction, students did a brief, informal quiz on the 3 plans and how America changed after the Civil War.

    We then started an activity which examined African American Perspectives on Reconstruction. 6 student groups were each assigned a different primary source, each of which is from a Black eyewitness to Reconstruction. After answering questions on their document, groups came up with a list of proposals, then sent one representative to a delegation to come up with a plan for Reconstruction that would reflect the interests of African Americans. Students not in the delegation made notes on and consulted on the proceedings of the delegation. The materials are located on pages 19-31 of this pdf, which comes from the National Endowment for the Humanities website: Reconst Black Voices


    Project Inventory, storage, labels, rubrics, etc.

    Wrap up the week’s lessons


    HW: NONE