Social Studies

Welcome to Middle School Social Studies


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

Recent Assignments

  • Social Studies Week 24: Feb. 23-27
    Source: The Smithsonian

    Terra Cotta Army at Xi’an


    -We took the first half of the quiz – Quote analysis on the big three.

    -Students received their graded Timelines back.

    -We did a lesson on China’s first emperor: Qin Shi Huang di:

    • warm-up : Looked at pics of Terra Cotta Army, wrote words about the kind of person who would have this tomb
    • Used the British Museum website to find out (in partners) what he did to get people to obey him and defend the nation
    • Analyzed a Primary Source poem about him and evaluated the truth of its contents
    • Students were assigned a side for the next classes debate: Was he a hero or villain?
    • HW – prepare 5-10 written arguments for the debate – students wanting to be advanced should look up other sources beyond just the one we used in class


    China Quiz Part 2 – on the other China things we studied before break other than the big 3

    Debate: Qin Shi Huang di – Hero or Villain

    – started the Great Wall activity using the Brit. Museum website

    HW: Finish viewing and taking notes (notebook) on the Great Wall Slide Show (Brit Museum Site – click the projector) 


    Follow up to Great Wall Slide Show

    Start: Daily Life activity (using Brit. Museum Website)

    HW: Finish Early Imp. China Chart (what wasn’t done in class)



  • Social Studies Week 23: February 9-13
    Photo Credit: <a href=

    twilightzones via Compfight cc” class /> Symbols from the big 3


    We warmed up by writing down questions we still had about the 3 Chinese Religions from last week, then James attempted to answer them.

    We then did a practice quiz to check-up on our basic learnings to date.

    We then did a quote identification activity. Students worked in groups to identify which religious tradition the quote represented, and focused on clearly explaining their reasoning in writing. Students were told that a major part of the quiz after the break will include one or two quotes, but ones they have never seen before, and that they will need to do the same type of analysis/identification.

    The quotes can be found in this pdf document on page 31.

    HW: Complete the vocabulary chart on page 12 of the above pdf document.


    We created long timelines to show the dominance of the big 3 religions at various times in Chinese history. The timeline items were selected from the timeline on pages 5-7 of the above linked pdf document, though only 23 specific items were included (see James for which ones, if you were absent!).

    HW: Finish timelines; if time, start key facts notecards


    We did review for a quiz after the break, and students quizzed each other on the facts cards, and finished their fact cards.

    We sang the dynasties song.

    HW: Study everything; I recommend small chunks at a time on several separate occasions since there is a fair amount to memorize.

  • Social Studies Week 22: Feb.4-6

    Mon- Tues Snow Days!


    After a warm-up and discussion on what the similarities and differences are between a religion and a philosophy, we briefly reviewed key facts from our first week (last week) introduction to the China Unit. We reviewed key facts about the Qing Ming Scroll and Some basic Chinese Greetings.

    James then lectured briefly on the 3 religions – Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism, and referred to the quick reference chart students read over the weekend for homework. James explained:

    Buddhism: Reincarnation, Karma, Nirvana, 4 Noble Truths, 8-fold Path, Goals and examples of meditation, Vegetarianism and Buddhist symbolism

    Confucianism: 5 relationships, their inequality, focus on education, respect

    Taoism: The Dao and balancing opposites, and symbolism.

    Activity: Jigsaw on the Big 3 Religions

    Students were in expert groups and read a selection on one of the 3, then answered questions.

    HW: Review the questions (above) so you can teach your classmates in small groups for jigsaw part B on Friday.

    The materials for the above activity can be found at pages 16-23 HERE

    Absent Students should choose one of the 3, read the selection, then complete the worksheet on p. 23, and study for class.


    James shared some pictures from Taiwan (where he lived for 4 years). They are mostly of temples, and he showed students how to recognize a Daoist, Buddhist, and Confucianist temple. He also showed a few pictures of apartments he lived in as a basis to discuss the concept of feng shui (daoist), and the importance of ancestors and ghosts (confucianist) in Taiwan.

    HW: Study the big 3. Get comfortable talking about them. Next week we will apply what we know to the analysis of primary source quotes.


  • Social Studies Week 21: Jan. 26-30


    We did two introductory activities related to China.

    1) Students got to examine a 17-foot replica of the famous QingMing Scroll Painting from the Song Dynasty. Pairs of students recorded observations of the various scenes of daily life and tried to come up with interpretations of what they meant/can teach us. (there will be a follow up research piece in the next class). We then had an all-class discussion about our findings.

    qingming record sheet

    2) Students, in pairs, read their news articles and used a reading strategy which prompts them to consider how the text connects to themselves, other texts, and to the larger world. We then had an all-class discussion about our findings.

    news reading connections handout

    news reading record sheet

    HW: Read this brief introduction to the Song Dynasty and take notes in your notebook – any style notes you’d like.


    We did the follow up research for our previous QingMing Scroll activity. Students used several websites to read what scholars have said about the scenes and characters on the scroll, and recorded notes in column 3 of the QingMing Record Sheet (see above). We then had a follow up discussion

    We then did a China Mapping Stations activity. Students built maps of China from 5 different stations.

    HW: Color the maps you built in class at the stations. The five maps (Agriculture, rivers, bordering nations, mountains and deserts, Grand Canal & Great Wall) can be found at this site; review your other China handouts from in class work.


    We created key facts cards about China. We started making some detailed Chinese Dynasty Timelines.

    HW: Students were given a chart on Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. They should read over and annotate it. This is to start familiarizing themselves with next week’s topics. Students should only spend about 10 focused minutes on this. They dod not need to know all the material yet.

  • Social Studies Week 20: June 21-23


    We spent the bulk of class looking at one another’s completed city tours, and answering questions which directed us to look for patterns across the cities.

    HW: Due next Mon/Tues (Jan. 26/27) : Find and print a news article related to China.

  • Social Studies Week 19: Jan. 12-16


    Each class worked on creating the content for a different station at this Friday’s MLK Assembly. The elementary students will be rotationg through the stations, where the middle schoolers will share/teach their topic.

    HW: Finish Tour Project (Due Friday)


    We reflected on the project, and took care of a few loose ends.



  • Social Studies Week 17: Jan. 5-9

    All Week: In class & Homework – we are working on the City Tours.

    They are due next Friday and will be on view at curriculum celebration

    Warm-ups were checked in class.

    A progress report was sent out over the break. Students should check them to ensure the records are accurate.

  • Social Studies Week 16: Dec. 15-19


    Students counted up their warm-ups. Any missing warmups were recorded and need to be made up at home.

    We spent the rest of the class on the Tour Project.

    HW: Add an element & Study for the Islam Quiz which will be Weds/Thurs.


    Islam Quiz

    Project Work

    HW: Add an Element

    OVER BREAK: Add 2 elements per team