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 Syllabus 2016-2017

    Welcome to another fantastic year in Social Studies. Attached you will find the syllabus with a breakdown of the units, topics, and major projects for the 2016-2017 school year. Our main focus is American History from the Revolution to the Civil War.


  • Social Studies Week 31: 4/28-5/2


    We finished our battle stations rotations activity in which we learned about 12 key Civil War battles. Students who missed this activity should see me  – the materials will not be posted on the website.

    We then went over a timeline of the battles, discussed key aspects, turning points, and how certain battles relate to the Anaconda and Offensive=Defensive Strategies. Specific battles we discussed further included: Ft. Sumter, Gettysburg, Shiloh, Antietam, Vicksburg, Sherman’s March, and Appomattox. In some classes we also discussed ways in which the American Civil War was a War of firsts – iron ships, submarine, hot air balloon, machine guns, photography showing the stark brutality of war, etc.

    We spent the rest of class reviewing for the unit test.

    We reviewed:

    1) Economics concepts and the industrial Revolution

    2) Causes of the Civil War (Politics leading to sectional tension)

    3) Lincoln’s Policies

    4) Black Soldiers

    5) The slavery Paragraph prompts

    HOMEWORK: Review for the Test (held on Weds/Thurs.)




    HW: None/or catch up on Civil War Project if behind. You should be finishing up part one of the writing and starting part two. If you are not that far, you are behind and should get caught up.



    We discussed the final phases of the project and students created a plan for completing the project by May 9.

    We finally watched Crash Course U.S. #21, the second Civil War episode. We then discussed his key points about the lasting impacts of the Civil War, especially a stronger federal government, a strengthened executive (President), the path toward the modern, industrial America we would become, etc.

    We finished class by beginning a discussion of what needed to happen next after the war was over. What issues, problems, would need to be settled?

    HW: Reading on 3 different plans for Reconstruction, take Cornell Notes in Notebook. Reconstruction Reading

  • Social Studies Week 30: April 21-25


    After a brief review/discussion of Friday’s Civil War Music Lesson, students conducted research for their Civil War projects. James checked the Army Recruitment Poster Comparison Reflection and discussed this with individuals and table groups. The take home quiz was also collected.

    HW:Project Research and/or Writing



    We examined 12 Battle stations as students continue to consider why the north won. Students completed a chart as they visited each station, which focus on key battles of the war. This resource cannot be posted to the website. Students who miss this activity should schedule to come in and use the materials during study hall or lunch.

    HW: Review Battles from activity


    Finish up Battle Stations. If time, Crash Course U.S. #21

    HW: Work on Project

  • Social Studies Week 29: April 14-18


    After reviewing tips for conducting good research, students began research for the new Civil War Project (see last week’s post for handouts and details). James discussed the topics proposed by individual students with each student, and made suggestions if necessary. Students started a research document and shared it with James. The title must include the words Civil War, the hour the student is in, and their first name.

    HW: Add research notes on 1-2 additional sources. (HW will be checked by timestamp on the research doc).


    We used some of the slides in this image-rich powerpoint timeline africanamericans_civilwar Revisedto review the beginning of the war, and especially focused on:

    -Lincoln’s changing policies on slavery

    -Black involvement in the Civil War

    We then did a partnered primary source analysis activity using a Recruitment Poster recruitment-broadside and set of analysis questions Black Recruitment Poster Questions.

    With the little extra time some pairs of students had, they were able to use our classroom civil war books to continue research on their project.

    HW (Due Mon/Tues): 1) Do the last question in the Poster analysis activity – to answer this question, you need to find a modern army recruitment poster to compare with the Civil War poster you analyzed in class. 2) Continue research on your project – add notes to research Doc (to be checked by time-stamp).


    We reviewed Lincoln’s public justification for the war – how and why it changed.

    We did a short lesson on Music in the Civil War. James played the 4 songs on this document. We discussed the significance of the songs.

    Civil War Songs

    HW: Complete the take home quiz on Civil War Causes. You may use internet resources and your notes, but may not copy from or ask other students for answers. Do this by yourself. This assignment WILL NOT be accepted late for credit. Students not turning it in on time (unless you have an excused absence) will receive a score of zero. Civil War Causes Quiz

  • Social Studies Week 28: March 31-April 4


    We took the Terra Nova Social Studies

    We then went over the Economics quizzes from last week and the Economics tasks 1-5

    We then started the book browse of 30 plus Civil War Books (mentioned in last Friday’s post but we didn’t end up getting to that since we needed more review of civil war causes). Students recorded Civil War sub-topics in one column as they browsed, and questions they had in another. They were also encouraged to write down the name of any book they thought they might want to use again. The main goal was to generate curiosity and a list of possible topics and questions for the upcoming research project.

    HW: Refine/add to your list of Civil War questions. You should have a minimum of 3 really good questions when you enter class on Weds/Thurs.

    Weds/Thur (and Friday)

    We shared some topics and questions we had to date. We then did a class demo on how to identify sub-topics and how to generate questions using a sample illustration and sample page from a book on the elmo. Students were then given about 20 more minutes to browse and further develop their lists in their notebook.

    We then watched Crash Course U.S. #20. We demoed Cornell note-taking strategy again using this video and the elmo for the notes.

    Finally, I handed out the Project Assignment Sheet, went over it, and showed them photos of projects from previous years.  Civil War Project Revised 2014

    HW: Further refine your list of questions and subtopics. You should have at least 3 more questions and 10 or more subtopics (or many more).


    I showed students some additional lists of possible topics, and had them add any they found interesting to their list.

    I then gave them the proposal sheet they will complete over break and went over it.  Civil War Project Proposal

    Students then had time to investigate their top 5 potential topics using iPads and the class books.

    HW: Complete Proposal (Due upon return from the break)

  • Social Studies Week 27: March 24-28


    We warmed up by comparing and contrasting supply and demand curves for goods with those for labor markets. This was a follow-up on part of Friday’s lesson. Students should take note that for a labor market, the negatively sloping demand curve refers to demand for workers by firms at given wages (in the Y axis). The supply means the labor force (=workers) who are willing to work at given wage rates. This can be confusing because in the curves for a good, supply refers to supply by firms/sellers at various prices whereas demand refers to consumer demand.

    The bulk of class was spent in pairs using a web tool from the website Read Write Think. Students created digital timelines on 8 key political events which contributed to sectional tension (tension between north and south) leading up to the Civil War. The assignment is here: PreCivilWarTimelineDirections

    HOMEWORK: Make one index cards on economics lessons from last week. Include anything you could find useful on a potential quiz or test. North vs south data, Industrial Rev history and vocab, and econ concepts should be included. Basically, refer back to last week’s slide show and any extra notes you took.


    Students start off by comparing the timelines they made Monday with those made by other students. They write down questions or conflicts of understanding they have while they do this. They then got a little time to follow up on these questions with a bit more research. We then watched Crash Course U.S. #18, which covers precisely the same material and should help clarify and solidify understanding of these key events.

    We then switched back to economics and students took time to practice drawing diagrams for their classmates in small groups while explaining what they were doing. This gave them informal presentation practice and a chance to work through their understanding of the economics materials. After a few more minutes of review, we then had a Special Surprise Activity! 😉

    HOMEWORK: Make one index card on material related to the 8 political events we explored (i.e. on the timeline) that you could potentially use on a quiz or test.


    We did some review and miscellaneous clarifying. Students then had a chance to browse books on the Civil War and started generating lists of questions and ideas for a potential project topic (for a Civil War Museum Project that will be introduced and started next week).

    HOMEWORK: Develop, edit, and add to your list of questions about the Civil War (in notebook).

  • Social Studies Week 26: March 17-21


    We spent the first part of class reading each other’s paragraphs on abolitionism (paragraph B, see last week). James also projected and read 2 exemplars and we discussed them. Students got back paragraph A and read James’ comments.

    We started our week-long look at Economics preceding the Civil War. We talked about the terms “economics” and “economy.” All of the lecture, reading,  discussion topics, and classwork and homework prompts are combined into one Drive Presentation Document. The PDF version is linked below. Basically, we are trying to understand how different the north and south were as a result of industrial revolution in the north, and are learning some basic economics concepts and tools, such as supply and demand curves.

    Industrial Rev and a Divided Nation

    Homework: Paragraph C (see last week’s post) & finish economics tasks 1 & 2 (see slideshow) if you didn’t finish them in class.


    Continued to explore the economic issues pre-civil war (see above slide show).

    Homework: Finish Econ Tasks 3 & 4; review notes and readings on slideshow

    Friday: Finished up Slides

    Homework: Finish Econ Task 5

  • Social Studies Week 25: March 10-14


    After a brief discussion of presentation skills, students put the final touches on their presentations on slavery, then presented (see last week’s post for the docs). Most of these were quite good. We also discussed how they relate to the state standards on slavery (see A, B, and C below, which also are this weeks homework prompts).

    Homework: Write Paragraph A (see A, below). This should be a well developed paragraph, typed, double-spaced, printed out, due Weds/Thurs.



    Students did a brief informal peer-editing session on paragraph A (the homework). Students shared feedback on post-it notes.

    We watched a video called Making of America: Seeds of Destruction, narrated by Morgan Freeman. Students took web-style notes, with three central circles containing the 3 standards- A, B, and C (see below). Notes were linked to the  3 circles based on related meaning. This was demonstrated in class.

    Homework: Write Paragraph B (see below). Follow same protocol as for Mon/Tues. HW.



    Another brief peer-editing session on Paragraph B.

    We then began examining Economic differences between the North & South by

    discussed this interactive map:


    and these Bar Graphs – N vs. South


    Homework: Paragraph C. Follow same protocol as for the previous two HWs.

    State Standards (Simplified) on Slavery (for the homeworks, presentation discussions, and video notes):

    A. Describe the resistance efforts of enslaved people.

    B. Describe the development and efforts of the abolitionist movement.

    C. Explain the ideology of the institution of slavery in America, its policies, and consequences.