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 9: Oct. 28-31, 2014

    MON- No School



    We composed the remainders of the mini-dramas. Students brought in their props, and practiced their skits.

    HW: Create your cue cards for the performance.


    After a quick run-through, teams performed their skits in the pit. They were recorded and a link will be provided for students to view their own and their classmates skits afterward.

    Study/learn the key points sheet.

  • Social Studies Week 8: Oct. 20-24


    We discussed the difference between primary and secondary sources, and how they are useful.

    Table groups shared their weekend HW – analyzing a primary source, and discussed.

    We read the story: Dog of Pompeii – see last week’s post for the documents

    HW: Do Cornell Notes (in notebook) for a reading (Roman Empire) posted as a pdf in Google Classroom (DUE FRIDAY)

    Double HW assignment; note: there is a more and less advanced option detailed in Classroom



    We wrapped up our story panels on the Dog of Pompeii.

    We introduced the Eyewitness Mini-Dramas activity and students began compose their skits.

    EyewitnessSkitsRome (1)

    A link to and list of the specific sources can be found in last week’s post.



    Continue working up skits

    HW: Make props/finalize scripts




  • Social Studies Week 7: Oct. 13-17 (updated)


    -We shared our Biopoems on Alexander

    -We shared our warm-ups on “What we Know about Ancient Rome”

    -The quiz from Friday was returned (not 1st hour, b/c it was digital)

    -We started the Video “Roman City” By David MacCauley, on The Roman Empire; we used this guide to keep us focused: Roman City Notes

    HOMEWORK: Cornell Notes on a reading (posted on Google Classroom) to be done in the Social Studies Notebook, DUE FRIDAY. Detailed reminder of how to do Cornell Notes is in the Google Classroom post.


    -Continued “City” and discussed the Guide

    -Started reading fiction story “Dog of Pompeii” Dog of Pompeii Story and used this guide to help keep us focused: Dog of Pompeii Guide


    -Finished Dog of Pompeii & Guide

    HW: Interpretation of Primary Source: Students will receive 1 of 5 primary sources to interpret/comment on in preparation for a group activity.

    Students should mark up the text (= circle, underline, make comments in the margin). There are very wide margins in the text, where they need to make educated guesses as to what we can learn from the source. What is the Value? In other words, What can we learn about the Romans or the particular situation the text deals with? You don’t have to be right. Make judgements that seem REASONABLE. 

    These are all from the website: Eyewitness To History The 5 sources we are using are:

    1) Nero Persecutes the Christians

    2) Rome Celebrates the Vanquishing of the Jews

    3) How to Keep a Slave in Ancient Rome

    4) The Assassination of Julius Caesar

    5) The Grandeur of Rome

  • Social Studies Week 6: Oct. 6-10


    After partners reflected on their collaboration and teamwork during part one of our jigsaw activity from last week – Ancient Athens Teaching Displays, students did part B, in which they spent 6 minutes with each of the 10 displays. They read, analyzed, discussed, and took notes on each display. This went very well, and the displays, overall, turned out very nicely! Here is the blank chart they used for notes: Athens Record Sheet

    HW: Fill in the Gaps (if necessary, using a simple Google search) and study your Athens Notes  (Record Sheet) from the jigsaw part 2.


    Short Review Game: Students used game cards they made previously on key people, places, and things from their learnings on Ancient Athens and played a short hybrid game of pictionary, charades, and describe it.

    Mini-Debate: Was Athens “Golden Age” really golden? This is not like a more official debate we will have soon in the class, but a short version to give new students a warm-up preview of sorts, and to allow students to apply some of what they learned in a debate setting. This will be rather short.

    Discussion: Aristotle Quotes from last weeks HW

    Lesson: Cornell Notes – using a medium level text about Alexander the Great from History.com

    Intro/Start HW: Alexander Bio-Poem (DUE MONDAY) biopoem Template and Example

    HW: Review for Quiz


    Watch some Alexander documentary clips

    Quiz on Greece


  • Social Studies Week 5: Sept.29-Oct. 3


    We finished up last week’s British Museum Online Interactive partnered activity (see last week for document which guides students through the site).

    We took a short quiz on landforms.

    We started a small jigsaw project exploring Ancient Athens that will take us through the week. The details and rubric are all in this document.

    Athens Teaching Display

    HW: Aristotle Quote Discussion Thread: Instruction and Quotes on Google Classroom


    We finished part 1, and worked on parts 2-4.

    HW: Aristotle Quote Discussion Thread Part 2, in Google Classroom; Complete whatever isn’t finished of display, other than printing and assembling the display, which will be done in class Friday.


    Print and assemble display

    HW: Finish assembling the display and making it look good.


  • Social Studies Week 4: 9/22-9/26


    We used the British Museum Website to learn about Greece. Students did interactive activities and completed a Guide, which includes the website URL.

    Greece Brit Museum Activity Log

    Homework Due Friday: Greece Reading and Response (ON GOOGLE CLASSROOM)Students should choose the medium reading unless they are struggling readers, or the advanced reading (HS Textbook). Apparently the attached pdf’s with the readings are not showing up on some Classrooms, so they are here:

    Greek Democracy – BBC – Reading

    Greek Democracy – Easy

    Greek Democracy Textbook



    After reviewing what we learned from the British Museum Activity in the previous class, we went over last weekend’s take home quiz in detail.

    We finished the Geo Landform Word Webs in groups. James did an informal on-the-board ungraded quiz to check for understanding. The 8 webs were collected to be scored.

    We started a cumulative map that students will add civilizations and locations to throughout the year as we study the Eastern Hemisphere. The flip side is a cumulative timeline. We discussed how timelines work, trying to clarify any confusion over how we count in B.C. and A.D., how there is not a year zero, how there are different calendar systems in the world, and what B.C., A.D., B.C.E., and C.E. stand for, and why some people choose to use one or the other, but that students should be familiar with both.

    Homework: Continue the previous HW, due Friday on Google Classroom.


    We did a demo using the assigned reading text (Medium BBC) on the overhead to show how we can interact with a challenging text and better understand it.

    Students made and discussed charts: one comparing the concepts: Civilization, City-State, Empire, the other comparing Athens and Sparta on Raising Children

    HW: Finish the comparison chart on Athens and Spartan Children.


  • 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