Social Studies – Middle School (grades 5-8)

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5th and 6th graders continue their study of American history by examining how, throughout the 19th century, different groups came into contact—interacting, clashing and influencing each other as the nation developed. They study concepts such as government, freedom, reform, and leadership by looking closely at several historic moments, including the Civil War, and they connect their learning with current events and contemporary society. Students also undertake an in-depth study of maps and geography, looking at the purposes and uses of maps and their political implications, gaining a thorough knowledge of how to read maps and create them. They also develop an understanding of maps as subjective representations that reflect the perspectives and biases of those who create them. In their study of the Middle Ages, students learn the evidence and methods historians use to examine and interpret the past. Activities include research and role playing, culminating in a Medieval Faire. By the end of sixth grade, Ancona students understand the value of, and are comfortable using, a variety of sources for information, including primary sources. They have been exposed to historical fact through a number of lenses and are familiar with the research process and are able to research independently.

The 7th and 8th grade American history study examines the Constitution and the American form of government and then turns to selected issues of the 20th Century—industrialization and urbanization, the organization of labor, the Civil Rights movement and immigration. As always, students use myriad resources to enrich their understandings, including the human rights curriculum Facing History and Ourselves. Students learn about the Holocaust and other human travesties of the 20th Century with the hope that understanding the roles that prejudice, hatred, intolerance and injustice play in human life might prevent such tragedies in the future. Students also engage in an in-depth, integrated study of the natural and human history of Chicago.

In a newly-developed interdisciplinary unit on the Silk Road, students learn the basic concepts of anthropology with an emphasis on cultural anthropology. They learn about the political and topographic regions of East Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East through a series of hands-on activities, such as creating political and topographic maps of these regions, constructing yurts (traditional dwellings from the region) with rudimentary materials, and preparing dishes from traditional ingredients. Through this study, students gain an understanding of the geography of Asia/Eurasia, key concepts of the field of anthropology with a focus on cultural anthropology, as well as knowledge of, and appreciation for the different ethnic groups of the area, and the languages they speak, as well as the different forms of music and the religions/belief systems that originated along the ancient Silk Road.
Ancona Middle School students are exposed to history through a variety of lenses and understand the implications of subjective interpretation. They come to understand the value of, and are comfortable using, a variety of sources for information in this study of history and cultures.

Students at this level research relevant topics by collecting information, organizing their time and materials, and completing some amount of work outside of the classroom.
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