Friday, January 25, 2019

Visitation Academy Middle School Social Studies Program 

The Middle School Social Studies program is a four-year program designed to guide student-historians from an elementary grasp of history and the social studies to mature understanding. Upon graduation, our students are prepared to engage in the critical analyses of texts that will be required of them in their high school history classes. As a further component, all students regularly read current news articles. Fifth and sixth grades receive age-appropriate news magazines, while seventh and eighth grades read a national newspaper of their choice. Students respond to the news in writing and discussion. 

Fifth Grade 
Students are asked to begin sorting the events of American history into a firm timeline, and to begin to recognize events’ causes, connections, and effects on subsequent events and the future. 

Sixth Grade 
Students continue to develop skills in sorting and analyzing events, focusing on the Eastern Hemisphere. Coursework covers the dawn of mankind through the modern age—a true sweep of history! 

Seventh and Eighth Grades 
Seventh grade examines American history from the period of its First Nations up to the Civil War and Reconstruction eras, while eighth grade continues the study of US history from post-Civil War Westward Expansion through to contemporary times. Both seventh and eighth grades begin a more critical investigation of historical events, expressing their deeper understanding through the writing process, developing skills in constructing effective arguments based on strong theses. Seventh and eighth grades also regularly consult primary source documents, a practice begun in the lower middle grades. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Grade 7: American Revolution

What really happened when Washington crossed the Delaware on Christmas night, 1776?

Emmanuel Leutze (American, born Germany, 1816)
Washington Crossing the Delaware, 1851


John B. Cameron (American, born Scotland, c.1828)
Washington Crossing the Delaware: on the evening of Dec 25th, 1776, previous to the battle of Trenton, 1876 (published by Currier & Ives after the Cameron painting)

Students examine the two images, Washington's recollections, an excerpt from the Journals of the Continental Congress, and soldiers' diaries, to determine the events that preceded the surprise attack on the morning of December 26 that led to an important Patriot victory. Go Patriots!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

8th Grade Begins the Year with Westward Expansion

Together, we viewed and discussed Thomas Moran's 1872 Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, painted in a Newark, NJ studio after Moran returned from the American West. He had been out West as a member of Ferdinand Hayden's 1871 Geological Survey of the West, a government-funded expedition to discover the geological characteristics of what would become 
Yellowstone National Park.

Next we viewed a photograph of the same scene, taken by another member of the expedition, William Henry Jackson, and discussed why a geological expedition in 1871 might include both a photographer and an artist among its team of scientists.

Finally, we examined a recent photograph taken from the same point in Yellowstone National Park, and discussed the three images' similarities and differences.
We will examine other methods used by the  US government and businesses to encourage Americans to explore, settle, and develop the West, and displace the Native Americans.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Civic Rights and Responsibilities
= 8th Grade = Action =

On March 14, in solidarity with the nationwide #Enough gun reform movement, 8th grade students wrote to their elected officials. As they voiced their demands for gun control legislation, they reminded politicians that they will be a power in the voting booth in four short years. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

8th Grade
Postcards Home From the Great Migration:
Beginning in 1917, African Americans moved to industrial cities in the North to take jobs left vacant by American soldiers. Students interpreted this experience after examining paintings in the Great Migration Series, by Jacob Lawrence.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Social Studies Update -- Grades 5-6-7-8

The world so far...

  • ...Grade 5 is studying the American Revolution. We examined the Declaration of Independence, and discussed issues of fairness and unfairness regarding the actions of the king and Parliament toward the colonists. We followed this with a consideration of whether to vote independence up or down by staging a town hall style meeting, with the voices of  different segments of the American population stating their opinions. Ultimately, Grade 5 voted for independence from Britain... 

  • ...Grade 6 is in the midst of a study of ancient Egypt which included creating an exploded-sized map of the Nile River, exploring the life, death, and tomb contents of the pharaoh Tutankhamen, examining the religious and afterlife beliefs of the people, and looking at the daily life of commoners. We will close the unit by 'visiting' ancient Nubia, and recognizing the influences of Egypt on Nubian culture.

  • ...Grade 7 is concluding a unit on the years between the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. We examined the growing tension between liberty-loving colonists and an increasingly cash-strapped Britain, and considered the justice of taxing Americans even though they did not have a voice in Parliament. To determine why the colonists were so upset by British taxation policies, we did a deep-dive into the Stamp Act, reading original newspaper clippings that expressed both colonial and British viewpoints. We studied the facts of the opening battle of the Revolutionary War, and will examine court affidavits that were gathered by officials in an effort to determine who fired the first shot in the Battle of Lexington and Concord.

  • ...Grade 8 is involved in an intense study of the United States in the years between the Civil War and World War I. We began by examining the chaotic settling of the magnificent American West, then returned east to study the unregulated growth of American industrialism. We evaluated the unprecedented success of business tycoons JP Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and Andrew Carnegie, and explored the flipside of their success by studying the violent Homestead Steel Strike. We will close the unit by studying the beliefs and actions of Susan B Anthony, Alice Paul, Booker T Washington and WEB DuBois, and determining our own place in the ongoing fight for American social justice. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Welcome to the Social Studies Classroom 2017 - 2018!

Welcome back!

Events of summer 2017, such as the Confederate monument controversy, demand that we understand our past so that we may act to ensure our freedoms in the future.

Knowing our national history is alternately painful and inspiring. Understanding the full, messy story enlightens us to form better policies.

It won't be long before you are able to vote, and add your voice to the national conversation.

So, let's get you ready! Let's delve into history, examine the past, and prepare for the future.