History 5: World History to 500 C.E.
World History to 500 C.E. is a fifth grade course that lays the foundation for historical
thinking in subsequent grades. To underscore the relatively recent evolution of humans
and their place in the larger universe, it begins with the Big Bang and the emergence
of early hominids. After students learn about the science of archeology and the
characteristics of various human species, the course continues with the development
of Homo sapiens and the long transition from the Stone Age to farming. The course
next turns to the complex societies that arose in the Tigris-Euphrates, Nile, and Indus
river valleys after 4,000 B.C.E., examining how the interaction of significant social,
economic, political, and cultural changes resulted in civilizations. Finally attention shifts
to early European civilizations on the island of Crete and mainland Greece. Throughout
the course, students study the origins and practices of belief systems like Sumerian
mythology, Judaism, and Buddhism. There is also an underlying emphasis on geography,
gender relations, leadership styles, writing systems, art, and lawmaking.
History 6: World History 500-1500 C.E.
World History 500-1500 C.E. is a sixth grade course that takes an integrated approach
to studying the Middle Ages. Divided into units that examine societies and cultures
in different regions of the world, the course begins with the study of the Byzantine
Empire and then moves to the Islamic Empire. Attention is given to the founding and
guiding principles of Islam as well to the contributions of Islamic scientists and artists.
The kingdoms of West Africa and Zimbabwe are the next areas of focus. Students not
only find out about the greatness of Timbuktu and the accomplishments of leaders
like Mansa Musa or Queen Amina, but also learn why and how the rich histories of
African cultures have often been overlooked. The students then investigate China’s
emergence as a center of economic and cultural production, the vastness of the Mongol
Empire, and the development of the Japanese feudal system. An underlying theme is
how these different societies became increasingly linked together through commercial
and cultural exchanges. The course ends with Feudal Europe and the causes for the
Renaissance. Rather than study each unit in isolation, students look for common patterns
of development and the interactions between societies. The course involves note-
taking, timelines, art projects, class discussion, presentations, role-playing, map work,
cooperative learning, computer research, and writing assignments.
History 7: U.S. History to 1860
U.S. History to 1860 is a seventh grade course that encourages students to develop their
analytical thinking and writing skills. The course begins with the Protestant Reformation
and Renaissance. The focus then shifts to the European discovery of the New World.
Students discuss Viking expeditions to Newfoundland, Portuguese voyages around the tip
of Africa, Columbus’s trips to the Caribbean, Spanish conquistadors in South America,
and French explorers farther north. Students then turn to the relatively late arrival of the
English in the New World. For both Jamestown and New England, the class compares
motives, death rates, labor systems, settlement patterns, social roles, religion, utopian
ideals, and economics. The American Revolution is the next topic of discussion and
includes an extensive consideration of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
After learning about the trials and tribulations of the new nation, students work on a five-
page research paper about some aspect of life in the antebellum U.S. The year ends with
a comparison of economic and social developments in the South and North. U.S. History
to 1860 involves class discussion, writing assignments, primary document analysis,
computer research, role-playing, artwork, debates, and field trips. Throughout the course,
there is an underlying emphasis on civics and government.
History 8: U.S. History, 1860-1970
U.S. History, 1860-1970 is an eighth grade course that encourages students to
think critically and develop advanced writing skills. The course is organized both
chronologically and thematically to get at the sequence and significance of unfolding
events. It begins with the Civil War and Reconstruction where discussion mainly focuses
on human motivations and responses. The industrial growth of the late nineteenth century
is the next area of focus, covering the rise of monopolies, the achievements of empire
builders, the appeal of trade unions and the impact of progressivism. Students also write
a five-page research paper on the woman’s suffrage movement. They then turn to race
relations in the postwar South with topics ranging from Jim Crow and lynching to the
Great Migration and Booker T. Washington. An examination of foreign policy in the
late nineteenth and early twentieth century follows with attention paid to the Russian
Revolution and Stalinism. During the rest of the year, students focus on people and
events in specific decades of the twentieth century. In U.S. History, 1860-1970 involves
class discussion, writing assignments, primary document analysis, computer research,
role-playing, artwork, debates, and a field trip to Washington D.C. Throughout the
course, the U.S. experience is discussed in a comparative framework rather than in
isolation. The girls take a weekly quiz in world geography. There are also periodic examinations of geo-political questions like National Debt
or the Palestinian-Israeli crisis, as well as current developments in the U.S. like illegal
immigration or presidential campaigns.
History 8: World History 1
World History 1 is an optional ninth grade history course that eighth grade students
may take in addition to their regular U.S. history class. Much like an independent study,
students largely complete the course on their own time outside of school. It entails one
reading and one writing assignment per week. The class also meets once a week to discuss material. There is also an open book test at the end
of each semester. Focusing on Ancient history and the Middle Ages, the course examines
the development of early humans in the Paleolithic Era, ancient river valley civilizations
in Mesopotamia and Egypt, world belief systems like Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism,
Islam, and Christianity, classical civilizations like Persia, Greece, Rome, and China,
feudalism in Japan and Europe, and the Renaissance. Although most of the material will
be a repeat of the fifth and sixth grades, there is a much greater emphasis on analytical
writing and thinking. Students earn high school credit with the completion of the course.