Grades 6 (Age 11-12) to Grades 8 (Age 13-14)

The Middle School strives to meet the unique needs of Middle School students in their transition from elementary to high school. The essence of our Middle School program is the concept of educating and fostering the growth of “the whole child” and developing an increasing sense of personal and academic responsibility. To this end, learning is exploratory or experiential in nature, whereby learners are practitioners of their own learning. There are opportunities for both competitive and non-competitive sports and activities to promote the social and physical growth of each student. Inherent in our Middle School program is the goal of instilling a sense of belonging to the Middle School. Lincoln Middle School enrolls approximately 60 students in sixth through eighth grade.
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Course Web Page:

About the Course

Our school’s Social Studies vision reads: We strive to graduate students who understand the modern world by examining human endeavor through multiple perspectives across time, place, and discipline. We do this in order to inspire a shared responsibility to think, solve, and act toward a sustainable, just, and peaceful future. 6th Grade Humanities is a year-long, integrated Language Arts and Social Studies curriculum that seeks to develop students’ knowledge of themselves and the world around them by investigating past people and cultures, while making connections to a more modern context. Students begin this journey of discovery with an exploration of the self; one’s history, groups, values, beliefs, stories, and cultures. This study involves a look into stories and myths, as well as an exploration of some major world religions, namely Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism, while delving deeper into the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, India and Greece. The themes of social organization, culture and diversity continue in the form of the identification of positive character traits and the personal “heroes” that might possess these traits. Persistent social problems are investigated in a very local context, with students acting as change agents in a year-long service-learning project that specifically connects to our Social Studies curriculum. They also engage in a project-based learning project dubbed the “Super Surfboard Debate,” where students take on the guise of great historical figures to argue why they should return to the 21st Century and make the world a better place.

Simultaneously, another world of learning awaits – a world where students will learn to express their ideas and feelings about a subject in a variety of ways. As writers, their voices will continue to develop as they make the distinction between more personal journal-writing and poetry, to more organized paragraphs and essays; as readers, they will continue to learn how to analyze various, age-appropriate texts, while expanding their vocabulary; and, as a class, we will hopefully have a bit of fun along the way.

Language Arts classes will be quite structured and follow a similar daily routine. The first 15-20 minutes of the class will alternate between Sustained Silent Reading and Writing. Students will be involved in a year-long reading project offered through the Library and supported by in-class reading during this time. Thereafter, we will be engaged in a student-led “Mug-shot” lesson, where students identify grammatical, spelling, punctuation and word usage errors in a piece of writing that aligns with the Social Studies content. Vocabulary expansion is also focused on words from in-class texts, with the remainder of the class devoted to a specific piece of literature, writing development using the 6 + 1 traits of effective writing, or public speaking and listening skills. During this time, we will learn how to analyze, think about, and question a poem, short story or novel, whether as a class or in smaller literature circles. Moreover, students will learn how to identify various elements of literature and use them in their own writing. Use of The Writing Process will also be a focus, as well as identifying the 6+1 Traits of Writing and how students can use these traits to improve their writing.

Social Studies classes will be less structured, as they will depend on the lengths of projects and assignments. As implied earlier, throughout the year we will look at the following overarching themes:

  • Identity/Transitions: Me, My Place, My Groups: Students will look at essential questions like: How does belief influence action? How does culture shape who we are? What is diversity and how does it impact us? How is culture both a unifying and divisive force in human relations?
  • Change Agents: Super Surfboard Unit: Students will look at essential questions like: How can individuals make a difference? What does it take to change the world? How do we identify persistent social problems?
  • Geography & The Human Experience: Students will study the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of various societies, with a focus on Mesopotamia, India and Greece. Some of the following essential questions will guide our learning: How do people interact with, adapt to, and alter their environment and vice-versa? How do we achieve sustainability? What is my role? Who do we believe and why?

Course Web Page:

Teacher: Douglas von Hollen

About the Course

Social Studies will be team-taught by Mr. von Hollen and Ms Somerville. The course will help students further understand the modern world and prepare for the future by examining human endeavors through multiple perspectives across time, place and culture. At the seventh grade level, students are developing their skills at working independently as well as collaboratively to succeed as students in humanities classes. Students in this course will use an assortment of sources in order to construct their own perspectives while comparing and contrasting a variety of time periods and cultural reactions to change. Students are encouraged to become free thinkers and collaborative, life-long learners. Seventh grade students will be using an online text. It is imperative that students have their devices with them in class every day. Major themes for the course include: Changes in thought Continuity and change through time Social organization, culture, and diversity Nature/human interdependence Major content and topics of the course will include: 5 Themes of Geography Pre-Colombian Civilizations of the Americas Culture and Kingdoms of Western Africa Islam in Medieval Times and Muslim Innovations Medieval Europe The Byzantine Empire The Renaissance, Scientific Revolution & Enlightenment Age of Exploration

dvonhollen_LA7_Syllabus 2014.pdfdvonhollen_LA7_Syllabus 2014.pdf

Course Web Page:

About the Course

The course will help students further understand the modern world by examining human endeavor through multiple perspectives across time, place and discipline.

Students at this level are working to build their skills in working independently; a key component in 8th grade social studies however are interactive classroom studies, in which students work in small groups to master key social studies concepts. Students at this level continue to use a variety of sources in constructing their own perspectives and comparing and contrasting how historical events influence current global issues.

Further strategies include multiple lines of inquiry, various case studies, Nepal connections, while exploring the major themes:

  • Continuity and Change Through Time
  • Conflict and Conflict Resolution
  • Systems, Economy, Justice, and Equity
  • Nature/Human Interdependence
  • Social Organization, Culture, and Diversity

Throughout the year, students are exposed to a variety of assignments that will help them become well-rounded communicators in a global society. Students are encouraged to become free thinkers and collaborative, life-long learners.

Course Structure

Students in 8th grade Social Studies collaborate in partnerships, small groups, or large group discussions every day. Students take part in skits, classroom debates, create presentations, develop projects both individually and collaboratively, and compose a wide variety of written assignments, including critical essays and research projects.

Essential Questions

  • What is conflict and how is it resolved?
  • Why must people struggle for freedom and equality?
  • What is the role of technology in globalization?
  • What is the impact of Non Government Organizations?
  • How do people interact with, adapt to and alter their environment (and vice-versa)?
  • What is sustainable development and how might it help resolve environmental conflicts?


Students’ progress will be monitored through a variety of formative assessments including daily work, participation and quizzes. Final evaluations will be determined by summative assessments including tests, research projects, student presentations and essays.


The course will use, but is not limited to It’s All Connected (Facing the Future), The Anatomy of Conflict (Stanford Program), Fair Trade and How it Works (DeCarlo), Never Fall Down (McCormick), and units developed by The Choices Program.


Students need to bring to class daily:

  • their laptop devices
  • writing utensils and notebooks
  • a critical and open mind
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