The Middle School Humanities program employs an interdisciplinary approach to language arts and history that focuses on critical-thinking skills and composition common to both disciplines. The ultimate goals for the department are to foster the students’ love of history, language, and literature and to develop their ability to think and communicate effectively. Classes introduce students to literary and primary source analysis. Composition, creative writing, and problem solving form the core of the Humanities curriculum and emphasize the creative integration of ideas across disciplines. The curriculum is guided by state standards for history and national Common Core standards for English.
Students in Form VI examine the fundamental features of societies and explore the development of these aspects through the study of some of the earliest ancient civilizations. Inquiry and writing allow the students to take on the role of historians, and they gain foundational skills in reading and literary analysis. Students compose paragraphs, narratives, expository writing, and responses to literature to express and support opinions, to record observations, to tell stories, and to practice grammatical knowledge. Selected texts may include such works as Day of Tears by Julius Lester, various Greek Myths, and The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.
Units of Study:
- Universal Features of Society
- Ancient Mesopotamia
- Ancient Egypt
- Ancient Greece
- Ancient Rome
Form VII examines societies and empires of the western and eastern worlds. Students learn about the development and influence of the Roman Empire, in both its glory and in its fall, as well as feudal Europe and the Renaissance. Students also examine the eastern world with the study of Islam, the golden age of China, the Silk Road, and the Mongols. Throughout the year, students work on researching and writing expository and narrative pieces and practicing and evaluating six traits of writing: voice, conventions, ideas and content, word choice, sentence fluency, and organization. Regular grammar mini-lessons correlate with the writing assignments and support individual needs in composition.
Selected texts may include such works as Tales of the Arabian Nights, various African Folktales, and Bound by Donna Jo Napoli.
Units of Study:
- The Rise and Fall of Rome
- The Islamic World
- Feudal Europe
- The Golden Age of China
- The Silk Road and the Mongols
Form VIII delves into the causal nature of history and the development of the American nation. The course augments critical reading skills by careful, comparative analysis of primary and secondary sources, as well as through novels over the course of the year. Students research and prepare for debates, compose argumentative papers based on their research, create narratives, and engage in expository writing. Selected texts may include such works as The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and Night by Elie Wiesel.
Units of Study:
- Colonies to Constitution
- New Republic to Civil War
- Reconstruction to Progressivism
- Spanish – American War to Vietnam +
- Current Events