Part I Course Parameters
This course explores the society and history of the United States of America through four central themes: governance; identity; diversity; and technological change. The principle goal of the course is to connect certain concepts and issues in U.S. society and history to current trends and to the lives of the people in our classroom. Some of the events and trends we will study are: the peopling of the continent, the content and importance of the U.S. Constitution, the Revolutionary War causes and effects, immigration, race conflicts, and the on-going industrial and tecnological revolution. In our exploration of conflict and consensus, we will also focus on how and why various groups have struggled for positions in the democratic fabric and how group alliances and fractures have contributed to the construction of today’s society.
Class discussions and projects will require students to consider the relationship between the past, present and future. The class will use an array of primary and secondary resources, as well as film, and literature.
Part II Processes
Writing will be used throughout the course to explore what we know. Essay, summary, analysis, reflection, journaling and creative writing are some of the forms of writing on which we will rely.
Discussion, presentation, debate and written reflection on those processes will be consistently used to create knowledge and understanding of what we learn.
Both small and large, individual and group research projects and activities will be used as we utilize the library and other research sources as an extension of what we do in the classroom.
Students will work in pairs and small groups throughout the year. A good amount of time will be devoted to teaching and discussing group processes, the accompanying problem-solving/resolution skills, and their connections to our everyday lives.
Basic Study Skills
Use and organization of class notes, use of computer skills such as power point presentations, organization of thoughts in writing through summary and analysis, ability to communicate ideas orally, and content area reading will be covered.
Critical Thinking Skills
Questioning, analyzing and making connections between past and present, facts and generalizations, and changes in our lives and society will be consistently addressed. Students will be asked to evaluate and apply their own ideas based on class content.
Basic discussion skills and the significance of mutual respect will be reinforced daily.
Reflection/ Assessment/ Evaluation
Students will regularly reflect on and assess their own work based on understood criteria. Self–evaluation will be central to most major assignments as an integral aspect of the student’s learning and as a preparation for the individual student’s portfolios.
Global/personal responsibility and the relationship between individual actions and a social reality will be a recurring theme in this course.
Part III Critical Questions
Critical questions will focus our study in each of the four major units. Below are several examples:
1. How do conflict and consensus interact to form a social reality?
2. How are consensus and conflict significant elements of a democratic society?
3. What is the role of an individual in a democratic society?
4. What does it mean to have a national identity? How and why do identities change?
5. How do intolerance, love, hope and despair affect the relationships between groups of people?
6. What are the principle forces of social change? How do they interact?
7. What is the nature of social change in the 21th century?
Part IV Technology Use and Library Use
The greatest use of technology in the classroom whether with students’ laptos or other multi-media will be used primarily for:
Class Presentations such as Power Point presentations
In-class collaboration and communication
Video, multimedia presentations.
Part V Topic Summary & Key Concepts
I. Government: freedom, democracy, individual and state interests, conflict and consensus.
II. Identity: national identity, group identity, pluralistic society, revolution, Americanism, cultural imperialism.
III. Diversity: the American dream (myth and reality), intolerance, social movements, conflict resolution.
IV. Technology and Social Change: technological change, social change, capitalism, consumerism.
Part VI Student Outcomes: (What skills do we want students to possess after successful completion of course?)
The student will be able use the tools and vocabulary of the Middle School Social Studies Tool Kit.
The student will know and be able to articulate their own understanding of their political ideals.
The student will be able to utilize the social sciences to understand better the world as they see it.
The student will be able to use a variety of documents to sort and evaluate social studies information.
The student will understand the value and use of primary sources in social studies.
The student will use creative sources (literature, the arts, and visual literacy) to increase their understanding of societies and culture.
The student will demonstrate group skills and an understanding of how groups work and interact.
The student will be able to identify and connect patterns in events of different time periods, and across geographical space.
The student will be able to relate facts to generalizations and recognize stereotypes.
Part VII Examples of Expanded Assessment
Student progress will be assessed in a number of ways. Assessment and evaluation strategies will vary according to the nature of the topic and the instructional methods used. An array of such strategies will be used throughout the year.
Performance Assessment: Formal Debate, Round-Table discussions, skit presentations, speeches.
Written Assessments: Analytical and expository essays, tests for basic idea understanding and vocabulary quizzes.
Oral Assessment: Oral presentations and discussion.
Creative/Symbolic Assessment: Mind mapping.
Creative/Project Assessment: Projects requiring students to integrate verbal, visual, and audio information will be used throughout the year.
Self and peer reflection/evaluation.
Preparation of this syllabus:
Sara Baquero-Garcia, 8th grade Social studies Teacher.