In middle school, history students access a range of historical time periods, ideas, and themes. Each unit closely focuses on a particular era or geographic part of the world. Units are spiraled from one to the next and students frequently make content connections to prior units of study, both within a particular year and from grade to grade. RSS honors the different voices that shape history. History classes include the narratives of those who have often been marginalized in the past. Students learn to differentiate primary and secondary sources and learn to corroborate and read into the bias, nuance, and subtext, of primary sources. Students learn to engage with a variety of primary sources – including speeches, letters, poetry, artwork and images, architecture, and legal codes. Each grade level looks at the relationship between cause and effect to glean historical significance as well as change over time. Writing is an essential part of the history curriculum and is spiraled across the four grades.. Students begin middle school by learning to write with supporting historical evidence, and by the time they graduate they are able to articulate arguments about the past that are supported by numerous sources. By the time students graduate, they are not only expected to be able to incorporate pieces of historical evidence and quotes from primary source documents, but are also expected to show the importance of that evidence as it connects back to their argument. Geography is woven into each unit of study across all grade levels as students learn the importance of physical and geographic features as well as its relationship to historical events. Furthermore, lessons and assessments utilize different modalities of learning, allowing for a range of learners to access the material.
7th Grade history surveys American history from European exploration of the Americas to the Civil Rights Movement. This includes introducing the economic, social, racial, and political context of theNorth American colonies.
The focus of study continues chronologically, towards the American Revolution and the creation of the Constitution. Students explore how the sociopolitical context of colonial America impacted the desire to separate from England and the development of the new U.S. Constitution. Students study the compromises that made up the framework for the Constitution and become familiar with various Constitutional principles while reckoning with the choices the American Founders did - and did not make - regarding slavery. Following this exploration, students will research a woman or BIPOC from early America and seek to place their story within the larger context of the period. They will explore how those without formal power sought to exercise control over their own lives and over the development of the burgeoning nation around them.
After learning about the founding of the republic, students explore the development of the young nation and how its first 80 years were inextricably linked to slavery - in both the south and the north. They will study the lives of enslaved peoples, how they rebelled in large scale revolts and how they resisted through quotidian actions, how they formed familial bonds and the precariousness of the family under slavery, and how through their actions they repeatedly put slavery on the national agenda as a question that had to be resolved.
Students will then study how the growing geographic divisions over slavery - and the ways in which slavery affected all other areas of American life - led to the Civil War. Rather than study specific battles or tactics, the Civil War unit covers the actions of the enslaved in the South and how they forced the meaning of the war to change from one of union to one for a new birth of freedom.
Students then learn about Reconstruction and how its idealistic aims created the first multiracial democracy in American history, but also how its eventual failures created a status quo that was consistently challenged in a century-long struggle for African Americans to gain equal civil rights.Through learning about the Jim Crow South students will see how new institutions of racial hierarchy were created in the South and learn about the Great Migration to the North.
Students will explore the North primarily through a case study of Chicago where they will learn about race riots and redlining. They will see how there was more freedom in the North, but will also see the clear limits of that freedom and the circumscribed nature of Northern cities. In particular, they will make connections between early 20th century events and policies (such as redlining and restrictive covenants) and the American they inhabit today.
The course will conclude with an exploration of the Civil Rights Movement as students seek to piece together their knowledge and arrive at a better understanding of the world and nation they see around themselves.
In the 7th Grade, students encounter increasingly difficult textual material. They are also expected to offer complex analyses of historical evidence. Projects which value a variety of modalities continue and are expected to be completed at a more advanced level. Student work involves a greater complexity of synthesis and analysis. They write traditional essays and practice writing a solid thesis, supported by ample evidence. As their research skills have further developed, the emphasis of the research process shifts to the development of a cogent argument. The curriculum emphasizes advanced study skills and requires content mastery and application. Major Topics:
- Ancient History and European Settlement
- Revolution and The U.S. Constitution
- Young Republic and Slavery
- The Civil War & Reconstruction
- Jim Crow and Great Migration
- Chicago and the North
- The Civil Rights Movement