Social Studies

The primary focus of the class is early United States history with emphasis on the colonial era through  the early origins and development of our Democratic Republican form of government. Our primary source textbook, American Nations: Beginnings Through 1877, is published by Prentice Hall. The textbook will mainly be used to supplement the work we do in class. Students will explore America’s history from the early roots of our nation’s settlement and formation to the tensions leading up to the creation of the Constitution. Students will navigate through the changing and developing relationship between the Crown and the Colonies and understand  how the changes in this relationship created the foundation for the early government of the United States.  Specific content areas include the following:

Early English Settlements
The Development of the 13 Colonies
The Declaration of Independence
The Crisis Leading to the Revolution
The American Revolution
America Under the Articles of Confederation
Writing of the Constitution

In the second semester, we will be focusing on our home state of Illinois, its history, geography and government. At the end of the unit, students are required to take the Illinois Constitution Test. The culminating activity for the year will be our annual trip to Springfield, the state capitol, and Hannibal, Missouri to visit the Mark Twain sites.

In addition to the details of history, geography and current events, an important element in the class will be the development of note-taking and study skills. There will also be writing assignments, research projects, oral presentations and other developmentally appropriate learning activities throughout the year. Many will be individual projects; others will be small group projects. The projects utilize print as well as Internet research techniques, and reinforce writing and public speaking skills taught in our Language Arts classes.

It is my philosophy that students do need to learn basic fundamental facts, those which are required to pass tests and quizzes (including standardized tests), those facts which they may rightly dismiss immediately subsequent to those tests and quizzes.

The most important thing one can learn, however, is not a plethora of names and dates, but the effects, grand and subtle, of humans on the development of societies and the interrelationships between peoples and cultures which have made our world what it is today. Historical characters are so often presented as one-dimensional, flawless caricatures of themselves without depth, without ideas and with no historical context for us to understand why choices were made and history has taken the course it has.

Hopefully, all students will walk away understanding that learning history revolves more around thinking rather than memorizing.Facts can always be looked up. Answers can be researched. It is the development of one’s ability to question, not answer; reason, not assume, which will make life-long learners of our future leaders.