Mr. Malstrom- Social Studies


The 8th grade social studies program at Marie Murphy School is integrated, flexible and individualized, and it is designed to provide students with critical thinking skills to better observe and understand human motivation and expression. Students acquire the cognitive, affective and practical skills needed to become responsible citizens as well as self-directed, life-long learners. Students are guided in the development of the understandings and values that will help them meet the challenges of our changing society. Students develop an appreciation for the world’s diversity as they learn to recognize the dignity and worth of all people.

The curriculum examines a diverse range of ideas from the disciplines of geography, history, economics, sociology, politics, and media literacy. Students will use writing, discussion, art, technology, and drama to demonstrate their ability to create knowledge from information and to make connections across disciplines and between their lives and the world around them. Students are encouraged to use the class to creatively and confidently express their opinions, talents and abilities.


  • learn strategies that improve reading and interpreting expository text, researching, communicating orally and in writing, using technology, and studying
  • take advantage of opportunities to develop social skills by working in groups
  • create geographic, economic and political literacy, and learn to use it as a tool for interpreting local and world events
  • understand the important role of news media as government watchdogs and agents of civic literacy
  • understand that the critical examination of history is an ongoing, exciting, and vital area of study

Assignments come in a variety of forms and will include reading and writing, as well as individual and collaborative projects, for which the necessary instructions and materials can be accessed online through Google Classroom, Drive, or Groups.  Completion of these assignments facilitates reinforcement of skills learned in the classroom or allows students to participate more effectively in an upcoming lesson, allowing them to reach higher levels of critical thinking and mastery of the content.


Emphasis is placed on students’ ability to complete the assigned work and demonstrate progress; to use higher-order thinking skills in their writing, discussion and other forms of expression; to take intellectual risks within the safety of the school environment; to be creative; and to demonstrate that they value the power of intellectual discourse to problem-solve and to promote our nation’s core values. Assessments will come in the form of tests, quizzes, writing assignments, individual and group projects, and participation in class discussions.  Students are required to successfully complete a unit of study on the U.S. Constitution.


Unit 1: Geography

  • Purposes of map-making and different types of maps
  • Interconnectedness of the world’s societies and people
  • The Five Themes of Geography

Unit 2: Foundations of Government & Citizenship

  • Greek Democracy, Roman Republic, Magna Carta, European Enlightenment
  • Roles and responsibilities of citizens
  • American values & civic engagement
  •  Unit 3: U.S. Constitution
  • Preamble and Articles I-VII
  • Democracy, republicanism, federalism, popular sovereignty
  • Bill of Rights and other selected amendments
  • Selected Supreme Court cases

Unit 4:  Genocide

  • Defining and identifying
  • International cooperation & the Genocide Convention
  • Genocides studied:  Armenian, Holocaust, Cambodian, Bosnian, and Rwandan

Unit 5:  Holocaust

  • Understanding historical context and players involved
  • Engage in critical thought and discussion about human behavior and moral choice
  • Enhance perspective and understanding through historical fiction novels

Unit 6:  Global Citizenship & International Cooperation

  • Defining and understanding citizenship and our role as citizens of the world
  • Understanding interconnectedness among people and nations
  • Study of the United Nations and other international organizations

Unit 7:  Research & Documentary Project

  • Students will explore a self-selected historical topic and create a video documentary