Mark Roquet and Michael Sandberg take history out of textbooks and into real life for Middle School students. Beginning in sixth grade with the study of the prehistoric world and early societies, much of what the students learn and remember is taught through discussion, debate, and simulation activities. Students are encouraged to think critically as they analyze historical evidence and craft arguments. As sixth graders learn about ancient Egyptian society, they construct a five-paragraph essay exploring the Nile River’s contribution to Egypt’s success. Students go on to investigate ancient China, Greece, Rome, India and other ancient and medieval cultures, while learning about historic technology, religions, and world geography. The final unit of the year is an inquiry project in which students choose a topic and culture that they want to explore in greater detail. Throughout, they learn valuable research and information-seeking skills using books, databases, and internet resources.
With an emphasis on research and writing, seventh grade students turn their attention to American History from 1820 through the present. Beginning with the Civil War, students investigate the workings of the U.S. government, Reconstruction and Jim Crow, the Civil Rights movement, the Gilded Age, the Great Depression, World War II and the Holocaust. Concluding their unit on the Civil War, students spend an entire week immersed in Civil War activities from battleground strategy to shrapnel removal. A spring trip to Washington D.C. and Gettysburg brings history to life. While in Washington they produce a video docent report about a sight on the trip. The year ends with a persuasive essay about using the atomic bomb to end World War II.
Eighth grade students study world history from the Renaissance through the present looking for common threads and distinct differences while using a thematic approach. Students start the year by simulating a World War I trench. After surviving their trip to the front they write letters home. They also learn extensively about mass hysteria and revolutions. After studying mass hysteria they produce a multimedia project comparing the Salem Witch Trials, McCarthyism and other historical situations. They end the year by studying revolutions throughout the world and examining why they often descend into chaos. This unit culminates in presentations and a debate with such questions as “Was Castro good for Cuba?” and “Did the Truth and Reconciliation Commission help South Africa heal?”