Middle School History and Humanities  

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Pepperdine Masters in Educational Technology and Leadership 2006

SDSU Principal Certification




Essential Questions and Outlines

Integrated subject matter is not just for the lower grades. One of the terrific things about a Humanities course is the ability to actively engage students using an integrated approach with direct application to the real world. The Humanities program here at Graded is in its third year and it has been a journey of discovery on many levels. Listed below are a few representative links from the vast storehouse of in-house information listed our Moodle based Course Web.  Linked below are the Humanities students links for integrated and constructivist approaches, Web 2.0 student projects,  outlines, and a paragraph overview of the year written for students.

Adult information links:


Web 2.0 Student Projects and Sites

Mesopotamian Project: An integrative, multi-discipline project about Mesopotamia. Project, Problem Situation, and Web Links.

Our Life Time: A section of a larger site in which students studied various institutions world wide, researched them particular to Brazil and then interviewed individuals who held a correlate role here in the school. 

Finding the Human in Human-ities  The conceit of this web project is to have the students pretend that they are sitting in an airport, killing time, waitng to board a delayed flight. Another child their age, is sitting in one of the hard-backed chairs, about as thrilled with the situation as they are. A conversation is struck and, as people do, the children start to tell about themselves and where they come from. The topic of conversation wanders from the here and now of living in Brazil to discussions about Mesopotamia and a comparison to that river valley society of long ago. While the tone of voice is geared to read like a conversation, the details of the content are derived through research and study. The hope is, by the end, not only have they made new virtual friends through their web pages, but they have also been able to articulately discuss these two different societies and really fully understand the connections to their own lives.

Wikis and Podcasting: Social Media is redefining how we relate to each other as humans and how we as humans relate to the organizations that serve us. Click on the link to see how wikis are used in the classroom and examples of student work.


Heart Maps, Fiction Writing and Reading Throughout the Year

Using the writing process and mini-lessons which focus on individual needs, the students practice the art of communicating what is important to them in their own way. Non-fiction writing and reading is embedded into the social studies. Literature provides illumination for the concepts being taught and visa versa. Total perfection is not expected, as everything is part of a  process but growth in skills as well as engagement is. To help with structure, these lovely resources provide inspiration: The Write Source by Dave Kempler; Lessons That Change Writers and Naming the World: A Year of Poems and Lessons by Nancy Atwell; Books, Lessons, Ideas for Teaching the Six Traits: Writing at Middle and High School by Vicki Spandel; and  The Continuum of Literacy Learning, Grades 3-8: A Guide to Teaching by Fountas and Pinnell.  


Summary of the year written for students:

In our Humanities classes, our year long focus question is, “Who are you?” This question gets broken down into three essential questions: What is our PLACE in this world? How do our core values, personal identity and world view influence what we do? How can we communicate effectively? Everything we study, regardless if it is language arts or social studies, is put together so that you can answer these questions not only here in sixth grade but in the greater world outside of Graded as well. The novels we study are Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters by Lesley M. M. Blume, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson, Teens in Brazil by Caryn Gracey Jones, Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick, and Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan. Aside from novel studies and poetry, we will be teaching you key ways to understand both fiction and non-fiction. You will become stronger writers by developing your vocabulary, grammar, and spelling and  by publishing pieces using the Six Traits. Researching and technology skills are also important. Our first semester units are Identity and Multiculturalism and The Foundations of Societies. In the second semester, you will apply what you have learned the first semester to the ancient river societies of Mesopotamia and India. There will be many kinds of hands-on activities, role-playing, and projects both based in the classroom and virtually. Tests, quizzes, presentations, projects, peer and self-evaluations, and rubrics will let you figure out what you have learned. We offer after school help for those who need it Monday through Wednesday from 3:00 to 4:00.  You can come in during break times or contact us by email  or IM if you have questions.



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