Social Studies

Vision

The social studies program at FSM seeks to prepare students to be active citizens who are familiar with and value the Quaker testimonies of integrity, equality, social justice, peace, and community. Students learn to discuss, recognize, and appreciate diversity not only among cultures, but among opinions as well. The scope and sequence of the curriculum is guided by the National Council for the Social Studies and Minnesota state standards, and is also shaped by the interests of students and faculty. Benchmarks based on these standards provide guidance for teachers to help connect vision to practice. 


 

Linkages

Friends School of Minnesota recognizes that social studies integrated with other curricula provides ideal the vehicle to fulfill the school’s Quaker mission and progressive focus. Through classroom activities, exposure to resources and literature from multiple perspectives, community connections, service learning, and experiences in the arts students learn to appreciate and honor the diverse people, cultures, and histories of the world around them. Students are given opportunities to be creative and active forces in the world, and are encouraged to respond to its complexities in a way that reflects the Quaker testimonies.

FSM honors its progressive focus by allowing teachers the freedom to choose the strategies appropriate for the students in their class. Teachers begin by meeting students where they are in skills, interests, and learning styles. Social studies is often woven into other subject areas such as language arts, Spanish, the arts, and environmental education. Cross-curricular projects and experiences support these connections.


 

Strategies

In keeping with our progressive focus, FSM teachers employ a variety of student-centered strategies for teaching social studies. While topics of study and benchmarks are used to guide some of the content, much of how social studies is taught at FSM is by meeting students where they are in both skill and interest level. Some strategies include the following:

  • simulations
  • class discussions
  • book and internet research
  • letter writing
  • painting, drawing and other artwork
  • dramatic representation
  • independent and guided reading of historical documents and historical fiction
  • jigsaw (splitting up work into small groups and then sharing together)
  • model building
  • reading and creating maps
  • timelines
  • use of technology for research and presentation
  • field trips
  • book and media research
  • creation of dramatic pieces
  • presentations by parents
  • integration of topics in other academic areas
  • reading and using graphic organizers of information
  • listening skills
  • note taking of facts
  • sharing of learning using different media such as reports, art work, diagrams

Families All Matter Book Project

This unit, from the non-profit organization AMAZE, uses high-quality children’s literature, discussion questions, and classroom journaling to explore diversity through the unifying lens of family. The goals are to help young people develop a positive sense of self, navigate respectfully and empathetically amongst differences, gain the insights needed to identify and name bias, and practice the skills needed to stand up to bullying, teasing, and exclusion for themselves and others. It sensitively covers themes of race/ethnicity, socioeconomics, aging, adoption, immigration, family structure, divorce/break-ups, religion, disability, and bullying.


 

Lower School Social Studies

Topics help teachers organize content into manageable sections, gather materials, and plan activities so children can explore and reinforce information and concepts. The information gathered in such activities enhances development of social thinking. Topics are approached through project-based, multi-sensory learning. The projects, lessons, and specific content of any unit will be different each year based on the needs and interests of the students as well as the resources available and the expertise of the teachers. Students begin with the self and work outward towards an understanding of the larger world. 

Lower School Scope and Sequence

Kindergarten Topics

  • Self. Students learn about themselves and appreciating their own uniqueness through activities that explore similarities and differences, changes over time, and changes in themselves. Self-portraits, literature, journal work, and art activities are a part of their explorations of themselves.
  • Friendship. Students learn the skills of being a friend through skits, book studies, art projects, and the school’s conflict resolution program. They have many opportunities to connect with their peers and other students during learning activities and centers, recess, buddies, and other times. Specific time is given, the first six weeks especially, to exploring how to be a friend and working with skills associated with friendship.
  • Families/Homes. Students learn about their own and others’ families through project-based learning activities, literature, and the Families All Matter curriculum. Emphasis is placed on learning about the diversity of family structures and the commonalities that also exist in family life. Special attention is given to cultural traditions, holidays, and other significant markers in family life that teach about the diversity of practices and traditions. Each child researches a family project that communicates the variety and traditions of family life and presents it to their peers.    
  • Geography/Mapping. Students create real and imaginary maps of special places in their lives. They play with map puzzles, build with blocks, and are exposed to maps of small and local places as well as world geography. Emphasis is placed on mapping familiar and special places.    

First and Second Grade Topics

  • Friendship/Families. Students learn about themselves and each other through games and activities which highlight similarities and differences and allow for building classroom community. When connected to friendships and family life around the world, students develop an understanding and appreciation of world cultures.
  • Community. The study of community and community workers has two major elements. One is the direct involvement of families who come to school to share some aspect of their work in their community. The second is the creation of a model community that is planned, designed, negotiated, and built by the students collectively.               
  • Animal Research Projects. Each spring, first and second grade students choose an animal for individual research. They use print and other media to learn about the animal’s habitat, food, mating habits, predators, prey, et cetera, and create works that show and synthesize their learning.
  • Folktales Around the World. Another topic of study that benefits from parent involvement is the exploration of stories from around the world. Students examine, compare, and contrast common elements of folk tales read to the classes by family members. This helps students develop an understanding of world cultures, past and present. 

Third and Fourth Grade Topics

  • Ancient Civilizations. Ancient civilizations is a multidisciplinary study designed to provide an introduction to various aspects of an ancient culture or cultures. Students compare and contrast what they have learned with their own experience.
  • Quakerism. Students explore the history and practices of the Quaker religion, which also provides the opportunity for them to examine the testimonies and how they relate to their own lives.
  • Learning Differences. The study of learning differences is designed to help students understand the many different ways that people learn, and that everybody has different strengths and weaknesses that make them unique.
  • Maps and Geography. This is an exploration of maps and basic geographical concepts. Students practice map reading and map making, learn about different political and physical aspects of geography, and learn to explore different geographical resources.
  • Westward Movement. The study of westward movement explores the factors contributing to westward expansion of the United States and the results and experiences of this movement.
  • Research. Each year, students complete a major research project. Students practice each aspect of research, from finding resources and reading for information to using citations and editing. 

 

Lower School Benchmarks

By the end of second grade, students will be able to

Research

  • choose an age-appropriate topic with the aid of teacher
  • find and organize information
  • locate resources at their reading and skill level with support of teachers and families
  • use a table of contents and index to find information on a particular topic
  • identify information from resources that addresses research questions
  • use an organizational system created by a teacher to keep track of research materials
  • create visual and written pieces that cover some key research information
  • orally present information to individuals through a question/answer format

Culture

  • describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture
  • compare ways in which people from different cultures think about and deal with their physical environment and social conditions
  • give examples and describe the importance of cultural unity and diversity within and across groups

Individuals, Groups, and Institutions

  • identify roles as learned behavior patterns in group situations such as student, family member, peer/playgroup member, or club member

Global Connections

  • explore ways that language, art, music, belief systems, and other cultural elements may facilitate global understanding or lead to misunderstanding

By the end of fourth grade, students will be able to

Research

  • choose an age-appropriate topic relating to curriculum content
  • generate a research plan using a variety of teacher directed strategies
  • use at least three books and one Internet source to find information with the aid of teachers and families
  • understand the need to evaluate the credibility and usefulness of sources from print and internet text
  • identify information from resources that supports a research plan (also included in language arts benchmarks)
  • paraphrase information in own words
  • use note cards to keep track of research information
  • cite the title and author of sources in a bibliography
  • write a report on a topic using the Writing Workshop process of generating at least two drafts, seeking feedback from others, and editing for grammatical errors (also included in language arts benchmarks)
  • create an independent project at home with the support of families that demonstrates learning about topic
  • orally present key information from project and reports to classmates and wider school community, and answer direct questions on topic (also included in language arts benchmarks)

Culture

  • explore and describe similarities and differences in ways groups, societies, and cultures address similar human needs and concerns
  • give examples of how experiences may be interpreted differently by people from diverse cultural perspectives and frames of reference. understand the testimonies of Quakerism and relate them to their own life and beliefs

Time, Continuity, and Change

  • demonstrate an ability to correctly use vocabulary associated with time such as past, present, future, and long ago; read and construct simple timelines; identify examples of change; and recognize examples of cause and effect relationships
  • compare and contrast different stories or accounts about past events, people, places, or situations, identifying how they contribute to our understanding of the past

People, Places, and Environment

  • create and interpret simple and thematic maps of places around the world, local to global; incorporate the TODALS map basics (title, orientation, date, author, legend, and scale), as well as points, lines, and colored areas to display spatial information (cities, roads, boundaries, bodies of water, regions)
  • locate and identify the physical and human characteristics of places in North America
  • use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools such as atlases, databases, grid systems, charts, graphs, and maps to generate, manipulate, and interpret information
  • explore and describe similarities and differences in ways, groups, societies, and cultures address similar human needs and concerns
  • give examples of how experiences may be interpreted differently by people from diverse cultural perspectives and frames of reference
  • describe how people create places that reflect ideas, personality, culture, and wants and needs as they design homes, playgrounds, classrooms, et cetera
  • construct and use mental maps of locales, regions, and the world that demonstrate understanding of relative location, direction, size, and shape
  •  interpret, use, and distinguish various representations of the earth, such as maps, globes, and photographs
  • estimate distance and calculate scale

Individual Development and Identity

  • describe the unique features of own nuclear and extended families
  • relate such factors as physical endowment and capabilities, learning, motivation, personality, perception and behavior to individual development

Global Connections

  • describe instances in which language, art, music, belief systems, and other cultural elements can facilitate global understanding or cause misunderstanding
  • analyze examples of conflict, cooperation, and interdependence among groups, societies, and nations

 

Middle School Social Studies

The middle school social studies curriculum at FSM is part of the humanities program. Students are placed in mixed-age classes for humanities (fifth and sixth grade and seventh and eighth grade). Our focus is depth over breadth, and the curriculum encompasses a wide range of topics and disciplines including geography, history, and citizenship. We seek to make students aware of a variety of historical and present-day social issues to guide them in becoming thoughtful and active citizens. The National Council on Social Studies and Minnesota state standards help guide our curriculum and benchmarks. Our goal is to help students think more deeply about topics in social studies while exploring the Quaker values in a meaningful way. Unit topics are organized around the four Quaker values of equality, justice, peace, and integrity. Each year, guiding questions provide a lens through which the topics are studied.

Middle School Strategies

In keeping with our progressive focus, FSM teachers employ a variety of student-centered strategies for teaching social studies. While topics of study and benchmarks are used to guide some of the content, much of how social studies is taught at FSM is by meeting students where they are in both skill and interest level. Some strategies include the following:

  • the study of historical events through multiple perspectives
  • the use of historical fiction and biography alongside the study of historical topics
  • the use of primary sources from a variety of perspectives
  • the use of a variety of geography tools, such as print maps, GIS, and GPS
  • guided and independent research
  • opportunities to present learning and research in a variety of ways including visually, orally, through movement, and in written form
  • age-appropriate simulations
  • in-class discussion through the use of Socratic seminars
  • writing assignments in genres that support what is being studied in social studies, such as biography and historical fiction
  • field trips to museums, organizations, and parks that support units of study and provide real-world application of skills, including service opportunities
  • hosting speakers on a variety topics
  • the use of news and current events
  • ongoing reflection to guide teachers in meeting the needs and interests of their students

 

Middle School Scope and Sequence

Fifth and Sixth Grades, Equality Year

Guiding Questions

  • How does understanding of and experience with people of other cultures impact the way we think of and interact with them?
  • How and why do ideas about equality differ within and between cultures?
  • How far should people go for freedom and equality?

Topics

  • Immigration. This study of immigration focuses on both historical and contemporary U.S. immigration, including various immigrant and refugee groups from around the world, push/pull factors, waves of immigration, Ellis and Angel Islands, the immigrant experience, and U.S. immigration policy and issues.
  • World Religions. Students examine the core beliefs, practices, and symbols of the world’s major religions. This study includes the development and spread of religions throughout the world. Historical and present-day conflicts are looked at, as well as how people of various religions incorporate their beliefs into daily life.
  • Contemporary World Cultures. Teachers and students work together to identify cultures and areas of the world their classes will study based on student interest and current events/issues. This includes a study of the cultural groups’ histories and a look at present-day life and issues.

Fifth and Sixth Grades, Justice Year

Guiding Questions

  • How do people decide what is just?
  • How do societies organize themselves to be just?

Topics

  • Minnesota History and Geography. This year encompasses a chronological study of Minnesota history interwoven with geography. Students study the groups that had the power to make decisions in different time periods of Minnesota's history, as well as at how the groups without power were affected. More specific history topics include Dakota and Ojibwe history, the fur trade, the experiences of various groups such as voyageurs, loggers, homesteaders, et cetera, the impact of settlers arriving, the creation of Minnesota as a state, treaties and conflicts (including the Dakota War of 1862), and the development of industry. Minnesota geography, both human and physical, is studied and geography skills are applied throughout the year.

Seventh and Eighth Grades, Peace Year

Guiding Questions

  • How do you create peace?
  • How do groups and governments deal with conflict?
  • How do you advocate for change in a peaceful way?

Topics

  • U.S. Government. Students learn about the ideals and values that shaped the structure of the U.S. Government. Students become familiar with the rights and responsibilities of the government and citizens, branches of government, the system of checks and balances, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and how laws are made. During an election year, students will study the election and learn how to become informed voters.
  • American Revolution. After studying U.S. Government, students take a closer look at the conflict that led to the formation of the United States as an independent country. Causes of the Revolutionary War, key ideas and individuals, and various perspectives of the conflict are studied. Students analyze and discuss whether or not a war was necessary to achieve the goal of liberty and take a close look at the formation of the government and the writing of the U.S. Constitution.
  • Slavery and the U.S. Civil War. Students study slavery in the United States, examining various perspectives and how the debate over slavery led to the Civil War. A study of the Civil War as a test to our government asks students to take a closer look at the events leading up to the Civil War and the war itself from multiple perspectives. This study includes the aftermath of the war and reconstruction.
  • Race. After studying the U.S. Civil War, students examine the foundations of racism in our country with its roots coming from the American slave system. Students are asked to think deeply about how race has been used to justify racism and the implications of racism on today’s society. 

Seventh and Eighth Grades, Integrity Year

Guiding Questions

  • How have societies changed by interaction with other societies?
  • How do I keep values when confronted by counter-values?
  • How do people decide when and how to take a stand?

Topics

  • World War II and the Holocaust. A study of the state of the world post-World War I gives students a foundation for understanding the causes of World War II. Students study the rise of dictators, important leaders, and the formation of alliances. Other topics include the U.S. entry into the war, Japanese-American internment, major events and turning points, and resistance movements. Students study the end of the war and the use of the atomic bomb on Japan. Toward the end of our study of the war, students take a closer look at the Holocaust, studying the Nazi ideologies behind it, the progression of Nazi persecution, and the atrocities of genocide. Students are exposed to a wide variety of primary sources, including firsthand accounts and photographs.
  • United Nations and United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. To follow up the study of WWII and the Holocaust, students study a short unit on the formation of the United Nations, and they look closely at the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Students may also look more closely at present-day human rights issues.
  • History Day. Two months are reserved during the integrity year for students to learn how to create a National History Day project. Students learn how to write a thesis statement, narrow a topic, do in-depth research using primary and secondary sources (including the creation of an annotated bibliography) , and put information into a logical presentation using their choice of format. FSM holds a school history day open to students, families, and friends, and some students move on to participate in regional and state events.
  • Media Literacy, Body Image, and Identity. During this study, students are asked to take a closer look at examining the many types of media they are exposed to daily. Students track their media exposure and learn how the media uses various techniques to shape one’s thinking and direct one’s habits, especially when it comes to our own body image. Students also take a closer look at how media influences our personal identity, with a particular focus on gender stereotypes, sexuality, and race.

 

Middle School Benchmarks

By the end of sixth grade, students should be able to 

Research

  • focus research on a variety of topics that develop out of classroom curriculum throughout the year
  • generate a research plan using a variety of teacher-directed strategies
  • use a variety of print and Internet sources to find information with the help of teachers and families
  • understand the need to evaluate the credibility and usefulness of sources, both print and Internet
  • paraphrase information in their own words
  • use notes to keep track of research information
  • cite the title and author of sources in a bibliography
  • use non-fiction writing to show learning of a topic using the writing workshop process of generating at least two drafts, seeking feedback from others, and editing for grammatical errors
  • orally present key information from projects to classmates and/or the wider school community and answer direct questions on the topic

Culture

  • compare similarities and differences in the ways groups, societies, and cultures meet human needs and concerns
  • explain how information and experiences may be interpreted by people from diverse cultural perspectives
  • explain and give examples of how language, literature, the arts, architecture, artifacts, traditions, beliefs, values, and behaviors contribute to the development and transmission of a culture
  • explain why individuals and groups respond differently to their physical and social environments and/or changes to them on the basis of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs
  • articulate the implications of cultural diversity, as well as cohesion, within and across groups

Time, Continuity, and Change

  • demonstrate an understanding that different people may describe the same event or situation in diverse ways
  • identify and use key concepts such as chronology, causality, change, conflict, and complexity to explain, analyze, and show connections among patterns of historical change and continuity
  • identify and use various sources for reconstructing the past, such as textbooks, maps, and primary sources (documents, letters, diaries, photos, et cetera)
  • describe how land was used during different time periods in Minnesota history; explain how and why land use has changed over time

People, Places, and Environment

  • elaborate on mental maps of locales, regions, and the world that demonstrate understanding of relative location, direction, size, and shape
  • create, interpret, use, and distinguish various representations of the earth, such as maps, globes, and photographs
  • create and interpret thematic maps of places around the world; incorporate the TODALS map basics (title, orientation, date, author, legend, and scale), as well as points, lines, and colored areas to display spatial information (such as cities, roads, boundaries, bodies of water, or regions).
  • use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools such as atlases, charts and graphs, aerial photographs, satellite images, geographic information systems (GIS), and various map projections to generate, manipulate, and interpret information
  • locate and describe varying landforms and geographic features, such as mountains, plateaus, islands, rain forests, deserts, and oceans, and explain their relationships within the ecosystem
  • locate, identify, and describe major physical features in Minnesota; explain how physical features and the location of resources affect settlement patterns and the growth of cities in different parts of Minnesota
  • describe how the distribution and development of resources influence a region’s economy and culture
  • consider existing uses and purpose and evaluate alternative uses of resources and land in home, school, community, region, and beyond

Individuals, Groups, and Institutions

  • describe the various forms institutions take and analyze group and institutional influences on people, events, and elements of culture

Power, Authority, and Governance

  • analyze and explain ideas and governmental mechanisms that meet the needs and wants of citizens, regulate territory, manage conflict, and establish order and security 

 

By the end of eighth grade, students should be able to

Research

  • cite sources within a text and create an annotated bibliography
  • use thesis statements to organize formal writing
  • analyze a topic and create a clear argument with an in-depth explanation and analysis
  • use a variety of primary and secondary sources to conduct research independently
  • evaluate the credibility and usefulness of research sources
  • present a variety of balanced viewpoints on a topic to show multiple perspectives
  • present a historically accurate research project to school and community members and answer questions about the topic and research process

Time, Continuity, and Change

  • identify and use processes important to reconstructing and reinterpreting the past, such as a variety of sources, providing, validating, and weighing evidence for claims, checking credibility of sources, and searching for causality
  • use knowledge of facts and concepts drawn from history, along with methods of historical inquiry, to inform decision making about and action taking on public issues

Individual Development and Identity

  • relate personal changes to social, cultural, and historical contexts
  • describe personal connections to place as associated with community, nation, and world
  • describe the ways family, gender, ethnicity, nationality, and institutional affiliations contribute to personal identity
  • identify and describe the influence of perception, attitudes, values, and beliefs on personal identity
  • identify and interpret examples of stereotyping, conformity, and altruism

Individuals, Groups, and Institutions

  • analyze group and institutional influences on people, events, and elements of culture
  • identify and analyze examples of tensions between expressions of individuality and group or institutional efforts to promote social conformity
  • identify and describe examples of tensions between belief systems and government policies and laws
  • apply knowledge of how groups and institutions work to meet individual needs and promote the common good 

Power, Authority, and Governance

  • describe the purpose of government and how its powers are acquired, used, and justified
  • identify and describe the basic features of the political system in the United States, and identify representative leaders from various levels and branches of government
  • explain conditions, actions, and motivations that contribute to conflict and cooperation within and among nations
  • explain and apply concepts such as power, role, status, justice, and influence to the examination of persistent issues and social problems

Global Connections

  • demonstrate understanding of concerns, standards, issues, and conflicts related to universal human rights

Civic Ideals and Practices

  • examine the origins and continuing influence of key ideals of the democratic republican form of government, such as individual human dignity, liberty, justice, equality, and the rule of law
  • identify and interpret sources and examples of the rights and responsibilities of citizens
  • practice forms of civic discussion and participation consistent with the ideals of citizens in a democratic republic
  •  explain and analyze various forms of citizen action that influence public policy decisions

Culture

  • explain how information and experiences may be interpreted by people from diverse cultural perspectives and frames of reference
  • explain why individuals and groups respond differently to physical and social environments and/or changes to them on the basis of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs

People, Places, and Environment

  • use appropriate sources, data sources, and geographic tools such as aerial photographs, satellite images, geographic information systems (GIS), map projections, and cartography to generate, manipulate, and interpret information such as atlases, databases, grid systems, charts, graphs, and maps
  • locate and describe varying landforms and geographic features and explain their relationships within the ecosystem
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