During the first few weeks of the year, sixth and seventh grade social studies students are discussing The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins—the summer reading books for each respective grade. The books were selected based on their appeal to young readers and their connection to the curriculum. While reading over the summer, students were asked to consider and answer several guiding questions about their book and be prepared to discuss their perspectives upon the start of school.
In Elements of Social Studies, sixth graders learn about the different branches of the social sciences including history, archaeology, geography, economics, sociology, and psychology.
“We begin the year studying ancient Greek civilization and its effects on our modern world,” said faculty member Mary Schnitzler. “The Lightning Thief, which is a modern take on Greek mythology, is a great way to get the kids thinking about the topic.”
In addition to participating in class discussions, students will create demigod personas and work in small groups to create theatrical scenes featuring their characters.
Seventh graders in World Cultures & Geography examine the unique aspects of Middle Eastern, Asian, African, and Pacific cultures and in doing so, develop a greater appreciation of cultural differences and an understanding of the universal aspects of humanity.
“Using the fictional world of The Hunger Games is a great way to introduce identifying and analyzing the different structures of a culture,” said Schnitzler. “We start to talk about the elements of culture—language, art, literature, religion, government, economics, social structure, traditions and customs—and students are able to easily see those elements in the book.”
In addition to class discussion and writing assignments, students make maps of The Hunger Game’s fictional world.
Whitfield’s social studies curriculum develops critical thinking skills and the ability to integrate, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate both primary and secondary sources while cultivating empathy for people in different times and places.