6-8 Social Sciences
Our work is to create critical thinking, globally aware students who possess the intellectual skills, civic values, and content knowledge to fully participate and lead in a democratic and increasingly interconnected international community.
Exposure to Social Studies content and skills provides students with the opportunity to develop literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills needed. All students should enjoy Social Studies instruction that is meaningful and connected to both standards and students’ strengths, needs and interests, Integrated and tied to concepts and standards, values-based in order to grow civic participation, challenging and encouraging students’ inquiry, active and engaging (Intellectual discourse and problem solving).
Know the past. Engage in the present. Impact the future.
The interconnected nature and fragility of the world make in-depth, relevant social studies instruction essential. The mission of social sciences in Portland Public Schools is to provide all students with academic and authentic learning opportunities that both ignite their passions for learning and also enhance their abilities and motivations to contribute as citizens in their communities—from the school community to the neighborhood, city, state, national, and global communities.
6-12 social sciences courses represent the commitment of our educational community to interrupt existing educational inequities and focus on dismantling the status quo. As we move into 2020-21, the power of studying the language arts contributes to meeting the PPS promise of fulfilling the graduate portrait for our Black, Brown, and Native students, and for all students.
Through the study of primary sources and current events, students learn about the various political, social, religious, and economic developments that have shaped and continue to affect our world. Reading, writing, critical thinking, and source analysis are emphasized as integral ways of understanding how the past relates to the present and future. While connecting with all elements of the PPS Graduate Portrait in some manner, the study of the social sciences most closely relates to several aspects of the Portrait:
- Inquisitive Critical Thinkers with Deep Core Knowledge
- Transformative Racial Equity Leaders
- Influential and Informed Global Stewards
- Reflective, Empathetic, and Empowering Graduates
Students in middle school Social Sciences explore the past and present of humanity by working with historical documents, considering current events, and thinking critically and creatively in response to essential questions about civilization, race, collaboration, equity, culture and what it means to be human.
Sixth grade focuses on the Western Hemisphere. Topics of study include the first settlers of the Western Hemisphere. Meso- and South American Empires, Colonization and Genocide, Resistance and Independence and Sociological and Ecological Justice.
Seventh grade will look at the history of the Eastern Hemisphere. Topics of study include Early Humans and Civilizations, African Societies, Social Structures, Networks and Exchange, Land and Resources, and Globalization.
Eighth grade explores United States History from the colonial period through the Reconstruction and includes study of the Constitution. Topics of study include the history of race in Oregon, examining governments and civics, colonialism and consequences, resistance, revolution and resilience, power and growth, a look at what it means to be free, and empowerment through literacy. In addition, students in eighth grade engage in a Black Lives Matter week of Action.
In addition to the texts, resources and activities hand-selected by Portland Public Schools teachers for their students, materials for supporting the Social Sciences in grades 6-8 include:
“TCI is a K-12 publishing company that creates science and social studies curriculum to enable educators to improve their ability to engage students in a diverse classroom. Our K-12 curriculum and services for educators are based on proven teaching strategies and practices that bring education to life in order to achieve consistent and positive classroom results. “
“The Stanford History Education Group is an award-winning research and development group that comprises Stanford faculty, staff, graduate students, post-docs, and visiting scholars. SHEG seeks to improve education by conducting research, working with school districts, and reaching directly into classrooms with free materials for teachers and students. SHEG’s Reading Like a Historian curriculum and Beyond the Bubble assessments have been downloaded more than 9 million times. SHEG's current work focuses on how young people evaluate online content. SHEG has created a Civic Online Reasoning curriculum to help students develop the skills needed to navigate our current digital landscape.”
“Learning about tribal nations in Oregon is important for all students. Each nation has a distinct origin story, worldview, and timeline of their history and contemporary context. However, much of that information has been presented to the general American public from a non-Native American perspective, filled with clichés, misconceptions and falsehoods. The ODE partnered with representatives of the nine federally recognized tribal governments in Oregon to create Essential Understandings of Native Americans in Oregon. These nine essential understandings have been created to serve as an introduction into the vast diversity of the Oregon Native American experience.”