Middle School Social Studies Courses

The Social Studies Department at Saint Thomas Academy designs its courses to provide a learning environment that promotes academic excellence and recognizes the uniqueness of each individual student. It is the objective of the Social Studies Department that the students will:

  • Acquire geographical skills and be able to identify geographically major areas of the world.
  • Acquire the ability to connect the past and the present by applying methods of historical research; use a variety of sources to demonstrate cause and effect relationships in history.
  • Acquire basic economic literacy of U.S. economic institutions in order to effectively pursue citizenship responsibilities and to enhance personal economic decision-making.
  • Acquire basic political literacy to enable students to effectively participate in the U.S. democratic process.
  • Understand controversial issues and develop thinking skills through the use of position papers and position statement analysis on tests and in debates.
  • Develop a multicultural awareness and sensitivity, recognizing that our judgments about people of different cultures are usually shaped and influenced by the standards and values of the culture in which we live.
  • Develop the competency to acquire, organize, evaluate, and report information for the purposes of solving problems and clarifying issues.
  • Emphasize study skills throughout the year in 7th and 8th grades.

Link to required Summer Reading list.

This course is designed for the student to gain insight and understanding of their world from the local, national, world, and historical perspectives.  For one semester, the students will identify themes that are important to the formation of Minnesota from pre-Columbian exploration to today, and how Minnesota fit within the greater context for the formation of the United States of America. For the other semester, students will investigate the ancient historical topics of pre-history, ancient Mesopotamia, the Hebrew People, Ancient Egypt, and Ancient Greece.

GEOGRAPHY - Grade Level: 7

Geography tries to make sense of the world around us. It helps us understand how people, places, and environments came to be and how they affect each other. In this class, we ask where is something? Why is it there? How did it get there? How does it affect the natural environment in this area? Every world region is examined, including Canada and the USA, Latin America, Europe and Russia, Africa, Southwest and Central Asia, South and East Asia, and Oceania. Each unit seeks to answer an essential question that tackles a challenging social issue. There is a strong emphasis on working with maps and other related social studies skills. In December, all 6th, 7th and 8th graders participate in the National Geographic Bee.

U.S. HISTORY - Grade Level: 8

his course is designed to show the students the growth of the U.S. in economic, political, and social areas. The students analyze the great changes in American life since the birth of the nation, as well as elements that have endured to build American's heritage. Students also study political and military conflict and evaluate the role of America in the world. Students continue to build and use skills in geography and learn historical writing and data analysis skills. All 8th grade students participate in the History Day competition, based on the topic of their choice.

Social Studies Electives

CHESS STRATEGIES - Grade Level: 6-8, quarter-based
This chess class will instruct students in using skills such as logic, reasoning, visualization, planning and mental agility.  The student will be able to learn the key tactical concepts, patterns, calculation, as well as strategic planning and thinking through the game of chess. This class is for both total beginners, and players that want to advance their playing abilities.  An expectation for the course is that students are expected to play in at least one tournament.  Class graded S/U.

INTRODUCTION TO DEBATE - Grade Level: 6-8, quarter-based
This elective will introduce students to the techniques and strategies used in academic debate. Students will learn how to develop arguments, create cross-examination questions, to look for flaws in their opponents' arguments, and how to think on their feet during a debate. Topics will range from fun and informal current issues to the official national debate topics.  Class graded S/U.

QUIZ BOWL - Grade Level: 6-8, quarter-based
Quiz Bowl is a semester-long elective class offered on alternate days. (This class is separate from the after-school co-curricular activity.) Students learn the rules of competition, form teams, and compete in friendly matches. Assessment will be based on knowledge of the rules and strategies, sportsmanship, classroom behavior and effort. The course curriculum uses a current event magazine (THE WEEK) from which a majority of competition questions will be drawn. Class graded S/U.