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Curriculum » Social Studies Curriculum Overview

Social Studies Curriculum Overview

ITDS uses a project-based approach to Social Studies. Teachers draw on the TCI curriculum for core content, and also include units each year that relate to current events. In all our Social Studies classes, there is a strong emphasis on students as “changemakers,” relating the content they are learning to the world around them. Teachers also find times to make the city their classroom, tying their curriculum to places around our region.
Preschool, prekindergarten, and kindergarten: Ourselves, our families, our class
For our youngest students, Social Studies focuses on social-emotional development, students learning and sharing about themselves, and exploring the groups or communities they interact with every day (family, classroom, school, neighborhood). Discussions center around finding the connections that make people the same and celebrating the differences that make people unique. Through structured lessons and social stories, students develop the vocabulary to describe emotions, work on strategies to manage big feelings, and practice positive interactions with others in their environment. Classes also engage in developmentally appropriate issues of social justice such as helping your community, speaking up for yourself and others, and learning what it means to be a changemaker.
Social Studies 1-2
Social Studies in first and second grades begins with a student’s immediate community and expands outward to students as global citizens. First graders focus on the people and places that make up a community, and how people work together to make their communities better. Core projects in first grade include a 3D map of an imagined city and a student-run school store where students brainstorm and create products and “sell” them to other students in the school. In second grade, students begin the year with a focus on geography and their place in their city, country, and world. Second graders also focus on activism, engaging in a deep study of those from both the past and present who use activism to make a difference in the world. Projects in second-grade include studies of voting rights and environmental action.
Social Studies 3-4
In third and fourth grade, students begin an in-depth study of the United States. In third grade, students focus on the major topics of Social Studies (history, economics, political science, and geography) through a study of the regions of the United States. In addition, students dive deep into DC, learning about the history and current events of our own city. Third graders take full advantage of the city, exploring sites of DC on field trips. Fourth grade focuses on early American History, from early Native Americans to the American Revolution. Projects in fourth grade include in-depth studies of several Native American tribes, a study of early American settlements, and an in-depth study of the forces that led to the United States becoming its own country. Throughout their study, students consider the perspectives of multiple groups of people and discern whose story is most often told.

Social Studies 5-6
Fifth-grade social studies continues the study of American History, from the establishment of the United States as an independent country through the end of the 19th century. Students study early American history, Westward expansion and Native American removal, the lives of enslaved Africans, the Civil War, and 19th-century immigration. In all these eras, students explore issues of justice and representation. In sixth grade, students begin a two-year study of World History, starting with the Ancient World. Sixth graders dive into deep studies of several ancient cultures, including Sumer, Egypt, Greece, and China. Throughout sixth grade, students focus on how geography has influenced the way cultures evolved and the impacts of ancient civilizations on modern societies.
Social Studies 7-8
In 7th grade, students explore world history throughout the middle ages, including European history, the rise of Islam, and an introduction to African history This course also links to the National History Day Project and works to build many of the skills needed for historical thinking. 8th graders spiral back to the studies of US history begun in the lower school, including a comprehensive understanding of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the various movements to secure rights for different groups over time. All 8th graders complete a research paper on a historical topic to help them build the skills to continue their journey as historians into high school and beyond.