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American History for Middle Grades

“The disadvantage of men not knowing the past is that they do not know the present.

History is a hill or high point of vantage, from which alone men see the town in which they live or the age in which they are living.” —G.K. Chesterton

Here, Chesterton illuminates the necessity of knowing history. But why should your students study American history? To give them the advantages of learning to understand more about God, themselves, and the world around us; to train their minds to think, to perceive wisdom, to pursue virtue, and to proclaim truth!

This Middle School American History course is paired with the same level American Literature course so that the two fields are integrated, enhancing each other, although either can be taken independently. Students will receive a lively portrait of the history (and literature, if taking the literature class as well) of the U.S. from engaging tertiary texts like H. A. Guerber’s The Story of the Thirteen Colonies and the Great Republic and Susan Wise Bauer’s Story of the World, Volumes 3 and 4 and selections from primary historical sources such as John Wintrhop, William Bradford, Cotton Mather, Jonathan Edwards, and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, to name a just a few. This class takes a storytelling approach to history.

Students will be immersed in the life, times, and writings of the story of the United States and will be required to discuss and write about what they are learning as well as demonstrate their mastery of the material in more generic ways like quizzes and tests.

Our study of American Literature and History will teach students to cultivate historical thinking through the engaging study of real people and events that have helped shape the nation of America. Beginning with Breakout exercises (from Socratic Circles by Matt Copeland), progressing to the annotation of small sections of texts, and moving on to asking one another questions from their annotations, students will learn the basics of Socratic discussions, which will guide our interaction as they begin to see shades of gray and the nuances of people and events. Posing and answering questions will take them deeper into historical events and advance their thinking skills. Learning how to summarize, complete outlines, and write papers will help them connect information, and see causes and effects.

Students are asked to consider and engage carefully crafted questions as to their window into “the Great Conversation”. Occasionally, the teacher will present historical context through brief lectures, but all other classes are seminar-style discussions on the American texts. Students are assessed for their curiosity, participation, and their diligence during the discussion, as well as using short response papers, essays, projects, and occasional informal quizzes. It is understood that students of this age are at varying abilities and skill levels and the goal is to improve and increase the skill level of each student.

This class is paired with our middle-school course on American literature, often taught by the same teacher, and scheduled back to back with that course in a “block.” Students who take both courses receive a discount. This course may also be taken as a standalone history study.

Placement: Please read about our new process above.

This course is suitable for rising 6th–8th graders. Students are expected to have proficient reading and emerging writing skills as well as the interest and willingness to grow in discussion skills about literature and history. Students suited for this course will also be cultivating the following scholarship skills:

  • Actively engage in note-taking
  • Practice outlining
  • Apply teacher critiques
  • Adhere to deadlines
  • Be responsible for class and project preparedness
  • Take initiative to ask questions for understanding and comprehension

How much time will students spend on homework?
This varies by student, according to his or her pace. However, students are generally assigned about 1.5–2.5 hours of reading each week. Additional time may be required to supplement the student’s own studying and paper or project development.

How does this course compare to the upper-school ancient history course?
The chief differences between the middle-school and upper-school levels for this course are noted below. While there will be some overlap of content taught, the upper-school course will be much more challenging and assume a more mature student with more background knowledge and greater reading, writing, and scholarship facility.

How is faith integrated with these courses?
These seminar-style discussions unfold organically. One could approach the texts with a focus on defensive critiques of classical authors. By contrast, we seek to read charitably. We treat classic authors as if they were friends, gleaning every available truth while also examining them from a robustly Christian perspective.

At Scholé Academy, we have carefully considered how we should engage our contemporary culture as those who believe that Christ is the Truth (John 14:6), and that all truth has its source in him. We think it is important to provide our middle-school students (in grades 6–8) with tools and opportunities for critically examining various cultural trends, issues, and mores through the lens of orthodox, Christian beliefs. Being confident in the truth revealed to us in creation, the Scriptures, and the tradition of the church, we are not afraid to follow the truth and its implications, nor to address error and falsehood. Read more about our Faith & Culture.

Required Materials:
Books and supplies are not included in the purchase of the course.

For Sections with Vixie Friedman

  • Timeline Book of Centuries: Create Your Own Unique Record of History by C Whitney
    • ISBN: 979-8597579009
  • American History: A History of US Ten volume set
    • ISBN: 0195327268
  • Various primary source documents, fables, tall tales, etc. provided by the teacher.
  • OPTIONAL: Atlas of American History by Rand McNally
    • ISBN: 10:0528015346
  • OPTIONAL: The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers — 7th Edition may be a helpful resource since papers and essays will be submitted using basic MLA formatting guides.

For Sections with Allen Rushing

  • Story of the Thirteen Colonies by H. A. Guerber
  • Story of the World Volume 3 by Susan Wise Bauer
  • Story of the World Volume 4 by Susan Wise Bauer
  • Numerous primary source readings (including a Journal of Christopher Columbus, sermons by John Winthrop and Jonathan Edwards, selections from William Bradford’s Plymouth Plantation, and various works of Cotton Mather- Heath Intro, Wonders of the Invisible World, and Magnalia Christi Americana) to be supplied by teacher through PDF files

Allen Rushing has always loved story, and that love only grew when, at the age of 14, the Lord saved him. Since then he has joyfully studied the truth, beauty, and goodness of The Story found in Scripture and reflected in the great works, from Dante’s Divine Comedy to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. One of the delights of The Story is taking the time to delve deeply into it, which is why the “restful” philosophy of Scholé is so appealing to Allen. One of the reasons such an approach is natural for him is because of the way he was homeschooled K-12 in the Classical Christian educational tradition. Allen was able to expand on this solid spiritual and educational foundation through his undergraduate degree in Classics with a History focus; in the process of earning this degree, he enjoyed taking classes in Classical Latin, Koine Greek, Literature, Philosophy, and Theology. While in graduate school, he was able to broaden his historical knowledge base, gaining a greater understanding of Western civilization as a whole and focusing particularly on the periods of the Greco-Roman world, Late Antiquity, medieval period, twentieth century world history, the World Wars, and the Cold War. Since graduate school, Allen has taught the humanities from a biblical worldview. Some of Allen’s favorite ways of enjoying the adventure upon which the Lord has set him are reading, writing, building his house, climbing trees, playing ping pong, and spending time with his wife and two children.  arushing.scholeacademy@gmail.com

Vixie Friedman Since she was a little girl, Vixie Friedman always wanted to be a teacher and lined up her dolls and stuffed animals to compose her classroom. That dream became a reality when she began homeschooling her oldest son in 1988, a journey that continued with her six children until her youngest graduated from their family’s homeschool in 2015. Vixie has taught in a formal classical education setting since 2008 and assisted with curriculum development and staff training with a classical Christian curriculum company. After graduating with a BS degree in nursing from Western Carolina University, Vixie entered the US Army Nurse Corps, where she was stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. This fueled her love of travel and history as she married and left her Army commission to raise a family. She and her husband lived in Germany for nine years and enjoyed traveling throughout Europe, studying the region’s history as they traveled.
These days she continues to travel as she and her husband travel to Israel, Europe, and Africa through their ministry, Children of Jacob.
She is continuing her education as she takes classes in classical education, history, literature, Russian, and German and enjoys enriching her education through Bible studies, personal reading, and book clubs. She enjoys spending time with her friends and family, including a growing number of grandchildren, cooking, and a multitude of crafts. vixiefriedman.scholeacademy@gmail.com

Quarter 1

  1. Introduction with Big Picture Timeline
  2. Unit 1: The New (Atlantic) World
  3. Unit 2: The Occidental Outbreak and Colonialism
  4. Unit 3: The English 13
  5. Unit 4: French and Indian War

Quarter 2

  1. Unit 5: “How England Treated Her Colonies” (Guerber, page 87)
  2. Unit 6: The Revolutionary War/American War of Independence
  3. Unit 7: A New Nation and its Founding Fathers
  4. Unit 8: The Constitution and Bill of Rights
  5. Unit 9: Growth of Slavery and Growth of a Nation through the War of 1812

Quarter 3

  1. Unit 10: Into the West, Growth of a Nation, and The Civil War
  2. Unit 11: The Vanished Horizon: Results of Unbiblical Leadership
  3. Unit 12: Industrial Revolution in America and Labor Unions
  4. Unit 13: Isolationism and Imperialism
  5. Unit 14: Teddy Roosevelt
  6. Unit 15: World War I

Quarter 4

  1. Unit 16: The Roaring ‘20s and The Dirty ‘30s
  2. Unit 17: World War II
  3. Unit 18: Cold War
  4. Unit 19: Social Unrest (1950-1970)
  5. Unit 20: Vietnam—America’s 30 Years War
  6. Unit 21: The ‘70s Malaise and The Reagan ‘80s
  7. Unit 22: The War on Terror and The 21st Century So Far

Red checkmarkComputer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.

Red checkmarkHigh-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.

Red checkmarkWebcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)

Red checkmarkHeadset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm

Red checkmarkZoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. unnamed-e1455142229376 To download Zoom:

  1. Visit zoom.us/download.
  2. Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
  3. Open and run the installer on your computer.
  4. In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.

Red checkmarkScanner: In this class, students frequently submit homework assignments by scanning pages from their workbooks. Students and/or their parents should have easy access to a scanner and the ability to use it.

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First, read the available course descriptions, noting prerequisites, target grades, and course objectives. If you think your student is prepared for the course, go ahead and register. After registration, a placement assessment may be provided to students, depending on the course and the student’s previous enrollment with Scholé Academy. Registration is finalized when the student’s placement assessment has been returned by the course instructor with placement confirmation.

 

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