Social Studies


Social studies at Forest Ridge builds a framework for understanding modern issues. By examining the interconnectedness of history, students become active and informed global citizens. In 5th through 8th grades, students gain a foundation in the principles of archaeology, ancient civilizations and U.S. history. Students then expand their awareness to ask powerful questions from the perspective of global citizenship.

 

High school students take a deeper dive and explore the tensions between the wants and needs of individuals and groups. They examine concepts such as fairness, equity and social justice through a global lens. Classes such as Coffee, Sugar and Chocolate: Pleasure, Power and Shame, challenge students to explore the history of our daily consumption. Through active discussion, individual writing, leadership opportunities and exposure to varied perspectives, students deepen their understanding of the world.


Middle School: 5th-8th Grade

Grade Five

The fifth-grade social studies curriculum focuses on a complete study of America’s past. In our first unit, students review and practice basic geography and map skills, including labeling features on maps, determining absolute location using latitude and longitude, and identifying physical features of the United States. Students discover how and why Europeans came to the New World.

Throughout the year in humanities, we work toward understanding our diversity as a class and appreciating the diverse people and cultures of the United States. The students simulate the actions of the British that angered the colonists in the 1700s, and they reflect on how it feels when their freedoms and rights are revoked, and what their choices are when harsh new rules and regulations are imposed. The students discover the main ideas in the Declaration of Independence and later they uncover how the unlikely victory of the colonists in the American Revolution unfolded.

Students also spend time exploring and interpreting the remaining freedom documents, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In the spring, in an integrated humanities unit, the students explore Westward Expansion in depth. This unit emphasizes nonfiction reading strategies and the thinking skills needed to write as a well-researched historian. Finally, we end our year-long study of America’s past with a unit on the causes and events of the Civil War.

Each social studies unit in fifth grade provides an opportunity for each girl to recognize her personal rights and responsibilities as a young citizen. These historical topics push each student to grow and apply critical thinking and discussion skills while developing a deep knowledge of American heritage and ideals.

Grade Six

The sixth-grade social studies curriculum begins with the study of archaeology, exploring how social scientists gather information about ancient people. These initial units set the foundation for our year-long study of ancient cultures. Understanding the characteristics of civilization becomes a lens through which we examine a wide range of ancient people.

Throughout the year, students investigate ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China, Greece and Rome. We begin each unit exploring maps to identify physical features of each region and see how geography influenced the location of early settlements. Students explore the culture and achievements of each civilization. Throughout the year, students develop an understanding of different types of government and begin to compare and contrast different civilizations. Activities, projects and historical fiction immerse students in the cultures and civilizations studied. Students practice a variety of academic skills including analytical writing, presentation, note taking and study strategies.

Grade Seven

The seventh-grade social studies program focuses on educating girls to be global citizens in an increasingly interconnected world. We explore how the world has shaped human culture and relationships over time and how major events connect or divide people. Major topics include imperialism, colonialism, government, and revolution. Our guiding questions are: “Who has power in a particular situation? How did they get power? How can we use our own power for the good of the world?”

Students are challenged to think critically about history and investigate contemporary global issues. The content of the class provides an opportunity for students to build skills that will help them to develop and practice their abstract critical thinking skills, ask meaningful questions and become global leaders.

Students practice note-taking, annotation, reading for information and analysis, discussion, study skills, research and writing. Simulations and project-based learning will help students gain an appreciation of the multicultural world in which we live. Student materials and tools include a shared class notebook, textbook excerpts, news articles, online resources, videos and stories.

Grade Eight

Main areas of focus for eighth-grade social studies are the U.S. Constitution, Washington state history and United States history. The course is rooted in the study of the history, structure, and purpose of the U.S. government and Constitution. This study prepares the students to be informed and active democratic citizens. In the winter, we turn our attention to Washington state as students learn about geography, indigenous experiences, westward expansion and the road to statehood. Next, we do an in-depth, thematic study of the fight for equality for African Americans and women. Finally, we explore what it means to be American through the study of immigration policy, attitudes and experiences.

In addition to a historical perspective, each area of focus also includes a close look at relevant current events, including Supreme Court cases, election coverage and social movements. Through class activities, group projects, essays and presentations, students develop critical skills such as understanding varied perspectives, analyzing primary and secondary source material, forming oral and written arguments, implementing annotation strategies and research. 

High School: 9th-12th Grade

Graduation Requirement: 4.0 credits (8 Semesters)

Exploring Global Cultures

Year-long/Required

Please note that this is a two-period, cocurricular class.

This integrated course fulfills both the social studies and religious studies requirements for the 9th grade year. Developing a nuanced understanding of different cultures means developing religious literacy; these are intertwined, fundamental elements of these two disciplines.

Students examine multiple perspectives as they deepen their understanding of the world around them, past and present. By bringing two subjects together, students have the opportunity to build a framework to analyze the religious and social justice dimensions of social, political and cultural life and to apply these skills to global issues such as human rights, the environment and world health. In this course we seek to examine and critique our own lenses, recognizing that Forest Ridge is a Sacred Heart School in a U.S. context, and to explore the diverse ideas that shape our increasingly interconnected global community.

Skills developed include understanding human geography, textual analysis and interpretation, inquiry, discussion, research and writing and personal reflection. Students engage in case studies, seminar discussions, creative and real-world writing assignments, Model UN and other debates.

Prerequisite: None
Grade level: 9
Credit earned: 1.0 Social Studies and 1.0 Religious Studies

U.S. History and Culture

Year-long/Required

This 10th grade class comprises a study of U.S. history, culture and institutions. This year, students examine the stated ideals of the United States, specifically equality, liberty, opportunity, respect for rights and popular sovereignty, as articulated and supported in the founding documents. Selected historical events from the founding of the country through the Civil Rights Movement are evaluated through the lens of these ideals. Resources include textbook and primary source readings, lectures and presentations and online databases. Assessments include in-class essays, analyses of primary sources, content quizzes, class activities and an independent research paper.

Prerequisite: None
Grade level: 10
Credit earned: 1.0 Social Studies

U.S. Government and Politics

One Semester/Required

Students in this junior-level course learn concepts and theories related to United States government and politics, analyze data and apply relevant theories and models to current government and political situations. Students are challenged to grow as reflective critical thinkers, recognize their own assumptions and become better social scientists. Course content also includes basic economic thinking.

Prerequisite: None
Grade level: 11
Credit earned: 0.5 Social Studies

Coffee, Sugar and Chocolate: Pleasure, Power and Shame

One Semester

Following the delicious trail of our everyday consumables, we discover the history of their production to be much less savory. We examine the global trade of three tropical crops: coffee, sugar and chocolate, from 1500 to the present. Political and economic events, as well as technical changes, nutrition, migration and the experience of enslavement are examined. Students take the initiative in discussions and in explorations of current events relevant to our study, and each student researches another globally-traded product for comparison and written analysis. This study raises our awareness of the consequences, both long-distance and nearby, of large-scale human interactions.

Prerequisite: None
Grade level: 11, 12
Credit earned: 0.5 Social Studies

Silencing Dissent

One Semester

As responsible actors engaged with the world’s challenges, we must ask ourselves, “What prevents responsible action?”

This prompts us to examine societies in recent history and the present day in which power has set itself against responsible engagement: specifically, totalitarian governments and other forms of organized oppression, as well as less organized societal imbalances. We evaluate examples of resistance against these forces, in the twentieth century and today.

Topics begin with Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, the Cold War US, and on to other more recent developments around the world. A variety of books and articles make up the readings. The class takes shape around student-driven research, presentations, discussions and activities.

Prerequisite: None
Grade level: 11, 12
Credit earned: 0.5 Social Studies

Business, Economics and Entrepreneurship

Business, Economics and Entrepreneurship I
One Semester

This is a comprehensive and fast-paced curriculum, studying the main components of the domestic and global business world, Human Resources, Finance, Marketing and Operations, intertwined with basic economic micro and macro principles. The first part of the year focuses on an intro to the business world, human resources, finance and economic theory. Dovetailing with this will be personal financial literacy. 

Prerequisite: None
Grade level: 11, 12
Credit earned: 0.5 Social Studies
 
Business, Economics and Entrepreneurship II
One Semester

The course focuses on marketing and operations, culminating in an entrepreneurial, year-end project and college-level business plan. Current events and outside reading are an integral part of this class. Students will end the year with a basic understanding of the global business and economic framework and the satisfaction of stepping into entrepreneur shoes with the simulated creation of their own companies.

Prerequisite: Part 1 of this course is strongly recommended but not required
Grade level: 11, 12
Credit earned: 0.5 Social Studies

The Power of Narrative

One Semester

Please note that this is a two-period, cocurricular class.

False historical beliefs are pervasive in our culture. Students in this interdisciplinary course apply critical thinking as they examine historical and literary texts through analytical historical and anthropological perspectives. Students cultivate and learn to use these skills through the lens of myths, misconceptions, and manipulations of the past.

Course topics include: myths about Westward expansion, Native American genocide, Colonialism and Antisemitism. We examine the ways people manipulate the past, common techniques used to perpetuate problematic myths and claims about the past, and how and why the past has been appropriated throughout time.

An important focus of this class are the methods and evidence used by scholars to interpret past peoples and events–specifically critical thinking, interpretative and analytical skills used to disprove inaccurate and problematic claims about the past. Students learn about these methods and apply them in analytical writing and presentation throughout the course, including assignments to help students to be more critical consumers of information as they examine their own believes about history.

Prerequisite: None
Grade level: 12
Credits earned: 0.5 Social Studies and 0.5 English