Dimitra Vasilopoulos - Social Studies Chair at A. Fantis Parochial School
Dimitra Vasilopoulos
Social Studies Chair
A. Fantis Parochial School
dvasilopoulos@afantis.org

Grades 5-8 Social Studies Academic SpotlightHistory and Social Studies for grades 5-8 is not merely an exercise of learning facts and memorization, but an opportunity for students to experience and become active members of a living history. It is a journey and an exciting adventure where our students become the protagonists and stars. Throughout the lessons, they take on different roles and perspectives as they become journalists, authors, artists, and citizens living in various places during different eras. They also become historical figures including kings, queens, presidents, inventors, and leaders whose accomplishments span centuries and decades. In this way, students remain engaged and can better understand the people who lived and made history as they walk in their footsteps. Bringing history alive is an integral element of learning and making historical events relevant and relatable for all students.

Throughout the school year, each grade follows a distinct curriculum.

The 5th grade acquires a basic overview of American history and US geography studying material from the early beginnings of our nation’s history to the early part of the 20th century. Topics include the discovery of America, the Age of Exploration, the Thirteen Colonies, the American Revolution, the division between the North and South, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the growth of cities.

The 6th grade travels the world and experiences the geography, history, and culture of different countries beginning in ancient times and ending in the later part of the 19th century. Topics of study include Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Ancient China, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Medieval Times, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and many others.

The 7th and 8th grades both study American history, but in a more in depth capacity.

The 7th grade begins with the roots of American history and ends with the Civil War.
Topics of study include the North American civilizations, life in colonial America, the American Revolution, the Constitution, Presidents and their accomplishments, the Industrial Revolution, social reforms, westward expansion, and others.

The 8th grade continues with the Reconstruction Era after the Civil War and concludes its studies with modern times.
Topics of study include urbanization, industrialization, immigration, World War I, The Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and others. Our lessons, interactive activities, technology use, student collaboration, and creative projects are all geared toward enhancing learning and allowing students to gain a renewed appreciation for the past, while also working on meeting standards and skills. The use of primary source documents, political cartoons, songs, poems, works of art, and other resources allows students to think critically about various issues and analyze the significance of events by looking at them through a different lens. Students also complete assignments that reflect persuasive and informational writing in the forms of interviews, letters, newspaper articles, advertisements and journal entries. Additionally, students learn to take notes and research using credible online sources. Research allows them to look at various perspectives and synthesize information into a cohesive and informed piece of writing.

Project based learning is the final component of our academic experience. Students learn and appreciate more when they use their imagination and creativity to create something that is their own. Taking ownership of a project gives students a greater sense of responsibility and allows them to delve deeper into a particular subject. Throughout the year, we work on special projects such as quilts, mosaics, bookmarks, profiles, collages, state snapshots, and decade synopsis related to the curriculum and President's Day, Black history month, Women's history month, US states, and architectural wonders of the world. Projects provide our students the opportunity to work independently and collaboratively to become better informed on a particular topic, person, or event. Students also present their projects to the class to give everyone an opportunity to learn from each other. In addition to the various academic interactive classroom experiences, students participate in school wide events such as the National Geography Bee competition and International Day Fair.

Overall, learning History at A. Fantis is an engaging and exciting experience for our students who eagerly participate in activities which help bring the famous faces and events of history to life. Thus, historical figures and noteworthy moments of history remain alive in the faces, commitment and knowledge of our students on their continuous journey of learning.