Academic Program
Middle School



The History Department instills in Middle School students a passion for history and joy in learning about the past. 
Through hands-on projects and creative group work, as well as more traditional in-class assessments and assignments, Middle School students develop skills in critical thinking, reading and writing, studying, public speaking, and debate while exploring historical topics. After a focus on American history and civics, which builds on our Lower School social studies curriculum, students begin a global history sequence, immersing themselves in the study of various regions and time periods. In all courses, students examine primary sources and consider questions of culture and values, and they learn that history is not only the study of dates and events, but also an immersion in the richness of historical thought and exploration.

Middle School History Curriculum

List of 4 items.

  • Grade 5: Creating America

    Students utilize historical thinking skills to explore questions of settlement and displacement, patriotism, and access to citizenship over the course of early American history. Students begin the year by learning foundational historical thinking skills that enable them to “think like a historian” and identify, analyze and evaluate key ideas, events and people in our nation's past. Students go on to examine how Indigenous Americans adapted to their environment, explore early settlement in the Colonial Period, and delve into the events and ideas that led to the American Revolution, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Through these topics, students explore how America’s ideas about democracy, equality and freedom developed as the nation matured.
  • Grade 6: Ancient World

    How did the Earth form? When do humans come in? When, why, and how did the first civilizations develop? History 6 begins with examining how early humans adapted to their physical environment to survive and thrive, paving the way for the rise of renowned ancient civilizations like those in Egypt, China, Greece and Rome. To engage our budding historians, they will practice skills in analytical writing, primary source analysis, art criticism and group presentations. In class students will explore the role of archaeologists and historians as they utilize artifacts to investigate complex societies and conduct research on other ancient civilizations around the world.
  • Grade 7: The Medieval World

    What was the impact of Mansa Musa’s Hajj on the Islamic world? What opportunities and limitations did women have in the Middle Ages? How have the values of the Samurai evolved over time in Japanese history? Grade 7 history addresses these questions by focusing on the culture and history of four different areas of the Postclassical world: Japan, Europe, the Middle East and West Africa. The course investigates the role of religion, economics, politics and gender roles through research projects, argumentative essay writing, primary source analysis and art history. Students develop the academic skills of critical reading, writing, note-taking through the use of historical thinking skills in order to grow their competence as budding historians.

  • Grade 8: Early Modern World

    Emerging from the feudal system of Europe and the royal courts of India and the Middle East, the 15th to 18th centuries witnessed explosions in scientific advancement and intellectual thought. We begin History 8 by exploring the influence of disease on the emerging global scene through the summer reading book When Plague Strikes and then examine the role of power and hegemony on the rise and fall of both new and old empires. Through primary and secondary sources, students in History 8 examine the factors that brought the world into the so-called “modern era." Dovetailing from History 7’s medieval curriculum and linking to Grade 9’s Global History I, History 8 bridges historical content and skills in historical analysis, critical and creative thinking, and research and writing.

Explore Our Curriculum

A K-12 independent school in New York city, The Spence School prepares a diverse community of girls and young women for the demands of academic excellence and responsible citizenship.


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