This article provides 18 free Social Studies Lesson Units for students in grades 6–8. Social studies provides students with a wide range of applicable knowledge and understanding, allowing them to better understand and manage today’s complex world.
Quick Links to Social Studies Lesson Units in this Article:
- Why It’s Important to Study Social Studies
- Social Studies Lesson Units for Grades 6-8 from SERP:
Why It’s Important to Study Social Studies
Middle school students can reap many benefits from studying social studies that will serve them well in their future endeavors, both professionally and personally. Here are some of them:
- Develops Critical Thinking Skills: Social studies encourages students to think critically about the world around them. They learn to analyze information from various sources, identify bias, and form their own informed opinions. This is crucial in today’s world, where information is constantly bombarding us from all directions.
- Fosters Civic Engagement: Social studies helps students understand how government and society work. This knowledge empowers them to become active and engaged citizens who participate in the democratic process. They learn about their rights and responsibilities, as well as the importance of voting and participating in community activities.
- Enhances Global Awareness: Social studies exposes students to different cultures and societies around the world. This broadens their perspective and helps them develop empathy and understanding for others. It also helps them recognize their place in the global community and the interconnectedness of our world.
- Improves Communication Skills: Social studies requires students to communicate effectively both orally and in writing. They learn to express their ideas clearly and concisely, participate in discussions, and engage in respectful debate. These skills are essential for success in all aspects of life.
- Encourages Collaboration: Many social studies projects require students to work together in groups. This helps them develop teamwork skills, learn to compromise, and appreciate different viewpoints. These skills are essential for success in both their academic and personal lives.
- Builds Cultural Competency: Social studies helps students understand and appreciate different cultures and perspectives. This is essential for navigating our multicultural world and building meaningful relationships with people from all walks of life.
- Develops Historical Literacy: Social studies helps students understand the past and how it shapes the present. This understanding is important for making well-educated choices in the future. By learning about history, students can avoid repeating the mistakes of the past and work towards a better future.
- Encourages Problem-Solving Skills: Social studies often requires students to analyze complex problems and develop solutions. This helps them develop critical thinking skills, creativity, and the ability to think outside the box. These abilities are needed for success in any job or sector.
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Unit 6.1: The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt: Oppressors or Great Leaders?
Students will learn about the reigns of many Egyptian pharaohs, and confront the challenging issue of whether pharaohs exhibited key leadership traits or used their authority to oppress people. As a result of these leaders’ divine position, students think about questions of allegiance, safety, and one’s individual rights.
Unit 6.2: The Egyptian Pharaohs: Wise Investors or Wasteful Spenders?
Students proceed with their study of Ancient Egypt and the pharaohs in this unit. They investigate into the everyday aspects of Ancient Egyptian life while also highlighting the wealth gap between ordinary people and pharaohs. Students also get the opportunity to argue over whether the Ancient Egyptians were good stewards of their wealth or irresponsible spenders in this subject.
Unit 6.3: Was it better to be an Athenian or a Spartan?
The cities of Athens and Sparta are the focal points of this unit’s exploration of Ancient Greece. By analyzing historical facts, students get a deeper understanding of the many populations who called these cities home and engage in healthy discussion about whether the Athenians or the Spartans were more successful. Students are also asked to reflect on the discussion and submit an essay outlining their viewpoints.
Unit 6.4: The Legacy of Alexander the Great: Great Leader or Power-Hungry Tyrant?
This unit extends the exploration of Ancient Greece by focusing on Alexander the Great. After reading about Alexander’s rise to fame as “Alexander the Great,” students will use historical facts to create a résumé or a report about a crime. In order to decide whether Alexander the Great was a brilliant statesman or a despot seeking power, students will come up with justifications and objections.
Unit 6.5: Ancient Roman Government: Whose Voice Counts?
Students will learn about the political structure of Ancient Rome in this unit. The gladiator bouts and Ancient Rome are presented as they research the conflicts from both sides and then use that information to build their own arguments. The next topic of examination is who should have the authority to prohibit the gladiator games. Then students are requested to reflect on the relevance of UFC to modern culture and draw connections between that sport and the gladiator events.
Unit 6.6: Pompeii: An Irresponsible Decision or Unexpected Disaster?
Students pick up where they left off in their Ancient Rome by investigating the fate of Pompeii. They attain insight by studying the city’s history prior to the volcano. Then they develop explanations that help them decide whether the fate of the Pompeiians was due to carelessness or an unforeseen catastrophe. A written assignment on today’s hazardous living locations is also assigned.
Unit 7.1: What happens to your life when you’re uprooted?
In this first of six lessons, we meet the fictitious Sudanese siblings Aluel and Gabriel. An overview of Dinka culture and daily life in Sudan is presented as students learn of Aluel and Gabriel’s ordeal of escaping their home town during an assault. Violations of human rights are covered, along with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Students also have to consider whether or not to offer refugee status to minors who have fled their country.
Unit 7.2: Who do you trust when your life is at stake?
Students in this unit accompany the siblings, Gabriel and Aluel, and their companions as they leave their community for a safer place. They debate the best way forward and learn more about the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Then they write about someone’s personal experience of fleeing to refuge over the dangerous Gilo River.
Unit 7.3: Where is home?
In this third of six units, students follow Aluel and Gabriel as they embark on their voyage. The political unrest that led Aluel and Gabriel to leave their Ethiopian refugee camp is taught, and a problem occurs with schooling of girls when Aluel and Gabriel relocate to a Kenyan refugee camp. Students discuss and write about this after examining various viewpoints.
Unit 7.4: Who will we become?
Students are introduced to the refugee problem after Hurricane Katrina and then learn about Gabriel and Aluel’s journey to America, as well as three real-life boys’ recollections of what it was like to return to Sudan after living in America. Students investigate whether the displacement of people is ever acceptable in the context of world modernization. They also writes letters to Aluel and Gabriel offering them encouragement as they settle into life in the United States.
Unit 7.5: How do I fit in?
Students receive understanding about “fitting in” in this unit. After the events of September 11, 2001, they learn about Aluel and Gabriel’s new life in Minnesota and the challenges faced by people in the U.S. In addition to expanding their understanding of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, students explore the U.S. citizenship pathway. Current immigration policies are compared to those of the 1800s.
Unit 7.6: Should we stay or should we return?
South Sudan’s independence from Sudan and the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the two states are covered in this unit. After learning about various NGOs’ missions, students discuss whether Gabriel and Aluel should go back to their native country. Students formulate their own opinions about going back to Sudan as part of a writing assignment.
Unit 8.1: What are governments good for?
In this unit, students learn about the privileges and obligations of becoming a citizen of the United States. The Patriot Act of 2001 is discussed, and students have the opportunity to weigh in on the benefits and drawbacks of the legislation. In addition, they study three case studies pertaining to crime reduction policies implemented by Singaporean, British, and American governments.
Unit 8.2: Who gets to say what I need to know?
The Scopes “Monkey Trial” and the controversy surrounding the inclusion of evolution in science instruction serve introduces to the subject of government education. Following this, students gather information and have a discussion about whether schools should teach the most cutting-edge science or consider parental views when making decisions about the curriculum. A writing assignment based on a relaed issue is then given to the students.
Unit 8.3: What is the value of your citizenship?
The requirements for citizenship in the United States and other nations are examined in this unit. Students will compare and contrast the rights enjoyed by U.S. citizens and legal and undocumented immigrants; they will also explore the relative merits of different paths to citizenship. The last assignment is for students to express their views on the topic of birthright citizenship in an essay.
Unit 8.4: When is a crime not a crime?
Should all offenders be subject to the same sentencing guidelines for identical offenses? This is the central topic in the unit discussion.While reading about Trayvon Martin, marriage between two races, and the legalization of marijuana, students get familiar with this topic. Lastly, students write an essay after reading President Obama’s address after the Zimmerman verdict.
Unit 8.5: Where is the justice in our justice system?
This unit examines racial and criminal challenges, as students learn about an accused person’s rights in the U.S., as well as the various forms of penalties. Students read a case study of a person who was convicted of crime but then changed directions in his life. Students examine a variety of infographics on how justice works in the U.S. in preparation for a discussion, which explores what the basic aim of a justice system ought to be.
Unit 8.6: How do we right the wrongs of the past?
Students are exposed to the concept of correcting the wrongs of the past. Students obtain context by learning about Jim Crow segregation, the unjust method of redlining, and some worldwide instances of government wrongdoing. Students then discuss whether the U.S. government should pay African Americans to make up for prior injustices. Later, they write to answer a quotation from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. regarding his struggle opposing race discrimination.
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