Course Description


Mesa Middle School

Empowering All Students…

8th Grade Individuals & Societies - American History


The Individuals and Societies (formally Humanities) program at Mesa Middle School encourages learners to respect and understand the world around them and equips them with the necessary skills to inquire into historical, contemporary, geographical, political, social, economic, and cultural factors that have an impact on individuals, societies, and environments. It encourages learners, both students and teachers, to consider local and global contexts with the aim of providing students with the skills of lifelong learners to participate in a democratic, as well as global, society.  Students will develop intercultural awareness, as well as respect and understanding of the world around them.  Students will be given opportunities to fully realize their potential as an IB learner; thus expanding on the qualities described by the IB Learner Profile.  

Course Description


The eighth grade Individuals and Societies curriculum lends itself to engaging students intellectually, personally, emotionally, and socially. The inquiry approach to learning is used to help students understand both current events and issues facing their local, national, and global communities. The IB Middle Years Program of the IB curriculum, fundamental concepts of holistic learning, communication and intercultural awareness are central to the 8th grade Individuals & Societies classroom. Eighth grade Individuals and Societies explores United States History with a review of Geography, Nation Building including the 13 Colonies, the American Revolution, the U.S. Constitution, the Growth & Expanding of our Nation and the Civil War.

Colorado Content Standards

- Investigate and evaluate primary and secondary sources from multiple diverse perspectives about United States history from the American Revolution through Reconstruction to formulate and defend claims with textual evidence and logical reasoning.
- Develop a contextual understanding of the historical eras, individuals, groups, ideas and themes from the origins of the American Revolution through Reconstruction.

- Use geographic tools to research and analyze patterns in human and physical systems in the United States.

- Recognize the impact of the competition for control of land and resources in early American history.

- Investigate how economic freedom, including free trade, was important for economic growth in early American history.

- Construct an understanding of the changing definition of citizenship and the expansion of rights of citizens in the United States.

- Investigate and evaluate the purpose and place of rule of law in a constitutional system.

Personal Financial Literacy
- Examine the role of consumer decisions and taxes within the market economies of early American history.


Disciplinary Skills

  • Analyze and evaluate primary and secondary sources
  • Develop topic-specific literacy skills
  • Refine content-area research skills
  • Make inferences and defend an argument with evidence
  • Understand future roles and responsibilities of civic duty

Essential Questions to be Explored

v What are the intellectual habits and skills of a good historian?

v Can and should historians be completely impartial and objective?

v How do different factors influence the relationships and identities of a community?

v What circumstances encourage people to challenge power and authority?

v Why do governments use trade and exchange to control its citizenry? What are the benefits and challenges of trade?

v Is propaganda an ethical way of influencing people?

v How have the basic values and principles of democracy changed over time? In what ways have they been preserved? 

v How do we explain the connection between choices and perspectives?

v How are different cultures valued?


Units of Study

Tools of History – timelines, source analysis (primary v. secondary), historical thinking, cause and effect, systems of dates and centuries

Review of Colonial Period – mapping, economic and religious differences, transatlantic trade of enslaved humans, mercantilism

The American Revolution – French & Indian War, tyranny of economic and political interference, loyalists vs. patriots, major battles, key players, civilian contributions, Declaration of Independence, role of allies

The Constitution and Principles of Government – Articles of Confederation, Branches of government, compromises, checks and balances, Bill of Rights, modern Supreme Court, citizenship

Westward Expansion – Lewis & Clark, War of 1812, Manifest Destiny, Mexican American War, Industrialization, Trail of Tears, Gold Rush, Women's movement

The Civil War – abolition, sectionalism, slavery, major battles and players, impact on civilians, Gettysburg Address, emancipation, Surrender, assination of Lincoln