Social Studies

At Brookwood, social studies prepares kids to think critically and globally. Students learn to question the sources of their information, to examine multiple perspectives on an issue, and to identify bias. Primary sources are used wherever possible; for example, when they study Columbus, students read the letters that the explorer himself wrote, rather than just a textbook. They identify the groups and cultures of which they and others are a part, and they come to appreciate the foundations of each. They study maps, and they make them. They compare and contrast. They use evidence to persuade, and they seek it in the arguments of others. Our students make connections. Social studies and history come alive because teachers encourage students to connect their studies with the world around them.

Teachers at Brookwood tap into the rich cultural network of both the North Shore and Boston to complement class work. Students recall stepping back in time while exploring the Yin Yu Tang house at the Peabody Essex Museum.  They get to experience first-hand Gloucester's commercial fishing industry at Connolly's Processing plant, among other site visits.   Older students travel to the Moakley Federal Courthouse, where they serve as jurors in mock trials sponsored by the Harvard Law School Trial Advocacy Program.

Exciting, relevant, challenging—all attributes of the social studies program at Brookwood.

Social Studies Curriculum Goals
In general, the Social Studies Department seeks to have Brookwood students:

  • Define and explore the concept of culture by investigating diverse forms of government, ancient and modern world civilizations, geography, and religion
  • Develop a sense of self and appreciate how one fits into various communities
  • Examine American and World history in an effort to develop critical thinking skills
  • Seek evidence, appreciate perspective and bias, understand cause and effect, and search for connections
  • Organize information through research, note taking, and declarative writing

Grade Level Curricular Goals and Focal Points
At each respective grade level, our goal is to have students:


  • Investigate the reasons for rules and laws
  • Identify "problems" in the community and explore solutions (service learning)
    Begin to see one's self as part of a community outside of one's family
  • Consider how one’s own actions and contributions can affect communities
  • Explore common aspects of culture including religion, language, music, education, and celebrations
  • Identify some commonalities/differences among people, cultures, and resources throughout the globe
  • Use various maps, charts, and graphs to consider specific geographic cultural connections


  • Develop a sense of self as a part of a larger community
  • Explore common characteristics and differences (of or within) culture and the potential impact of one’s own cultural perspective
  • Examine the connections among people across the globe

Grade One:

  • Deepen the understanding of the self as a part of a larger community
  • Broaden understanding of “culture” and how one’s own culture contributes to perspective and bias
  • Learn the locations of continents
  • Develop an understanding of the distinctions between the above continents, etc.
  • Appreciate the connection between the culture and geography

Grade Two:

  • Continue to examine how one’s actions and contributions affect communities through discussions, literature and service learning experiences
  • Appreciate the differences between urban, rural, and suburban communities
  • Explore how ancestry and cultural heritage contribute to family traditions and enrich communities
  • Acquire basic map vocabulary
  • Begin discussions of early American history through looking at Massachusetts' towns in the 1700s
  • Explore the basic foundations of the Civil Rights movement and concepts of peace and conflict
    Research biographies of individuals from various cultural backgrounds

Grade Three:

  • Continue to consider and define one's identity in relation to others'
  • Explore ways to sustain ourselves, the community, and the earth
  • Examine various identities and customs from the 17th and 18th century in eastern North America (English colonists/Wampanoag)
  • Develop research skills around the following units, U.S. States and biographies
  • Continue investigation of the Civil Rights Movement
  • Learn about great women and their impact on society; gain exposure to women's struggles fo rights

Grade Four:

  • Develop a working understanding of ancient civilizations across various continents
  • Perform Greek plays, build Mesopotamian bricks, design topographic maps of the Nile River, and experience other activities that bring ancient cultures to life
  • Embark on the research process, including taking notes from a wide variety of sources, discerning pertinent versus nonessential information, and presenting information through formally written and performed pieces
  • Discuss and analyze different perspectives

Grade Five:

  • Seek to understand our historical roots and to locate ourselves in time, developing a historical perspective by examining the exploration of North America by world explorers
  • Personal identity is shaped by one’s culture, by groups, and by institutional influences. Using the paradigm of colonial America, we explore such questions as: why did the colonists behave as they did? Who was here before them?  What influenced how they created  government? How did they meet their basic needs, and why did they choose the geographical locations they did to settle?  How did this impact the indigenous peoples?
  • Analyze the motivations for, implications and commonalities of, the movement of peoples beginning with pre-history and culminating with southern and eastern European immigration, predominantly tothe East Coast, between the years 1880 and 1920
  • Students reconstruct the past through simulations focusing on exploration, colonization and immigration.  They explore the questions “Who am I?” “What happened in the past?”, “How has the world changed and how might it change in the future?”
  • Continue working on the development of research skills begun in fourth grade by producing a formal research paper


Grade Six:

  • Investigate the concept of culture by exploring its ten attributes or components of culture and pursuing the differences in these attributes across continents
  • Acquire a basic understanding of economics through explorations into supply and demand and by discerning connections between economics and the other attributes
    Develop an appreciation and understanding of other cultures by first investigating our own local culture and then expanding our explorations to those within our own country and beyond to the planet as a whole
  • Explore the Israeli and Palestinian conflict in an effort to better analyze the dynamics of conflict resolution and decision-making, and the difficulties of reconciling a conflict where opposing sides have equally valid and legitimate arguments
  • Utilize supporting evidence to substantiate arguments both orally and in writing
  • Apply research skills to various written and creative projects and papers
  • Memorize geographical locating of over 400 countries, cities, states, bodies of water, and mountain ranges
  • Utilize class content to both practice and improve critical thinking skills

Grade Seven:

  • Analyze the structure of American government and the responsibilities of each branch thereof
  • Examine the liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights
  • Explore the causes of the American Civil War
  • Examine the role of both government and ordinary citizens in the Civil Rights Movement and recognize that movement as a series of case studies in how to effect change
  • Produce a thesis-based research paper, complete with MLA-style citations

Grade Eight:

  • Further develop tools to analyze different cultures in the world: examine identity, economic systems, governments, religions
  • Explore specifically the history of India, and the source of the conflict with Pakistan, compare and contrast colonialism of India with that of the US
  • Explore the origins and importance of the caste system in India; compare and contrast with the civil rights movement in the US
  • Conduct an intensive mock trial to bolster understanding of the the importance of a legal system on the culture/development of a country
  • Produce a 5-8 page MLA-formatted research paper