Socratic Circles help students to explore important topics such as social justice and environmental sustainability. Just prior to Halloween, with costumes and candy on their minds, they took the opportunity to focus on where our chocolate comes from. The students read and annotated a Washington Post article about child labor in the cocoa industry and came to class prepared to discuss it with their classmates. This practice of structured, student-led, critical conversation is an essential step on the journey to becoming sophisticated learners who can engage meaningfully with challenging topics
Making connections between the past and present is a major theme in the Middle School Humanities program. During Individuals and Societies classes students explored the seven characteristics of civilization. Following a lively discussion about the pillars of functional societies, students worked in teams to examine photographs of artifacts from Ancient Sumer for evidence of it having been a civil society. This activity is a means of formatively assessing students’ understanding of bigger-picture concepts such as how the uncertain availability of resources causes innovation over time, and whether or not people always interpret the past the same way.