• Dear Sixth Grade Families;

    Welcome to the Ann Arbor Public Schools Family Pages. We hope the information you find here assists you in supporting your child while s/he is learning important skills and concepts throughout the sixth grade year. 
    Four key sources inform the middle school Social Studies program; (1) The Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations, (2) the C3 Framework for College, Career and Civic Life for Social Studies State Standards, (3) Social Studies Alive! and (4) History Alive!. The Michigan GLCEs define what the state expects students to know and be able to do in Social Studies at the end of each grade level. Development of units in Atlas is in process. Check back for updates: Atlas: Sixth Grade Social Studies



    How: How Can I Be a Social Scientist? 








































    When: How Did We Get Here?























    Where: What's the Big Deal About Geography?
















    Who: Who Is Civilized? Why Is Power Unequal?






    Why: How Do We Decide What to Believe?









    What: Who Gets the Resources?







    Kay Wade

    District Social Studies Department Chair 


  • Sixth Grade Social Studies Units

    This unit emphasizes the foundations of social studies. Middle school students are natural social scientist. Their role in society is their primary concern, and sharpening skills in observation, fact-checking, sourcing, and considering context will help them be successful in their daily lives. Social Studies foundations will frame the content in a meaningful way, thereby increasing student engagement and learning. The author of Facing History and the Foundations unit, states:

    "As students study world history, they will explore how individuals and groups over time and across continents have answered questions about identity. They will learn that many of the same factors that influence their identities—factors such as religion, gender, and geography—also shaped the identities of the ancient Greeks, the Mayans, and the Chinese. Thus, this lesson establishes an important social studies theme that will resonate throughout the year.

    At the same time, beginning the year by having students examine and share their own identities is a way to build relationships in your class. When sixth grade students begin a new school year, often with unfamiliar classmates and teachers, it is particularly important for them to have the opportunity to get to know their new community and to become known by others. The activities suggested in this lesson begin this process of relationship building."

    Classes will segue into a look at a lunchroom scene. Teachers will point out explicitly the skills they are using to unravel the mystery, and how those skills connect to what social scientists--historians, geographers, and archaeologists-- do to examine the past. From there, students will take those skills and apply them within the contexts of the social sciences while setting the stage with a case study of ancient human history through a forensic case study of a Mayan ball game.

    Students will then "get their bearings," thinking about how space and time need to be visually represented for us to keep information organized to we can make sense of it. This Active Classroom activity separates maps into time, space and history. Students engage in activities that connect geography to history, so they can see that they are two pieces of the same puzzle of understanding human history. Learn more on Atlas: How To Be a Social Scientist

    Students will explore the diaspora of human history. Learning about large scale human history as a beginning to a closer study of culture, movement patterns and events allows students to understand the miraculous conditions that allowed humans to flourish. From the perspective of this unit students are challenged to consider that the choices we make provides a set of positive and negative consequences. Students will study the shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture by considering the things we gained and lost through the "opportunity-cost" perspective rather than the more traditional approach of "the catalyst of human progress".

    In keeping with the new geography-focused 2015 standards, students will begin with a role-playing simulation that requires them to learn specific biomes, to imagine they are plopped down in a certain region of the world, with nothing but a basic tool kit (no clothing, food, or shelter!). Students will understand the complexity of early survival and the interrelationship with the environment. Building on the interpretive skills they learned in Unit one, students examine cave paintings to hypothesize lifestyle choices and necessities for early paleolithic peoples. Students recall the mapping skills learned in Unit One to get a visual perspective of the human diaspora which maps the migration out of Africa, and sets the stage to understanding the next big topic: shifting from hunting and gathering to an agrarian way of life. Students will culminate their learning of early humans in an analysis of the issue of who gets the rights to study Kennewick man's remains. Learn more on Atlas: How Did We Get Here?

    Students will study the geography of world history. Once humans began to cultivate the land, our settled lifestyle resulted in the first growing civilizations, leading quickly to city-states. It is here that we see the birth of complex social structures such as government, job diversification, and social hierarchy. Our ties to the physical land shaped the decisions we made, the technology we imagined and the relationships we built. Students will explore questions such as: 1. Was the physical geography the same as it is now? 2. How will future changes in geography shape where we go from here?

    Students will explore the cause-effect progression of diverse civilizations, and how the "where" of each civilization shows both how similarly humans assemble, and the stark differences that geography dictates for the shape of our societies. Students will deepen their understanding of the earth as a planet, examining plate tectonics and continents. In preparation for the next unit on the rise of civilizations, students will explore the major river valleys of the world through mapping labs. Learn more on Atlas: What's the Big Deal

    Students will study the civics of world history through the middle east region as a case study for this progression. Students will use  whole-class inquiry, and then in groups they will take on other emergent civilizations from this era around the world to compare and contrast the developments. Learn more on Atlas: Why is Power Unequal? 

    Students will be introduced to the sociology of world history. The ability to think abstractly is a uniquely human attribute. From the beginning of human existence, religion has played a critical role in people’s understanding of the world and life’s purpose. Students will explore how Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism developed, spread, and shaped their followers’ beliefs; defined government, laws and social structure; inspired art and culture; and brought civilizations together, as well as, broke them apart. Learn more on Atlas: How We Decide What To Believe?   

    Students will learn the economics of world history. As soon as people settled on and claimed land they wanted more. Examples include Sumerians blocking people downriver from water from the irrigation systems, people in Inner China building the Great Wall to keep out people from Outer China, and how the members of OPEC control the flow of oil to the world today. The year will culminate will students building bridges between ancient history and the current geo-political landscape. Learn more on Atlas:Who Gets the Resources?