Social Studies

Social studies students at Birchwood School of Hawken develop a strong knowledge base in history, geography, and cultural studies. This helps create a love of history and interest in continuing studies. Students learn how to think like a historian. They learn how to determine the basic facts of a historical happening by asking questions about where and when the event occurred as well as the details of what happened. Then they must consider why the event happened and what factors contributed to it, therefore analyzing its cause and effect.

We teach students to think about the context in which the historical event unfolded. Students then learn to analyze the impact and significance of the historical event, both in the short- and long-term. We believe it is necessary for students to memorize and comprehend important facts so they can use this information to think analytically and critically about history and culture. Students are taught a wide array of study skills they can utilize to master content.
Students are also afforded the opportunity to gain extensive experience in research. They learn how to collect data from general and specialized libraries, make use of available reference tools, become adept at using online reference sites, and learn how to seek out primary sources from archives. Students are taught how to take notes, how to organize their notes, and how to set up an outline from their notes. They learn how to think about the data they have collected: how to organize, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate data. Finally, students learn how to display their research in a variety of forms: papers, speeches, reenactments, or audiovisual productions. Seventh and eighth grade students participate in National History Day, a contest that gives in-depth experience in Birchwoods social studies objectives.
At all grade levels, history comes alive for Birchwood students through debates and simulations, field trips, speakers, and service projects such as sending school supplies to Uganda or writing letters to soldiers overseas.