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Orinda Academy is a Co-Ed, College Preparatory, Independent School for Students in Grades 8-12, and has a Convenient East Bay Location.

Making History Meaningful in Middle School

Private School Orinda

In today’s fast-moving, forward thinking world, history can sound like a dry subject to students. For teachers and parents, engaging students in studying the past may be challenging, but the key is to demonstrate how relevant history really is for young learners. At Orinda Academy, our 8 th grade students spend the year exploring U.S. history in a curriculum designed to be engaging and meaningful. Here are some of the ways parents and teachers can make history matter for students.

Highlight Personal Connections
Students want to know how their lessons impact their lives, and history class offers many opportunities for teachers and parents to draw connections between the material and the lives of students today. In each lesson, look for the links to things that are happening in real time that resonate with the students. Putting history lessons in this context helps students understand the importance of learning them and will help them grow into more thoughtful adults later in their lives as they engage with their own civic responsibilities.

Discuss Perspective
Help students not only learn facts about history but also to consider who is presenting those facts. Show them how facts about historical events can differ depending on who is telling the story. Let them explore history through the lenses of different storytellers to see the difference and evaluate the roles of perspective and different motivations in how people describe events. This lesson is not only important in teaching students the skills they need to evaluate academic sources, but also has applications in their own lives, as it can make them consider the sources of rumors and gossip in their friendships.

Use the Words of Real People
Descriptive texts are useful in giving information and setting a scene, but there is no substitute for hearing the words of real people explaining why a cause matters to them or telling what happened to them. Whenever possible, bring in essays, speeches, pamphlets, and other documents created by real people to supplement lessons. These accounts give students a more vivid image of events.

Orinda Academy’s college prep curriculum meets the state’s requirements for history, and our small class sizes are perfect for allowing students to explore their subjects in depth. Call (925) 478-4504 for more information about our college prep school in Orinda to see if we could be the right fit for your student.