Middle School Courses

Academic Departments

History and Social Sciences

In Middle School, students are introduced to the study of history and the social sciences. One of the primary missions of the department is to expose students to the diverse world in which they live. Promoting the understanding of humankind’s connections with place, environment and one another is emphasized throughout the curriculum.
Through a variety of challenging, age-appropriate texts, students learn how to read critically and identify an author’s bias. Students learn how to develop an arguable assertion and defend it with relevant evidence.
  • Global Connections

    Focusing on troubled spots in our world, students go on a journey in Global Connections. Through the eyes of young people in struggling countries, students explore causes of famine and examine the importance of water and education. Next, they study the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, grapple with child labor in Pakistan, and conclude by studying solutions offered by Gandhi and Mandela. Current events play a significant role in the curriculum during class discussions with attention to identifying perspective and bias through assignments in “The New York Times’ Upfront,” a magazine for students. While reading the varied texts, students focus on note-taking skills and literary analysis. A major focus of the course is teaching students to develop a thesis and defend it with well-chosen evidence. Each student completes an individual research project on a selected country, produces a monument with a hands-on and digital component, and celebrates at Nations Day.
  • Borderlands of the Southwest

    Borderlands examines the overlap of various ethnic groups in the South and Southwest regions of the United States. Students begin the year attempting to develop a new lens that allows them to see human beings as another species. How are humans simultaneously capable of genocide and impressive acts of compassion and service? The objective is to observe and understand human behavioral patterns before focusing on historical events in the South and Southwest. Students will spend time learning about the cultures of indigenous peoples of the South and Southwest and read about historical events that involved settler colonialists and various indigenous nations. A major goal of the course is to consider the multiple shifts in governments and power within this region, as well as to contemplate big concepts that change within cultures, such as patriotism, identity and borders.
  • Cultures and Governance

    Students explore the impact of social structures and political governance in societies. Through readings, discussions and expository essay writing, students have daily opportunities to apply fact-based analysis to contemporary global issues. Units focus on topics such as urbanism, immigration, challenges to the rule of law and the persistence of social inequality. Texts utilized in the course include “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe and “River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze” by Peter Hessler. This course strives to deepen students’ appreciation for perspectives and increase their understanding of the importance of context and nuance when interpreting events in our increasingly interconnected world.

Middle School Faculty

  • Photo of Anna Armentrout
    Anna Armentrout
    History Instructor
    University of California, Berkeley - Ph.D.
    University of California, Berkeley - M.A.
    University of California, Berkeley - B.A.
  • Photo of Jin Chung
    Jin Chung
    History Instructor, Director of Educational Travel Programs
    University of Texas School of Law - J.D.
    University of Texas at Austin - B.A.
  • Photo of Octavia Sadler
    Octavia Sadler
    History Instructor
    University of Texas at Austin - B.A.
  • Photo of Drew Smith
    Drew Smith
    History Instructor
    Rutgers University - M.P.A.
    University of San Francisco - M.A.
    University of North Carolina at Wilmington - B.A.
Address: 6500 St. Stephen's Dr., Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 327-1213