In middle school, students focus on specific areas of geography and history, studying in greater depth areas previously touched upon in the intermediate grades. Sixth grade Social Studies is based on the geography and history of the Eastern Hemisphere, including the development of cultures, civilizations, and empires; interactions between societies; and the comparison of trends in government and economics. It also incorporates some elements of other social sciences. The course begins with an examination of the Eastern Hemisphere today, using geographic skills. This provides the foundation for making connections between the past and the present throughout the course. The remainder of the course is divided into seven Key Ideas that cover a time span from pre-history into the 1500s. Students are provided the opportunity to explore belief systems across time and to examine the foundations of democracy. Seventh grade History is arranged chronologically beginning with nomadic exploration of the Western Hemisphere and ending with the Civil War. Students will learning about Native Americans, exploration, colonization of the Americas, the American Revolution, Western Expansion, and the Civil War. Eighth grade History is also arranged chronologically beginning with Reconstruction and ending at the present and incorporates geography as well as economic, social and political trends. The course content is divided into nine Key Ideas; the first seven trace the human experience in the United States from Reconstruction to the end of World War II. The last three Key Ideas examine different themes in United States and Tennessee history from the post-War period up to the present day providing the opportunity to explore contemporary issues.
In middle school, beyond the content specified by the course, students will also develop research, analytic, and critical thinking skills through the evaluation of evidence, interpretation of primary sources, and writing in response to their historical study.