Department of Academics | Meeting the Needs of ALL Learners
Supervisor of Social Studies and Gifted Education
Magaly Alvarez, Secretary
The traditional objective of a social studies program is to help students become informed and active participants in the world around them by equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and civic values necessary for responsible citizenship. This objective is one that our students are taught to meet throughout their time in our schools. However, students in our social studies courses also learn to become skillful readers, sophisticated writers, and critical thinkers. They meet the demands of the Common Core Standards for Reading History and Writing History—but also those for Speaking and Listening, Reading Informational Texts, and even Reading Literature. They examine historical documents, weigh evidence, conduct research, and share their findings. In short, they do the work of historians.
Students read textbooks in grades one through eleven. They also read works of historical fiction, such as Julius Lester’s Day of Tears, Avi’s City of Orphans, and Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse; biographies such as James L. Swanson’s Bloody Times, Candice Millard’s Destiny of the Republic, and Blaine Harden’s Escape from Camp 14; and studies of specific topics, such as John Lewis Gaddis’s The Cold War: A New History, Michael Capuzzo’s Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916, and Charles Wheelan’s Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science. By reading these and works of comparable merit, students are exposed to the kind of challenging works they will encounter in the upper grades and beyond East Brunswick High School.
The curriculum in the early grades is designed to motivate students to explore the geographic, historical, social, and economic aspects of their immediate world and the world beyond. Grade level topics are “My World and Me” (K), “Places and Change” (1), “We Live Together” (2), “Our Communities” (3), and “You, New Jersey and the World” (4). In fifth grade, students begin an in-depth, chronological study of the history, geography, economics, and culture of Early American History; in sixth and seventh grades they study the history of the ancient world and early modern times.
The junior high school curriculum leads students to probe more deeply into the history and geography of the United States. The program in eighth grade includes the study of American history from the end of colonial times through Reconstruction. The ninth grade course, a graduation requirement, is U.S. History I, and continues chronologically through F.D.R.’s administration.
The other social studies courses required for graduation are World History and Cultures in tenth grade and U.S. History II in eleventh grade. Geography is a major component of World History and Cultures, while the Holocaust, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War are integral parts of U.S. History II.
The high school curriculum includes a variety of electives in law, economics, psychology, and sociology. Advanced placement courses in American history, European history, and Macroeconomics are also available. In the elective Institute for Political and Legal Education (IPLE A.P.), classes follow the procedures used in the United States Congress to write and debate legislation; in the elective International Studies, students prepare for an intense U.N. simulation and learn about the roles and protocols of various U.N. components.