• St. Helens Middle School

    6th Grade Humanities Syllabus

    Mr. Nick Page (6B)

    "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." - Anne Frank

    Humanities has been referred to as the stories, the ideas, and the words that help us make sense of our lives and world. Geography, world cultures, ancient civilizations, vocabulary and literature all come together in this class. The intention is to immerse each student in studies of civilizations of the early Western Hemisphere, while developing a present-day awareness. That means developing a sense of oneself; one's place in the world, one’s history, one’s responsibility to the greater world around us, and our abiding connections with each other.

    The Native Americans, or First Nations, of the Western Hemisphere are too numerous to study all of them in the time we have. We have chosen a few tribes from each region to focus on. What impact has European settlement and migration had on these indiginous peoples? How have these lands evolved to be the nations that they are today? What are the governments and economies of these nations? We have also found literature pieces from each of these regions of study. 


    Major social studies units will include:  

    Geography: While geography is interwoven into every unit of study, we will start the year with basic geography skills; continents, oceans, latitude, and longitude.

    Northern North America: Our first focus area will be the Native Americans of the Far North, mostly modern day Canada and the northern United States. These Native Americans survived some of the coldest weather on the planet. They include the Inuit people of Alaska who lived primarily off of whale and seal meat. It also includes the Iroquois Confederacy of modern day New York. One of the largest areas and perhaps most famous group of American Indians, the Great Plains Indians were known for hunting bison. The tribes of the Northwest Coast, our local region, were known for their houses made of cedar planks as well as their totem poles. 

    Southern North America: Tribes living in the area that is today the state of California, such as the Mohave and the Miwok, relied on coastal waters for food. The largest Native American tribe, the Cherokee, lived in the Southeast. Other tribes included the Seminole in Florida and the Chickasaw. The southwest was dry and the Native Americans lived in tiered homes made out of adobe bricks. Famous tribes here include the Navajo Nation.

    MesoAmerica: Mesoamerican civilizations, the complex groups of indigenous cultures that developed in parts of Mexico and Central America prior to the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, developed cities that rivaled the great capitals of Europe. Some had running water, public education, and elected government long before their European conquerors.

    The Caribbean: The history of the Caribbean did not begin in 1492 when Christopher Columbus landed in the Bahamas. The islands were already inhabited by the Ciboney, Arawak and Carib peoples from mainland America. What happened to them? They were the first live of Americans to encounter the harshness of the Spanish Conquistadors. 

    South America: The Inca are the most famous of the Natives of South America, and they  constructed vast empires, with impressive engineering accomplishments, a postal system and highways. But there were also many small tribes that lived in the plateaus, highlands and valleys across the continent. 


    Major language arts units will include:  

    Literature Skills: Literature is an integral part of every unit we will study this year. We will begin the year with the basics; point of view, character traits, plot lines, themes, forms and fiction.

    Chapter book studies: We will read several chapter books throughout the year. Each book will highlight one of the regions of the Western Hemisphere that we studied in social studies. 

    An example of this is Code Talker: Throughout World War II, in the conflict fought against Japan, Navajo code talkers were a crucial part of the U.S. effort, sending messages back and forth in an unbreakable code that used their native language. They braved some of the heaviest fighting of the war, and with their code, they saved countless American lives. Yet their story remained classified for more than twenty years.


Last Modified on August 31, 2019