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History and Social Studies

Mission Statement | Social Studies 

The Dalton Middle School History and Social Studies Department nurtures intellectually independent students who will contribute constructively to their school, local, and global communities. Dalton’s Middle School students refine their ability to observe, critique, and evaluate the past and present from multiple perspectives through study, research, written expression, collaborative projects, and class discussions. Students will learn to take intellectual risks, approach conflicts thoughtfully, and develop an active appreciation for the lessons and themes of history in their everyday lives. By challenging students to think across and make connections between different cultures, religions, and historical ideas, we build upon Dalton’s commitment to being a vibrant and diverse community.
  • History 6

    Our 6th grade history curriculum could easily be called “The Student as Historian” because it revolves around teaching the student the nature of historical inquiry and enabling them to take on the role of historian.

    Early in the year, our study focuses on the minor kingdoms of the Eastern Mediterranean during the Iron Age. These include the Phoenicians, the Philistines, and the Hebrews. Soon after, the young student, as historian turned archaeologist, begins a simulated excavation of a provincial Assyrian site. There, they discover materials from the petty kingdoms of the Eastern Mediterranean to bring as a tribute and booty en route to the heartland of an ever-expanding Assyrian Empire.

    Our study of the Greek World complements the 6th Grade Greek Festival Curriculum. The Greeks and the institutions that set the stage for Western Civilization are studied comprehensively.

    The year concludes with an exploration of “Rome, the Model Empire.” Students construct provincial cities using the Roman Model to understand better how Rome unified and made the cultures of those living in the areas from the Persian Gulf to the south of Scotland “Roman.”

    Essential Questions:
    • What is History?
    • How do you go about writing history?
    • How do you identify what is important in the existing historical record?
    • What is a monarchy? Empire? Democracy? How do societies govern themselves?
    • How did ancient nations acquire their goods?
    • What is the role of religion?
    • What is the role of geography?
  • History 7

    Seventh grade history begins with an in-depth study of Islam and its impact on the medieval and early modern world. Students examine the Islamic world between the 7th and 16th centuries, focusing on the basic tenets (beliefs and practices) of Islam and the life of Muhammad, Muslim expansion, art, architecture, trade, and travel. After learning about the development of Islam in Arabia, we will examine the emergence of the Umayyad, Abbasid, and Ottoman Empires.

    The focus then shifts westward to Europe, where students investigate the political, economic, religious, geographic, and social factors that shaped people’s identities during the medieval era. Students will bridge their medieval Europe study with the medieval Middle East as their attention swings eastward with the Crusades. Their examination of the “Crusading” period will focus on the intersection of “East” and “West,” and the study will enable students to assess how this critical juncture set off a series of causes and effects that laid the foundation for the early modern era.

    Students will also examine the legacy of the “early modern era” in our modern world. We will return to the Middle East and investigate how the ideologies that came to the fore in Western Europe (secularism, individualism, nationalism, colonialism) helped shape and alter the landscape, both literally and figuratively, of the Middle Eastern world in the 19th and 21st centuries.
    Essential Questions:
    • How do maps and globes reflect changes in history, politics, and economics?
    • How is power gained, used, and justified?
    • Why do some people conform, while others rebel?
    • How are ideas transmitted?
    • How do technology, science, and information impact and transform societies?
    • How does religion unite people? Divide people? Confront/integrate/define modernity?
    • In what ways do geographical, cultural, social, political contexts transform the views we have of the past?
    • In what ways do diverse global societies create varied perspectives, contributions, and challenges?
    • What issues from our study of the past inform the present and shape the future?
    • How have our ideas of history changed in a media-driven world?
  • History 8

    Eighth grade history is a survey of notable moments in American History. The class explores this subject chronologically, though not necessarily linearly, focusing on themes such as American culture and values, American democracy, conflict and unity, diversity, citizenship, technological change, geography, and the relationship of the US to the world. These are themes that weave themselves through the development of our nation. Also, students pay considerable attention to acquiring and refining the tools that one needs to become a historian. Throughout the year, students develop note-taking, research skills, presentation, and writing skills. The class uses a wide variety of primary sources; however, each assignment includes secondary source supplements, including textbooks and literary sources. Assignments encourage students to explore alternative interpretations and perspectives of American History.

    The main topics covered in the course are: Colonial America and the Revolutionary era, the Constitution, a Model Congress Assignment, Westward Expansion, the Civil War, the rise of Industrial and Urban America, a research paper considering some aspect of the New Deal and World War II eras, and a study of Civil Rights and the Supreme Court.
    Essential Questions:
    • What are American values? What were the key values upon which Jamestown and Plymouth were founded? To what extent are the values of Jamestown and Plymouth still evident in American society?
    • How does one read history relative to a traditionalist, revisionist, or other historical perspective and what is the responsibility of the historian to voices that are silent?
    • What justifies dissent?
    • What is the impact of earlier political theorists and Enlightenment philosophers on the thinking of the revolutionary American colonists? How do those same theories impact current American thinking?
    • Under what circumstances can rights be limited?
    • What are the roles and obligations of a citizen?
    • From where are power and authority derived? What is the difference?
    • How does the Constitution work as a “living document”?  How do Supreme Court decisions and legislative actions shift our understanding of the “law of the land”?
    • What are the goals and ends, intended and unintended, of westward expansion?  How do the elements of manifest destiny from the beginnings of the nation to the current era shift?  What is the psychology manifest in an expanding nation?  


  • Photo of Raleigh Trissel
    Raleigh Trissel
    6th Grade History Teacher and House Advisor, MS History + Social Studies Department Chair
    Bank Street College of Education - M.S.Ed.
    Wesleyan University - B.A.
  • Photo of Maggie Dobbins
    Maggie Dobbins
    Middle School History Teacher and Grade 6 Coordinator
    Hunter College - B.A.
    Brooklyn College - M.S.Ed.
  • Photo of Catherine Edwards
    Catherine Edwards
    Eighth Grade History Teacher
    University of Utah - B.A.
  • Photo of Elif Espinola-Engin
    Elif Espinola-Engin
    Middle School L.A.S.S. Teacher and House Advisor
    University of Virginia - B.A.
    Columbia University, Teachers College - M.A.
  • Photo of Neil Goldberg
    Neil Goldberg
    Archaeology Teacher
    University of New Mexico - B.A.
    Columbia University - M.A.
  • Photo of Hareem Khan
    Hareem Khan
    Grade 7 History Teacher & House Advisor
    Federal Government College for Women (Pakistan) - B.A.
    Teachers College - M.Ed.
    Quaid-i-Azam University (Islamabad) - M.S.
  • Photo of Deirdre Mingey
    Deirdre Mingey
    MS Assistant Director, Dean of Student Life
    Calvin College - B.A.
    George Washington University - M.A.
  • Photo of Amanda Schollenberger
    Amanda Schollenberger
    Middle School History Teacher
    University at Buffalo - B.A.
  • Photo of Matt Williams
    Matt Williams
    Middle School Grade 8 History Teacher and House Advisor
    NYU - M.A.
    Binghamton University - Ph.D.
    Middlebury College - B.A.
(Grades K-3) 53 East 91st Street
New York, NY 10128
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(Gr. 4 Dalton East & PE Center) 200 East 87th Street
New York, NY 10128
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(Grade 5-12) 108 East 89th Street
New York, NY 10128
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