Mark Day School
39 Trellis Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903

Social studies

Social Studies at Mark Day School begins in kindergarten, when students learn about understanding oneself within their new community. In 1st grade, the focus on immigration, with stories, activities, and guest presentations that explore different experiences of coming to the United States and living in a new country. Second grade social study curriculum is designed around journeys through distinctive lands of Australia, Kenya, and Japan that broaden student horizons even further. Third Grade brings social studies home to Marin County, as students study the Miwok tribe and Earthquake Trail.

Students' understanding of their native environment continues in 4th grade, when they study the development of California from its first inhabitants to the time of statehood. Independent research, primary sources, and differing perspectives drive the learning in social studies for 5th grade, with a focus on American history from the 1600s to 1800s. The historical framework for 6th grade humanities is early humans and ancient cultures, including Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Throughout, students develop skills for asking questions, investigating sources, analyzing information, and communicating their thinking, all of which serve as a solid foundation for the Upper Division. 

Students reach grades 7 & 8 ready to take on the historian's mindset. Our program encourages inquiry, skepticism, and debate. The territory covered in 7th grade explores elements of civilization during the middle ages across the middle east, Africa, China, mesoamerica, and Europe. Each unit is built around a multidisciplinary project to engage students in the learning experience. Over time, students continue to develop inquiry and analysis skills as they pose questions, conduct research, analyze their findings and communicate their theories.

The 8th grade curriculum explores U.S. History under the lens of the guiding question: "How accessible is the American Dream to all Americans?" Students study historical events prior to World War I, contemporary issues, and the ideas surrounding the experiences and rights of all who live in America. The goals of the course are to foster a better understanding of the experience of various groups throughout American history, to recognize the different chapters in the American story, and to understand our individual roles and responsibilities living in the United States.

Featured Project: 3rd Grade Pizza Box

As their first foray into nonfiction, each student identified an individual who has made a positive impact on the world. They engaged in a new kind of reading by studying that individual's biography and extracting key information. After taking thorough notes, students created a pie-shaped presentation in a pizza box. Students presented their research in the form of a speech--in character and costume--in front of peers, faculty, and families. 

In this project, students learn to gather important facts as they read and organize that information to develop a complete picture. Students understand what it means to become an "expert" on a topic, and how to connect with an audience about what they've learned.

Students will independently use their learning to:

  • Apply knowledge of historic, political, social, economic, cultural, and geographic systems and patterns to better understand the present.
  • Pose thoughtful questions about the past, present, and future.
  • Research, interpret, appraise, and think critically about a variety of sources and viewpoints.
  • Construct historical arguments and interpretations and effectively share them through discussion, debate, writing, and public presentation.
  • Analyze the impact of bias and injustice in the world, historically and today, and take a stand against bias and injustice in their everyday lives.
  • Engage as informed citizens and civic participants in their local, national, and global communities.