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Social Studies

October 26, 2022 | Sam Martino

The middle school has been hard at work in social studies class. Through the first six weeks classes have been focusing on social studies literacy.

During the “Social Studies Boot camp” students have been practicing some basic skills they will use throughout this year and beyond.

These books are used for reference in class.

Classes learned how to read and decipher maps. Students learned that maps allow people to navigate and measure the world, as well as demonstrate how people understand their world. Maps can define what’s “official” and designate who controls what land.

Students also became familiar with timelines. Classes practiced deciphering how far apart certain dates were as well as how to read the scale of different timelines. We also learned that what’s put on and left off a timeline tells a lot about the perspective of the creator.

The world history timeline allows the class to quickly compare what was happening at different places in the world at the same time.

In addition to maps and timelines, classes also practiced gathering data, creating graphs, and interpreting the results. Social scientists and historians frequently need to make sense of data and make inferences from the results.

One group attempted to find out why people came to the park. They discovered that more than half of the people surveyed said that used the swings, turf field, or the basketball courts.

Classes practiced informational writing when comparing and contrasting. Students read about the ancient Egyptian and Mayan civilizations and wrote essays on what they learned. Students noted that there were similar writing systems and architecture. Some key differences observed were time period, geography, agriculture, and religion. We will continue to practice formal information writing throughout the year.


Finally, students have been learning how to be effective researchers. Students practiced identifying reliable sources, using different search methods, and differentiating between primary and secondary sources.


Students practiced using the Library of Congress website to find primary sources.

All of these skills will be invaluable as go through this year (and beyond!). Soon we will start to dive headfirst into our global history curriculum. Students will grapple with human origins stories and think about how they fit into the larger historical narrative.




Sam Martino

Teacher, Grade 8

Sam Martino is the 8th Grade homeroom teacher and Middle School Social Studies teacher. He graduated from Fordham University in 2014 with a bachelor of arts in history. Before joining the staff in 2015, Mr. Martino worked as a substitute teacher at Mustard Seed School. During his time as a substitute, he was able to work with every elementary and middle school class. Mr. Martino’s connection to Mustard Seed School goes back much further, however. He first connected with Mustard Seed in 1999 when he enrolled as a second-grade student. In 2006, Mr. Martino graduated from Mustard Seed School. His mother served as a member of the Board of Trustees, and Mr. Martino’s two brothers also graduated from Mustard Seed. A lifelong Hoboken resident, Mr. Martino is excited to continue working with students in a unique urban community. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, music, and movies. He can often be seen lugging instruments around town as he travels to and from practices and shows.

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