International School Manila

Integrity - Service - Merit

Social Studies

The Middle School Social Studies program integrates studies in the social sciences - history, cultural studies, geography, current events, sociology and anthropology. The course is based on the intended learnings of ISM that include subject-specific Standards and Indicators and Learning Skills.


In Social Studies classes, students are encouraged to go beyond the surface of problems, to ask questions, to reflect, to make connections, to develop and test theories, to experiment with new ideas, to analyze problems, to debate hot topics, and to create meaningful and useful products. Social Studies students are given opportunities to become engaged in their own education, to take responsibility for learning and to develop concerns that transfer beyond the confines of the classroom.


The Social Studies curriculum emanates from school-wide Standards that include such key ideas as patterns of continuity and change, the causes and effects of interactions among societies, the influence of physical and human geography on people and places over time, and the influence and structure of social, economic and governmental systems. Units of study are developed around rich concepts that are common to the core subject areas in the Middle School. Each unit in Middle School Social Studies is developed around unit understandings and essential questions. Students work to “uncover” the answers to the essential questions over the course of a unit in order to achieve deep understanding of concepts.

In Grade 5, students study topics such as the organizational structures of ancient civilizations, mapping geographical patterns, the workings of mini-societies, and perspectives on the causes and outcomes of change in our world.

In Grade 6, students study topics about the relationship between individuals and their society. The year begins with a study of early humans and the Neolithic Revolution as well as the sustainable and unsustainable decisions modern humans make to meet their wants and needs in the global material’s economy. During second semester, the students expand their understanding of sustainability, making a personal impact in the Philippines through a service learning project. They furthermore study the interaction between viewpoint and conflict, the significance of current events and important governmental structures.

In Grade 7, there are four units of study where the students will focus on the concepts of culture, government, society, cause and effect, environment, inequality, location, population, urbanization, interaction, trade and globalization. 

In Grade 8, students study topics such as the justification and use of power through government systems, political and social revolutions and human rights and global issues.

Overarching essential questions encourage students to think about Social Studies as a part of their everyday lives. These guiding questions help students to understand why social studies is a part of the core curriculum and directly connected to their lives. Students come back to these questions repeatedly throughout each unit of study. Overarching essential questions include:

  • How does the study of the world help us to understand our place in it?
  • How does the study of the past help us to understand the present and prepare for the future?
  • How is Social Studies about me?

Instructional Practices

Instructional practices in the Social Studies classroom vary in accordance with learning objectives. They range from traditional whole-class presentations to small-group activities and individualized instruction. Cooperative learning activities complement teacher-led discussions, writing workshops, individual research projects, small-group instruction, hands-on activities and simulations. The use of technology is regularly integrated into the Social Studies program.


Be The Change

Be The Change is a semester-long elective course for students in Grades 7 and 8.  The goal of the Be The Change course is to cultivate a sense of empathy and compassion in students for all members of the local and global community and the planet we share.  Students develop self-awareness through an opportunity to discover, discuss and reflect on a variety of problems.  Students examine their actions and responses to uncover their passions and find ways to affect change through active global citizenry.