Social Studies

Department Mission

The Overlake School Social Studies Department’s mission is to create a challenging, relevant, and engaging curriculum to inspire our students to become critical thinkers, effective communicators, and active and open-minded citizens of the world. Our curriculum at every level values the rich history of our shared cultural diversity and seeks to enrich our students’ understanding of our world by nourishing their curiosity and civic engagement. 

Core values

Social Justice: Our curriculum teaches about past and present injustices done to different groups and individuals to show the complexity of our collective history and examine the human condition. We challenge students to understand both the roots of the injustice, the reasons and ways in which people have fought such injustice and to understand the current issues that continue to create injustice in our society. We encourage our students to understand and embrace the reasons why we should continue to actively engage in making improvements and change to become a more just society.

Global Perspectives: We strive to help students understand the interconnectedness of world events and how one action in one place in the world can and often affects others throughout the world. We also expose our students to many different points of view and ways of thinking in an effort to allow them to see how different people and cultures view similar issues in many valid ways that should be taken into account when making decisions about how to engage with others. 

Civic Engagement: We seek to present our students with real-world opportunities for engagement in the classroom, in our community and our world. We want our students to be aware and curious about contemporary civic issues, and we challenge them to care and become involved in improving the world around them.

Historical Awareness: We believe that critically examining our history helps our students be prepared to tackle tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities. While we understand that it is impossible to cover all of human history, our curriculum is designed for students to examine critical past events so that they may make connections across human history and experiences.

How we teach

The Social Studies Department uses an inquiry-based approach to teaching through student-centered learning practices and a thematic curriculum that balances skills and content. We use a variety of sources and perspectives to teach concepts and events, with the goal of using the past as a tool to understand the present. We seek to foster students’ curiosity, empathy, and independent thinking by examining assumptions through an inquiry-based approach in our lessons.  We create student-centered learning environments to encourage active learning and critical thinking through a variety of methods including structured discussions, research, analytical writing, and oral presentations.

Curriculum Requirements

Three years of social studies are required for graduation: World History 9, World History 10, and U.S. History. Students may take U.S. History in either grade eleven or twelve.