8th Graders Create National Geographic Magazines to Culminate Labor Movement Lessons

Above: A cover page from eighth graders Evan, Michael, Ishnoor and Adeola for their National Geographic project focusing on The Labor Movement during the Gilded Age. Their use of avatars that represented themselves to guide the reader through the magazine emphasized their creativity and teamwork. 

The Princeton Day School Middle School continues to be a place that effortlessly mixes creativity, exceptional academics and the development of strong study skills. As you will see from the following highlights of a recent Eighth Grade history project facilitated by Middle School history faculty Victor Cirilo and Beth Yakoby, curriculum design and delivery is at the heart of Princeton Day School’s success in preparing our impressive Middle School students to become successful high schoolers. 

This year’s Eighth Grade history curriculum is themed around the power that different groups of people can have on society. As Cirilo explains, “One of our main goals is to look at history as a depth of exploration instead of trying to cover so many topics and individuals. This year’s theme is centered on societal movement.” 

For example, eighth graders culminated their Labor Movement explorations with a digital magazine project in which they were given the opportunity to choose their topic and collaborate with classmates on the magazine layout. Cirilo explains, “Each student had a topic that they wrote about individually, then they were given the opportunity to collaborate to make their magazines engaging. The emphasis on collaboration came in during the editing process since they didn’t just write one long essay—they were expected to split up their writing into shorter informational pieces that would be supplemented with photographs.”

Above: A page from Gloria, Tristan and Hartleigh’s National Geographic magazine. The images used of women striking together to demand higher wages convey a powerful sense of unity. 

Yakoby echoes these sentiments: “My students especially appreciated that they could choose the topic they wrote about. They loved working with their friends to find images to create a tangible magazine. It was my first year doing this project, and I know my students loved it.”

Taking just under two and a half weeks from start to finish, the project allowed students to spend a lot of time on their topics and conduct thorough research. Yakoby mentioned that the use of photographs was especially compelling in this project. “I love the fact that we use photos. In the 7th Grade curriculum, we end with the Civil War and up until that point in history it’s not typical to have photos as original sources. Our students have had practice in analyzing photos so they have really developed a keen eye for finding powerful images that support their text.”


Above: Ishnoor’s page from her group’s magazine, emphasizing the importance of the Nineteenth Amendment on the Labor Movement by specifically referencing the impact that women had on public issues such as child welfare, educational access, gender equality and more.

Looking forward, Cirillo is excited to see what students are able to create next. “Every year, the students get better at these projects as the year goes on. I’m really looking forward to seeing the meaningful projects they produce this winter and spring.”

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