U. S. History: America in the World All students will acquire the knowledge and skills to think analytically about how past and present interactions of people, cultures, and the environment shape the American herita

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Grade 7, Social Studies, U.S. History, Beginnings to 1607


6.1 U.S. History: America in the World All students will acquire the knowledge and skills to think analytically about how past and present interactions of people, cultures, and the environment shape the American heritage. Such knowledge and skills enable students to make informed decisions that reflect fundamental rights and core democratic values as productive citizens in local, national, and global communities.

A. Civics, Government, and Human Rights,

B. Geography, People, and the Environment

C. Economics, Innovation, and Technology,

D. History, Culture, and Perspectives

Essential Questions

Enduring Understandings

Activities and Student Experiences

  1. How do individuals develop values and beliefs?

  2. What factors shape our values and beliefs?

  3. How do values and beliefs change over time?

  1. Europeans began to systematically explore the world between the 15th and 17th centuries as a result of economic demand for Eastern goods, the consolidation of nation-states, the desire to spread religion, and improvements in technology.

  2. The encounter in the New World was a boom for Europe and a disaster for Africa and the native civilizations of the Americas, including the extinction of Caribbean societies and the decimation of others through disease, conquest, harsh colonization policies, and the Transatlantic slave trade.

  3. Europeans had more effective weapons and tactics, exploited internal political divisions among indigenous people and, most importantly brought diseases against which indigenous people had no defense.

  4. That prior to 1492 societies in the Old World and the New World grew independently, yet there were commonalities.

  5. Exploration and colonization of the Americas affected the culture of Native Americans and Europeans.

  6. The exchange of goods and ideas continues today and impacts our daily lives.

  • Divide students into three groups based on African, European, and Native Americans to create individual, personalized newspapers of different articles portraying their belief system, family structures, and form of government. Students will publish, present, and display articles for their peers to compare and contrast similarities and differences between each of the three assigned groups.

  • Students will map settlement patterns of different Native American tribes to visually and spatially analyze settlements. Next, students will make predictions about what the greatest sources of conflict will be between the different cultures, and what they seem to have in common. (Suggest biology, especially experience with and resistance to, disease. Then, have students develop a Wiki on www.pbwiki.com to collaborate and share struggles with interactions in different regions of the Western Hemisphere.

  • Have students create a resume for an explorer. Each student should research an explorer and use a template designed to organize research. This will also develop and understanding of a resume and how to write one. Teacher can help by modeling “good” resume writing strategies. (see link)

  • http://goo.gl/wlbNo

PROJECT BASED ACTIVITY: Students will be divided into two groups. One group will speculate on the positive effects of globalization today (who wins?) and the other will speculate on the negative effects. (who loses?) Each group will generate a list in ten minutes to bring back to the class as a whole.

Students are assigned a Native American tribe to collect, evaluate, and research, information found on gender roles, religion, values, cultural practices, and political systems. Students will collaborate in the creation of a class Wiki using www.pbwiki.com to compare and contrast the different systems of Native American groups.

Ask students: How different do you think life was in the New World before Columbus “discovered” it? In what ways? What about the Old World? In what ways was it different? What do you think was the same? Use a world map to clarify locations of Old World and New World.

  • On Smart Board show an illustration of Columbus in the New World. (Attachment A1 and 2; other options available) Use the spotlight feature to highlight and briefly discuss things in the illustration such as native plant material, European clothing- fabrics made of wool contrasted with Native minimal attire, ships in background, cross signifying Christian religion (let students know that the Tainos practiced their own religion).

  • Show multiple versions of Columbus in the New World, as time allows. Each illustration emphasizes various details.

  • Suggest to students that the “Old World” and the “New World” had many differences in the areas of plants, animals, diseases, ideas, and technologies; these illustrations show only a few.

  • Draw a T-chart on the chart paper; label the right side “Old World” and the left side “New World”. Title the chart: Where We Think Things Originated. Write the words: plants, animals, diseases, ideas, and technology in a column to the left of the T-chart.

  • To activate prior knowledge and assess current understandings, use Think-Pair-Share in this way: Ask students to think about the origin of items in several of the different categories represented on the chart; do they know where different plants, animals, diseases, or technologies originally came from? What about concepts/ideas, such as religion, freedom, slavery, ownership? Students will share ideas with a pre-determined partner.

  • Hold a brief class discussion to share students’ ideas. Guide students to remember what they have learned previously about navigational technology, and reasons for exploration, such as increased wealth through land ownership or resources, power, and religion. Add student suggestions to the chart, including misconceptions.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why were Europeans systematically exploring the world between the 15th and 17th centuries?

  2. What happened when Europeans and indigenous civilizations collided?

  3. In what ways did the Eastern Hemisphere and the Western Hemisphere of our world differ prior to 1492? How does exploration and interactions among different groups of people lead to change? How do these interactions impact our lives today? Is change good or bad? How do we decide?

Content Statements


  • Indigenous societies in the Western Hemisphere migrated and changed in response to the physical environment and due to their interactions with Europeans.

  • European exploration expanded global economic and cultural exchange into the Western Hemisphere.

6.1.8.A.1.a, 6.1.8.B.1.a, 6.1.8.C.1.a, 6.1.8.D.1.a, 6.1.8.D.1.b, 6.1.8.D.1.c
W.7.2 , W.7.6, W.7.7, SL.7.4, RH.6-8.6, RH.6-8.7, RH.6-8.9, WHST 6-8.4, WHST.6-8.6

Desired Results

  • Students will be able to compare the political, social, economic, and religious systems of Africans, Europeans, and Native Americans who converged in the western hemisphere after 1492.

  • Students will be able to explain the main factors that stimulated European exploration.

  • Students will be able to conduct research and organize information into a coherent format by analyzing primary sources such as; journal entries, maps, and personal narratives.

  • Students will be able to evaluate and Explain why the Spanish were so dominant.

  • Students will be able to explain the causes and effects of the pandemics that wiped out the populations of the New World.

  • Students will be able to discuss which of the plants and animals exchanged by the “old world” and the “new world” had the most impact.


Student’s performance in this class will be evaluated by the use of a variety of assessment methods. Evaluate criteria are to include traditional teacher assessments such as chapter or unit tests/ quizzes developed by the teacher. In conjunction with the traditional assessment, teacher should also incorporate a project driven component to compliment student-learning styles on a broad range. There will also be group and individual projects and oral presentations. Instructors will also use textbook generated materials, maps, cartoons, and other visual aids for students’ reference. Students will also complete projects, which might include oral or written reports, multimedia or Power Point presentations, artwork, posters, or role-playing simulations. Class work and class participation will also measure students’ mastery of course material.


DESCRIPTION: Your town/city has decided to erect a monument to dedicate on Columbus Day, commemorating the encounter between Europe, Africa, and the New World that began in 1492. You have been chosen to design it. The job is harder than it seems. You must design a monument with three parts, each of which recognizes a distinct point of view- European, Native American, African- on the Encounter and its aftermath. Your monument must, at the same time, represent, and value different points of view but also have a unifying message; your monument should bring different perspectives together (help to resolve conflict), instead of perpetuating or creating a new conflict.
This activity combines individual responsibility with group work, and draws on different types of understanding and “intelligence” in its demonstration of mastery. It culminates into a five paragraph essay.
Brainstorm the kinds of ideas you want each part of your monument to reflect. As a group, you should agree on your “thesis”—that is the most important thing that people should know about each of the three points-of-view on the Encounter. Finally, come up with ideas that convey what they are after. The best designs have three parts that are complementary but three separate monuments in the same park, for example is acceptable.
http://hti.osu.edu/connect/classroom-activities/columbus-freind-or-foe (Create a trial and go over procedures) Create a Wiki on the various explorers and events of this unit.
Students will weigh the evidence for each of the claims of pre-Columbian transatlantic exploration.
Create a chart that compares the general political, social, economic, and religious features of each area- West Africa, Central and South America, and Western Europe.

Equipment Needed

  • Internet

  • IWB

  • Class computers

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