Understanding the Delaware History Standards for teachers in grades 6–8


History Standard One 6-8a: Students will examine historical materials relating to a particular region, society, or theme; analyze change over time, and make logical inferences concerning cause and eff



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History Standard One 6-8a: Students will examine historical materials relating to a particular region, society, or theme; analyze change over time, and make logical inferences concerning cause and effect.

Essential Questions:


  • Is change inevitable?

  • How often does the past predict the future?

  • What is the evidence for my conclusion?

In the 6-8 cluster, students learn how to analyze long-term change and to draw logical inferences concerning cause and effect over time. Students should study trends and themes. After gathering, examining, and analyzing data, students will develop inferences and cause-and-effect relationships.

For example: using a chronology of events leading up to the American Revolution, students will explain why and how one specific event led to subsequent events, logically drawing inferences based on historical understanding. Would it have been likely that war with Great Britain could have been avoided after the initial battles of Lexington and Concord? A teacher might give the students facts from the time period and let them brainstorm through the facts, arranging them in their order of importance. This requires that a student studying the American Revolution knows some events or trends that can be used to analyze what was happening in this period and can draw conclusions that explain cause and effect with factual support.

Themes over the long run of colonial history illustrate this standard very well. In many of the American colonies, religion played a crucial role. Nine of the thirteen had an official church; either you attended your own church regularly or you paid taxes to support the official church. So why does the U.S. not have an official national church? The answer to this question is extremely complex, but one clear factor was the sheer number of different religions throughout the colonies. We will never know how many people attended which church, but we do know how many church buildings there were in 1776. A historian counted them using old maps as evidence. There were 3,142. The largest denomination, the Congregational (Puritan) Church, had only 668 buildings. The complete list is as follows: Presbyterian, 588; Anglican (modern Episcopal), 495; Quaker, 310; Lutheran, 150; Methodist, 65; Catholic, 56; Moravian, 31; Dunker, 24; Mennonite, 16; Huguenot, 7; and Jewish synagogues, 5 (plus some isolated others). What conclusion can be drawn? The Founding Fathers wanted an official church, but each wanted his church, not someone else’s. So, they finally went to the next best solution, no official church. Over time, early Americans came to regard the absence of an official church as a good thing, leaving everyone to privately practice (or not) his or her own religion. Diversity prevented conformity.

Another trend during the colonial era concerns the slow expansion of the powers of the lower house, the branch of the colonial assemblies based on population. Eventually they asserted themselves and gained powers such as the right to select their speaker, the right to control the budget and taxes, and the right to introduce legislation. By the time the relationship with England soured in the 1760s, the lower houses had become hotbeds of opposition. The rise of the lower house, an almost imperceptible shift in power, was not apparent until it was too late for England to regain control.

One of the most difficult questions to answer in American history is why the abolitionists failed politically in elections before the Civil War, but lived to see the Thirteenth Amendment adopted through the political process. Events during the war changed both the popular voters and the politicians. Historians have argued the relative weight of the factors involved for years. The real lesson, and one that is transferable to any time period, is that war often causes unforeseen effects.




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