Seventh grade students will review the tools and mental constructs used by historians and geographers. They will develop an understanding of Ancient World History, Eras 1 – 4. Geography, civics/government, and economics content is integrated throughout the year. As a capstone, the students will conduct investigations about past and present global issues. Using significant content knowledge, research, and inquiry, they will analyze the issue and propose a plan for the future. As part of the inquiry, they compose civic, persuasive essays using reasoned arguments.
Ultimately, why something happened in the past is the question that history is all about. And here’s the fun part (or the hard part!). It’s up to you to answer the why question. You will read about many things that happened in the past and some reasons why people think they happened. People who look at the same facts sometimes come to different conclusions. Answering the other “W” questions will help you answer the question, why: Why did this happen? Answering Why -- that’s what thinking like a historian is about.
Before we can begin to study the first peoples, it is important to establish the concept of time. Historians use timelines to help aid in the understanding of the time frame in which the topic under study has taken place. The first step is to establish how the past is organized into sections of time. The organization of time into Eras is a choice made by historians. The sections of time that are being used in this book are divided by major turning points (big events that change humans forever) in history. This book is organizing the major Eras into the following four categories: Prehistory, Ancient History, Middle Ages, and Modern History.
Location, location, location. You may have heard this phrase before. It is used by realtors to explain that the most important thing in selling a house is its location. With the civilizations you are about to study, location might be the most important thing that determined the success of those civilizations.
What is an empire? How did they grow? What did they do? How did they work? Why do they decline and fall? These are some of the questions that historians have studied and tried to figure out for centuries. In this chapter you will learn about the difference between a civilization and an empire, the characteristics of empires, the impact of geography on civilizations and empires, how trade developed, and how empires were governed. Finally you will look at some examples of empires from this age.
In this chapter you will learn about religion. What is religion? Simply put, religion is the belief in a god or set of gods. Unfortunately, the study of religion is not simply put. Religion is very complex; it is one of the most interesting parts of human existence. Religion is a belief in a god or set of gods and so much more. It is part of a cultural system that includes practice, world views, ethics, and a social organization that connects humans to each other and to a source of existence. A religious belief system is also a way of explaining the mysteries of life.
War, poverty, environmental disasters, lack of resources, the struggle for power, and the quest for freedom and rights have been the common threads throughout history. These issues are still the core of the modern world’s agenda in hopes of improving the lives of all humans. In this unit you are going to identify a significant issue that is still plaguing the world today, research the issue, write a persuasive essay that presents your solution to the problem you investigated, and, finally create a campaign to put your solution into action. Basically, you are going to witness what a positive difference you can make in the world!
Using an inquiry based approach, Michigan high school students will learn about the foundations of American government by studying the Constitution and exploring how it works today.
The Founders did not create our system of government out of thin air. They were well-read and lived at a time when many new ideas about government were being developed. They took their inspiration from the ideas of a variety of thinkers, but each of the following had a distinct influence on what government in the United States would become: Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Baron de Montesquieu, and Jean Jacques Rousseau.
The Declaration of Independence is key to understanding American government. Written in June and July of 1776, by the Committee of Five (Thomas Jefferson of Virgina, John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Robert Sherman of Connecticut, and Robert R. Livingston of New York), the document was forged in a time of crisis. American colonists were engaged in a war on their own soil against their mother country, England , who possessed the most disciplined military in the world. This document was like none previously seen.
In Democracy in America. Alexis de Tocqueville referred to America as “The Great Experiment.” But what did he mean by saying that America’s constitutional democracy was an experiment? America was founded on key principles which, are the same principles that govern our nation today. America’s Founders initiated the experiment in democracy by trying out a new form of government, including the ideas that power should ultimately come from the people, that government power should be limited, and that individual liberties of all peoples should be protected.
A citizen is someone who is entitled to the legal rights granted by a state, and who is obligated to obey its laws and to fulfill certain duties. Living in the United States does not mean that someone is automatically a citizen. Permanent residents, people who have been lawfully admitted to the United States, are also granted certain legal rights and protections even if they are not citizens. For example, residents can live and work anywhere in the United States, attend public schools, join our armed forces and can also qualify for some Social Security benefits as well. Typically, people who are granted permanent resident status are immigrants who are related by birth or marriage to U.S. citizens or possess important job skills needed in the United States. Unlike citizens, permanent residents may not be able to hold public office or vote in elections. Why should someone consider becoming a citizen if they are not? Check out a list of all of the privileges of citizenship in the United States.
Have you ever stopped to think about why we have certain policies, laws and regulations? For instance, why is the driving age 16 or the drinking age 21? Why are there nutrition labels on all food packages? Why in Michigan, do you have to go to school until you are 18? Do you believe the United States should spend $601 billion dollars in 2016 on our national defense? Do you agree with how the United States handles issues with immigration? Do you even know how immigration issues and situations are handled? These are all examples of public policy.
In a letter written to James Madison in 1797, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The principle of the Constitution is that of a separation of legislative, Executive and Judiciary functions, except in cases specified. If this principle be not expressed in direct terms, it is clearly the spirit of the Constitution…” The separation of powers was one of the fundamental principles of the Constitution’s Framers. The Legislative Branch is sometimes referred as the “people’s branch” since the Founders believed and intended the legislative branch to closely reflect the will of the citizens.
Second grade students in Michigan continue their integrative approach to social studies by focusing in on the local community. Students are introduced to a social environment larger than their immediate surroundings.
If you’ve taken time to glance at the Kindergarten “Myself and Others” book, or its sequel First Grade “Families and Schools”, you’ll know that the authors of those books envisioned them being “big books” which were meant to be experienced with the teacher projecting the materials on a big screen. This book begins the transition from “big book” to an individualized tool. It doesn’t mean that the book is meant to be read without teacher interaction, but this resource was designed to be in the hands of students in conjunction with daily classroom instruction.
This second chapter covers the geography standards for second grade. Now that students have a firm understanding of what a community is, we move into the study of communities by getting students into exploring maps. In Kindergarten and First grade we had teachers construct a classroom box. This activity was designed by Dr. Phil Gersmehl and his wife Carol and is based upon some of the work they did in Harlem New York. In this chapter we once again revisit the idea of a classroom in a box, and present to you here instructions for making your own.
Now that we’ve spent time talking about what a community is and then exploring them, the conversation of this chapter is focused around the compelling question “How do people work together in a community?” On the one hand, this question appears rooted in civics, but the content we cover is rooted in economics. Students have already learned about needs and wants, and consumers and producers in earlier grades, and now we introduce an economic term “scarcity”. You may choose to review the concepts of needs vs wants before introducing this term.
Chapter 4 is all about civics. While many teachers may be tempted to do this chapter first, it is placed here for a reason. Many of the concepts introduced in Chapters 1-3 are revisited here. Some of the content from 1st grade may serve as a great review at the start of the year.
Our final chapter in 2nd grade is all about history - how we study it and how we learn about places - especially our community. The authors recognized early on that it would be impossible for us to write a community history for every community in Michigan, so we continue with our study of two - a small town and a larger town. Our hope is that you’ll have students make connections between these two featured communities and their own. How are they alike? How are they different?