Vista Unified School District's Curriculum Map for Seventh Grade History

Course Description

Course Goals

Course Objectives

In addition to the study of different cultures, Social Science 7 has identified three additional areas in which students must develop their skills: participation, study skills, and critical thinking.

Participation Skills include the ability to:

  1. develop personal skills such as the ability to express personal convictions, recognize personal biases and prejudices, and understand people as individuals rather than stereotypes.

  2. develop group interaction skills including a willingness to listen to differing points of view, an ability to participate in making decisions, setting goals and planning, leadership skills, and taking action in a group setting.

  3. develop social and political participation skills including the ability to identify issues that require social action, commitment to accept social responsibilities associated with citizenship, and a willingness to extend justice, freedom, equity, and human rights.

Basic Study Skills include the ability to:

  1. acquire information by listening, observing, using community resources and reading various forms of literature and primary and secondary sources.

  2. locate, select, and organize information from written sources and understand and organize them chronologically.

  3. retrieve and analyze information by using multiple forms of technology.

  4. understand the specialized language used in the social science disciplines.

  5. organize and express ideas clearly in writing and speaking.

Critical Thinking Skills include the ability to:

  1. define and clarify problems, including determining which information is relevant, and to formulate appropriate questions leading to a deeper and clearer understanding of an issue.

  2. judge information related to a problem, including distinguish fact from opinion and reasoned judgment, to identify unstated assumptions, and to recognize bias, propaganda, and semantic slang.

  3. solve problems and draw conclusions, including the ability to decide whether enough information has been provided to make an informed decision on an issue, to test a conclusion, or to predict probable consequences.

  4. understand the reasons for continuity and change.


  • Teacher chosen entry-level assessment

  • Teacher designed monitoring of progress (attendance, participation, assignments, projects, quizzes, etc.) during units

  • TCI Quizzes and Tests

  • Teacher chosen summative assessment at the end of each unit

  • VUSD Common Assessments


  • TCI HIstory Alive 7

Course Description and California State Standards for Seventh Grade History

Grade Seven – World History and Geography: Medieval and Early Modern TimesGrade S

  • How did the distant regions of the world become more interconnected through medieval and early modern times?
  • What were the multiple ways people of different cultures interacted at sites of encounter? What were the effects of their interactions?
  • How did the environment and technological innovations affect the expansion of agriculture, cities, and human population? What impact did human expansion have on the environment?
  • Why did many states and empires gain more power over people and territories over the course of medieval and early modern times?
  • How did major religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism) and cultural systems (Confucianism, the Scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment) develop and change over time? How did they spread to multiple cultures?

The medieval and early modern periods provide students with opportunities to study the rise and fall of empires, the diffusion of religions and languages, and significant movements of people, ideas, and products. Over this period, the regions of the world became more and more interconnected. Although societies were quite distinct from each other, there were more exchanges of people, products, and ideas in every century. For this reason, world history in this period can be a bewildering catalog of names, places, and events that impacted individual societies, while the larger patterns that affected the world are lost. To avoid this, the focus must be on questions that get at the larger world geographical, historical, economic, and civic patterns. To answer these questions, students study content-rich examples and case studies, rather than surveying all places, names, and events superficially. Students approach history not only as a body of content (such as events, people, ideas, or historical accounts) to be encountered or mastered, but as an investigative discipline. They analyze evidence from written and visual primary sources, supplemented by secondary sources, to form historical interpretations. Both in writing and speaking, they cite evidence from textual sources to support their arguments.

The thematic questions listed above relate to the following major changes that took place during medieval and early modern times:

  • Long-term growth, despite some temporary dips, in the world’s population, beyond any level reached in ancient times. A great increase in agricultural and city-dwelling populations in the world compared to hunters and gatherers, whose numbers steadily declined.
  • Technological advances that gave humans power to produce greater amounts of food and manufactured items, allowing global population to keep rising.
  • An increase in the interconnection and encounters between distant regions of the world. Expansion of long-distance sea-going trade, as well as commercial, technological, and cultural exchanges. By the first millennium BCE (Before Common Era), these networks spanned most of Afroeurasia (the huge interconnected landmass that includes Africa, Europe, and Asia). In the Americas, the largest networks were in Mesoamerica and the Andes region of South America. After 1500 CE (Common Era), a global network of intercommunication emerged.
  • The rise of more numerous and powerful kingdoms and empires, especially after 1450 CE, when gunpowder weapons became available to rulers.
  • Increasing human impact on the natural and physical environment, including the diffusion of plants, animals, and microorganisms to parts of the world where they had previously been unknown.

One of the great historical projects of the last few decades has been to shift from teaching Western Civilization, a narrative that put Western Europe at the center of world events in this period, to teaching world history. Decentering Europe is a complicated process, because themes, periods, narratives, and terminology of historical study was originally built around Europe. For example, the terms “medieval” and “early modern” were invented to divide European history into eras. Neither of the meanings of “medieval” – “middle” or “backward and primitive” – are useful for periodizing world history, or the histories of China, South Asia, Southeast Asia, or Mesoamerica. Students can analyze the term “medieval” to uncover its Renaissance and Eurocentric biases, as a good introduction to the concept of history as an interpretative discipline in which historians investigate primary and secondary sources, and make interpretations based on evidence.

Themes and large questions offer cohesion to the world history course, but students also need to investigate sources in depth. For this, a useful concept is the site of encounter, a place where people from different cultures meet and exchange products, ideas, and technologies. A site of encounter is a specific place, such as Sicily, Quanzhou, or Tenochtitlán/Mexico City, and students analyze concrete objects, such as a porcelain vase or the image of a saint, exchanged or made at the site. As students investigate the exchanges that took place and the interactions of merchants, bureaucrats, soldiers, and artisans at the site, they learn to consider not only what was happening in one culture but also how cultures influenced each other. They also gain fluency in world geography through maps.

Although this framework covers the existing seventh grade content standards, it reorganizes the units. Each of the new units has investigative focus questions to guide instruction and concrete examples and case studies for in-depth analysis. The new units are:

  1. The World in 300 CE (Interconnections in Afroeurasia and Americas)
  2. Rome and Christendom, 300 CE to 1200 (Roman Empire, Development and Spread of Christianity, Medieval Europe, Sicily)
  3. Southwestern Asia, 300 to 1200; World of Islam (Persia, Umayyad & Abbasid Caliphates, Development and Spread of Islam, Sicily, Cairo)
  4. South Asia, 300 to 1200 (Gupta Empire, Spread of Hinduism and Buddhism, Srivijaya)
  5. East Asia, 300 to 1300 (China during Tang & Song, spread of Buddhism, Korea & Japan, Quanzhou)
  6. West Africa, 900-1600 (Ghana, Mali)
  7. Americas, 300 to 1490 (Maya, Aztec, Inca)
  8. Sites of Encounter in Medieval World, 1200-1490 (Mongols, Majorca, Calicut)
  9. Global Convergence, 1450-1750 (Voyages, Columbian Exchange, Trade Networks, Gunpowder Empires; Colonialism in Americas & Southeast Asia, Atlantic World)
  10. Impact of Ideas, 1500-1750 (Spread of Religions; Reformation; Renaissance, Scientific Revolution, Enlightenment