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HSS Curriculum

August, 2016

In social studies, our district is using History Alive!; a program that truly engages students in learning. Your student will be an active participant instead of a passive observer, experiencing history through innovative teaching practices that include role playing, simulations, group projects, and writing from a historical perspective.

The standards for Grade 7 cover the period between ancient and modern times, or the medieval world.  Units include life in medieval Europe and the Byzantine empire; the history of Muslim empires and the rise of Islam; the cultures of West Africa; imperial China; medieval Japan; and Europe’s Renaissance, Reformation, Scientific Revolution, and Enlightenment. In History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond, as with any text covering this time period, students learn about a number of sensitive and controversial topics, including the development of different world religions. The History Alive! materials were designed to deal with these topics objectively, respectfully, and in accordance with standards set throughout the country.

California history/social studies standards in sixth and seventh grades cover the development of major world religions. Sixth grade social studies focus on the ancient world, and standards cover the origins and central teachings of Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity, the major world religions that developed during that time period. Seventh grade social studies focuses on the medieval world and includes a section on the origins and central teachings of Islam. The Muslim religion is the only world religion covered in the seventh grade social studies curriculum because it was founded in the medieval era.  The other world religions are older and as such, are covered in the sixth grade standards covering the ancient world. 

The origins of major world religions are included in California standards because it is important that  students understand perspectives and beliefs that differ from their own.  Familiarity with world religious beliefs and traditions enhances students' understanding of literature, art, architecture, culture, and history. In addition, an understanding of the histories and belief systems of a diversity of religious traditions is necessary if students are to understand the complexity of contemporary issues such as the conflicts in the Middle East, the unrest in Afghanistan, the troubles in Northern Ireland, and the continuing struggles in the Balkans. Studying the role of religion in history helps students learn to value religious liberty and respect cultural diversity, important criteria in maintaining democracy and world peace. (

 Please be assured that when I cover the development of the Muslim civilization, my focus is completely academic, not devotional. In addition,

·         The school strives for student awareness of religions, but does not press for student acceptance of any religion.

·         The school sponsors study about religion, not the practice of religion. >The school may expose students to a diversity of religious views, but may not impose any particular view.

·         The school educates about all religions; it does not promote or denigrate religion.

·         The school informs students about various beliefs; it does not seek to conform students to any particular belief.  (

When teaching the history of any religion, I use phrasing such as  "According to the Quran…" or "Many Buddhists believe…" or "Early Christians taught that… "  Using such words helps to ensure that my teaching is fair and neutral.

I have included the California standards for 6th and 7th grade covering the world religions, as well as the table of contents for both the 6th and 7th grade textbooks. 

CALIFORNIA STATE STANDARDS (Standards in their entirety can be seen at

6.2 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the early civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Kush.

6.3 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the Ancient Hebrews.

·         Describe the origins and significance of Judaism as the first monotheistic religion based on the concept of one God who sets down moral laws for humanity.

·         Identify the sources of the ethical teachings and central beliefs of Judaism (the Hebrew Bible, the Commentaries): belief in God, observance of law, practice of the concepts of righteousness and justice, and importance of study; and describe how the ideas of the Hebrew traditions are reflected in the moral and ethical traditions of Western civilization.

·         Explain the significance of Abraham, Moses, Naomi, Ruth, David, and Yohanan ben Zaccai in the development of the Jewish religion.

·         Discuss the locations of the settlements and movements of Hebrew peoples, including the Exodus and their movement to and from Egypt, and outline the significance of the Exodus to the Jewish and other people.

·         Discuss how Judaism survived and developed despite the continuing dispersion of much of the Jewish population from Jerusalem and the rest of Israel after the destruction of the second Temple in A.D. 70.

6.5 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the early  ivilizations of India.

·         Explain the major beliefs and practices of Brahmanism in India and how they evolved in

·         Know the life and moral teachings of Buddha and how Buddhism spread in India, Ceylon, and Central early Hinduism.

6.6 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the early civilizations of China. 

·          Know about the life of Confucius and the fundamental teachings of Confucianism and Taoism

6.7 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures during the development of Rome. 

·         Note the origins of Christianity in the Jewish Messianic prophecies, the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as described in the New Testament, and the contribution of St. Paul the Apostle to the definition and spread of Christian beliefs (e.g., belief in the Trinity, resurrection, salvation).

·         Describe the circumstances that led to the spread of Christianity in Europe and other Roman territories.

7.2 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the civilizations of Islam in the Middle Ages. 

·         Trace the origins of Islam and the life and teachings of Muhammad, including Islamic teachings on the connection with Judaism and Christianity.

·         Explain the significance of the Qur’an and the Sunnah as the primary sources of Islamic beliefs, practice, and law, and their influence in Muslims’ daily life.

History Alive! The Ancient World (sixth grade textbook)

Table of Contents

Unit 1: Early Humans and the Rise of Civilization

·         1.Investigating the Past 

·         2.Early Hominins 

·         3.From Hunter Gatherers to Farmers 

·         4.The Rise of Sumerian City-States

·         5.Ancient Sumer 

·         6.Exploring Four Empires of Mesopotamia 

Unit 2: Ancient Egypt and the Middle East

·         7.Geography and the Early Settlement 
of Egypt, Kush, and Canaan

·         8.The Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs 

·         9.Daily Life in Ancient Egypt

·         10.The Kingdom of Kush

·         11.The Origins of Judaism 

·         12.Learning about World Religions: Judaism

Unit 3: Ancient India

·         13.Geography and the Early Settlement of India 

·         14.Unlocking the Secrets of Mohenjodaro

·         15.Learning about World Religions: Hinduism

·         16.Learning about World Religions: Buddhism 

·         17.The Unification of India

·         18.The Achievements of the Gupta Empire

Unit 4: Ancient China

·         19.Geography and the Early Settlement of China

·         20.The Shang Dynasty 

·         21.Three Chinese Philosophies 

·         22.The First Emperor of China

·         23.The Han Dynasty 

·         24.The Silk Road

Unit 5: Ancient Greece

·         25.Geography and the Early Settlement of Greece 

·         26.The Rise of Democracy

·         27.Life in Two City-States: Athens and Sparta

·         28.Fighting the Persian Wars 

·         29.The Golden Age of Athens

·         30.Alexander the Great and His Empire 

·         31.The Legacy of Ancient Greece  

Unit 6: Ancient Rome

·         32.Geography and the Early Development of Rome

·         33.The Rise of the Roman Republic

·         34.From Republic to Empire 

·         35.Daily Life in the Roman Empire

·         36.The Origins and Spread of Christianity

·         37.Learning about World Religions: Christianity

·         38.The Legacy of Rome in the Modern World

History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond (seventh grade textbook)

Table of Contents

Unit 1: Europe During Medieval Times

·         1.The Legacy of the Roman Empire

·         2.The Development of Feudalism in Western Europe

·         3.The Roman Catholic Church in Medieval Europe

·         4.Life in Medieval Towns 

·         5.The Decline of Feudalism 

·         6.The Byzantine Empire 

Unit 2: Islam in Medieval Times

·         7.The Origins and Spread of Islam

·         8.Learning About World Religions: Islam

·         9.Muslim Innovations and Adaptations

·         10.From the Crusades to New Muslim Empires

Unit 3: The Culture and Kingdoms of West Africa

·         11.Early Societies in West Africa 

·         12.Ghana: A West African Trading Empire

·         13.The Influence of Islam on West Africa

·         14.The Cultural Legacy of West Africa

Unit 4: Imperial China

·         15.The Political Development of Imperial China

·         16.China Develops a New Economy

·         17.Chinese Discoveries and Inventions

·         18.China's Contacts with the Outside World

Unit 5: Japan During Medieval Times

·         19.The Influence of Neighboring Cultures on Japan

·         20.Heian-kyo: The Heart of Japan's Golden Age

·         21.The Rise of the Warrior Class in Japan 

Unit 6. Civilizations of the Americas

·         22.The Mayas

·         23.The Aztecs

·         24.Daily Life in Tenochtitlán

·         25.The Incas

·         26.Achievements of the Mayas, Aztecs, and Incas

Unit 7: Europe's Renaissance and Reformation

·         27.The Renaissance Begins

·         28.Florence: The Cradle of the Renaissance

·         29.Leading Figures of the Renaissance

·         30.The Reformation Begins

·         31.The Spread and Impact of the Reformation

Unit 8: Europe Enters the Modern Age

·         32.The Age of Exploration

·         33.The Scientific Revolution

·         34.The Enlightenment