Seventh grade history begins with the early contact between the Old and New Worlds during the Age of Exploration. We examine the arrival of the Europeans in the Americas from the Vikings through the early settlement of North America by the French, English and Spanish. The impact of the “Columbian Exchange” is observed as indigenous cultures are exposed to the “guns, germs, and steel” brought to the Americas by early explorers.
The course proceeds through the following two centuries with an in depth exploration of the various colonial experiences, particularly in Virginia and Massachusetts, but also including the rest of the original thirteen colonies. Attention is paid to the regional differences, developing cultures, conflicts, and the evolution of political institutions. We closely follow the course of the French and Indian War as a dress rehearsal for the Revolutionary War that followed.
We evaluate the early experiment with national government in the Articles of Confederation, setting the stage for the framing and adoption of the Constitution. This sets the stage for an intensive focus in the final quarter on the history of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and their role in the citizenship of all Americans.
During this exploration, students have the opportunity to develop and hone their skills in reading for information, two column note taking, outlining, and organizing information for later access. They have experience with writing identifications, writing short answers to historical questions, writing longer essays in response to specific historical questions, a major biographical research paper in the spring, as well as the possibility of an additional short historical documentary. They learn to defend their positions in informal classroom discussions as well as in more formalized debates. They also have the experience of giving short speeches in historical context such as acting as a delegate at the Constitutional Convention.
Selected field trips enhance and enrich their understanding of history, making it more alive. Field trips include visits to Jamestown, Williamsburg, Montpelier and Washington, D.C.