Unit Guides

These units are aligned to the California state standards for 7th grade World History. Each includes lecture notes in PowerPoint and video format, labs along with instructions on how to do them, and other worksheets. The worksheets are often based on Holt's Medieval World which is a horrible, horrible textbook that should never be used by anyone. Students, feel free to browse through and "expand your knowledge" (thanks Jasmin!) by checking out the videos.


The California standards contain a group of "history analysis" skills that I cover throughout the year. The opening section of this unit, Why History,
 briefly introduces those skills and the different types of activities we will do throughout the year. Here I introduce my Five Highways of History as well as show students the importance of learning history. This takes roughly two weeks.

History Labs: How do you Know?, Artifact Analysis, History's When

Our first "real" unit of the year is the Roman Empire. This unit takes three to four weeks. It is packed with information that sets up the rest of the year. Inside you'll find History Labs related to Julius Caesar, barbarian ordeals, opera and life in Pompeii.

History Labs: Cold Case: Rome, Rome Culture Shock, A Day in Pompeii


This covers European history from the fall of the Roman Empire up through the Black Death with a specific focus on the lives of different people and the growth of a Christian empire. Includes a feudalism lab that was adapted from TCI's History Alive that is absolutely wonderful. 

In terms of specific this unit explores the role of Charlemagne, the destruction caused by the Vikings, the rise of Feudalism , conflict between kings and popes, the Crusades, the Magna Carta and the Black Death. We also take a week to critically examine the story of Robin Hood to attempt to determine if it is myth or reality. It is chock full of labs and activities. One is an investigation into the Black Death themed around the television show House. Fun unit but very heavy on information.

History Labs: CSI: Nottingham, Feudalism, Barbarian Kingdoms, Castle Builder, House: The Black Death


7.8 The Renaissance
This section in particular focuses on why change had become so desired in Europe and how the artists of the time helped set the tone for later changes in religion and science.

History Labs: CSI: Florence, Da Vinci's Notebook, Raphael and Perspective, Leadership with Niccolo Machiavelli

Two week unit focusing primarily on Martin Luther and the changes he inspired in the Christian church. The first week examines the various abuses occurring in the church at the time and the second week at Luther's response. I have found that tying the unit around one figure makes it much easier for students to relate and understand the otherwise very difficult concepts and situations. Other figures are mentioned in the labs and activities. Contains one of my favorite labs of the year - Culture Shock: Reformation!

History Labs: Reformation Stations, Culture Shock: Reformation

7.10 The Scientific Revolution
Very short unit lasting only a week that essentially tells the story of Galileo. It is themed around the movie the Matrix as the central questions of the unit are what is truth and what are the consequences of seeking that truth - both of which are key themes in the movie. Copernicus and Newton are also briefly discussed but Galileo is definitely the focus.

History Labs: Galileo: To Tell the Truth


7.7 Latin America

The Maya, Aztec and Inca are all covered (to varying degrees) in this unit. Though they are broken into individual sections (and lectures) they are tested together as one. In total the unit takes about six weeks and is easily one of the favorites of the year for the students. Though there are a whole bunch of lecture notes the students don't seem to mind as they are all quite interesting.

History Labs: Culture Shock: Maya, The Maya Files, Culture Shock: Aztec & Inca


7.3 China

Though the standards start with the later dynasties we start with the Q'in dynasty. Many of students didn't cover it in 6th grade and it is just too important (and interesting!) to leave out. We end up ignoring the later dynasties a bit but they are quite repetitive anyway. Lots of labs and a ton of fun topics in the presentation. This takes 2-3 weeks.

History Labs: Invention Stations, Law and Order: Marco Polo, Culture Shock: China

I love this unit! Samurai, sumos, ninjas and poetry?! All in one? Amazing! This unit includes labs with topics such as haiku, Japanese beauty, sumo wrestling and more. This unit takes about three weeks and in combined with the unit on China. By teaching them back to back I am better able to draw out the distinctions between them which, to me, is very important.

History Labs: Culture Shock: Japan, Haiku!


Here were look at a series of civilizations that rose from nothing. We'll focus heavily on the Arabic empires that grew out of the harsh deserts of the Middle East. We will also touch on the empires of West Africa, Persia and Mongolia. We will constantly be asking how do empires expand?

7.2 Arabia and Islam

This unit explores Arabia. The notes include information about the early polytheistic tribes as well as the later empires of Islam. It also looks into Islamic achievements in science such as the water wheel. 

History Labs: Culture Shock: Arabia

The focus is in on Ghana and Mali where the Islamic influences were strongest. The presentation also discusses the various geographic regions of Africa and the importance of its oral tradition.

History Labs: Culture Shock: Africa, Proverbs and Folk Tales

7.11 The Modern World (AKA: "We're Coming to America")

In my final unit of the year I explore the ideals of the Enlightenment as evidenced by pirates. Wait...what? Yes, you read that right. What better group to introduce democracy, self-determination and freedom? Of course I suppose you could teach students about Voltaire instead but I'm more than happy to do it this way.

History Labs: Culture Shock: Pirates