The Content Standards

Student Guide
Learning Advice

Council of:
Religious Faith

Teacher Guide
The Standards
Mali to Mecca
Mansa Musa Makes the Hajj

A Problem-Based Learning Unit
for 7th grade History-Social Science
integrating English Language Arts
and Visual and Performing Arts

by Alix E. Peshette

History-Social Science Content Standards
for California Public Schools: Grade 7

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

  • 2. The origins of Islam and the life and teachings of Muhammad, including Islamic teachings on the connection with Judaism and Christianity.
  • 3. The significance of the Qur'an and the Sunnah as the primary sources of Islamic beliefs, practice and law, and their influence on Muslim's daily life.
  • 5. The growth of cities and trade routes created among Asia, Africa and Europe, the products and inventions that traveled along these routes (e.g., spices, textiles, paper, steel, new crops) and the role of merchants in Arab society.
  • 6. The intellectual exchange among Muslim scholars of Eurasia and Africa and the contributions Muslims scholars made to later civilizations in the areas of science, geography, mathematics, philosophy, medicine, art and literature.

History-Social Science Thinking
and Analysis Skills
Grades 6-8

Chronological & Spatial Thinking

  • 1. Students explain how major events are related to each other in time.
  • 2. Students use a variety of maps and documents to identify physical and cultural features of neighborhoods, cities, states and countries and to explain the historical migration of people, expansion and disintegration of empires, and the growth of economic systems.

  • Historical Interpretation

    • 3. Students understand and distinguish cause, effect, sequence and correlation in historical events, including the long- and short-term causal relations.
    • 7. Students interpret basic indicators of economic performance and conduct cost/benefit analyses in order to analyze economic and political issues.

    Research, Evidence and Point of View

    • 1. Students frame questions that can be answered by historical study and research.
    • 2. Students distinguish fact from opinion in historical narratives and stories.

    English-Language Arts Content Standards
    for California Public Schools: Grade 7


    Structural Features of Informational Materials

    • 2.1 Understand and analyze the differences in structure and purpose between various categories of informational materials (e.g., textbooks, newspapers, instructional manuals, signs).

    • 2.2 Locate information by using a variety of consumer, workplace and public documents.
    • 2.3 Analyze text that uses the cause-and-effect organizational pattern.

    3.0 Literary Response and Analysis
    Students read and respond to historically or culturally significant works of literature that reflect and enhance their studies of history and social science. They clarify the ideas and connect them to other literary works.

    Structural Features of Literature

    • 3.1 Articulate the expressed purposes and characteristics of different forms of prose (e.g., short story, novel, novella, essay).

    Narrative Analysis of Grade-Level Appropriate Text

    • 3.4 Identify and analyze recurring themes across works (e.g., the value of bravery, loyalty, and friendship; the effects of loneliness).


    1.0 Writing Strategies
    Students write clear, coherent and focused essays. The writing exhibits students' awareness of the audience and purpose. Essays contain formal introductions, supporting evidence and conclusions. Students progress through the stages of the writing process as needed.

    Organization and Focus

    • 1.1 Create an organizational structure that balances all aspects of the composition and uses effective transitions between sentences to unify important ideas.
    • 1.2 Support all statements and claims with anecdotes, descriptions, facts and statistics, and specific examples.
    • 1.3 Use strategies of note taking, outlining, and summarizing to impose structure on composition drafts.

    Research and Technology

    • 1.4 Identify topics, ask and evaluate questions; and develop ideas leading to inquiry, investigation, and research.
    • 1.5 Give credit for both quoted and paraphrased information in a bibliography by using a consistent and sanctioned format and methodology for citations.
    • 1.6 Create documents by using word-processing skills and publishing programs; develop simple databases and spreadsheets to manage information and prepare reports.

    Evaluation and Revision

    • 1.7 Revise writing to improve organization and word choice after checking the logic of the ideas and the precision of the vocabulary.

    2.0 Writing Applications

    Students write narrative, expository, persuasive and descriptive texts of at least 500 to 700 words in each genre. The writing demonstrates a command of standard American English and the research, organizational, and drafting strategies outlined in Writing Standard 1.0.

    Using the writing strategies of grade seven outlined in Writing Standard 1.0, students:

    2.2 Write responses to literature:

    • a. Develop interpretations exhibiting careful reading, understanding and insight.
    • b. Organize interpretations around several clear ideas, premises, or images from the literary work.
    • c. Justify interpretations through sustained use of examples and textual evidence.

    2.3 Write Research reports:

    • a. Pose relevant and tightly drawn questions about the topic.
    • b. Convey clear and accurate perspectives on the subject.
    • c. Include evidence compiled through the formal research process (e.g., use of a card catalog, Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature, a computer catalog, magazines, newspapers, dictionaries).
    • d. Document reference sources by means of footnotes and a bibliography.


    The Visual and Performing Arts
    Challenge Standards

    Standard 3: Historical and Cultural Context: Understanding historical contributions and cultural dimensions of the arts.

    Visual Arts Standard 3: Historical and Cultural Context

    • Visual arts descriptor: Students explore the role of the visual arts in human history and culture. They investigate universal themes and concepts in historical and contemporary periods and styles in cultures throughout the world.


    Standard 4: Aesthetic Valuing: Responding to, analyzing and making judgments about works in the arts.

    Visual Arts Standard 4: Aesthetic Valuing

    • Visual arts descriptor: Students analyze, interpret, and derive meaning from works of visual art. They make critical judgments about and determine the quality of visual artworks and art experiences in accord with learned elements and principles of art.

    Standard 5: Connections, Relations, Applications: Connecting and applying what is learned in each art form to learning in other art forms, subject areas and careers.

    Visual Arts Standard 5: Connections, Relations, Applications

    • Visual arts descriptor: Students apply what they learn in visual arts to learning across disciplines. They develop competencies in problem solving, communication skills, and management of time and resources, all of which contribute to lifelong learning and career skills.