Teacher Notes Grade Level Grade 7 Fall of Rome oals and Purpose Students will research the lasting accomplishments of the Roman Empire and develop an understanding of how they have influenced our lives today by creating an oral and visual presentation. Social Studies Standards Addressed 7.1 Students analyze the causes and effects of the vast expansion and ultimate disintegration of the Roman Empire. 1. Study the early strengths and lasting contributions of Rome(e.g. significance of Roman citizenship; rights under Roman law; Roman art, architecture, engineering and philosophy; preservation and transmission of Christianity) and its ultimate internal weaknesses (e.g., rise of autonomous military powers within the empire, undermining of citizenship by the growth of corruption and slavery, lack of education, and distribution of news). Thinking and Analysis Skills Addressed Chronological and Spatial Thinking


Grade Level

Grade 7 Fall of Rome


Students will examine the accomplishments of Rome, determine which have had the most impact and decide which ones are found in our society today.

Social Studies Standards Addressed

7.1.1 Study the early strengths and lasting contributions of Rome (e.g., significance of Roman citizenship; rights under Roman law; Roman art, architecture, engineering, and philosophy; preservation and transmission of Christianity) and its ultimate internal weaknesses.

Thinking and Analysis Skills Addressed

 Language Arts Standards Addressed

ELD Standards


Lesson Length:

2 weeks

Notes on the Task

Students need time to do both the research and prepare their presentation
Divide the students into "expert" groups of four or five in the following areas:

  1. lawyers and judges-law, trial by jury, Twelve Tables
  2. artists-painting, sculpture, frescoes
  3. architects-domes, arches, columns, Colosseum, Circus Maximus
  4. literary experts and writers-epic poems, histories, Virgil,
  5. scientists
  6. religious leaders-Christianity
  7. linguists- Latin language in medicine, law, science and in the English language

Adaptations for Special Needs

  1. Working in groups will allow students to help those who may struggle with English language or lower ability levels.
  2. In order to accommodate the different ability levels and ELL, lengthen or shorten the time limit on the presentation


The Roman Empire was one of the greatest empires in the history of man. Lasting from approximately 509 B.C. until A.D. 476, it left the world with a legacy of skills, ideas, laws, etc., that still influence modern societies in many ways. The accomplishments of Rome will long be appreciated for the numerous ways they have shaped and improved our lives.

The Romans were one of the first to put their set of laws into writing. These early laws were called the The Law of the Twelve Tables and were hung in the Roman Forum for everyone to see. In order to efficiently control their constantly growing, vast empire, new laws and customs were combined with the older laws to create a code of justice that would apply to everyone in all corners of the empire. Many modern countries including the United States and many of those in Europe have adopted the ideas of the Romans; e.g. an accused person is innocent until proven guilty. Common laws of many countries, canon law of the Roman Catholic Church and international laws contain principles borrowed from Roman law.

Many societies have been influenced by Rome's form of government. Rome developed a government in which citizens could choose their leaders by voting - a republic. The government was not dominated by a single class of people, but partly a monarchy ( king), partly an aristocracy ( ruled by nobles, the Senate) and partly a democracy ( by the people). Our own United States Constitution is based on the Roman system of balance of power-legislative, judicial and executive branches.

The language of the Romans was Latin. They are famous for their fictional stories, dramas, histories and poetry produced by such writers as Virgil, Ovid and Cicero. Everyone in the empire, including conquered people, were taught Latin. Since it could be understood throughout the empire, it was used in many areas; law, medicine and the Catholic church. Today, Latin is still used in the areas of medicine, law and science in order to create a common understanding among people of all languages. Many different languages have been influenced by the Latin language. For example, the English word "justice, comes from the Latin word "jus", meaning law. This same Latin root is found in the French word "justice." the Italian word "guistizia," and the Spanish word, "justicia." In the English language, 30% - 40% of of our words were derived from Latin.

The Roman engineers made lasting contributions with their brilliant building techniques. They borrowed ideas for the use of columns and arches from the Greeks and Etruscans, who settled in Italy before the Romans. Roman architects improved the design of arches and created a roof formed of rounded arches called a dome. These domes were placed atop structures after the walls and columns were constructed. Today many of our civc buildings use these architectural designs. Our nation's Capitol as well as the Capitol buildings in each state were built with large domes. Many courthouses have been built using arches, columns and /Roman style statues. Examples of the splendor of the Roman architects can be seen in the Colosseum and many other public buildings in Rome and throughout the world. The Romans left behind basilicas, baths, amphitheaters, stadiums arches, and multistoried apartment houses that demonstrate the size, grandeur, and beauty of the Roman building techniques.

In order to be able to move throughout the Roman empire, specially the distant parts, Romans built a system of highways. These roads were made of heavy concrete blocks set in layers of crushed stones and pebbles. They were designed to last for ever, like the Appian Way, parts of which still exist. Over 250,000 miles of roads connected the cities of the Roman Empire. "The extensive Roman system of roads and bridges made travel faster in the days of ancient Rome that it ever was again until the development of railroads in the 1800"s" (TCI) These roads were built using sound engineering principles. They used layers of stone. In order to be able to use them in inclement weather, they were built higher in the middle with ditches on either side to allow for runoff of rain. Since they were used by messengers and the military, roads were kept in excellent condition.

One of man's basic needs is water. The Romans needed to bring water from springs, wells, and distant lakes to the people in the cities. Aqueducts, canal-like structures, tunneled through mountains and crossed the valleys, in order to supply drinking water to the people of Rome. Engineers also constructed dams and reservoirs to assist in supplying water to the Roman population.

Remains of many structures engineered by the Romans are in evidence today, such as the Roman baths in Bath, England, The Baths of Caracalla, and Hadrian's wall in northern England, which was built to keep the Scots from invading the Roman settlements. It crossed England from the east coast to the west coast.

Roman art originally was patterned after that of the Greeks and the Etruscans. However, they quickly developed their own realistic and individualistic style that produced lasting paintings and sculptures that were displayed in the homes of the rich as well as public buildings, although very little examples of Roman paintings have been preserved. The Romans developed and used mosaics in floors, frescoes, sculptured coffins, and equestrian statues. They used a variety of decorative motifs such as garlands of flowers, scrolls, and cupids that are still used in many buildings today.

Christianity was a religion that developed in early Roman times. It was a religion that was declared illegal because the followers refused to worship the Roman gods and emperor. Christians went underground with their newfound faith, but many of them were tortured, executed and became martyrs. Some were used as human torches and others battled and were devoured by lions in the Circus Maximus arena. However, the attempts of the Roman government to eliminate Christianity backfired. Instead of wiping out their numbers, people became impressed by the faith demonstrated by the martyrs and began to convert in large numbers. In fact, the number of Christians increased so much that by A.D. 395, Christianity was declared the official Roman Empire religion and continued to spread across the world.

Peggy Chute pjchute@discover.net
Fontana USD:
Truman Middle School
16224 Mallory Drive
Fontana, CA 92335 (909) 357-5190