Anchorage School District
Social Studies Curriculum


Kindergarten through Grade 6

Middle School

Grade 6
U.S. History
(20th Century)
Grade 7
World Geography
Grade 8
U.S. History

High School

Grade 9
Alaska Studies & Elective
Grade 10
U.S. History
Grades 11 & 12
Alaska Studies
U.S. Government


Social Studies Curriculum

Grade 7 - World Geography
Unit Guides

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Unit: North America (US, Canada, Mexico, Central America, & The Caribbean)

Time frame for unit: 1st Quarter-- 5 weeks

Content Standards

National Standards for Geography:
Standards #1-#18 (See end of this document)

Alaska State Geographic Content Standards Addressed:
Standards A-F (See end of this document)

Enduring Understandings and Essential Questions

  1. The five themes of geography allow us to explore patterns in location, place, human environment interaction, movement, and regions.
  2. Geography has a range of helpful tools that can assist us in understanding our earth and its patterns.
  3. North America is rich in cultural diversity, a feature that both benefits and challenges its people.
    • How are the cultures of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean diverse?
    • How has cultural diversity benefited and challenged the people of North America?
  4. North America has widely contrasting natural resources, economies, and political systems.
    • How have the natural resources on the economies of the US and Canada made them developed Nations?
    • How are trade agreements, such as NAFTA, affecting North America’s economies and politics?


The student will be able to define / apply the following terms:
Subsistence, contiguous, indigenous, continent, countries, maritime, taiga, tundra, permafrost, biome, Continental Divide, basin, megalopolis, provinces, trade deficit, Caribbean Sea, rain forest, primate city, dialect, ethnic diversity, Maya, Aztec, conquistador, viceroy, extended family, modernism, developed & developing countries, export, cash crop, service industry, maquiladoras, mestizos, mulatto, trade and interdependence, ecosystem, deforestation, reforestation, ozone layer, plaza, mosaic, adobe, hacienda, isthmus, archipelago, dictator, Rocky Mountains, Gulf of Mexico, Appalachian Mountains, Hudson Bay, Panama Canal.

The student will be able to explain the significance of the following concepts:

  • How a geographer would use different geographic tools to interpret a map or area of land.
  • The impact of natural resources on the economies of the United States and Canada.
  • The traits that make up the diverse cultures of North America.

The student will be able to describe the following:

  • Main landforms and natural resources of North America.
  • Biomes of North America.
  • Ways traditional economic systems of indigenous peoples differ from the mainstream economic system.
  • Cultures of North America.
  • Natural hazards of mainland North America, and the Caribbean.


The student will be able to:

  • Identify different climate regions, and show how latitude determines climate.
  • Use latitude and longitude correctly with a map and a globe.
  • Label landforms and cities on maps.
  • Apply their knowledge of Alaska and North American geography to create mental maps.
  • Paraphrase written material.
  • Take notes over oral and written material.
  • Summarize oral and written material.
  • Interpret special purpose maps, graphs, and charts to better understand the area.
  • Interpret the impact of change on a community.
  • Compare and contrast peoples, landforms, natural resources and history of North America.

Assessment Evidence

Example Performance Tasks:

  1. Illustrate the components of culture:
    • Students will pick a culture and design an art feature that commemorates that culture.
    • Students will also be asked to relate why and how the art reflects that culture.
  2. Students will go on a treasure hunt for the Treasures of El Dorado or the Fountain of Youth. They will document their search by latitude and longitude, as well as considering the physical and ecological elements of the region. They will then design a travelogue of their experiences through at least 6 countries.

Example Evidence:

  • Mental mapping quizzes.
  • Quizzes of facts related to North America including Alaska.
  • Use key words in context.
  • Compare/contrast essay comparing the physical geography of Canada and the U.S.
  • Written responses to the Essential Questions.

Example Learning Activities:

  1. Read and discuss Ch. 4-7 in the Holt textbook.
  2. Create, label, and analyze maps of North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico, Central America, and/or Caribbean).
  3. Create a collage of photos.
  4. Create a timeline of events comparing the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Central America, or Caribbean.
  5. Read and summarize either a book or short stories: “The Broken Blade,” “Wintering,” “Canadian Summer,” ”Wish You Were Here,” “Anne of Green Gables,” etc.
  6. View and discuss a video, for example, “The Canadian Way of Life,” “Visit Mexico,” “Lost Civilizations- Mayans”
  7. Write a comparison paper, for example, comparing an indigenous group from Alaska and another North American group.
  8. Conduct research to find examples of art made by the indigenous people.
  9. Have a food festival and students bring in traditional North American foods. Optional: dress in traditional clothing.
  10. Conduct research on how immigrants have influenced customs, religion, politics, language, and food of a particular U.S. region.
  11. Build a model of the Panama Canal; include an informative paper discussing the construction process and the lock system.
  12. Provide students with opportunities for self-evaluation such as reflective writing, rubrics, and peer discussions.
  13. Review unit data through games such as bingo, jeopardy, and group competitions.

* These are suggested activities. Other assessments, performance tasks, and learning activities may be implemented.


Next: South America »


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