State-Specific Middle School Social Studies
TCI’s online History Alive! programs transform middle school social studies class into a multi-faceted learning experience. TCI lessons start with a big idea — Essential Question — and incorporate graphic notetaking, groupwork, and step-by-step discovery. Students are the center of instruction that taps a variety of learning styles, allowing students of all abilities to learn and succeed.
Created in partnership with scholars from the National Council for Geographic Education, Geography Alive! Regions and People is a stimulating, case-study approach to geography.
Unit 1: The Geographer’s World
1. The Tools of Geography
Essential Question: How do geographers show information on maps?
In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students develop map-reading skills such as the difference between absolute and relative location and measuring distance using scale.
2. A Spatial Way of Thinking
Essential Question: Why do geographers use a variety of maps to represent the world?
In a Visual Discovery activity, students learn to read and analyze six types of thematic maps that geographers use to represent the world.
Unit 2: Canada and the United States
3. Settlement Patterns and Ways of Life in Canada
Essential Question: How does where you live influence how you live?
In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students explore how location influences ways of life by looking at population, climate, language, buildings, and economic activity in the five regions of Canada.
4. The Great Lakes: The U.S. and Canada’s Freshwater Treasures
Essential Question: How can people best use and protect Earth’s freshwater ecosystems?
Students analyze data about the state of the Great Lakes today and apply what they learn about the lakes’ current status and future prospects in a Writing for Understanding activity.
5. Urban Sprawl in North America: Where Will It End?
Essential Question: How does urban sprawl affect people and the planet?
In an Experiential Exercise, students work in policy-planning groups to debate and recommend possible policies for how to best address growth and urban sprawl in the cities of Portland, Toronto, and Atlanta.
6. National Parks: Saving the Natural Heritage of the U.S. and Canada
Essential Question: What features make national parks special and worth preserving?
In a Response Group activity, students plan adventure tours to learn about the topography and characteristics of North American national parks as well as challenges to their preservation.
7. Consumption Patterns in the United States: The Impact of Living Well
Essential Question: How do American consumption patterns affect people and the planet?
In a Response Group activity, students analyze a series of cartograms depicting global consumption patterns and gross domestic product and identify reasons for those patterns.
8. Migration to the United States: The Impact on People and Place
Essential Question: How does migration affect the lives of people and the character of places?
In an Experiential Exercise, students conduct interviews to learn about the push and pull factors that cause people to migrate to the United States.
Unit 3: Latin America
9. Spatial Inequality in Mexico City: From Shacks to Skyscrapers
Essential Question: Why does spatial inequality exist in urban areas?
In a Writing for Understanding activity, students assume the role of exchange students and “travel” to four neighborhoods to survey people from four social classes about their experiences living in Mexico City.
10. Indigenous Cultures: The Survival of the Maya of Mesoamerica
Essential Question: How do indigenous peoples preserve their traditional culture while adapting to modern life?
In a Problem Solving Groupwork activity, students create and perform dramatizations about five aspects of life in a highland Maya village to learn how they have preserved their traditional ways of life while adapting to modern society.
11. Dealing with Extreme Weather: Hurricanes in the Caribbean
Essential Question: What causes extreme weather, and how do people deal with it?
In a Visual Discovery activity, students analyze images that represent key stages in the life of a hurricane to learn about extreme weather and how people plan for and deal with hurricanes in the Caribbean.
12. Land Use Conflict in the Amazon Rainforest
Essential Question: How should the resources of rainforests be used and preserved?
In a Response Group activity, students create and present news reports about groups with competing interests in how to preserve and use the resources of the Amazon rainforest.
13. Life in the Central Andes: Adapting to a Mountainous Region
Essential Question: How do people adapt to living in a mountainous region?
In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students assume the role of magazine editors organizing a feature article on life in the central Andes to learn how people have adapted to living in the varied environments of the Andes Mountains.
Unit 4: Europe and Russia
14. Supranational Cooperation in the European Union
Essential Question: What forces work for and against supranational cooperation among nations?
In an Experiential Exercise, students “travel” in Europe to explore the economic, political, and cultural forces that work for and against supranational cooperation in the EU.
15. Population Dilemmas in Europe
Essential Question: How do population trends affect a country’s future?
In a Response Group activity, students explore the effects of population trends by creating and analyzing population pyramids for three countries with different levels of growth.
16. Invisible Borders: Transboundary Pollution in Europe
Essential Question: How can one country’s pollution become another country’s problem?
In a Visual Discovery activity, students analyze images and maps to understand the causes and results of radioactive pollution from Chernobyl, acid rain from the “Black Triangle” region, and water pollution in the Tisza and Danube rivers.
17. Russia’s Varied Landscape: Physical Processes at Work
Essential Question: How do physical processes shape Earth’s landscape?
In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students learn about four major physical processes then use their knowledge to try to identify which physical processes are pictured in various images.
18. Nation-States from the Old Soviet Empire: How Have They Succeeded?
Essential Question: What factors contribute to the success or failure of new nation-states?
In a Writing for Understanding activity, students gather information from maps, charts, and their reading to determine which of the nation-states formed after the breakup of the Soviet Union are most likely to be politically and economically successful.
Unit 5: Africa
19. The Nile River: A Journey from Source to Mouth
Essential Question: How do rivers change as they flow across Earth’s surface?
In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students examine photographs of important features along the Nile River that show how the river changes in its journey from source to mouth.
20. Life in the Sahara and the Sahel: Adapting to a Desert Region
Essential Question: How do people adapt to living in a desert region?
In a Response Group activity, students investigate three environments of the Saharan region and make predictions about how people have adapted to life in each.
21. Micro-entrepreneurs: Women’s Role in the Development of Africa
Essential Question: How are women micro-entrepreneurs in developing countries changing their communities?
In a Writing for Understanding activity, students study three women micro-entrepreneurs to learn how they are changing the human characteristics of their African communities.
22. Nigeria: A Country of Many Cultures
Essential Question: How can dividing a diverse country into regions make it easier to understand?
In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students explore the regional differences within Nigeria by designing an educational Web page about the country’s three distinct regions.
23. Resources and Power in Post-apartheid South Africa
Essential Question: How might ethnic group differences affect who controls resources and power in a society?
In a Visual Discovery activity, students examine photographs of the new South Africa and evaluate how much progress South Africa has made toward achieving racial equality since the end of apartheid.
Unit 6: Southwest and Central Asia
24. Oil in Southwest Asia: How “Black Gold” Has Shaped a Region
Essential Question: How might having a valuable natural resource affect a region?
In a Response Group activity, students analyze geographic data to answer a series of critical thinking questions about how oil has affected ten countries in Southwest Asia.
25. Istanbul: A Primate City Throughout History
Essential Question: Where are primate cities located, and why are they important?
In an Experiential Exercise, students play a game in which they discover the best trading location among several designated areas in the room and then compare and contrast their experience with aspects of Istanbul.
26. The Aral Sea: Central Asia’s Shrinking Water Source
Essential Question: How are humans affected by changes they make to their physical environment?
In a Problem Solving Groupwork activity, students prepare and present “documentaries” on how a particular group of people has been affected by the changes to the Aral Sea.
Unit 7: Monsoon Asia
27. Waiting for the Rains: The Effects of Monsoons in South Asia
Essential Question: How does climate influence human activity in a region?
In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students work in pairs to complete puzzles by correctly matching a climagraph, a climate map, a photograph, and a list of effects of and adaptations to that climate for four cities in South Asia.
28. Tech Workers and Time Zones: India’s Comparative Advantage
Essential Question: What factors give some countries a comparative advantage in the global IT revolution?
In a Writing for Understanding activity, students participate in simulated Internet searches and online meetings with three people from Bangalore, India and then write a feature article about the impact of the IT revolution on India.
29. Mount Everest: Climbing the World’s Tallest Physical Feature
Essential Question: How can people both experience and protect the world’s special places?
In an Experiential Exercise, teams of students assume the role of climbers on Mount Everest, discovering some of the challenges presented by this physical feature as they “ascend” the mountain.
30. China: The World’s Most Populous Country
Essential Question: How does a country meet the challenges created by a large and growing population?
In a Response Group activity, students assume the roles of demographers attending a conference on population as they learn about and analyze three plans to meet the challenges presented by China’s growing population.
31. Population Density in Japan: Life in a Crowded Country
Essential Question: How does a country meet the challenges created by a large and growing population?
In an Experiential Exercise, students use their bodies and varying amounts of floor space to simulate the population densities of Australia, the United States, and Japan.
32. The Global Sneaker: From Asia to Everywhere
Essential Question: What is globalization, and how does it affect people and places?
In a Visual Discovery activity, students analyze images that represent key stages in the production of a sneaker: designing, location materials, manufacturing, and distributing.
Unit 8: Oceania and Antarctica
33. Relative and Absolute Location: What Makes Australia Unique?
Essential Question: How does a country’s location shape life within its borders?
In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students learn how six aspects of life in Australia have been affected by its absolute or relative location.
34. The Pacific Islands: Adapting to Life Surrounded by Ocean
Essential Question: How do people adapt to life in an island region?
In a Problem Solving Groupwork activity, students create illustrated maps of one of three island types: continental islands, volcanic islands, and atolls.
35. Antarctica: Researching Climate Change at the Coldest Place on Earth
Essential Question: How might global warming affect the environment in the world’s coldest places?
In a Writing for Understanding activity, students explore how Antarctica is affected by world climate changes and why this unique land is ideal for the study of global warming.
In a series of Mapping Labs, students work in pairs to complete a series of geography challenges that spiral in difficulty. They learn about the region’s physical and human geography and discover and implement the steps in the geographic inquiry process (GIP). Included in the Mapping Labs are:
- Canada and the United States
- Latin America
- Europe and Russia
- Southwest and Central Asia
- Monsoon Asia
- Oceania and Antarctica
History Alive! The Ancient and Medieval Worlds (Michigan Edition) introduces students to the beginnings of the human story. Students discover the secrets of these ancient and medieval cultures that continue to influence the modern world.
- Investigating the Past
- Early Hominins
- From Hunters and Gatherers to Farmers
- The Rise of Sumerian City-States
Reading Further: Detecting the Past: Clues from Archaeology
- Ancient Sumer
- Exploring Four Empires of Mesopotamia
- Geography and the Early Settlement of Egypt, Kush, and Canaan
- The Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs
Reading Further: The Egyptian Mummy Project
- Daily Life in Ancient Egypt
- The Kingdom of Kush
- The Origins of Judaism
- Learning About World Religions: Judaism
- Geography and the Early Settlement of India
Reading Further: Saving the Ganges
- Unlocking the Secrets of Mohenjodaro
- Learning About World Religions: Hinduism
- Learning About World Religions: Buddhism
- The First Unification of India
- The Achievements of the Gupta Empire
- Geography and the Early Settlement of China
- The Shang Dynasty
- Three Chinese Philosophies
- The First Emperor of China
Reading Further: China’s Great Walls
- The Han Dynasty
- The Silk Road
- Geography and the Settlement of Greece
- The Rise of Democracy
- Life in Two City-States: Athens and Sparta
- Fighting the Greco-Persian Wars
- The Golden Age of Athens
- Alexander the Great and His Empire
- The Legacy of Ancient Greece
- Geography and the Early Development of Rome
- The Rise of the Roman Republic
- From Republic to Empire
- Daily Life in the Roman Empire
- The Origins and Spread of Christianity
- Learning About World Religions: Christianity
- The Legacy of Rome in the Modern World
Reading Further: Lessons from Pompeii
- The Origins and Spread of Islam
- Learning About World Religions: Islam
- The Maya
- The Aztecs
- Daily Life in Tenochtitlán
- The Incas
- Achievements of the Maya, Aztecs, and Incas
Reading Further: Walking Across Space: Incan Rope Bridges
History Alive! The United States Through Industrialism immerses students in a powerful journey through the history of the United States from its earliest foundations to the age of industrialism.
Unit 1: Our Colonial Heritage
1. The First Americans
Essential Question: How did the first Americans adapt to their environments?
In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students hypothesize the geographic origins of American Indian artifacts to explore how the first Americans in eight cultural regions adapted to their environments.
2. European Exploration and Settlement
Essential Question: How did Europeans explore and establish settlements in the Americas?
In a Visual Discovery activity, students analyze and bring to life images depicting European exploration and settlement to discover how European nations explored and established settlements in the Americas.
3. The English Colonies in North America
Essential Question: What were the similarities and differences among the colonies in North America?
In a Problem Solving Groupwork activity, students analyze the similarities and differences among the English colonies in North America by creating and visiting sales booths in a “colonial fair.”
4. Life in the Colonies
Essential Question: What was life really like in the colonies?
Students work in pairs in a Social Studies Skill Builder to analyze primary and secondary source material to explore eight aspects of life in the American colonies, including rights of colonists, religion, education, and life for enslaved African Americans.
Unit 2: Revolution in the Colonies
5. Toward Independence
Essential Question: Why was there an American Revolution?
In a Response Group activity, students participate in a series of colonial town meetings to debate whether to rebel against British rule. In the process, they evaluate the events that deeply divided the American colonists and eventually caused them to rebel against the British government.
6. The Declaration of Independence
Essential Question: What principles of government are expressed in the Declaration of Independence?
Students learn about key events leading up to the writing of the Declaration of Independence and, in a Writing for Understanding activity, analyze key excerpts of the Declaration and the principles of government they express.
7. The American Revolution
Essential Question: How was the Continental army able to win the war for independence from Great Britain?
In an Experiential Exercise, students participate in a game of Capture the Flag. They compare their experience to the determining factors of the war for independence from Great Britain—examining the strengths and weaknesses of each side, important battles, and other key factors in the conflict—to determine how the British were defeated.
Unit 3: Forming a New Nation
8. Creating the Constitution
Essential Question: What compromises emerged from the Constitutional Convention?
In an Experiential Exercise, students examine the factors that led to the creation of a stronger central government under the U.S. Constitution by re-creating a key debate from the Constitutional Convention.
9. The Constitution: A More Perfect Union
Essential Question: How has the Constitution created “a more perfect Union”?
In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students work in pairs to explore the key features and guiding principles of the U.S. Constitution by assuming the role of law students taking a final exam on the Constitution.
10. The Bill of Rights
Essential Question: What freedoms does the Bill of Rights protect and why are they important?
In a Response Group activity, students learn about the important rights and freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights by analyzing a series of scenarios to determine whether the Bill of Rights protects certain actions taken by citizens.
Unit 4: Launching the New Republic
11. Political Developments in the Early Republic
Essential Question: How did the Federalist and Republican visions for the United States differ?
In an Experiential Exercise, students compare Federalist and Republican visions for the United States by taking on the roles of Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson to debate the main issues that divided the two groups.
12. Foreign Affairs in the Young Nation
Essential Question: To what extent should the United States have become involved in world affairs in the early 1800s?
In a Response Group activity, students assume the roles of foreign policy advisers to early presidents to evaluate the extent to which the country should have become involved in world affairs.
13. A Growing Sense of Nationhood
Essential Question: What did it mean to be an American in the early 1800s?
In a Writing for Understanding activity, students visit an art exhibit, cotillion, and literary gathering to experience American culture in the early 1800s. They then create a chapter of a book describing what it meant to be an American in this period.
14. Andrew Jackson and the Growth of American Democracy
Essential Question: How well did President Andrew Jackson promote democracy?
In a Visual Discovery activity, students analyze and bring to life images of key events in the presidency of Andrew Jackson to evaluate how well he promoted democracy.
Unit 5: An Expanding Nation
15. Manifest Destiny and the Growing Nation
Essential Question: How justifiable was U.S. expansion in the 1800s?
In a Response Group activity, students re-create each territorial acquisition of the 1800s and then evaluate whether the nation’s actions were justifiable.
16. Life in the West
Essential Question: What were the motives, hardships, and legacies of the groups that moved west in the 1800s?
In a Problem Solving Groupwork activity, students create and perform minidramas about eight groups of people who moved to the West in the 1800s to explore these people’s motives for moving, the hardships they faced, and the legacies they left behind for future generations.
17. Mexicano Contributions to the Southwest
Essential Question: How have Mexicano contributions influenced life in the United States?
Students work in pairs in a Social Studies Skill Builder to examine important Mexicano contributions and determine how they have influenced life in the United States.
Unit 6: Americans in the Mid-1800s
18. An Era of Reform
Essential Question: To what extent did the reform movements of the mid-1800s improve life for Americans?
Students examine the reform movements of the mid-1800s to evaluate to what extent they improved life for Americans. In a Response Group activity, they debate the extent to which grievances from the Declaration of Sentiments have been redressed today.
19. The Worlds of North and South
Essential Question: How was life in the North different from life in the South?
In a Visual Discovery activity, students analyze and bring to life images from the mid-1800s to compare the different ways of life in the North and the South.
20. African Americans in the Mid-1800s
Essential Question: How did African Americans face slavery and discrimination in the mid-1800s?
In a Writing for Understanding activity, students analyze quotations and examine images to discover how African Americans faced slavery and discrimination in the mid-1800s. They then create a journal describing some of the experiences of a slave in the period.
Unit 7: The Union Challenged
21. A Dividing Nation
Essential Question: Which events of the mid-1800s kept the nation together and which events pulled it apart?
In a Visual Discovery activity, students analyze and bring to life images depicting the growing conflict between the North and the South to understand why the nation could not prevent civil war.
22. The Civil War
Essential Question: What factors and events influenced the outcome of the Civil War?
In an Experiential Exercise, students take on the role of soldiers at the Battle of Gettysburg and encounter key aspects of what it was like to be a soldier in the Civil War and then write about their experiences.
23. The Reconstruction Era
Essential Question: To what extent did Reconstruction bring African Americans closer to full citizenship?
In a Visual Discovery activity, students analyze primary source images to evaluate how close African Americans came to full citizenship during Reconstruction.
Unit 8: Migration and Industry
24. Tensions in the West
Essential Question: How did settlers change the West and affect American Indians?
Students work together in a Problem Solving Groupwork activity to create a music video to illustrate how western settlement impacted the Nez Percé. They then examine how settlers changed the West and impacted other American Indian groups.
25. The Rise of Industry
Essential Question: Did the benefits of industrialization outweigh the costs?
In an Experiential Exercise, students take on the role of workers on an assembly line to experience the costs and benefits of industrialization.
26. The Great Wave of Immigration
Essential Question: What was life like for immigrants in the early 1900s?
In a Writing for Understanding activity, students create scrapbooks illustrating what life was like for immigrants in the early 1900s.
Unit 9: A Modern Nation Emerges
27. The Progressive Era
Essential Question: Did the progressives improve life in the United States?
In a Response Group activity, students take on the roles of Progressive era leaders in a panel discussion to evaluate whether progressives improved life in the United States.
28. The United States Becomes a World Power
Essential Question: Should U.S. actions in world affairs around the turn of the 20th century be praised or condemned?
In a Social Studies Skill Builder, pairs of students analyze political cartoons about U.S. actions in world affairs around the turn of the 20th century and evaluate the differing viewpoints of those actions.
29. Linking Past to Present
Essential Question: What changes since 1914 have shaped how we live today?
In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students discover important events of the last century and learn how they have affected society in the United States.