Unit 1--big Ideas American History I exploring and Colonizing America (1607-1763) Text Reading—Lapsanski, et al

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Unit 1--Big Ideas-- American History I

Exploring and Colonizing America (1607-1763)
Text Reading—Lapsanski, et. al. United States History

Chapter 1-Many Cultures Meet, Chapter 2-Europeans Establish Colonies, Chapter 3-The American Colonies Take Shape

Organizing Principle

Between 1607 and 1763 the British explored and colonized the eastern coastline of North America. During this time the British would compete against the French and the Spanish for control of North America.

Learner Objectives:

Students will understand that

  • Individuals and groups are sometimes motivated to take risks and to relocate in order to improve their quality of life.

  • Nations that choose to colonize other regions of the world to increase their economic and political power will encounter conflict and competition.

  • Regions may experience differences in economic growth, political systems, and social structures due to geographic and cultural diversity.

Students will know

  • Why Europeans were motivated to colonize in America.

  • How European social, political, and economic change and conflict impacted the exploration and settlement of North America (Protestant Reformation, War, Trade and Mercantilism, Glorious Revolution, Great Awakening)

  • How British, Spanish and French attempts at empire in North America led to cultural diffusion and conflict between various groups.

  • How political, economic, cultural and social traditions impacted the formation and development of the New England, Middle and Southern colonies in British North America.

  • How and to what extent colonial expansion and various frontier wars with American Indians influenced the development of the colonies (e.g., Pequot War, King Philips War and Tuscarora War).

  • How economic factors influenced the settlement and development of the thirteen English colonies in North America (e.g., enclosure movement, joint-stock companies, head right system, “Triangular” trade and the growth of cash crops, Navigation Acts).

  • How environmental factors, such as topography, climate variations and disease, influenced the settlement and development of the thirteen English colonies in North America.

  • How cultural factors influenced the settlement and development of the thirteen English colonies in North America (e.g., religious freedom, Quakers in Pennsylvania, Puritan families in New England, indentured servants and slaves in Virginia).

  • How and to what extent specific factors such as commerce/mercantilism, religion, geographic setting, population diversity, and cultural perspectives helped lead to the political, social and economic development of North American colonies.

  • How the 17th and early 18th century growth of cash crops, colonial land policies and indentured or enslaved labor led to the economic development of the plantation system and a landed gentry in the South.

  • How the 17th and early 18th century growth of commerce shipbuilding and commercial agriculture encouraged materialism and economic development in New England.

  • How the 17th and early 18th century growth of commerce, colonial land policies, and surplus agriculture led to the cultural diversity and economic development of the Middle Colonies.

  • How and why the “triangular trade” promoted the enslavement of West Africans in the New World. How and to what extent West Africans and their cultures survived the Middle Passage and the conditions of slavery.

  • How various groups of American Indians influenced the settlement and expansion of the European colonies.

  • How American Indians were impacted by European colonization

  • How the political organization of the royal colonies around a royal governor, councils and assemblies affected the distribution of power between the colonists and Great Britain.

  • How and to what extent colonial rights and privileges as Englishmen, established in England, influenced the development of colonial political institutions (e.g., the Magna Carta, English Common Law, and the English Bill of Rights).

Students will be able to:

  • Use primary and secondary source documents to determine how explorers and colonists justified their risks and perseverance in exploring and settling the “New World” (e.g., John Smith’s The Generall Historie of Virginia, John Winthrop’s “City upon a Hill”, Anne Hutchinson and William Penn).

Essential Questions:

  • To what extent did explorers and colonizers improve their quality of life by being risk takers?

  • To what extent did exploration and colonization create competition or cooperation between various cultures?

  • How do diverse individuals and groups shape the cultural identity of particular regions?

Pre-Assessment Directions: Brainstorm what you may already know and understand about the 13 British Colonies in North America. Record your thoughts in the graphic organizer below:

New England Colonies

Middle Colonies

Southern Colonies




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