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The processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement
Photograph by D.J. Zeigler
The geographically informed person must understand the varying forms of human settlements in terms of their size, composition, location, arrangement, organization, function, and history. People seldom live in isolation. Instead, they live in clusters ranging from small villages with hundreds of people to megacities with tens of millions of people. The organized groupings of human hab­itation are the intense focus of most aspects of human life: economic activities, transportation systems, communications media, political and administrative systems, education, culture, and entertainment. Show All
4th Grade
8th Grade
12th Grade
The student knows and understands: Functions of Settlements
1. People benefit from living in settlements
Therefore, the student is able to:
A. Explain the benefits gained by living in settlements, as exemplified by being able to
Identify and describe the services (e.g., movie theaters, hospitals, religious centers, schools, banks, shopping malls, museums, libraries) available in the student’s town or city and explain why people may view these as benefits to living in the community.
Describe and explain how the number and types of services (e.g., movie theaters, hospitals, religious centers, schools, banks, shopping malls, museums, libraries) differ for small and large settlements.
Describe how different people in the community might value ser­vices (e.g., movie theaters, hospitals, religious centers, schools, banks, shopping malls, museums, libraries) differently.
2. Settlements occur where locations provide opportunities and therefore advantages
Therefore, the student is able to:
A. Explain why some locations are better for settlement than others, as exemplified by being able to
Identify and explain the factors that might make a location good for settlement (e.g., flat land for building, access to a river or the sea, resources nearby for building).
Describe and explain the advantages of locations where settlements developed in the United States (e.g., Boston on a natural harbor, New Orleans at the mouth of the Mississippi, Chicago at the intersection of Great Lakes water traffic and the railroads).
Describe the factors that contributed to successful settlement lo­cations (e.g., harbors, resources for housing and fuel, reliable fresh water supply, nonhostile neighbors, natural defenses, reliable food sources, suitable land for agriculture). Patterns of Settlement
3. There are different types of settlements
Therefore, the student is able to:
A. Compare and explain the different types of settlements in the local region and the United States, as exemplified by being able to
Analyze satellite images and compare the patterns of different types of settlements (e.g., rural farmsteads and small towns, urban centers and corridors, suburban, wilderness).
Analyze and compare the patterns of settlement of selected US cities (e.g., suburban sprawl of Los Angeles, linear mountain valley town of Aspen, Colorado, riverfront settlement of Charleston, South Carolina, the planned city of Washington, DC).
Analyze a map of US population density and describe where the major clusters of settlements are located. Urban Forms and Functions
4. There are different types of urban land uses
Therefore, the student is able to:
A. Analyze the different ways land is used in the community, as exemplified by being able to
Analyze community maps and satellite images to describe the dif­ferent ways land is used (e.g., parks and recreation, sports complexes, shopping areas, medical facilities, residential areas, educational insti­tutions, parking lots, industrial parks, airports).
Analyze a community history to describe changes in land use over time (e.g., farms developed into suburbs, factory buildings changed to urban malls, unused train depots transformed to restaurants or art centers).
Describe the different land uses along a waterfront in a port or river city (e.g., warehouses or industry, residential, entertainment or recre­ation, commercial).

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