Course Syllabus


Ms. Bel, Room 406 781-446-6290 x4889

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In this course, we will examine the development of and interactions among peoples and empires across the world from the 12th through the 19th centuries. We will study the cultural, political, economic, intellectual, technological, and religious forces that shaped how people understood themselves and the world--and, therefore, how individuals and states behaved within those contexts. 

As we do this work, we will draw connections around the world across both time and space, and we will begin to understand the impact and consequences of past thoughts, decisions, and actions on the present world. 

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This is your first high school history class. Expect to be challenged. You will be asked to read, think, and write like a historian, not just memorize a list of facts. This class is built to help you strengthen these skills. If you work sincerely and responsibly, you will be successful.

Curiosity, initiative, and persistence are three qualities that will carry you this year. Practice them. Doing so will require other behaviors. Treat everyone in the class with respect. Listen to and talk with your classmates in discussion. Commit yourself to personal development and not simply getting the work done. Risk: we will all benefit when you do. Remember that what we do here is important. You can do it. Your teacher and classmates will help.

Essential Questions:

  • Through what forces did societies affect other societies and what determined the extent of that effect?
  • In what ways were leaders and groups--in their attempts to secure, consolidate, and expand their power--both enabled and constrained by past practice and current circumstances?
  • How did circumstances shape the means by which individuals and groups navigated and influenced the world in which they lived?
  • How have ideas, worldviews, and religions shaped individual identities as well as broad social, political, economic, and military forces?

Skill Development Focus: Thinking/Reading/Writing/Speaking/Listening

Let's commit to:

  • Approaching material with curiosity, responsiveness, initiative, and reflection
  • Reading accurately and connectively
  • Asking questions to clarify and deepen understanding
  • Articulating arguments when speaking and writing
  • Supporting arguments with sufficient, precise, accurate, relevant, and credible information
  • Collaborating with your peers, your teacher, and with the teachers in the Social Studies Lab

Units of Study

Semester 1 (1000-1600)

Unit 1 - The Power of Commerce, Ideas, and Armies (1000-1300)

Unit 2 - An Age of Rebuilding and Redefining (1300-1500)

Unit 3 - Collisions (1450-1600)

Semester 2 (1500-1850)

Unit 4 - The World Entwined (1500-1780)

Unit 5 - Revolutions (1750-1850)

Required Supplies for Every Class

  • fully charged laptop
  • working writing utensil
  • paper/notebook
  • way to keep organized (unit folders or binder, for example)
  • highlighters in 3 different colors


The emphasis in this class is growth and meaningful, durable learning. To that end, all of your work will be scored in terms of five categories that reward your curiosity, persistence, and initiative. Note that some assignments will be assessed in multiple categories.

  • Engagement in the Learning Process 20%

This score will include readiness at the start of class, homework completion, participation and sincere effort during class time, and respect for yourself and your classroom community.

  • History Skill Development 20%

Throughout the year, you will be taught to think, read, and write like a historian. You will practice and demonstrate those skills repeatedly throughout each term.

  • Historical Understanding 20%

This score will be based on accurate expression and use of information. It will include short Day 6 quizzes, occasional review quizzes, unit tests, in-class prompts, formal writing assignments, and projects.

  • Creativity and Problem Solving 20%

You will be asked throughout the course to apply what you learn in creative ways. Your job is to tackle these tasks with your own ideas in a manner that helps you demonstrate your understanding as fully as possible. Own the process and the products you create. Use your knowledge, skills, and resources to achieve your goals.

  • Polish and Technique 20%

This is a category intended to reflect the quality of your execution of a given task. Major assignments will be assessed in part based on your attention to detail, respect for your audience, and pride in your work. The presentations, written work, and creative products you create should meet any technical requirements and be responsibly edited, thoughtfully designed, and developed to the best of your ability. You want to submit work that is polished and presentation-ready.

Cheating/ Plagiarism

Plagiarism and cheating will not be tolerated. Any student caught plagiarizing from any source, copying material from other students, or providing material to be copied will face disciplinary actions according to the student handbook.

Classroom Technology Expectations:

  • Cell phones will be silent and secured in bags. They will NOT be visible in the classroom or located in a student's pocket or hands. *The only exception is if you are directed by Ms. Bel to use a cell phone for a class activity.
  • Messaging and notifications will be turned OFF on student computers.
  • In class, students will use their computers only for history course work.
  • Failure to comply with this policy will affect a student's Engagement grade.

Extra Help

There may be times when you need extra support in this class. It is, after all, a challenging course designed to prepare you for college. Ms. Bel wants you to succeed and is here to help!

The Best Ways to Get the Help You Need

* Drop-in Hours in 406:

Day 3, Block 1

(Most Block 1s, depending on Ms. Bel's meeting schedule)

Day 6, Block 4

2:30-3:00 on Tuesdays after school

* By appointment with Ms. Bel

* In the Social Studies Lab

Remember, unless an assignment or circumstance calls for email support, we need to meet in person for extra help.  Also, if emailing quick questions, please keep in mind that teachers and students keep very different hours. Responses to your questions may not happen that same evening, and Ms. Bel may even wait until we meet in person to address such questions.  

Course Summary:

Date Details