Course Syllabus

World History I Course Materials

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

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. 

In other words, we will examine the impact of historical forces within and among communities.

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. 

Units of Study

  • Introduction - What is History?
  • Unit 1 - Expanding and Interweaving: The Indian Ocean
  • Unit 2 - Disrupting and Connecting: The Silk Roads
  • Unit 3 - Erasing and Reinventing: The Atlantic System


Guiding Question:

  • In what ways have historical forces

across the Indian Ocean trade network, the Silk Roads, and the Atlantic System

reenforced/enlarged/challenged/conflicted with/replaced the strength of communities?


Shared Values:

  • Diversity: We value our differences as they allow us to see the world through varied perspectives.
  • Kindness: We treat one another with patience, respect, and empathy.  We hold each other to high standards while actively supporting one another’s efforts to grow.
  • Integrity: The work and ideas we present are our own.  We give credit to the scholars who help us shape our understanding.  We support one another's effort to develop and refine ideas, while respecting each person's ability and responsibility to think and succeed as individuals.
  • Resilience: We lean into challenges and persevere when we face something new or difficult.  We build strategies that help us to be successful when we struggle. 
  • Humility: We celebrate our strengths and we openly reflect in order to recognize and improve upon our weaknesses.



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.

Ask for the help you need. Ms. Bel cares about you. She wants you to succeed. Reach out when you have questions, need clarification or coaching, or need extra time due to an unforeseen challenge (and do so in a timely manner, not at the last minute or after the fact). We are in this together!

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. Be willing to take risks, like asking questions or sharing original ideas: 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.

With all that in mind, and the strange nature of this year in which our personal interactions will be constrained by masks, distance, and screens, understand that the words you say and the work you produce are the primary way that Ms. Bel will come to know you as a person and as a student. It is therefore critical that everything you submit is genuinely your own original work. Unless otherwise directed, you must use your own words in every type of written work. By doing so, Ms. Bel will be able to assess your understanding, provide feedback, and help you develop as a student of history.



You must put your cell phone away during class. That means, even if you are at home, your cell phone cannot be accessible or visible to you. (This means it cannot be in your hand or on the desk, table, or couch. It cannot even be in your pocket. Zip it in your bag. Place it in a drawer. For the duration of class, your cell phone does not exist.)

There will be times when it is essential for you to show your face on zoom. At other times, Ms. Bel will cue you to turn off your zoom camera. If you have technological constraints that prevent you from having your camera on when required, you will be expected to make your engaged presence known through productive contributions throughout the activity.


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


Required Supplies for Every Class

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


Course Assessment: 

This course is built to reward sincere academic engagement and skill development. Students will be scored using consistent criteria for endeavor, rigorous thinking, historical understanding, and excellence of finished work. These criteria reflect the values, mindset, and expectations established above. Each of the learning outcomes will be determined using what is known as a "decaying average," which weights the most recent work significantly more than previous assignments. In this way, student growth is incentivized.

Every assignment will be assessed using some combination of the following learning outcomes.

  • Endeavor  - Sincerely and thoroughly attempts every aspect of the assignment, demonstrates META(cognitive) reflection on process, progress, product, and/or group dynamics (including but not limited to examination of: strengths and weaknesses, growth over time, gaps in knowledge, changes in understanding, supporting and including one's peers)
  • Historical Understanding - Accurately and meaningfully identifies, explains, and applies information about historical circumstances, events, and people, employing relevant vocabulary correctly
  • Rigorous Thinking - Engages with source material, considers the implications of details, makes connections, draws meaningful conclusions, expresses ideas about the information (does not just list facts), demonstrates originality, ingenuity, & imagination
  • Excellence of Finished Work - Responsibly proofreads and edits all written work, meets all requirements of a given product, work is ready to be published or presented, uses the form of a product to its highest potential, product is constructed and designed for maximum impact

Students can track their progress in the Learning Mastery Gradebook here on Canvas. Students' current performance on each of these four outcomes will be updated in PowerSchool every two weeks.


How will grades look in PowerSchool versus Canvas?

In Canvas, you will be able to see written feedback and rubric scores for your assignments by checking "Assignments" under the Grades tab. By selecting "Learning Mastery" under the Grades tab, you'll be able to see your overall performance for each learning outcome. The Learning Mastery scores will inform your grade for the course, NOT the scores on individual assignments.

Learning Outcomes will be assessed using a decaying average. In this system, your most recent assignment is more heavily weighted than your previous work. The purpose is to reward your continued growth and your genuine engagement with the skill development and content of this course.

In PowerSchool, you will see a single score for each Learning Outcome. This score will be updated at least every two weeks, using the current "Learning Mastery" score from Canvas. Students will already know how they are doing based on their Canvas feedback. Parents do not have access to Canvas, so the PowerSchool updates will give them an accurate and up-to-date snapshot of their student's performance in the class.

In the unlikely situation that your worst performance happens on the last assignment of the term, Ms. Bel will take into account your performance on each learning outcome over the whole term when determining your grade. This will protect against a potential negative impact of the decaying average structure.

In each term, the value of our four standards are as follows:

  • Endeavor - 20%
  • Historical Understanding - 30%
  • Rigorous Thinking - 30%
  • Excellence of Finished Work - 20%


Cheating/ Plagiarism

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

Course Summary:

Date Details Due