Course Syllabus

9th Grade World History 



Syllabus: 2021-2022


Instructor: Emily Giddings

Hello and welcome to 9th grade World History class! This year, we will build important synthesis and research skills while studying world history between the 12th and 19th centuries.  Keep this syllabus in the front of your binders all year, as it includes important information about our curriculum and classroom expectations that you may want to reference later on.  I’m excited to work with you this year! 


Curriculum - what will we be learning?


Guiding Questions for the Year

  • Through what forces did societies impact other societies, and what was the extent of that impact?
  • How did individuals and groups secure, consolidate, and expand their power?  What forces impacted their ability to do so? 
  • How did circumstances shape the means by which individuals and groups navigated and influenced the world in which they lived? 
  • How have ideas, world views, and religions shaped individual identities as well as broad social, political, military, and economic forces? 


Units of Study & Subtopics

Introduction: What is History?

Exploring the Myth of the Dark Continent: Historiography and African History

Consolidating Regional Empires: Trade & Regionalization 1100-1450

Collision & Empire Building: Global Encounters 1450-1850

Revolutions in Thought: Scientific and Philosophical Revolutions (1700-1800)

Revolutions in Action: Movements Inspired by Revolutions in Thought (1700-1850)

Supplies to bring to class daily


  • Pens/pencils
  • Highlighter
  • 3-ring binder 
  • Spiral notebook or loose leaf paper in the binder
  • Laptop and charger 
  • Earbuds/headphones 


Building a Restorative Community


One time per cycle for  about 15 minutes and each half-day we will engage in community-building activities using a Restorative Practices curriculum.  Restorative Practices is a social science that strives to build engaged, healthy, and safe communities using guiding protocols.  This will allow us to learn about one another as people, to build foundational relationships that will support our academic collaborations, and if necessary to work through difficult conversations as a group.  


Policies & Expectations - How is class run?


Values to Live By

Diversity: We value our differences as they allow us to learn 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 in developing our own ideas while respecting our ability 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 be successful when we struggle.  

Humility: We celebrate our strengths and we openly reflect in order to recognize and improve upon our weaknesses. 


Makeup Work & Late Work

Makeup Work:Students who are absent have the same number of days that they were out to complete missed work (with the exception of Cycle Quizzes - see below).  For example, if a student is out on Monday and returns to school on Tuesday, any work that was assigned on Monday is due Wednesday.  However, assignments that were due on the date of the absence will be collected immediately upon the student’s return to school.  For example, if a major paper was due Monday and the student was absent, the student must submit that paper when they return to school on Tuesday.  

Cycle Quizzes: Must be made up the day that you return to school.  Please email me or see me first thing in the morning to find a time.  Quizzes that are not made up on the day you return will not receive a grade. 

Late Work: In order to align with restorative practices, this late-work policy offers intervention supports rather than punitive consequences.  Students can submit late work without grade penalty if they participate in the following interventionsStudents who do not participate will not receive credit for late work. 

  • First late submission: No intervention (everyone gets one mulligan!)
  • Second late submission:  Submit a written plan for completing the next major assignment.  In this plan, lay out steps and intermittent deadlines for the assignment.  Ms. Giddings must sign off on this plan before you begin working on the assignment.
  • Third late submission: Meeting with Ms. Giddings, guidance counselors, and parents/guardians to problem solve
  • Fourth late submission: Mandatory regular working sessions scheduled in Ms. Giddings’ room at least until the end of that quarter.


Standards Based Grading

For students...

In Social Studies, we strive to follow where scholarship and research takes us - whether that be in the content we explore or in the instructional and assessment models we use. The movement towards standards-based grading fits this aspiration. More importantly, it more fully aligns with the values we bring to our work with you: wanting all students to succeed, fostering a growth mindset, and prioritizing the development of transferable skills. 


In 2021-2022, the core history courses at WHS will use a shared grading system.  We linked it here, and you will find it in other parts of Canvas and throughout our work together.  Remember that this type of system helps us orient our instruction and feedback to key competencies within the system. Remember too the importance of feedback - we worked hard over many years to bring more feedback into major projects and papers, and understand the value of conferencing with you when work is on-going. These feedback loops remain, and will be combined with frequent, targeted, and often verbal feedback during class time. It is going to be important for you to distinguish between feedback - those suggestions, affirmations, and questions we offer to you when work is on-going and formative - and scores - when the work is evaluated with the rubric. Rubric scores are what will be used to determine your grade within a standard, and 3 of the standards will factor into your term grade.  One last point, and this practice will be new: if we do not have evidence of learning approaching a standard, likely through non-submission of work, PowerSchool will show an Incomplete within that standard. Unresolved ‘Incompletes’ at the end of a quarter within a standard will become a D or an F when the school requires us to translate that ‘Incomplete’ to a fixed letter grade. 


Several points in the previous paragraph bear repeating, as we want them to be clear takeaways:

  • there is a distinction between feedback and grading, and we plan to keep them separate in our work with you
  • this approach relies on determining grades when we can, rather than on calculating and averaging every piece of submitted work
  • you need to resolve any incompletes with as much urgency as possible, as their presence at the end of a marking period leads to poor grades

For parents...

Schools historically and typically provide students with numbers, percentages, and letter grades on each individual assignment within a course, resulting in an averaged score when reporting a singular grade. A standards-based system moves away from such averages and towards the determination of when/where/how often a student’s work meets standards, to provide feedback and information about work in relation to these standards. This year, we adopted a blended approach to best align our values to quarterly reporting requirements and the separate functions of Canvas and PowerSchool. You will notice that this blended approach

  • distinguishes between feedback and grading
  • stores its rubrics and any scores in Canvas
  • offers letter grades for each standard in PowerSchool, based on an aggregate of scored rubrics associated with that standard
  • calculates a quarter grade, represented by a letter and number,  based on prescribed weights assigned to each standard
  • will be used in all history surveys here at WHS

If reading some scholarship that informs our practice helps, we’d encourage your reading of this overview from ASCD, or perhaps a review of a collection of pieces/excerpts that our department leader, Mike Reidy, shared with us last spring. If questions remain, or you wish to discuss ‘why’ we adopted this practice, please contact him at  Of course, if you have questions about your student in this class, I’m here to help. Before we speak, I might suggest talking with your student about feedback received, and working with your student through their Canvas portal periodically. We find that most uncertainties are best addressed in these open conversations at home.



Promptness and Behavior

We start and end class on time.  Late arrival will cause you to miss important material.  Students are expected to actively contribute to a productive and respectful work environment.  Students who disrupt learning in the classroom will be expected to reflect on their behavior with the group during our community-building sessions.




  • All of our class materials will be on Canvas.  Students will also get paper copies in class.
  • Students will submit major text-based assignments to Canvas, and not in hard copy.  Submissions to Canvas will also automatically run through 


  • I encourage students and parents to have open conversations about the best way for your family to use PowerSchool, including how frequently to check it.  It can be a great tool that can also sometimes distract us from our larger learning goals.  

  Cell Phones:

  • Cell Phones:  Technology provides us with some extremely powerful resources, but it can also lead to great distractions. The Wellesley High School Student Handbook states “In order to prevent disruption in classrooms and to respect the academic environment the use of handheld electronic devices is prohibited during class time without express teacher approval.”
  • In order to implement the Wellesley High School handheld electronic devices including cell phones policy, students will be asked to “park” their cell phones when the cell phones are not being utilized for academic purposes.  
    • It is an expectation that you will turn your phone off (or turn it on silent mode) and place it in an assigned numerical “parking lot” space provided by Ms. Shapero.  
    • The cell phone parking lot is located in a secure and visible location in the classroom. Cell phone retrieval will occur at the end of class or when needed for academic purposes as expressly stated by your teacher.
  • You are not permitted to have your phone on your person during class unless expressly permitted by your teacher.  If your device is not placed in the parking lot and is visible during class time (this includes bathroom and water breaks), then the phone will be confiscated and consequences will follow those stated in the Student Handbook.


  • Laptops may be used only for the academic purpose of class time.
  • Students should charge their laptops before coming to class.
  • Students using laptops for social media, to do work for other classes, to visit websites that are irrelevant to the topic of class, or for imessage will be asked to put their computers away for the remaining duration of that class period.  Any work that they cannot complete as a result will need to be completed on their own time.
    • Students will be asked to forego bringing their computer to class if there are multiple instances of misuse of laptops during class time. 

Signature & Questions

Please sign and return this sheet to indicate that you have read the syllabus and have no further questions about Ms. Shapero’s academic, behavior, and technology policies.  If you need any clarification before signing, please email me at 


Student signature: _______________________________________ 


Parent/Guardian signature: _____________________________________


Date: _______________


Course Summary:

Date Details Due