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

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

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

Unit 3 - The World Built by the Atlantic System (1500-1850)

Required Supplies for Every Class:

    • Unit workbook & readings
    • Your tool kit
    • A working writing utensil
    • Laptop and charger
    • Headphones that work with your computer
    • 3 different colored highlighters

Guiding 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?

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, 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.

Technology Norms

You must put your cell phone away during class. That means your cell phone may not be accessible or visible to you. Zip it in your bag.

Put your computer in "do not disturb" mode OR turn off all notifications.

When we use computers, the only applications or web pages that are to be open are the ones we are using for this class.

Course Assessment: 

In 2022-2023, the core history courses at WHS will use a shared grading system

This system is based on these three values:

    • a commitment to the success of all students
    • fostering a growth mindset
    • developing skills that will help students beyond the context of a history class

You will earn grades in this class based on the trends of or growth within each of these learning outcomes:

      • Explain - What content do students know & understand? Every assignment in this course will in one way or another ask you to think through historical information. At intervals, you will submit work for assessment in this category. You will select about half of what is assessed and Ms. Bel will select the rest. (T1 = 50%, T2, 3, & 4 = 30%)
      • Synthesize - What can students do to critically engage with the content? For assignments that require greater levels of critical thinking, problem-solving, analysis, and imagination, you will be assessed in this category. These assignments can include such activities as discussions, projects, and writing assignments. ***ALL synthesize assignments must be submitted to earn a grade in any grading period. (T1 = 30%, T2, 3, & 4 = 50%)
      • Reflect - How aware are students of their learning, processes, and growth? You will frequently be asked to reflect deeply and honestly on both our content and skills, as well as your own progress in class. This sort of self-awareness helps students strengthen their academic performance and self-efficacy. (T1, 2, 3, & 4 = 20%)

At the end of each quarter, your grade will be determined based on the extent to which you have met or modeled the expectations of each standard. All four terms will factor equally within your grade for the year.

Why is this system awesome? It rewards growth and the dominant trends of your work over time. This means that an off-day won't hold you back. It also means that if it takes some time for you to develop your understanding of material or facility with a skill, you benefit from doing the work you need to do to improve your knowledge and skills.

For more details on how our standards-based grading system will function, how to make use of feedback, and how to take advantage of the opportunities within this system to maximize your academic performance, check out the 9th grade toolkit.

You will receive feedback in Canvas and in person. The feedback you receive in person and in Canvas is the key to improving your grades this year. We will frequently norm excellence together in class. We will examine student work using a document camera. As we consider what is strong and what needs improvement, your job is to note that feedback and apply it to your own work. 

Your job is to use the feedback from our norming to improve your work along the way. DO NOT PUT OFF THIS PROCESS. The goal for our whole class is to internalize the qualities of excellence in historical analysis and reflection. By doing so, we’ll all be able to employ those qualities and earn the grades we want.

In PowerSchool, you'll see the individual Explain grades you earn. For the Reflect and Synthesize categories, however, you will see a grade reflective of your overall performance within that learning outcome. 

NOTE: The learning outcome labeled Approach will not be factored into your grade, although in Powerschool you will see an indication of whether or not you are consistently demonstrating effective preparation, engagement, and collaboration. The purpose of this gauge is to help you recognize when you need to shift your effort to better succeed.

Click here to read a message about Standards-Based Grading from Social Studies Department Chair, Mike Riedy.

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