Course Syllabus

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Ms. Bel, Room 406  781-446-6290 x4889

This course is an investigation of 19th and 20th century world history. We will study the major political, economic, and social developments of those centuries, looking closely at their causes and consequences and the role of individual decision-making. 

Essential Questions:

  • If people historically built empires, then why did people come to reject this norm in the modern era?
  • In what ways did the struggle to define identity drive power dynamics in modern history?
  • Why and how did the global economic landscape shape individual rights and national vitality?

Units of Study:

    1. Change in the 19th Century
    2. World War I
    3. Between the Wars
    4. World War II
    5. The World Since 1945

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

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.


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.

As a student in this course, you are expected to notice patterns and relationships between and among the people, places, movements, and events we study. You should notice when information is different than what you thought you knew. You should register your own emotional responses when what you learn moves you in some way. These habits of mind will require engagement on your part. It is that depth of engagement that will guide you to success in this class.

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!


You have chosen to take Modern World History at the honors level. That means that you have selected a rigorous, challenging course rooted in intensive reading and writing. In the WHS Program of Studies, here is the description of the course:

This class is for students who produced exemplary work in ninth grade social studies at a comparable level, who have a high interest level in history, excellent reading, writing, and critical thinking skills, and who can complete work without consistent outside help from tutors, parents, or the teacher. Students will be expected to read and write extensively, and be independent critical thinkers. The course will refine the student’s interpretation and evaluation of evidence, development of historical hypotheses, and research techniques.

You are expected to digest readings in such a way that you understand and can articulate main ideas, and can locate and access SPARC evidence easily for class discussions, projects, and writing activities. It is your responsibility to raise questions in class to tease out issues and information that you do not fully understand. Chances are good that you will not be the only student who would benefit from clarification.

You are expected to write insightfully in both formal and informal work. In other words, in writing assignments you will never be asked simply to spit out facts. Instead, you will be asked to think, respond to prompts, and use evidence to support the conclusions you draw. You will always credit the sources of the information and ideas you employ in your work.

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. Every cycle, you'll earn an explain score on a quiz or open response question. (T1 = 50%, T2, 3, & 4 = 40%)
      • Synthesize - What can students do to critically engage with the content? This category includes your unit workbooks, as well as any assignments requiring greater levels of critical thinking, problem-solving, analysis, and imagination, such as discussions, projects, and writing assignments. (T1 = 40%, 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 = 10%)

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 10th grade tool kit.

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. 

You will submit your unit workbook at the end of the unit, so you can 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 Explain grades you earn once each cycle. 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