Course Syllabus

After School Office Hours: Tuesdays from 2:30-3:10

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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:

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    • Spiral-bound notebook & all assigned 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:

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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: 



  • Essays
  • Projects
  • Tests
  • Formal Discussions
  • Reading Checks
  • Historical IDs & multiple choice/matching quizzes
  • In-class creative, performance, & writing activities, & informal discussions

*You may improve a score (up to a B) on a major assignment once per quarter by meeting with Ms. Bel and responding to a related open response prompt within one cycle of a posted grade.

How do I get the grade I want?

  • Do your own work as well as you can, every time, on time. 
  • Ground all of your work in SPARC evidence. Develop your content expertise and think critically about what you are learning.
  • Engage intellectually, creatively, and as a responsive human being. Contribute ideas in class. Ask questions. Think deeply. Keep yourself and your classmates on task.
  • Use the frequent feedback given during in-class norming for excellence activities. Whether it is your work or a peer’s that is examined, you should be noting, internalizing, and applying the feedback. 
  • If you need help with studying, applying course vocabulary, time-management, reading, writing, or discussion, go to the Social Studies Lab or see Ms. Bel during office hours. YOU are responsible for knowing what help you need and taking the initiative to get it.

How do I access feedback on Canvas?

  • Go to Grades.
  • Click Assignments.
  • Choose Show All Details (located on the upper right side of the screen).
  • Scroll to the correct assignment and read what Ms. Bel has written.
  • Then, write down the feedback in your tracker.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due