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An Introduction to World History: Ancient Civilizations to Western Ideals
Broberg – Syllabus
Unit Description:
This semester long unit provides an introduction to world history from the earliest human societies (hunters and
gathers), the beginning of Western Ideas and culminating in the breakup of the Roman Empire. Our study begins with
the investigation of Ancient Africa and Asia. This investigation is followed by an extensive look at the roots of Western
ideals: Ancient Greece and Rome. Many students admire aspects of mythology and the stories of Gods and Goddesses.
However, few appreciate the ways in which this historical period established foundations for our current economic,
legal, and government structures. Additionally, this time period saw significant contributions and advancements in
science and technology. This unit is part of overall curricula that is structured for students who are planning to take
Advanced Placement or Honors History coursework in later middle and high school grades.
The following five design principles for instruction support student learning:
1. Students learn core concepts and habits of thinking within each discipline as defined by standards.
 All students are expected to inquire, investigate, read, write, reason, and speak as historians. Students
experience curricula characterized by depth and consistency.
2. Learning activities, curricula, tasks, text, and talk apprentice students within the discipline of History/Social Science.
 Students learn by doing history, engaging in rigorous ongoing investigations into the essential issues of
humanity, culture and civilization. All lessons, assignments, materials, and discussions serve as scaffolding for
students' emerging mastery of History/Social Science content knowledge and habits of thinking.
3. Teachers apprentice students by providing opportunities to engage in rigorous disciplinary activity and by providing
scaffolding through inquiry, direct instruction, modeling and observation.
4. Intelligence is socialized through community, class-learning culture, and instructional routines.
 Students are encouraged to take risks, to seek and offer help when appropriate, to ask questions and insist on
understanding the answers, to analyze and solve problems to reflect on their learning, and to learn from one
another. Teachers arrange environments, use tools, and establish norms and routines and communicate to all
students how to become better thinkers in History/Social Science.
5. Instruction is assessment-driven.
 Teachers use multiple forms of formal and informal assessment, formative and summative assessment, and data
to guide instruction. Throughout the year, teachers assess students' grasp of History/Social Science concepts,
their habits of inquiring, investigating, problem-solving, and communicating. Teachers use these assessments
to tailor instructional opportunities to the needs of their learners. Students are engaged in self-assessment to
develop metacognitive development and the ability to manage their own learning.
The following chart illustrates the skills that students are expected to exhibit as they think, read, write and speak as
historians:
Thinking/Reading/Writing/Speaking as a Historian
Thinking
Historians . . .
 Understand and appreciate universal and cultural
historical themes and dilemmas.
 Distinguish the important from the irrelevant.
 Recognize vital connections between the past and
present.
 Speculate by making predictions about their world and
the future.
 Effectively analyze and interpret evidence, both primary
and secondary.
 Identify relationships between cause and effect.
 Distinguish main events from secondary events.
 Research history (documents, artifacts, etc.) to gather
evidence.
 Interpret evidence to construct an account or portrayal
of the past.
 Consider all the evidence and interpretations and
formulate hypotheses about what is happening and
why.
 Verify hypotheses through research.
Writing
Historians . . .
 Use historical narrative to summarize and explain the
past.
 Write with purpose, targeting specific audiences.
 Construct historical arguments presenting their version
of events based on evidence and record.
 Use a variety of formats, including: scholarly articles,
textbooks, biographies, scripts for documentaries,
descriptions for museum exhibits.
 Write in varying styles.
Reading
Historians . . .
 Seek to discover context.
 Ask what the purpose of the text is.
 Assume bias in text.
 Consider word choice and tone.
 Read slowly, simulating a social exchange between
two readers, one who enters into the text
wholeheartedly and reads it like a believer, and the
other who then stands back and critically questions
the text.
 Compare texts to gather different, perhaps
divergent, accounts of the same event or topic.
 Get interested in contradictions and ambiguity.
 Check sources of documents.
 Read like witnesses to living, evolving events.
 Read like lawyers, who make cases.
Speaking
Historians . . .
 Present their findings in a variety of formats,
including: lectures, scholarly debates, film
documentary narration or commentary.
 Presentations of scholarly articles.
 Giving commentary on museum exhibits.
Historians also . . .
 Hold interviews.
 Advise politicians.
 Comment on current events.
Essential Questions: Some important essential questions that are considered as a part of this unit are:
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How did technology change life during this historical period?
How did the Neolithic Revolution impact the lives of hunters/gatherers?
How did Hammurabi promote cooperation and introduce the idea of equal justice that has influenced western
societies today?
How did the Nile River impact life in Ancient Egypt?
What were the changes in Egyptian society during the Middle Kingdom?
What was Hatshepsut’s unique place in Egyptian history?
Why would various aspects of Egyptian society cooperate with each other?
What was the outcome of the conflict between Kush and Egypt?
What was China’s economic and political system under the Dynastic Cycle?
What were the important achievements of the Han dynasty and why were they considered important?
How did geography affect life in Ancient Greece and Rome?
Why were the Greek city-states important?
How was democracy considered in Ancient Greek/Roman societies?
Why was the Peloponnesian War significant in the transition between Ancient Greek and Roman history?
Why, and in what ways, were the contributions of Socrates, Plato, Pericles, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar,
Augustus Caesar and Constantine significant?
What was Rome’s reaction to Christianity?
What were the contributing factors for the decline of Rome?
Course Text(s): This unit is built on an interdisciplinary approach that considers music, art, math/science and social
sciences. The following core set of materials will be used within this unit.
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World History: Ancient Civilizations (2006) – Published by McDougal Littell Inc.
Various trade books (stories) that provide context to life within Ancient Civilizations and Greece/Rome
Primary source documents and materials
Unit Overview:
Topic
Introduction – What Does it Mean to Study World History
Objective: Learn the three major scientific groups (archeology, anthropology and sociology)
that guide the student of human behavior/culture. Each of these disciplines uses different
tools to complete their work. However, they all rely upon the scientific method and the use
of tools such as maps and primary/secondary sources to complete their work.
The Hunters/Gathers and Early Civilizations of Asia
Objective: Understand the ways in which the hunters/gatherers survived and how their
initial ideas and innovations translated into the Neolithic Revolution.
Ancient Egypt
Objective: Examine how geography, government, and belief systems affected the
development of Ancient Egypt. Rooted in theocracy, the pharaohs established some of the
earliest, formalized trade routes.
Mid-Unit Assessment – Ancient Egypt
Ancient Greece
Objective: The study of Ancient Greece is really an exploration of the roots of Western ideas.
It begins our understanding of democracies and life in Sparta and Athens. Understanding life
in Ancient Greece requires consideration of architecture and innovation.
Ancient Rome
Objective: Within our study of Ancient Rome students are introduced to the expansion of
concepts covered in Ancient Greece. This period of history begins the overall emphasis of
Christianity. Such important figures as Julius Caesar and Constantine show the ways in which
government structures can be greatly impacted by a single individual. This unit ends with
Duration
2 Weeks
2 Weeks
4 Weeks
.5 Week
4 Weeks
4 Weeks
the decline of Rome and the establishment of Byzantine Empire.
Wrapping Up – Assessments and Presentations
1 Week
Assessment Overview:
Students will be evaluated on their knowledge of world history and their ability to think historically. Students will be
assessed four ways:
Multiple Choice
Frequency: Weekly (formative)
Overview: Students complete short, multiple choice assessments.
These assessments are intended to provide opportunities for
students to reflect on weekly learning goals.
Short Answer – Argumentative Essay
Frequency: Twice – During Unit
Overview: Students will be given a particular issue that requires an
argumentative response.
Document-based Essay Question
Frequency: Once – During Unit
Overview: Students are presented with primary source materials and
are asked to examine and respond to a specific focus question.
Research Paper
Frequency: Once – During Unit – Due at End of Unit
Overview: Students complete a short, research project and
presentation of their choice related the Ancient Civilizations / EgyptGreece-Rome. Some possible topics include:
 Mesopotamia
 Fertile Crescent
 Hammurabi
 Phoenicians
 Ancient China-Technology and Science
 Nile River
 Hatshepsut (and other pharaohs)
 Athens or Sparta
 Persian or Peloponnesian War
 Plato, Socrates or Pericles
 Alexander the Great
 Julius Caesar or Augustus Caesar
 Constantine
 Constantinople