Ap world History

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AP World History

Class Syllabus

Mr. Leblang

Email: jason.leblang2@bronxlawhs.org

Room 220B
Course Design
The course is a year-long course that traces the development of world history from the emergence of agriculture to the present, approximately 8000 BCE to present day. As a world history course, we will avoid viewing history from a Eurocentric lens and learn through a global lens, focusing on multiple perspectives and historical analysis. As such, we will spend no more than 20% of course time to European history.
The purpose of the AP World History course is to develop greater understanding of the evolution of global processes and contacts. This understanding is advanced through historical analytical skills. The course highlights the nature of changes in international frameworks and their causes and consequences, as well as comparisons within and among major societies. The course emphasizes relevant factual knowledge deployed in conjunction with leading interpretive issues and types of historical evidence. The course builds on an understanding of cultural, institutional, and technological precedents that, along with geography, set the human stage. Periodization, explicitly discussed, forms an organizing principle for dealing with change and continuity throughout the course. Specific themes provide further organization to the course, along with the consistent attention to contacts among societies that form the core of world history as a field of study.
This course follows the guidelines and expectations of The College Board for Advanced Placement World History. Critical analysis, writing and reading skills are emphasized. Students will be prepared, and are strongly encouraged, to take the appropriate College Board exam. There is a fee associated with the test.

Strayer, Robert, The Ways of the World, A Global History with Sources. Boston: Bedford St. Martins; 2nd

Ed. 2013. Textbook.

World History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination, Des Moines: AMSCO, 1st Ed. 2015.


Secondary Sources

Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs, and Steel

Harman, Chris. A People’s History of the World: From the Stone Age to the New Millenium

Other works of historical interpretation included in the course outline below
Chronological Framework for the Course
This course covers 8000 BCE up to present day. Below is an outline of the periodization used in the course and approximately how much of the AP exam/course content is devoted to each period.


Period Title

Date Range



Technological and Environmental Transformations

c. 8000 BCE to 600 BCE



Organization and Reorganization of Human Societies

600 BCE to 600 CE



Regional and Trans-regional Interactions

600 CE to 1450



Global Interactions

1450 to 1750



Industrialization and Global Integration

1750 to 1900



Accelerating Global Change and Realignments

1900 to present


The 5 AP World History Themes

The AP World History course is organized around five overarching themes that serve as unifying threads throughout the course. The themes allow students guidance to make “big picture” connections, organize comparisons, and analyze change and continuity over time. In order to aid students in connecting these themes, we will use the “GRAPES” acronym in chart form for each of the units.

  1. Interaction Between Humans and the Environment

      • Demography and disease

      • Migration

      • Patterns of settlement

      • Technology

  2. Development and Interaction of Cultures

      • Religions

      • Belief systems, philosophies, and ideologies

      • Science and technology

      • The arts and architecture

  3. State-Building, Expansion, and Conflict

      • Political structures and forms of governance

      • Empires

      • Nations and nationalism

      • Revolts and revolutions

      • Regional, trans-regional, and global structures and organization

  4. Creation, Expansion, and Interaction of Economic Systems

      • Agricultural and pastoral production

      • Trade and commerce

      • Labor systems

      • Industrialization

      • Capitalism and socialism

  5. Development and Transformation of Social Structures

      • Gender roles and relations

      • Family and kinship

      • Racial and ethnic constructions

      • Social and economic classes



Thematic connection

G = Geography

Human-environment interaction and human geography (demography)


R = Religious

Religions and belief systems


A = Achievements

Intellectual and cultural developments


P = Political

Forms of government and political organization as well as regional and global interaction


E = Economic

Economic systems


S = Social

Social units and constructs as well as gender structure


Student Assessments
AP World History is the equivalent of a college-level survey course in world history. To prepare students for higher order thinking skills, we will be designing assignments around four historical thinking skills set by the College Board for the course:

  1. Crafting Historical Arguments from Historical Evidence

  2. Chronological Reasoning

  3. Comparison and Contextualization

  4. Historical Interpretation and Synthesis

Students will work with a very structured weekly format that allows us to spend approximately one week on each chapter. Slight alterations to the weekly schedule will occur with shortened weeks, holidays, snow days, etc.






Skills lesson

Homework DUE;

Chapter Quiz; Group activity

Document work


Chapter Test

Chapter homework assigned


Chapter Homework

Chapter homework assignments are progressive. Students will first learn how to outline their reading (using Cornell note-taking) for the chapter as well as create note-cards for assigned terms. As we continue the Skills Lessons (Mondays) they will add more to their homework to coming chapters, such as Levels of Questioning and Comparisons that will prepare them for class discussions.

      • Outlining: students will learn how to read and outline a textbook by doing chapter outlines in Cornell note-taking format

      • Note-cards: the card should a) define, b) list significance, and c) analyze the significance. Concepts should also include an example. Look for General Significance and Historical Significance

      • Levels of Questioning: students will include 3 level one questions (factual), 2 level two questions (inferential), and 1 level three question (global) at the end of their chapter outline

      • Reflection: at the end of notes, (in question-answer format) students must add a GRAPES comparison to earlier material as well as one of the following: big picture, diffusion, syncretism, or common phenomena

Skills Lessons

Skills lessons will vary. Early in the year students will learn fundamental skills such as how to pull out relevant information from readings by synthesizing the information into outlines. Writing skills will also be taught cumulatively beginning with thesis writing and supporting thesis statements with relevant historical evidence.

Group Activities

Group activities will vary and can include class discussions, Socratic seminars, collaborative jigsaw, etc. Students will use this collaborative learning to openly discuss material and not only develop continued analysis of the content, but to maintain an open-minded attitude.

We will be conducting seminars and various other simulations and debates in order to discuss divergent viewpoints and interpretations of different texts and secondary source articles. Students will be required to address in these activities human similarities and differences and historical perspective of culturally diverse ideas and values.

Lectures in class are almost always on PowerPoint presentation. Students are provided a handout of the slides. Presentations always include a variety of pictures, graphs, or maps along with an outline of notes. Lectures are expected to be interactive as students are asked questions and take notes throughout.

Quizzes and Tests

Quizzes and tests will also be accumulative. As we learn more skills, they will be added to the quizzes and tests. (See below.) Multiple-choice questions on the tests will be identical to the multiple-choice questions from the Tuesday quizzes. If a student receives an 80% or better on the Tuesday quiz, they are exempt from the multiple-choice questions on the Friday test.

      • Thesis prompts: students are given change-over-time and comparison essay prompts on the test and students must write an acceptable thesis that answers the question and shows analysis.

      • Essay outlines: students choose one of the thesis prompts and outline a complete essay





10 Multiple Choice questions

10 Multiple Choice questions; 5 key terms, 3 thesis prompts, 3-4 questions on a primary source document


10 Multiple Choice questions

10 Multiple Choice questions, 5 key terms, 3 thesis prompts, 3-4 questions on a primary source document, 2-3 short answer questions


15 Multiple Choice questions

15 Multiple Choice questions, 5 key terms, 3 thesis prompts, 3-4 questions on a primary source document, 2-3 short answer questions


15 Multiple Choice questions

15 Multiple Choice questions, 3 key terms, 3 thesis prompts, 2-3 questions on a primary source document, essay outline


20 Multiple Choice questions

20 Multiple Choice questions, full-length CCOT or COMP essay


20 Multiple Choice questions

20 Multiple Choice questions, full-length CCOT or COMP essay


The historical thinking skills are especially evident in the preparation of the three essays on the AP exam:

  1. Document Based Question (DBQ)

  2. Change and Continuity Over Time (CCOT)

  3. Comparative (COMP)

Essay writing will be accumulative and always written in-class in timed exercises. Change-and-Continuity Over-Time and Comparative essays will be included in skills lessons and on chapter tests. Document-Based-Question essays will be taught and written on days dealing with document work (Wednesdays).

  1. Document Based Question

Students will be reading and analyzing a variety of primary source materials including written text, maps, pictures, charts, graphs, etc. This analysis will help students directly with the tasks required in order to successfully complete the DBQ essay (Document-Based Question) on the AP exam. Students will become skilled at identifying and analyzing point of view, historical context, tone, bias, purpose and intended audience in these sources. By analyzing the diversity of interpretations of historical materials students will be able to craft historical arguments from this evidence.

  1. Change and Continuity Over Time

Another important historical thinking skill students will develop through the course of the year is chronological reasoning, including the capacity to evaluate historical causation and the dynamics of historical continuity and change. Students will identify and analyze patterns of continuity and change over time and across geographic regions by map activities, timelines, charts, etc. that they will be constructing for every unit. This will help prepare students to excel at the Change and Continuity Over Time essay on the AP exam.

  1. Comparative

The third essay on the exam is the Comparative essay. Students will improve upon the skill of comparison by describing, comparing, and evaluating historical developments within and among societies we study. This includes connecting historical developments to specific circumstances and broader global processes.

Moreover, students will be required to synthesize these skills to arrive at meaningful and persuasive understandings of the past.
Map Evaluations

Students will be given a variety of historical maps in which they will be required to assess the information contained in the map, create thesis statements, and analyze the point of view. Map evaluations will lead classroom discussions.

Unit Review Packets

Unit review packets include a GRAPES chart for the unit, a chart of key comparisons, an analysis of periodization, and a big picture statement.

Required Materials:

  • Assigned texts: Ways of the World, World History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination

  • DEDICATED 3 ring binder with lined paper

  • pen

  • highlighter

  • Post it notes

  • notecards

  • (recommended) Flash drive

Deviation from Code of Conduct will result in the following:
1. Verbal warning

2. Call to parent and detention

3. Conference with teacher and assistant principal or dean of students

4. Conference with teacher, parent, and administration

Positive consequences will be discussed with the class on a case by case basis.

Make up work will only be allowed for excused absences, with possible exception only in extreme circumstances and on an individual basis. Make up work may not always be the same as that the class has done but will count in the place of that assignment. When returning from an absence, students should check with Mr. Leblang as soon as possible. By the way, EVERYTHING you miss is important…

47.5% Summative Assessments (including but not limited to tests and quizzes)

47.5% Formative Assessments (including but not limited to homework, in class assignments, etc.)

5% Student Self-Assessment (end of marking period review of evidence-based progress)

Course Planner
Period One: 8000 BCE to 600 BCE

Technological and Environmental Transformations
Key Concepts:

1.1. Big Geography and the Peopling of the Earth

1.2. The Neolithic Revolution and Early Agricultural Societies

1.3. The Development and Interactions of Early Agricultural, Pastoral, and Urban Societies
Content includes:

  • Prehistoric societies

  • Patterns of migration such as the Polynesian and Bantu Migrations and their significance

  • The development of pastoral and agrarian societies

  • Foundational civilizations and early empire building in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus, China, Mesoamerica, and South America

  • Development of advanced cultural accomplishments including new religious beliefs and expansion of trade networks

Essential Questions:

  • What are the changes and continuities from 8000 BCE to 600 BCE?

  • What effect did the Neolithic Revolution have on social and gender structures?

  • What changes in population and culture were brought about by migrations?

  • What were the main emphases and the main changes in the foundations of organized religions?

  • How does increased interaction and trade bring about economic, technological, demographic, and cultural changes?

Key Readings:

AMSCO, World History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination, Chapters 1-2

Strayer, Ways of the World, Chapters 1-2

Selected Readings

Major Comparisons:

Political structures of early civilizations, impact of geography (Mesopotamia and Egypt)

Major Activities and Assessments (selection of activities/discussions from below):

  • Chapters 1-2 Identifications and Outlines

  • Classroom Discussions Chapter 1:

    • Misconception/Difficult Topic: Cavemen dragged women around by their hair.

    • Comparison: Daily life in the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras.

    • Historical Analysis: Disease, the domestication of animals, and the human connection.

  • Classroom Activities Chapter 1:

    • Map Analysis: “Tracing human migrations.”

    • Role-playing exercise: “How to domesticate a plant.”

  • Discussion of Documents Chapter 1:

    • History before Writing

    • Contextualization: The Paleolithic as the first “global age”

    • Comparing Paleolithic and Neolithic Art

  • Activities with Documents Chapter 1:

  • Classroom Discussions Chapter 2:

    • Comparison: Slavery in human societies.

    • Contextualization: Studying First Civilizations versus studying societies before civilizations.

    • Misconception/Difficult Topic: “Civilization” is necessarily a good thing.

  • Classroom Activities Chapter 2:

    • Map analysis

    • Role-playing exercise: Migrating to a city.

  • Discussion of Documents Chapter 2:

  • Activities with Documents Chapter 2:

    • Culture and Environment

    • Role-Playing: Deciphering Ancient Documents

  • Unit review packets

  • At home assignments:

    • Historical perspectives

    • Think as a historian

    • Write as a historian

    • Multiple choice

    • Continuity and change over time essay questions

    • Comparative essay questions

    • DBQ Questions

    • Thesis development

Period Two: 600 BCE to 600 CE

Organization and Reorganization of Human Societies
Key Concepts

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