Grade calendar of lessons

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The First Civilizations, ca. 10,000 B.C.E. – ca. 630 C.E. (8-10 days)

The development of agriculture enabled the rise of the first civilizations, located primarily along river valleys; these complex societies were influenced by geographic conditions, and shared a number of defining political, social, and economic characteristics. (Standards: 2, 3, 4; Themes: TCC, GEO, ECO, TECH)

9.1a The Paleolithic Era was characterized by non-sedentary hunting and gathering lifestyles, whereas the Neolithic Era was characterized by a turn to agriculture, herding, and semi- sedentary lifestyles.

  • Students will analyze the political, social, and economic differences in human lives before and after the Neolithic Revolution, including the shift in roles of men and women.

9.1b Complex societies and civilizations adapted to and modified their environment to meet the needs of their population.

  • Students will explore how the Mesopotamian, Shang, and Indus River valley civilizations adapted to and modified their environments to meet their need for food, clothing, and shelter.

9.1c Complex societies and civilizations shared common characteristics of religion, job specialization, cities, government, language/writing systems, technology, and social hierarchy, and they made unique contributions.

  • Students will explore the Mesopotamian, Shang, and Indus River valley civilizations by examining archaeological and historical evidence to compare and contrast characteristics and note their unique contributions.

  1. Can we benefit from studying the past?

  2. Can understanding cultures help us solve conflict?

  3. Can geography direct the course of history?

  4. Which form of government is best for society?

  5. Which form of economy is best for society?

  1. Aim: Did human life originate in Africa?

  • Explain recent theories by archaeologists such as Mary and Louis Leakey and Donald Johnson (the “Lucy” skeleton) that trace the origins of human life to East Africa (Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya).

  • Differentiate among the methods used and evidence found by archaeologist in recent years to learn about the origins of human life.

  • Assess the evidence that the Stone (Paleolithic) Age and Iron Age cultures first appeared in East Africa and spread throughout the continent and their descendents migrated north and east to Europe and Asia and later to the Americans and Australia.

  • Evaluate to what extent there is proof that human life originated in Africa and that the past can be accurately recreated through artifacts.

  1. Aim: Do human’s methods of meeting their basic needs affect their patterns of living?

  • Define: Paleolithic Age, Neolithic Age, Neolithic/Agricultural Revolution, Pastoralists, domestication of animals, and nomads.

  • Describe Paleolithic and Neolithic life styles.

  • Compare and contrast Paleolithic and Neolithic life styles.

  • Evaluate the effects of the Neolithic revolution on people’s patterns of living and on the development of civilizations.

  • Discuss the social impact of agriculture on people’s life styles.

  • Evaluate whether humans’ methods of meeting their basic needs affect their patterns of living.

  1. Aim: Do all people have a civilization?

  • Identify/define: culture, civilization.

  • Explain the eight common characteristics of ancient civilizations: cities, well-organized central governments, complex religions, job specialization, social classes, arts and arch., public works, writing (literacy) .

  • Assess if all people have a civilization and the factors that influence civilization (cultural diffusion and shifts in physical (geographic) environment

  1. Aim: How civilized was life in the ancient river valleys?

[Comparative case study of the following civilizations: Nile River Valley, Indus River Valley, and Yellow River Valley]

  • Explain the architectural, economic, educational, political, religious, and social achievements of the ancient civilizations in the Nile, Indus, and Yell River Valleys.

  • Analyze the similarities and differences among these ancient river valley civilizations.

  • Evaluate how civilized life was in the ancient river valley civilizations.

  1. Aim: How should society treat lawbreakers?

  • Define Code of Hammurabi

  • List and describe the basic ideas expressed in the Code of Hammurabi

  • Compare and contrast Hammurabi’s Code

  • Assess how these law codes would shape people’s lifestyles and their society.

  • Evaluate how society should treat lawbreakers.


The emergence and spread of belief systems influenced and shaped the development of cultures, as well as their traditions and identities. Important similarities and differences between these belief systems are found in their core beliefs, ethical codes, practices, and social relationships.
 (Standards: 2, 3; Themes: ID, SOC)
9.2a Belief systems developed beliefs and practices to address questions of origin, the requirements to live a good life, and the nature of the afterlife.

  • Students will identify the place of origin, compare and contrast the core beliefs and practices, and explore the sacred texts and ethical codes for Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Confucianism, and Daoism.

9.2b Belief systems were often used to unify groups of people, and affected social order and gender roles.

  • Students will examine similarities and differences between Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Confucianism regarding their effects on social order and gender roles.

  1. Aim: Do the ideas of the Ancient Hebrews still have meaning today? OR To what extent have the teachings of Judaism influenced our own society?

  • Define the term “monotheism” and explain the basic teachings and ethical values that are found in Judaism.

  • Describe how the ancient Hebrews changed people’s views about their relationship to God and explain the ways in which Jewish ideas have influenced other religions.

  • Compare the concept of “rule by law” as it applied in Jewish society and in modern America.

  • Assess the extent to which the teachings of Judaism, including the Ten Commandments, have influenced our society.

  1. Aim: Can a society survive and thrive without written laws? OR Can a society exist according to the laws of nature?

  • Identify: Lao-tzu, Dao de Jing

  • Explain the basic beliefs of Daoism with its emphasis on living in harmony with nature, disinterest in bringing order to human affairs, and rejection of government authority as unnatural and unnecessary.

  • Explain and evaluate the Daoists’ belief that “the best government was one that governed the least.”

  • Compare and contrast the beliefs and teachings of Daoism and Confucianism and assess which philosophy provides a more effective guide for living.

  • Evaluate the adage, “government governs best when it governs least,” as it applies to the proper rule of government in our current society.

  1. Aim: Have Confucian ideas and teachings determined the character of Chinese civilization? Or Is it possible for people to live in harmony?

  • Explain the basic teachings of Confucius, including the concept of “filial piety” and “harmony” based on the “Five Key Relationship.”

  • Explain Confucius’ views on the role of education and government in society.

  • Assess the impact of Confucian ideas and teachings on the character of Chinese civilization, both in ancient and modern times, as a guide for righteous living.

  • Assess the extent which Confucian ideas and teachings have been accepted or rejected by American society.

  1. Aim: Has geography been a friend or foe to India?

  • Identify/define: monsoon, subcontinent, cultural diversity

  • Locate and identify the major physical characteristics of the Indian subcontinent (including the Himalaya Mountains, Thar Desert, Deccan Plateau, Hindustan Plain, Indogangentic Plain, major river systems, etc.).

  • Explain how these geographic features have affected the settlement and development of India as well as the movement of people and ideas (cross-cultural contact) throughout the subcontinent.

  • Explain the impact of the monsoons on the daily lives of people on the Indian subcontinent.

  • Evaluate whether geography has been a friend or foe to the economic and social development of India and has encouraged or discouraged cultural diffusion throughout the subcontinent.

  1. Aim: Are Hindus monotheistic or polytheistic?

  • Identify/define: monotheism, polytheism, incarnation, Hindu Trinity, Brahman Nerguna/Supreme God, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Upanishads

  • Explain the Hindu concept of Brahman Nerguna.

  • Explain the roles of the other gods in the Hindu Trinity.

  • Compare and contrast the concept of the Hindu Trinity with the Christian Trinity and ideas in Judaism and Christianity about prophets, saints and angels.

  • Evaluate whether Hindus are monotheistic or polytheistic.

  • Identify the following terms:  polytheism, dharma, karma, samsara/reincarnation, ahimsa, moksha, and caste.

  • Explain the main beliefs and practices of Hinduism including the concepts of dharma and karma.

  • Explain how various written works (Vedas, Upanishads, epic poems) have provided guidance and inspiration to the Hindus.

  • Assess the role and impact of Hinduism on the lives of its followers in India.

  • Discuss the reasons for the survival of Hinduism in India throughout the ages.

  • Assess the extent to which Hinduism stimulates both unity and diversity in India.

  1. Aim: SIKHISM***

  1. Aim: Does Buddhism offer a way to find true happiness?

  • Identify the following:  Siddhartha Gautama, Four Noble Truths, Eightfold Path, Sutras, nirvana.

  • Discuss the life of Siddhartha Guatama in the development of Buddhism.

  • Explain the basic ideas of Buddhism: the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, and nirvana.

  • Compare and contrast the beliefs of Buddhism with those of Hinduism.

  • Evaluate whether Buddhist ideas are a means of finding inner peace and harmony in one’s life and in ending suffering

  • Identify/define: Mahayana Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism, bodhisattva, Four Noble Truths, Eightfold Path, mandala, meditation, Lotus Sutra, Five Precepts

  • Explain how Buddha wanted people to live.

  • Explain the differences between Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism.

  • Explain how Mahayana teachings reflect Buddha’s life story.

  • Evaluate whether Mahayana teachings increased the appeal and led to the spread of Buddhism.

  • Discuss how and why Buddhism spread to China.

  • Explain how Buddha’s teachings mesh with Confucianism and Daoism.

  • Evaluate whether following the teachings of Buddhism can bring about world peace.

  1. Aim: To what extent did Christianity influence our world?

  • Identify/define: monotheism, Jesus Chris, the basic principles of Christianity.

  1. Aim: Did the rise of Islam provide cultural unity for southwest Asia (Arabia)?

  • Identify the following terms:  Bedouin, Hegira, Allah, and “Five Pillars”.

  • Describe the emergence of Muhammad as a prophet of Islam.

  • Explain the “Five Pillars of Islam” and compare them to similar ideas and practices found in Judaism and Christianity.

  • Analyze how the tenets and traditions of Islam affect the daily lives of Muslim people.

  • Sunni and Shia split

  1. Aim: To what extent did Islamic civilization make lasting contributions to world civilization? OR Do we owe a debt of gratitude to the Arab world?

  • List and describe the most important innovations of Islamic science, mathematics, medicine, and philosophy.

  • Explain how Islamic civilization preserved and expanded much of the knowledge of ancient Greece and Rome.

  • Analyze the contributions made by Islamic civilization to world culture.

  • Assess to what extent Islamic culture wad advanced for its time.

  • Delhi-Sultanate

  • Abbasid Caliphate

  1. Aim: World religion comparison lesson ***

Classical Societies: 600 B.C.E. – ca. 900 C.E.

Classical civilizations in Eurasia and Mesoamerica employed a variety of methods to expand and maintain control over vast territories. They developed lasting cultural achievements. Both internal and external forces led to the eventual decline of these empires. (Standards: 2, 3, 5; Themes: MOV, TCC, GEO, GOV, CIV)
9.3a Geographic factors encouraged and hindered a state’s/empire’s expansion and interactions.

Students will examine the locations and relative sizes of classical political entities (Greece, Gupta, Han, Maurya, Maya, Qin, Rome) noting the location and size of each in relation to the amount of power each held within a region.

  • Students will investigate how geographic factors encouraged or hindered expansion and interactions within the Greek, Roman, and Mayan civilizations.

9.3b Empires used belief systems, systems of law, forms of government, military forces, and social hierarchies to consolidate and expand power.

  • Students will compare and contrast how the Mauryan, Qin, and Roman civilizations consolidated and increased power.

9.3c A period of peace, prosperity, and cultural achievements can be designated as a Golden Age.

  • Students will examine the achievements of Greece, Gupta, Han Dynasty, Maya, and Rome to determine if the civilizations experienced a Golden Age.

9.3d Political, socioeconomic, and environmental issues, external conflicts, and nomadic invasions led to the decline and fall of Classical empires.

  • Students will compare and contrast the forces that led to the fall of the Han Dynasty, the Mayan civilization, and the Roman Empire.

  1. Aim: Athens or Sparta: Which one offered a better lifestyle and society?

  • Define/identify: acropolis, polis, city-state, militarism, Athens and Sparta

  • Examine a map of Greece and discuss how its geography influenced its development.

  • Compare and contrast the Athenian and Spartan economic, political, and educational, military and social systems and their impact on citizens.

  • Compare and contrast the treatment of women in each of these societies.

  • Take a position on which offered the better lifestyle and society: Athens or Sparta concerning citizenship, education, government, individuality, marriage, etc.

  1. Aim: Should Greece be considered the “Cradle of Democracy?” OR Is the United States more democratic than ancient Athens? OR Was Athens truly democratic?

  • Define/identify: Pericles, direct democracy, indirect democracy, ostracism, demos.

  • Read and analyze documents and charts describing the structure and function of Athenian democracy. (Pericles’ Funeral Oration).

  • Explain the limits of Athenian democracy.

  • Compare and contrast Athenian democracy with United States democracy or other contemporary democratic governments.

  • Evaluate whether Athens was truly democratic.

  • Evaluate the impact of Athenian democracy on the contemporary world.

  1. Aim: Did the Hellenistic age produce a universal culture?

  • Define:  Hellenistic Age, Hellenic Age, Hellas, cultural diffusion, Discobolus, Laocoon Group, Porch of Maidens (Erectheum), Nike of Samothrace, Parthenon, Altar of Zeus

  • List and explain the main cultural contributions of the Hellenistic Age.

  • Discuss the cultural blending of Greek and other cultures. (ex Greco-Buddhist art)

  • Compare and contrast Hellenic and Hellenistic sculpture and architecture and discuss how it reflects the values of these different ages.

  • Evaluate whether the Hellenistic civilization was truly a universal culture as the process of cultural diffusion influenced not only Western Europe but also the Middle East, India, China, and Japan.

  1. Aim: Was Rome destined for greatness? OR How did tiny Rome become the giant of the western world?

  • Explain and analyze the geographic, political, economic, and social factors that shaped Roman society under the Republic.

  • Explain the reasons why the Romans were successful empire builders.

  • Evaluate whether or not Rome was destined for greatness.

  1. Aim: Do we owe a debt to the ancient Romans? OR Are the contributions of Classical civilizations still relevant in today’s world?

  • Analyze several important contributions of the Romans: ex. art, architecture, law (Justinian’s Code), literature, philosophy, technology, and political organization.

  • Analyze the extent to which these contributions have influenced modern society.

  • Evaluate whether or not the modern world owes a debt to the Romans.

  1. Aim: Can religious ideas threaten political structures? OR Were the ideas of Christianity a threat to the Roman empire? OR Why did Christianity triumph within the Roman empire?

  • Explain how conditions within the Roman Empire favored the spread of Christianity.

  • Describe the changes in religious practices that Christianity introduced into the Roman world.

  • Explain how Christianity differed from other religions of the Roman Empire.

  • Explain Roman opposition to Christianity and the reasons for its hostilities.

  • Evaluate to what extent Christianity brought about changes in the values of the Roman world and whether or not religious ideas, such as Christianity, threaten political structures, such as the Roman Empire.

  1. Aim: Was the Han dynasty a golden age of Chinese civilization?

  • Define: Golden Age, civil service, merit system

  • Locate, identify and describe Han China on a map of China.

  • Analyze and assess the advances and achievements of Chinese civilization during the Han dynasty in science, technology, medicine, commerce (the Silk Road), government and the arts.

  • Evaluate the extent to which the Han dynasty was a golden age of China.

  1. Aim: Did Confucianism advance/strengthen dynastic rule in China? Or Does the conduct of a government official affect his ability to govern?

  • Explain how during the Han dynasty Confucian ideas were accepted as the official belief system of the state which advanced policy of merit, as demonstrated on civil service examinations, rather than family background to fill government positions as well as only well-educated scholars should fill positions in the government bureaucracy.

  • Explain how Confucian teachings about filial piety, loyalty to the government, and the superiority of men promoted “harmony” and strengthened Han dynastic rule but prevented most women from receiving an education and gaining access to government positions.

  • Evaluate the extent to which Confucianism, which stressed harmony, loyalty, and merit (for males) strengthened dynastic rule in China.


  1. MAYAN EMPIRE***( optional?)

  1. Aim:  Should the Mauryan Empire be considered an example of good government?

  • Discuss the economic, political, and social achievements of the Mauryan Empire.

  • Describe the features of Chandragupta Maura’s centralized government which united all of northern India (the Indus Valley, the Ganges Valley, and the southern Himalayas): military rule, government bureaucracy, spy network.

  • Explain how the “enlightened policies” of Asoka united the diverse empire.

  • Evaluate if the Mauryan Empire (centralized rule) is an example of good government.

  1. Aim:  Was the Gupta Empire a Golden Age in India?

  • Describe how the Gupta Empire was founded.

  • Explain the relationship between the Gupta and Hindu religious art and culture.

  • Explain why the Gupta period has been called India’s “classical age” with great advances in art, literature, mathematics, and science.

  • Describe the organizational structure and gender relationships of Gupta society.

  • Evaluate if the Gupta Empire was a “golden age” in India.

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