Mr. Sink’s AP World History: Course Syllabus


Advanced Placement World History (WHAP)is a challenging one semestercourse that is meant to provide students with an expansive view of the history of the human world. The course is structured around the investigation of selected themes woven into key concepts covering distinct chronological periods. AP World History is the equivalent of an INTRODUCTORY COLLEGE SURVEY COURSE!The purposes of this course are threefold. First, it is designed to prepare students for successful placement in higher-level college and university history courses. Second, it is designed to help students understand and develop the skills and habits of mind used by historians in constructing historical narratives. Finally, it is meant to teach students critical thinking, learning, and research skills they will need to be active global citizens in the 21st century. Students will be able to demonstrate their mastery of course content and materials by taking the College Board AP World History exam in May.


WHAP is structured around the investigation of five themes woven into 19 key concepts across six distinct historical periods. (See the appendix at the end of this syllabus for more detailed information.) The goal of this course is to encourage students to develop a sophisticated “big picture” narrative of human history beyond the effort to just collect and memorize information. Though the course will indeed deal with facts – names, dates, events, and the like - it places greater emphasis on historical analysis so that students develop the skills and tools utilized by historians in their construction of history. This is done by focusing on four historical thinking skills: (1) crafting historical arguments from historical evidence, (2) chronological reasoning, (3) comparison and contextualization, and (4) historical interpretation and synthesis. In addition to fostering these skills, the course encourages students to think on many different geographic and temporal scales in order to compare historical events over time and space.

Considering the ambitious goals of the course, it is no surprise that it relies heavily on college-level resources. This includes college-level textbooks, a wide variety of primary sources, and interpretations presented in historical scholarship. In addition, this course contains a wealth of visual images– art, architecture, artifacts, photographs, etc.-meant to broaden the students’ understanding of the products of human societies across the span of world history. These resources are designed to develop the skills required to analyze point of view and interpret evidence to use in creating plausible historical arguments. These tools will also be used to assess issues of change and continuity over time, identifying global processes, comparing and contrasting societies and various aspects of their culture, and understanding diverse interpretations of historiography.

Moreover, this course is meant to show students that the advanced study of world history can be an enjoyable experience as well. Therefore, a wide variety of student-centered activities have been included such as small group projects, debates, discussions, and other interactive assignments that will help students develop higher level habits of mind while broadening their content knowledge. Many of these activities will also encourage students to move beyond the typical Eurocentric view of global history presented in most secondary world history courses and provide a more balanced global perspective.


College-level Textbook:

Strayer, Robert W. Ways of the World: A Global History. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009

Supplemental Sources:

  • Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs, and Steel. The Fates of Human Societies. New York, NY: W. W. Norton, 1999
  • Reilly, Kevin. World of History: A Comparative Reader. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009
  • Readings in World History. Orlando, Fl.: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990
  • Taking Sides:Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in World Civilizations, Volumes I and II, edited by Helen and Joseph Mitchell, New York, NY: McGraw Hill. 5th edition, 2007
  • The Human Record. Edited by Alfred Andrea and James Overfield, Boston: Houghton Mifflin; 5th edition, 2004


In many ways WHAP may be different from any history course you have taken in the past. In this course YOU, the student, are responsible for teaching yourself the factual content. My role as your teacher is to help you understand how all those factual details fit together in the puzzle that is the “Big Picture” narrative of world history, while also teaching you the skills necessary for success on both the AP exam and in the 21st century classroom. Therefore, the assignments in this course have been structured in such a way as to help you master the course content on your own so we can use our precious class time to learn “Big Picture” concepts and practice our historical skills. The following is a brief overview of common activities that will be used in each of the five units so that we may meet all of the objectives mentioned previously in the course description section of the syllabus.

  • Reading & Chapter Outlines: In order to pass this course, you NEED to READ. In the section of this syllabus titled Course Unit Planner I will have a day-by-day breakdown of all your reading assignments from the first day of class until the last. The readings are listed for the day they should be completed (i.e. read them the night before). You will also be expected to outline as you read. In class, I will teach you the Cornell system of note-taking and that will serve as your model for how to do your chapter outlines. These two assignments are the most effective way for you to manage the enormous content load this course requires on your own.
  • WHAP Flashcards: Another assignment that is meant to help you manage the enormous content load in this course isAP World History Flashcards. This will help you gain familiarity with the people, places, events, and ideas that you are required to know and keep it fresh over a long period of time. You are required to make a flashcard for each term that appears at the end of each chapter of the textbook. Your flashcards must be completed on an index card and must include the name of the term, a definition, analysis of the term’s significance in World History, and ci. More information on how to do these flashcards will be provided to you via a handout we go over in class. These flashcards will be enormously useful study tools that you can use for your unit tests, the final exam, and the AP exam in May.
  • Multimedia Lessons: We will use two specific digital sources to reinforce course content and themes. The first of these sources is the splendid You-Tube series World History Crash Course written and produced by history teachers John Green and Raoul Meyer. Episodes from this series will be used to provide concise yet comprehensive overviews of key concepts and historical events after introducing them in class. The second source we will use is the History Channel’s mini-series Mankind: The Story of All of Us whose episodes correspond very closely with AP World History’s featured time periods and themes. Selected episodes from this series will be shown to provide a visual review of the “Big Picture” content of the unit.
  • Snapshot Charts: The last homework assignments you will be given in order to help you manage the content load in this course are snapshot charts. Snapshot charts are graphic organizers that are meant to provide you with quick summaries of civilizations, empires, concepts/ideas, or events that occur within a similar time period. They will be given to you at various times this semester and will be another valuable study tool to help you prepare for tests.
  • Unit Review Timelines: In addition to your readings, outlines, and flashcards, you will also be expected to create a timeline of key dates for each unit. Two days before the end of a unit, I will provide you a handout with the “Must Know Dates”. For homework that night you will need to identify the correct dates for each event, place each date correctly on the timeline template, and briefly write the significance of each event on the back of the timeline . Your timelines will also serve as review tools for all our unit tests. The day before each unit test we will use them as part of a class debate in which we attempt to rank the top ten dates for that unit’s time period. Again, we will go over more specific details on how to construct these timelines in class.
  • Tests:When it comes to major assessments my ultimate goal is to prepare you for the AP exam. The first way that I will prepare you is through unit tests. I will use each unit test to assess your understanding of course content and your mastery of the AP historical skills we practice in class. You will have five unit tests over the course of this semester, and though each will vary in the number of questions and the nature of the writing tasks, they will all feature AP caliber multiple-choice questions, artifact identifications, document interpretation, and a writing task that will follow the progression from constructing a thesis on the first test to writing a full essay by the end of the semester. Furthermore, the course will culminate with a final exam modeled on an actual AP exam that you will take at the end of January. (*Note: Any student who is absent during a unit testing day has 3 days to make up that test. They will receive a different test than their classmates and must make it up on their own time – either BEFORE or AFTER school.)
  • Writing Assignments: Writing is a huge part of the AP World History Exam. The section of the exam that usually makes or breaks a student’s score is the open-ended section. In this section, you will have 130 minutes to write three historical essays. The three types of essays you must write for the open-ended section of the WHAP exam are as follows…
  1. Document Based Question (DBQ): Students analyze evidence from a variety of sources in order to develop a coherent written argument that has a thesis supported by relevant historical evidence. Students will apply multiple historical thinking skills as they examine a particular historical problem or question.
  2. Change and Continuity Over Time (CCOT): Students identify and analyze patterns of continuity and change over time and across geographic regions. They will also connect these historical developments to specific circumstances of time and place, and to broader regional, national, or global processes.
  3. Comparative Essay (C&C): Students compare historical developments across or within societies in various chronological and/or geographical contexts. Students will also synthesize information by connecting insights from one historical context to another, including the present.

However, many of you coming in to this class are new to AP history classes (and most of you are new to high school!)Therefore, in this class we will have a progression of writing assignments that will help you practice the skills of effective writing before you even attempt a WHAP essay. We will start first with the structure of a good history essay, next work on crafting an effective thesis statement, and then move on to pre-writing strategies before we actually tackle a real WHAP essay. Once you are ready to write a full essay, you will first write a DBQ, then a CCOT, and finally a C&C. Your full essay assignments will first be given as take-home assignments and then by the end of the semester be timed in class. In addition, we will use peer editing and review strategies in class to help you reach your maximum potential as a writer.

  • Small Group Projects:In addition to tests and essays, you will also be expected to complete projects in small groups of 2, 3 or 4 students in each of our five units. These projects will be interactive assignments meant to enhance your understanding of course content and themes while also providing you with the opportunity to practice the essential life skill of working with others on a common task. They are also intended to provide you with a creative alternative to your other major grades. Considering the difficulty of the tests and essays in this class, your small group projects will offer you vital opportunities to boost your major grade average which accounts for 75% of your overall grade


The following section will provide you with a day-by-day guide to our AP World History Course. This will provide you with the topic of our lesson on each day of the semester and the reading assignments that must be completed the night before that class period. Although we will attempt to follow this daily guide as closely as we can, you must remember that it is subject to change depending on unforeseen emergencies such as inclement weather, class assemblies, pep rallies, and other school functions that may cause us to miss class time. Still, this planner is a useful guide to the course since it has been created to specifically meet all WHAP requirements in the short amount of time our course meets.

Course Unit Planner Key:

  • Readings and assignments are listed in Italics (WOW = Strayer,Ways of the World Textbook)
  • Readings are listed on the day they are to be completed NOT read (i.e. read the night before!)
  • This list does NOT include all source readings.
  • “Big Picture” Questions are listed to provide the focus of the unit lessons and activities. They represent the larger themes of the unit that reflect the general patterns in global history during that time period.
  • Skill Focus means that we will be working specifically that day on an important AP historical skill.
  • Project means that we will be working on a small group project during that period.

Intro to the Course

Theme: Becoming “Travelers” not “Tourists” in their study of World History

Text Reading: Ways of the World: A Global History, Chapters 1

Class Periods: 5

“Big Picture” Questions:

  1. What is the difference of between a “traveler” and a “tourist” in the study of world history? What advantages does a “traveler” approach to world history offer students?
  2. How should I behave while in this class so that I can maximize my potential as a student and classmate?
  3. What skills and materials are needed to be successful in this course?


  • Wed. 9/3- People Bingo/ Class Rules

Summer Project due

  • Thurs. 9/4– Course Intro: Becoming “Travelers” not “Tourists”/Review Syllabus/Class Rules

Get Binder & Notebook; Have Parent Read Syllabus

  • Fri. 9/5– Skill Focus: Understanding Historical Time/ Note-taking Strategies (Cornell System)

WOW “Prologue” pp. li-lviii; WHAP Geography Challenge Worksheet

  • Mon. 9/8–Skill Focus: Working in Groups/”Paleolithic Pictionary” Group Assignment

WOW 11-32; Chap. 1 Outline due

  • Tues. 9/9 – Skill Focus:How historians “do” history? Reading & Interpreting source documents

WOW 49-56

Unit 1: Foundations in World History (Beginnings of History to c. 500 CE)

Theme: “Civilization & Empire” - Technological and Environmental Transactions in Early Human History/Organization and Reorganization of Human Societies in the Classical Era

Text Reading: Ways of the World: A Global History, Chapters 2-7

Class Periods: 14

“Big Picture” Questions:

  1. What is meant by “civilization”? Why did the earliest human civilizations begin in Afroeurasia?
  2. How did geographic and environmental factors influence the development of the first civilizations?
  3. What is an “empire”? What factors account for the rise and fall of empires?
  4. What is the purpose of religion in human societies? What are the world’s major belief systems and how were they used to both support and undermine traditional power structures in the earliest civilizations/empires?


  • Wed.9/10–Milestones in Early Human History

WOW 56-67; Chapter 1 Flashcards due

  • Thurs. 9/11– Mankind: The Story of All of Us, Episode #1, “Inventors”

WOW 85-94

  • Fri. 9/12– The Origins of Civilization?

WOW 94-98; Chapter 2 Flashcards due

  • Mon. 9/15–Skill Focus: Writing a Thesis Statement

WOW 99-113, 133-139; Early Civilization Snapshot Chart due

  • Tues. 9/16– What is an Empire? (Conrad-Demarest model)

WOW 143-154; Chapter 3 Flashcards due

  • Wed. 9/17 – Skill Focus: Making Historical Comparisons

WOW 154-168, Quiz #1

  • Thurs.9/18– Comparing Classical Empires: Han China vs. Rome

WOW 189-197

  • Fri. 9/19 – Mankind: The Story of All of Us,Episode #3, “Empires”

WOW 197-205; Chapter 4 Flashcards due

  • Mon. 9/22 – What is the Purpose of Religion in Human Societies? / World’s Major Belief Systems

WOW 205-215; Snapshot Chart on Classical Empires due, Quiz #2

  • Tues. 9/23 – Project: World Religion Commercial

WOW 247-260

  • Wed. 9/24 – Project: World Religion Commercial Presentations

Chapter 5 Flashcards due; Snapshot Chart on World Religions due

  • Thurs. 9/25 & Fri. 9/26– NO CLASS: ROSH HASHANAH
  • Mon. 9/29– Intro to Unit Review Timelines/ Classical Patriarchy Document Analysis

WOW 281-306; Chapters 6 & 7 Flashcards due

  • Tues. 9/30– UnitReview Timeline: The 10 Most Significant Dates from the Beginning to 600 CE

Unit 1 Review Timeline due

  • Wed. 10/1 –Unit 1 Test

Unit 2: An Age of Accelerating Connections (c.500 CE – c.1500)

Theme: “Trade”- Regional and Transregional Interactions in Post-Classical Afroeurasia