Course Title:  World Geography and Cultures I

    Department: Social Studies

    Primary Course Materials:  World History (2012) Holt-McDougal


    As the first of a two-year sequence, sixth grade students will examine how the perspectives of political science, economics, geography, history, and archaeology apply to the study of regions and countries.  They will study the foundations of human origins through the Neolithic Age and then focus on the ancient civilizations of the Middle East and North Africa (Mesopotamia, Egypt, Kush, Phoenicia, and Israel), Sub-Saharan Africa (Ghana, Mali, and Songhai), Central America, the Caribbean Islands, and South America (Maya, Aztec, Inca, and other ancient civilizations). In doing so, students are better prepared for the second part of the two-year sequence by studying classical Greece, Rome, and Asia in 7th grade, which serves as a prelude to the study of civics in grade 8.

    The sixth grade curriculum will address standards that emphasize building students’ abilities to reason, make logical arguments, support claims with valid evidence, and think for themselves.  Students will engage in inquiry, reading, research, discussion, writing, and making presentations – these activities are the heart of the State of Massachusetts’ Framework’s Standards for History and Social Science.  Students will learn to organize information and data from multiple primary and secondary sources, analyze the purpose and point of view of each source, distinguishing opinion from fact, they will learn to raise and refine questions and organize arguments and explanations by using valid reasoning and evidence, and determine next steps and take informed action, as appropriate.

    Learning Expectations for all Students

    • Write effectively using standard English
    • Demonstrate the ability to read effectively
    • Demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively
    • Demonstrate the ability to use technology responsibly and effectively
    • Demonstrate the ability to problem solve effectively
    • Demonstrate behaviors that promote wellness
    • Demonstrate good citizenship
    • Demonstrate the ability to plan and set goals
    • Demonstrate respect for cultural differences

    Essential Questions

    • How does geography influence the way people live?
    • How do people adapt to their environment?
    • What makes a culture unique?
    • Why do people make economic choices?
    • Why do people form governments?
    • What makes a society fair?
    • What does it mean to be human?
    • What are the critical attributes of a civilization?
    • Why do civilizations rise and fall?
    • How do beliefs and achievements of a culture make a lasting impact on history?

    Course Specific Goals

    • Read and use a map to find specific information
    • Describe the great climatic and environmental changes that shaped the earth and eventually permitted the growth of human life.
    • Describe the characteristics of ancient societies through the Neolithic Age.
    • Describe the physical and political geography of Africa.
    • Explain how the physical geography of Africa contributed to the growth of ancient Egypt/Kush.
    • Describe cultural aspects of the ancient Egyptian peoples.
    • Explain how the physical geography of Sub-Saharan Africa contributed to the growth of ancient civilizations.
    • Describe cultural aspects of the ancient Sub-Saharan African peoples.
    • Describe the physical and political geography of the Middle East.
    • Explain how the physical geography of the Middle East contributed to the growth of Mesopotamia.
    • Describe cultural aspects of the ancient Mesopotamian peoples.
    • Describe the physical and political geography of Central America and the Caribbean Islands.
    • Explain how the physical geography of Central America and the Caribbean Islands contributed to the settlement of ancient civilizations.
    • Describe the culture and way of life of the indigenous populations of the region.
    • Describe the physical and political geography of South America.
    • Explain how the physical geography of South America contributed to the development of ancient civilizations.
    • Describe cultural aspects of the South American peoples.

    Classroom Expectations

    Students will be safe, respectful, and responsible at all times.


    We will use a variety of materials, but the common resource is Burstein, S. and Shek, R. (2012).  World History.  Florida: Holt-McDougal.  We will make extensive use of the online version of the textbook:  http://my.hrw.com.  All students will log into the online textbook using the following:
                               username:  WWGCI and password:  history

    A hard copy of the World History textbook will be available to students in the classroom.  If a student prefers to be assigned their own copy of the textbook to be used in the classroom and at home, arrangements can be made through me.  Textbooks must be covered and it is each student’s responsibility to keep the textbooks in good condition while working with them in and outside of the classroom. All assigned textbooks will be collected at the end of the school year.  Should your child lose or damage a textbook, you will be held financially responsible.

    Class Website

    Sixth grade students are required to bring their personal electronic device to school each day.  Computers are also available in the classroom, in the Learning Commons, and at the Paul Pratt Memorial Library.  The class website will be used to communicate to students, provide access to course materials, and direct students to resources that will be important to their learning.  The course website can be accessed through the CMHS website or directly at https://wgc1.weebly.com/  The class website is password protected and the password is wgc1.  I highly recommend bookmarking the class website and keeping the password in a safe place at home.


    Students will be graded using a points system.  The total number of earned points will be divided by the number of possible points to determine student averages.  Graded work will include tests, quizzes, maps, worksheets, projects, and homework.

    Graded work will be categorized into four areas weighted as follows:

    • Homework (based on effort and completion)             20%
    • Quizzes                                                                  30%
    • Tests                                                                     40%
    • Projects                                                                 10%

    Homework will be assigned from time to time.  It is expected that all homework be turned in on the assigned due date.  For most homework assignments, students will be scored on their effort.  Quite simply, all I ask is that students try their best to answer questions or attend to the task they are asked to do giving their best effort.  The complete guidelines for homework assignments passed in after the due date or make-up assignments can be found in the CMHS Student Handbook. If your child misses extended time in school, please communicate with me to arrange for after-school help and new due dates for make-up work.

    Quizzes are given during the formative assessment process to monitor student learning and adjust instruction during a unit or lesson. Quizzes not only furnish me with feedback on how students are doing, but they also help students to evaluate their own learning. There are NO retakes of quizzes.

    If a student receives a grade below 70% on a test, ONE retake is allowed. However, students must be sure to make time to study in advance; students will receive ample notice of end of lesson or chapter tests. Students should seek extra help during my after school hours or during the daily Utility block before assessment date if needed. If a student earns a test grade below 70% and wishes to retake the test, they must meet with me during my after school hours or during the Utility block prior to retaking the test. Students will not be given the same test, but one that is similar and assesses the same skills that they are expected to master.

    Writing Policy

    Written paragraphs/essays/papers must be typed using the Times New Roman font, size 12, and aligned to the left 1-inch margin. Please do not use fancy fonts as they are difficult to read. All open response essays, persuasive or position essays, and research papers must be double-spaced. Re-writes of major papers can be done only once. Again, students must schedule time to meet with me during my after school hours or during the Utility block prior to re-writing an assignment.

    Make Up and Late Work

    Make up assignment due dates are in accordance with the school handbook. Remember that it is the student’s responsibility to contact me when they return from an excused absence, not the other way around. Late work will be accepted on a case-by-case basis depending on individual circumstances.

    Please be aware that extra credit is not offered as a means for grade improvement. Students should seek help as needed throughout each term.

    Honesty Policy

    I wish to establish a trusting and honest relationship with each of my students. I trust that students in my classrooms will turn in homework and project assignments that represent their own work-product entirely.  It must be work that is neither plagiarized nor copied from another student or any other source. It is important that every student takes ownership in his/her work, and makes his/her best effort. If any student breaks this trust, he/she will receive a 0 or other serious reductions on the assignment as outlined in the Student Handbook. Plagiarism and cheating are considered major violations of school policy and can result in possible suspension.

    Daily Supplies

    1. Binder with white-lined, 3-hole punched paper, Accordion, OR Subject Notebook with pocket on inside flap (binder no more than 1 ½ inch)
    2. Pencils and blue or black pens
    3. Set of colored pencils
    4. Eraser
    5. Small hand-held pencil sharpener
    6. Set of multi-colored highlighters
    7. Post-It notes (3 inch)
    8. 3 x 5 index cards for vocabulary.

    After School Help

    I am available after school for questions, review, make-ups, and extra help on Wednesdays (2:10 – 3:00pm).  Because I will be setting this time aside for my students, I would appreciate if your child would schedule extra help in advance.  I also strongly encourage each child to make the best use of this time.

    I look forward to a wonderful year ahead as we explore the ancient world together!

    Ms. Weisslinger