World History in a Year (or 10 months)

By Noreen Gunnell

Social studies teachers know how difficult it is to include everything in a world history curriculum that covers thousands of years, and calls for students to acquire social studies and critical thinking skills along the way. Learn how to fit the history of the world into one school year.

Teaching World History

How do you get from cavemen to contemporary history in ten months? Consider the fact that you have to cover the development of agriculture, the formation of civilizations, the rise of the three major religions, and the discovery of the new world-all sprinkled with the growth of science, culture, and language-and teaching world history can be overwhelming. Add the necessity of students developing cognitive thinking and social studies skills such as analyzing data and reading maps, and teaching a world history class becomes downright frightening.

Relax. The best way to face the task of teaching a comprehensive world history class is planning, followed by some more planning. Break the curriculum into manageable units; create, borrow, and steal lesson plans and remember that not everything needs to done at once. This article is an introduction to a series of world history lesson plans for high school and middle school that should help you do just that. The content covered and skills addressed should fit into most world history education maps.

World History Curriculum

This is a basic break-down of possible World History class units.Some units will be more involved based on content, time, and let’s be honest, personal interest!

  1. Prehistory (An Early Man Lesson Plan to get you started.)
  2. Earliest Civilizations i.e. (Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Indus Valley Civilization, Early Chinese) and more.
  3. Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome (Who was Alexander the Great? starts the second section of these series.)
  4. African Civilizations
  5. India and China
  6. Byzantine
  7. The Slavs
  8. Islamic Civilization
  9. Medieval Europe
  10. The Renaissance
  11. Early Exploration
  12. The Americas
  13. Cultures and Empires of Asia
  14. Power Struggles in Europe
  15. Revolutions
  16. Industrial Revolution
  17. World Conflict (Who Stands Behind a Dud? A Lesson Plan on UXB's (Duds) during WW II begins part 4 of these series)
  18. Modern Era

Themes, Skills, and Teaching Methods

  • The lesson plans for social studies in this series of articles will meet various NCSS (National Council for the Social Studies) and NSS (National Social Sciences) standards.
  • Social studies lessons will address social studies skills taught in World History class such as using maps and interpreting data.
  • Critical thinking exercises and activities to enhance reading and writing skills will be included.
  • Lesson Plans will vary in method, using cooperative learning activities, individual projects, and whole class instruction activities.

Using Movies, the Internet & Other Sources

The following articles offer ideas for teaching world history through movies, novels, the internet and other teaching tools.

Teaching Tips: Teaching US History With Movies

American First Ladies: A Social Studies Lesson Plan

Tossing the Textbook: Book Review of The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

Review of The History in Film Website for Educators