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Pre-AP World History and Geography focuses deeply on building the skills, knowledge and confidence that will propel students through high school coursework, college, careers, and civic life. 

Three enduring ideas this social studies course is built around make it engaging and relevant:

  1. History is an interrelated story of the world.
    The course explores the invisible structures and forces that shape and reflect the regions, communities, governments, economies, and cultures of humanity. These big ideas help students develop an organized and meaningful understanding of time and space.
  2. History and geography are inherently dynamic.
    As historians and geographers uncover new evidence, current assumptions are challenged and previous arguments and narratives gain complexity, nuance, and context. This course teaches students how to examine sources and data, establish inferences, and ultimately build and critique arguments.
  3. Historians and geographers are investigators.
    Learning in Pre-AP World History and Geography is designed to be a disciplinary apprenticeship where students participate in the process of discovery. Students will play the role of historian and geographer by practicing the detective skills and using the tools of each field of study.

Areas of Focus

Each Pre-AP course is focused on a small set of discipline-specific instructional priorities that are central to meaningful learning and student engagement in that discipline. They represent foundational disciplinary reasoning tools critical for student growth and engagement. Pre-AP recognizes that many teachers and schools already embrace these disciplinary practices, and now we're offering resources that specifically emphasize these areas of focus.

Pre-AP World History and Geography Areas of Focus:

  • Evaluating evidence: Students acquire knowledge by evaluating evidence from a wide range of primary and secondary sources.
  • Explaining historical and geographic relationships: Students explain relationships among events and people by marshalling evidence for causality, correlation, continuity, and change over time.
  • Incorporating evidence: Students demonstrate command of quantitative, qualitative, and spatial data by effectively incorporating them into written and oral arguments.

Underlying Unit Foundations

These big ideas are addressed across units:

  • Geography
  • Populations
  • Culture
  • State building
  • Economic systems
  • Social structures

Course at a Glance

Pre-AP World History and Geography has seven units—one geography unit and six world history units that cover different historical periods. The geography unit is universal; all schools must teach it. Out of the six world history units, schools choose and implement the three consecutive units that best align with their local and state standards. Schools don’t teach all six world history units.

The table below shows the units, the recommended length of each unit, and the key topics in each.

Period 1: Geography and World Regions
Timeframe: 7 weeks

Key concepts:

  • Interpreting maps and geographic data
  • World regions
  • Climates
  • Human interaction with the environment
  • Population change and migration
Period 2: The Ancient Period, Before 600 BCE
Timeframe: 7 weeks

Key concepts:

  • The Paleolithic Era
  • The Neolithic Revolution
  • River Valley civilizations
Period 3: The Classical Period, c. 600 BCE to c. 600 CE
Timeframe: 7 weeks

Key concepts:

  • The development and spread of world religions
  • Classical empires
  • The Silk Road
  • The Mediterranean trade network
Period 4: The Postclassical Period, c. 600 CE to c. 1450
Timeframe: 7 weeks

Key concepts:

  • The Indian Ocean trade networks
  • Gunpowder empires
  • Early manufacturing
  • Feudalism
  • The Mongolian Empire
Period 5: The Early Modern Period, c. 1450 to c. 1750
Timeframe: 7 weeks

Key concepts:

  • Western European maritime empires
  • Asian overland empires
  • The Columbian Exchange
  • The Atlantic economy
  • The rise of manufacturing
Period 6: The Modern Period, c. 1750 to c. 1914
Timeframe: 7 weeks

Key concepts:

  • Advances in science and reason
  • Atlantic revolutions
  • The First and Second Industrial Revolutions
  • Nationalism and reform
  • The new imperialism
Period 7: The Contemporary Period, c. 1914 to the Present
Timeframe: 7 weeks

Key concepts:

  • The World Wars
  • The global depression
  • The Cold War in the developed world
  • The end of empires
  • The rise of globalization

Instructional Resources

Schools that officially implement a Pre-AP course will receive access to instructional resources for each unit. These resources don’t constitute a full day-by-day curriculum. Instead, they provide support and modeling as teachers design instruction for each unit.

Pre-AP World History and Geography instructional resources include:

  • A course framework, primary and secondary source sets, and model lessons for selected key concepts within each unit that provide guidance and models for teaching the course.
  • Pre-AP resources that can be used alongside local school or district materials to address the objectives of the course framework.

Assessments for Learning

Each unit includes a variety of opportunities for meaningful feedback:

  • Curriculum-embedded assessments: short writing tasks scored by teachers 
  • 2 learning checkpoints: short online assessments with automated scoring and reporting
  • 1 performance task: source-based analysis and writing prompts that build readiness for AP history exams, with clear scoring guidelines for teachers
  • A final exam that allows students to demonstrate their mastery of the skills learned throughout the course. This exam is optional.