Pre Assessment Unit

World History One: Challenges and
Orientation Packet
In this course we will learn about the
people and civilizations of the Ancient
World. But, why? Why should we care
about people who died out so long ago?
I have two reasons. The first is because
our society today faces many
challenges. It will take serious work for
us to fix them. But we can do it. How
do I know we can? Because our
ancestors faced many challenges and
they developed many ways to
successfully overcome them.
The second reason to study the ancient
world is for inspiration. It won’t be easy to fix some of our problems, so we
need a reason to put in all the effort. This course will help you explore why
being a human being on this earth is just really cool and worth fighting for.
History is the story of human life. So if you like anything in life – well, then
you’ll find something in history
to inspire you. And if you
don’t like much about life, then
I hope to introduce you to
really awesome things that you
never knew existed. In this
course I will help you find and
explore things that fascinate
and inspire you.
Simply put, humans have been
fighting to survive for over a
hundred thousand years. Along
the way they’ve pulled off some amazing feats. This course will show you
how they managed to pull it off so that you too can live a good life and
create the next “Wonders of the World”.
Course Curriculum:
In this course we will study the following units.
 The Prehistoric World
 Early River Civilizations
 Ancient Empires and Ancient Religions
 Greece
 Rome
 The Dark Ages, Christianity and Islam
 The Middle Ages.
Each unit will be divided into 3 components.
Component One: Background.
This stage is designed to help you learn the who, what, where, why, and when of each
unit. I will provide you readings and a study guide that tells you exactly what you need
to learn. Because we live in an information age, it is important for you to learn study
techniques and habits that will allow you to become an independent learner. We will
spend time learning study techniques in class that you then can apply at home. Most of
this work will be done outside of class for homework. You will be assessed on your
knowledge of the Background Information with a unit test.
Component Two: Challenges
Once we have met each civilization, the bulk of our class time will be spent learning
about how each of these civilizations overcame their greatest obstacles through the use of
technology, government, religion and beliefs, and the inspiration of the arts. We will use
a variety of simulations, primary source analysis, lecture, movies, etc. to explore these
ideas. Each lesson will use a variety of assessments to demonstrate understanding.
Component Three: Inspiration
The “Inspiration” component of the unit will give students the opportunity to explore
their own topic of interest. Students will identify topics that they would like to learn
more about and research that area of interest. Their finished product will be a paper,
project, or presentation. They will use this project to inform the rest of the class why their
area of investigation is just the coolest, most interesting thing about that civilization.
Assignments in this class are separated into 3 categories, and are weighed differently.
Formative Assignments: Homework and Class activities. These assignments are
designed for students to practice and prepare new skills and knowledge. This category
will count as 1/3 of their unit grade. There will be many formative assignments in any
unit, so each one does not count as much towards their final grade.
Assessments: At the end of each unit will be final assessments of knowledge and skills.
These might take the form of a test, or an essay. This also counts as 1/3 of their final
grade, but as there is only one or two per unit – each assessment has more of an impact
on their final grade. They need to be taken seriously.
Projects: Finally, each unit will end with the student putting together and sharing a
project of their own design. This also will count as 1/3 of their unit grade.
The Essential Knowledge and Skills:
All assignments or assessments in this class are designed to develop and assess growth in
one or more of the following skills or knowledge. Students will be provided with a
scoring rubric which will give them feedback on their performance of each skill. They
are then averaged together to determine the final grade for the assignment.
Historical Connections: Students will develop the ability to make connections between
the ancient historical world and our own world to determine similarities and differences.
Historical Literacy: Students will develop a working knowledge of the significant
people, places, objects and events of civilizations of the ancient world.
Communication: Beyond writing, students will develop techniques to communicate
with purpose, organization, details and voice. They will have the opportunity to do this
in a variety of formats including written papers, oral presentations, and multimedia
Information Literacy: Simply put – research. Students will develop skills in locating
resources, recording information, and citing source material.
Work Habits: Students will be assessed on their ability to work as a constructive citizen
of the classroom. Things that will be assessed in this area are timeliness, (both of
assignment completion and to class), ability to work in a group, appropriate use of class
time and resources, team leadership opportunities, etc.
Example: A student has a note taking assignment for homework. They do an excellent job on the note
taking skill and receive a 95 for their Information Literacy grade. But, it is 5 days late and they receive a
65 for a Work Habit grade. A final grade of 80 will be put in to PowerSchool under the Formative
Assignment category.
Final Grade:
A student’s final course grade is determined by averaging together the four quarter grades
and their final exam. The weight each quarter will be determined based on how many
units we were able to complete in that quarter. The weight of the final exam will be
determined prior to final exam but will be between 10% and 20% of their final grade.
Students and parents can keep track of grades in several ways. First, of course,
assignments will have grades and feedback on them. I will also provide you with a
progress report every two weeks. These are the students responsibility to take home. I
do not want them back signed. You can also keep track of your grades through the
PowerSchool Parent Portal.
My Educational Philosophies
Why I teach: I teach because I love this world. I believe that our world is at a crucial
point in history where our actions will determine whether or not we survive as a species.
I have three sons. Obviously, I want them to be able to enjoy a safe and happy future. I
teach because I believe the most important thing I can do to make our future a positive
one is to help 100 students a year understand the problems our society faces and help
them become a part of the solution instead of a part of the problem.
Time: I believe that time is our most precious resource. We must use every moment we
have to the fullest. Therefore, I will not waste your time. Every task I ask you to
complete has a significant purpose. If you do not understand why the assignment is
important, then please ask me. Trust me, if it wasn’t important, I would not be wasting
my time to create or grade the assignment. In return, I ask that you do not waste my time.
If you are not here to learn, then I need to spend my resources on students who are.
Relationships: As a teacher I believe it is my job to challenge you. To do this I may not
always act as your friend. It is my job to push you, encourage you, advise you, at times
to scold you and tell you when and how you can do better. Above all, I will always be
concerned about you. I have to be concerned about you, because I will always share this
world with you.
Your Role As A Student. The person who does the work does the learning. I have
already learned World History. Therefore, if you are the one who has to do the learning,
you are the one who should be doing the hardest work. If you are not here to learn –
there is little I can do for you.
It is your job as a student to take responsibility for your learning. If you are absent – it is
your job to get the assignments. If you need help – it is your job to ask. This is what will
ultimately make you an independent person ready to face challenges in the world.
You cannot just enter the room and expect that I will fill your head with all the
knowledge you will ever need. We have computers that can do that already and they
don’t whine or have attitudes. To survive in the future, you must learn to be an
independent problem solver. If I don’t answer your every demand, it’s because I am
preparing you for a life where you no longer need me.
Discipline: Scientific research proves that the number one motivator in your life at this
age is independence. I will provide you with independence so that you can practice
taking responsibility yourself. If you consistently are not able to make good independent
decisions for yourself, then I will start to make them for you.
Ultimately every student needs to learn the art of “Self Control”. The only person who
can truly affect your behavior is yourself. Therefore, I will constantly be encouraging
you to practice self control. You cannot control anything else in the world if you cannot
first control yourself.
Ultimately, I have one rule. We are here to learn! Anything that interferes with that
should not be done. If you are engaging in behavior that keeps you from learning then I
will work with you to help you change your behavior. If you do not change these
behaviors, I will move on to help other people. If you are engaging in behaviors that
stand in the way of others’ learning – you will not be welcome in the classroom.
Learning is about making progress. Grades are not a reward or punishment or
measurement of your self worth. They are merely an indicator of the progress you are
Mistakes are Good! Mistakes are necessary for learning. What is not OK is to keep
making the same mistakes without changing what you are doing.
You are not a number grade. I will never remember the grade you got in my class. I will
remember your willingness to improve yourself and make the world a better place.
Resources and Materials
The Class Website: One of the most useful resources to have on hand for this course is
the class website. The address is
dex.htm. Or follow the links. Go to; click on “HighSchool”; click on
“Social Studies”; then click on “Putvain”.
On the website you will find a schedule of assignments, helpful links and downloads of
all assignments. If you are out absent or missing a paper this is the place to go.
Texts: I no longer use a textbook for this class. Instead I have compiled a collection of
readings. These readings are all available online through the class website. They are also
available in 3 ring binders if students need to access the information in this format, but I
would prefer if students used the online versions when possible. If students like, they can
make their own print outs of the readings and then they can mark them up in any way that
they please. Please let me know if I will need to provide a binder of readings.
Unit Guides: At the start of every unit, I provide students with a packet containing all of
the worksheets, instructions, and rubrics that they will need for the unit. If students lose
the packet or any part of it, they can print out a new one at the website.
Project Materials: Each unit, students will be given the opportunity to design their own
project based on an interest they have learned in the unit. Sometimes students choose to
simply write a paper, but sometimes they get much more creative. They might want to
paint, create a poster, cook a dish, or build a model. Students are for the most part
expected to provide whatever materials they need on their own. I do not want students
spending much, if any, money on these projects. If you have concerns about what
your child is asking you to get, please contact me. We do have some limited art
materials available on a ‘first to ask’ basis.
Students need to provide:
Writing Utensils: I am not picky about pencil or pen. Just not red pen.
Note Paper: For notes, and class activities.
Binder: Again, I’m not picky. Students just need a place to keep their work. Feel free to
reuse and recycle. Please keep all material until the end of the course. You will need it –
but you don’t have to carry it around with you every day. Have a safe place at home to
store old work.
Class Expectations:
Assignments: It is expected that students will complete each given assignment. If it
didn’t need doing, I wouldn’t give it. If students need help, they need to contact me for
assistance. If you know that an assignment will be late, please let me know.
Lateness: Our time is short, and we need to use all of it. On time means the student is in
their seat at the start of class. On time does not mean they came to class, put their bag in
their seat, then left and returned later. Tardy time is expected to be made up, after school
when I am available. The first violation will be a minimum of 15 minutes. The second
offense will be a minimum of 30 minutes. The third violation will be 45 minutes. Time
can be made up any time during the quarter. Time that is not made up will be deducted
from their quarter grade at 1 point per 10 minutes of unmade up time. I will not provide
work or materials to students who are not in class due to an unexcused tardy. After 3
violations the students will be referred to the disciplinary team for further actions
Misbehavior: I expect students to be in class ready to learn and to help others learn.
Misbehavior, disrespect, and distracted behavior will result in being asked to leave the
room. They will not be allowed or to make up or be given any missed work.
It is expected that students be prepared to stay in class. Emergencies happen but students
do not need to make getting a drink or going to the bathroom a habit. Stay in class.
Please feel free to bring a beverage or snack with you to class.
If you are out you can always just visit the class website for the schedule and any
materials you may have missed. You are responsible for making up any missed work
while you are out. Make sure to check in with your teachers as soon as you return.
Contacting Me and Getting Help
If you need help with anything, the most important thing is to not wait. Don’t be afraid,
don’t be embarrassed, don’t feel like you are putting me out. Don’t assume I know you
need help.
Find me at school: I am at school usually around 7:00a.m. and I am available until the
start of school. This semester I will be available during C Block for office hours. You
can also see me at the end of the day when I don’t have meetings.
E Mail Me: [email protected]
Call Me: If you are at home on the weekend and really need help – don’t stress out!
Give me a call. Let me know what’s up. My phone number is in the book.
Letter For Parents
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Trevor Putvain. I am a 1990
graduate of Peoples Academy, and a lifelong resident of Wolcott, where I live with my wife (also a PA
grad) three sons, two cats, a dog and one rabbit. I have been teaching history at Peoples Academy for 14
years. Over those years I have taught over 900 9th grade students. I look forward to having the
opportunity to work with your student this year. This packet is full of important information that will help
your student have a successful year. I hope that you have had the opportunity to go over the information
with your student. I do have a few pieces of advice specifically for you.
Please familiarize yourself with the class website. It has lots of useful information, including up to date
assignment schedules and all the assignments are downloadable for you to access.
This year’s text is available online. Although I do have copies available in a photocopied format, I really
would like for students to access them online if possible. If you cannot access them from home via the
website, just let me know below and I will be happy to provide a printed copy.
Please keep an eye on how often your student is doing homework. Generally students will receive an
assignment and have several days to complete it. However, we are working on a new schedule this year, so
I will have to adjust and monitor. Work time should be reasonable if they are keeping up. If you notice
that your student is consistently stressed, please let me know. If they are struggling with an assignment I
would rather they stop for the night and see me the next day. Also feel free to stop and give me a call. On
the other hand, if you do not see your student doing any homework for a week– there is a problem! Please
use the class website to check in on what they should be doing.
Check in with me. I would like to think that I could contact every parent as often as I need to, but I will
have over 80 students this semester. So please, contact me first. I really appreciate parents who just drop
a line to check in. The easiest way to contact me is through my email ([email protected]),
but you can always leave a message for me through our new phone system.
Lastly, in the next couple of weeks we will be watching “Quest for Fire” as part of our Prehistoric unit. I
have edited out all of the most violent scenes, and all of the sexual scenes. However, as the movie takes
place in the prehistoric, it does contain “National Geographic” style nudity and some mildly disturbing
scenes of early human behavior. I think I’ve done a good job getting it down to a PG-13 rating, but please
let me know if you do not wish for your student to see it and I will make other arrangements. This is the
only movie we watch over the course of the year with any concern.
Please fill out the information below and have your student return it.
Name of Student ____________________________________________
Does your student have permission to watch the edited version of Quest For Fire?
Can your student access the course readings on line or will they need printed packets?
What is the best way for me to contact you? Please check the method you would most like to be contacted.
Work Phone
Home phone
Cell phone
_______________________ Email: ________________________________________
Please feel free to use the back of this form for any questions or concerns you might have for me.
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