Syllabus and Grade Distribution

8th Grade Social Studies 

Course Title:  World Civilizations and Cultures II

TextbookJourney Across Time: The Early Ages, Course 2, McGraw-Hill.

Course Description

The curriculum of this course focuses upon major historical civilizations and themes that spanned Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas between the years 100 and 1500 CE.  Particular emphasis is paid to the impact of geography and natural resources, trade, economic development, governing structures, philosophical models, and the exchange of ideas on the development of civilizations and cultures over time.  Students will continue to develop the skills that will permit them to succeed in high-school and college level historical study; among those skills include critical thinking, historical document analysis, reading comprehension, effective speech and writing, and note-taking and study strategies.


Course Schedule:  Scope and Sequence


Approximate Time Frame


1st Marking Period


Journey Across Time: The Early Ages, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, and Chapter 12


Possible DBQ Topics:

  • Why did Christianity take hold in the Ancient World?
  • What were the primary reasons for the “Fall” of Rome?
  • What is the primary reason to study the Byzantines?
  • Why did Islam spread so quickly?



  • Review/extension of Roman history
  • Analyze how Christian beliefs were shaped by life within Judea and the Roman Empire
  • Compare and contrast the teachings of Christianity with other major world religions
  • Discuss how Christian ideas spread
  • Analyze the rise and impact of the Byzantine Empire upon medieval society


Islamic Civilization

  • Analyze how Muslim beliefs were shaped by life within the Arabian Peninsula during the time of Muhammad
  • Analyze the rise of Islam and how it spread so quickly
  • Analyze and summarize the characteristics of Islamic empires
  • Describe and explain Muslim ways of life

2nd Marking Period


Journey Across Time: The Early Ages, Chapter 12, Chapter 13 and Chapter 14


Possible DBQ Topics:

  • Mansa Musa’s Hajj
  • Were Zheng He’s voyages significant to world history?

Medieval Africa and Asia

  • Describe and explain the growth of West African kingdoms
  • Analyze and compare various forms of African government
  • Analyze the importance of various African religions
  • Explain how West African kingdoms used supply and demand to enrich themselves
  • Describe various aspects of African society and culture


Medieval China

  • Explain developments and innovations that occurred during Tang and Song China
  • Analyze and discuss cultural elements of Chinese civilization
  • Explain the rise of the Mongols and the effects of the Mongol Empire upon various areas of the world
  • Explain the impact of trade upon world civilizations
  • Discuss the importance of the Ming Dynasty, in particular their decision to become isolationist


Medieval Japan

  • Discuss how Japan’s geography has shaped its development
  • Explain how Japan developed its own unique culture
  • Explain the importance of various historical figures in Japanese history


3rd Marking Period


Journey Across Time: The Early Ages, Chapter 15 and Chapter 17


Possible DBQ Topics:

  • Were samurai and knights more similar or more different?
  • How did the Renaissance change man’s view of the world?

Medieval Europe

  • Describe life in the early and late Middle Ages
  • Analyze why feudalism rose as a governing system in medieval Europe
  • Discuss how Christianity shaped life in medieval Europe
  • Explain the causes and effects of the Crusades
  • Explain how the Black Death signaled the end of medieval Europe


The Renaissance and Reformation

  • Explain why the Renaissance began and prospered in Italy
  • Explain how Renaissance thinking was a shift from medieval thinking
  • Discuss the cultural developments of the Renaissance
  • Analyze the reasons that led Martin Luther to break with the Roman Catholic Church
  • Identify ways that Protestant thought appeared in colonial America


4th Marking Period

Journey Across Time: The Early Ages, Chapter 16, Chapter 17, and Chapter 18

Possible DBQ Topics:

  • What was the most remarkable achievement of the Maya?
  • How should historians remember the Aztec?
  • Should Magellan’s crew have defended him?
  • What was more important, the Exploration or the Reformation?


The Age of Exploration

  • Identify various reasons why Europeans invested in sea travel during Renaissance times
  • Discuss the contributions of various explorers to European understanding of the globe
  • Explain the mercantile system and how it enriched Europe


The Americas

  • Explain how humans arrived in the Americas and the impact of isolation from Eurasia upon the Native Americans
  • Discuss the ways that Native Americans were affected by geography and the means by which they adapted to it
  • Explain the impact of the Spanish arrival upon Native American civilizations


The Scientific Revolution/Enlightenment

  • Explain how the Scientific Revolution contributed to modern understandings of how the world operates
  • Discuss how Enlightenment values appear in the founding documents of the United States