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The NOCCA Integrated World History Curriculum: A New Paradigm for Teaching History in High School

Michael Wallace and Daniel Lord Smail


     For decades, history has been conveyed to high school students in the form of unlinked one-year social studies courses that typically include world or global history, US history, government and economics.1 Why history has been presented in this compartmentalized fashion is a question that could merit historical research in its own right, since it goes without saying that history does not have to be taught this way. What would it be like to teach high school history in a truly historical way, through a curriculum that began at the beginning and ended up on the doorstep of the present? This is the question that motivated the authors as we designed a four-year, continuous world history curriculum for a public arts conservatory in New Orleans. This curriculum proved to be a successful device for introducing students to historical study, and we believe that it could serve as a model for teaching history elsewhere.


     The New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), founded in 1973, has been a highly regarded public arts conservatory for many decades. In August 2011, NOCCA started a new program, the Academic Studio, in order to provide a morning academic curriculum for students enrolled in one of the afternoon's eleven arts disciplines. Students who successfully auditioned for admission to one of the arts programs could apply for the academic program in order to attend NOCCA full-time instead of splitting the day between a home school and NOCCA.

     The NOCCA faculty and administration engaged in a period of long-range, strategic planning for the new academic program. They conducted extensive research before receiving approval from the NOCCA Board to proceed with designing a plan that would implement a full-day diploma granting program. In collaboration with its supporting non-profit group, The NOCCA Institute, the planning team identified appropriate resources and contacted consultants for assistance. One group of consultants facilitated planning and completed an ethnographic study that helped define NOCCA's guiding principles. An external Advisory Council was invited to review the proposed design for the new Academic Studio.

     During the next phase of development, beginning early in the year 2011, Wallace and Smail, among other academic consultants, were contacted to see if they would be interested in contributing to the design of the history curriculum for the Academic Studio program. In response, Wallace suggested that the program offered a unique opportunity to devise a new curricular framework for the teaching of world history. He was invited to present his design concept at an organizational meeting for a group of academic curriculum consultants, Domain Partners, held at NOCCA in March, 2011. Following discussions with NOCCA administrators and other domain partners, the President/CEO of NOCCA, Mr. Kyle Wedberg, gave tentative approval to the idea of designing the four-year world history curriculum framework, the NOCCA Integrated Humanities/World History Curriculum Framework.

The Curriculum: Basic Principles

     In the United States, every state is responsible for determining the standards that students are expected to attain during the mandated years of K-12 education. Although each state has its own priorities, these standards have many features in common. Standards are learning goals that outline the skills and content which need to be mastered. A curriculum, in contrast, is a framework of content, means, and materials used by teachers and administrators to achieve the goals mandated by the standards. It is important to keep this distinction in mind, since the curriculum described in this article does not require any changes to state standards.

     At the core of the new curriculum is the belief that students learn history best when they learn it in sequence, in the form of a continuous, four-year course-of-study. In such a curriculum, the content featured in each of the compartmentalized, traditional core high school social studies courses—US history, world history, government, and economics—is fully integrated into a thematically-based chronological framework that starts with early human history and ends in the twenty-first century. Since it was important to be responsible for the Louisiana DOE standards for history in grades 9-12, the curriculum was designed in such a way that the standards could be embedded directly into the new framework. Mr. Wedberg applied for and received a waiver from the Louisiana Department of Education to teach history in the proposed format with the caveat that the students would be accountable for passing the state's End-of-Course assessment for US History as a condition for graduation. Mr. Wedberg's rationale for the waiver included the belief that this unique curriculum design was the right thing to do for the students at NOCCA. Most importantly, the proposed curriculum was founded on sound principles of history and pedagogy and the time was ripe for its use in launching the new academic program at NOCCA.

     There were several reasons, at the outset, to promote a four-year, integrated world history design. An important goal has been to encourage students to understand their own state and the United States as a whole as entities embedded in a complex and changing world.2 The curriculum, in other words, offers important lessons in local, national, and global civics. It encourages teachers and students to understand their world by tracing patterns of influence and connectivity, such as power structures and trade relations, which span many regions of the globe. In addition to enabling a transnational or global approach to the past, the new curriculum also offers students a chance to see how the global connections of the present day were gradually built over a long span of time, starting when early humans spread out of Africa, settled all the regions of the globe, and formed societies and civilizations. The curriculum allows students to see what has changed in our world even as it introduces them to things that have been common to humans everywhere.

     The deep chronological framework has been an especially productive way to encourage teachers and students to think about the nature of historical evidence. After all, there were no written records for much of human history. Given this fact, how are scholars able to reconstruct the human past? The chronological sweep of the curriculum makes it possible for teachers to introduce students to new advances in fields such as genetics, chemistry, and the geosciences, some of the fields that have transformed our understanding of humanity's deep past. This could have the added benefit of allowing teachers to integrate scientific elements into the social studies curriculum and potentially to connect with science teachers. The importance of scientific evidence does not diminish as we move into the more recent past; important elements of what is known about the lives of enslaved peoples, for example, comes from archaeological and even genetic evidence. By re-introducing the longue durée into the teaching of history, the curriculum asks teachers and students to return repeatedly to the changing nature of the historical record and the methodologies, ranging from close reading to DNA analysis, that are needed to develop knowledge from the available sources.

     The curriculum proved to be an especially useful device for combining humanistic and social science inquiry. As noted by Dr. Kate Kokontis, founding faculty member of the Academic Studio, the interdisciplinary examination of evidence made it possible for teachers to introduce literature and other forms of expressive culture alongside the historical material. In addition to art history and visual cultural studies, teachers were able to draw on a number of other disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, archaeology, philosophy, economics, critical geography, post-structuralist cultural studies, and fields inflected by literary theory. To facilitate this integration, teachers and administrators decided to merge English Language Arts and history into a team-taught "Integrated Humanities" course, using the world history curriculum as a guiding framework.

     Consistent with an interdisciplinary approach, the teachers of "Integrated Humanities" privilege conceptual relevance and coherence foremost, and often use the chronological framework as a means of making connections between past and present or between common themes found in different times and places. The teachers provide students with literature, visual arts, primary source documents, and historically or thematically situated social and political theory so as to contextualize students' encounters with the arts, governments, economies, religions, social life and cultural production. At its heart, the program emphasizes critical cultural studies.

     From a pedagogical point of view, the expected benefits of learning history in a broad, multi-year framework include seeing history as multiple, ongoing, overlapping, and often contradictory stories. One year's study is designed to flow naturally into the next. By returning repeatedly to common ideas, students are more readily able to recognize transhistorical connections and historical webs of interaction. In addition, students see narratives of the past in broad contexts, thus decentering their thinking and helping them recognize the complexities of history.3 Metaphorically, there is a parallel between the evolution of the students' artistic and performance abilities from ninth to twelfth grades and the students' study of the history of humanity over 150,000 years during the same four years. Students are presented with many opportunities to assess evidence and interpretations, develop theses, and use documents of all kinds to write narrative and persuasive essays toward the goal of constructing and comparatively evaluating their understandings of the past.4

Structures, Resources, and Design

     As we launched into the design of the curriculum framework, we began by reviewing numerous available history frameworks. Wallace consulted state DOE and national standards for secondary social studies curricula, university history syllabi and tables of content from leading history textbooks. Since the NOCCA framework was intended to serve as a foundation for instructional planning and interdisciplinary curriculum development, the following elements were essential: key questions, a content outline, recurring themes and concepts, teacher resources, student resources, and suggested learning activities. For ease of access we decided to use a chart format with separate columns for each element (Appendix E).

     In order to provide a content outline and supporting resources for a world history spanning more than a 150,000 years, we believed that an advisory board able to subject the framework to peer review was critical (Appendix A). In accordance with this belief, we reached out to historians, history educators, artists, authors, and pre-collegiate teachers and administrators and asked for their participation in this four-year project. We received positive responses from some of the most respected university historians and history educators in the nation. Also, teachers and school administrators of excellence from four states and the United Kingdom volunteered to review all the documents we were creating for this project. The critiques and recommendations we received from this thirty-six member advisory board were invaluable in assuring the integrity of the content and the usefulness of the resources provided in the framework.

     Another important component of the design process was the continual direct involvement of the NOCCA teachers, beginning with the founding members of the humanities faculty, Dr. Kokontis and Dr. Thomas MacDonald, and continuing with the other members of the department as they were hired over the initial four years of the project. Additionally, the team consulted regularly with NOCCA administrators and kept members of The NOCCA Institute abreast of the progress being made (see Appendix A). This connection was multi-faceted. First, as with the advisory board, Wallace sent each section of the framework to the NOCCA faculty and administration for review and comment. Second, Wallace conducted regularly scheduled phone conferences with the faculty or administration. Smail and two historians on the curriculum advisory board, Dr. Thomas Bender and Dr. Tom Mounkhall, participated in several phone and Skype conferences in order to discuss course content and instructional planning. Third, during the American Historical Association conference in New Orleans in 2013, the authors met at the school with several members of the advisory board, NOCCA administrators, and teachers in order to discuss the curriculum framework. In addition, several members of the faculty, the president of the school and the authors presented their work at a panel at the AHA conference. Finally, Wallace went to NOCCA eight times over four years for weeklong program visits. Through a combination of informal classroom observations, demonstration lessons, co-planning lessons and curriculum meetings, the faculty and Wallace together discussed concerns; raised and answered questions; and generated new ideas about the framework. In sum, an ongoing, professional dialogue among all of the project participants resulted in a dynamic creative process.

     As the structure of the curriculum grew organically over the initial four years, we developed a list of planning principles (Appendix B, Part 1). These, too, evolved over time as the curriculum grew and as each year of the course-of-study was implemented. The school had decided to phase-in the Academic Studio program one grade at a time, starting with an initial group of ninth graders in August 2011. Each year, a new group of ninth graders was added until there was a full complement of students in grades 9 through 12. Since we had three years to complete the four-year curriculum, we created a general four-year periodization profile (Appendix D), and then worked on the details one year at a time between March, 2011 and June, 2014. This process allowed us to maximize communication with the Advisory Board and with the teachers as they implemented each phase of the four-year project. We made appropriate adjustments to the curriculum based on the teachers' continual observations of student learning outcomes. We also took into account the specific scholarly disciplinary expertise of the teachers and the shape that the interdisciplinary humanities program was taking.

     In order to develop the planning principles and the basic content of the framework, Wallace consulted a set of general reference documents (Appendix B, Part 2). These works laid the basis for constructing the documents of the curriculum framework. The first curriculum document we generated, before addressing the issue of specific key questions and content, was a set of essential questions for historical thinking and methodology and for historical content as well as a list of ten recurring themes and related concepts (Appendix C) that would provide continuity throughout the four-year program. Questions such as "How do we know what we know about the past?", "Where do we find evidence about the past?", "How do we evaluate the evidence?", and "In what ways have the complexities of human relations changed over time?" are intended to drive the general instructional planning process. The ten themes are conceptual threads that occur throughout the four-year course of study. They provide a basis for generating questions, seeing connections, examining continuity in human history and understanding change over time.

     The process of drafting the curriculum framework included identifying the most relevant and up-to-date resources for each topic in the course outline. To construct the four-year world history curriculum, Wallace consulted more than a thousand historical and pedagogical references. These books and websites were embedded in the framework or included in lists of suggested readings for each grade level. From these sources we identified key historical questions and a broad array of content. Once the content outline was defined, relevant recurring themes and related concepts were associated with the specific historical content. Then, the appropriate teacher and student resources were included in the framework. Last, suggested activities were provided as examples of possible avenues of student inquiry or modes of learning.

     Wallace sent the first draft of each component of the framework to members of the Advisory Board and NOCCA teachers and administrators for review and comment. In addition, throughout every aspect of the curriculum development process, Smail served as the chief consultant historian. After receiving recommendations, Wallace re-wrote and sent the second draft for additional review and comment. Then he composed a final draft and presented it to the NOCCA humanities faculty each spring for use in planning for and during the following school year. The result was a curriculum framework that reflected university historians' research and views of world history; best instructional practices from history educators; the curricular visions and expertise of the Academic Studio's humanities faculty and NOCCA administration; and Wallace's consolidation and organization of content and resources.

     Given the breadth of history taught in high school, the world history curriculum framework is designed to address the planning needs of teachers who are assigned either to areas of personal expertise or to areas about which they are less expert. The experience at NOCCA verifies the value of the framework in both scenarios. During the first year, the Academic Studio teachers, who are scholars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, were teaching the early human, classical era, and medieval history of the grade nine curriculum. The framework was an invaluable guide for teaching resources and essential content and themes. Later, when these teachers were assigned to curricular areas of personal scholarship they used their own expert knowledge to shape lessons and units within the context of the overall curriculum framework. Dr. Kokontis notes that "the frameworks have been a rich resource that contain far more material than anyone can teach in one year or one unit, but that provide a pathway through the contours and vicissitudes of global history throughout each time period—which makes it possible to make informed and intelligent decisions about what to include, what to omit, and how to create a coherent yet polyvocal narrative for our students. It also means that each year, the course for each grade level can shift its focus overall as well as the details of the content, the projects, and the essential questions within each unit—sometimes considerably—to reflect each teaching pair's vision and expertise as well as their students' needs."


     It is important to acknowledge that the outcomes described in this section do not control for demographic factors, including race and income, or for the unusual nature of the student body. All of the students are enrolled at NOCCA by audition to study an arts discipline. Students are not pre-screened for academic achievement during the admissions process. Entering ninth graders demonstrate a reading proficiency ranging from 4th grade level to advanced college level; classes are not grouped by ability. NOCCA does not charge tuition, as it is a public school established by legislation by the State of Louisiana. The demographic profile of the 2015-2016 student body of the Academic Studio includes 72 percent female and 28 percent male students. The racial and ethnic profile is 5 percent American Indian, Alaskan Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, 31 percent Black or African American, 6 percent Hispanic and 55 percent White. Students come from eleven Louisiana parishes involving 110 partner schools as well as students being home schooled.5

     Although we currently have no method for providing a rigorous assessment of the success of this four-year study of world history, a useful if partial impression of student outcomes can be gleaned from two sources: first, the results of a state-sponsored, standardized measure; and second, the anecdotal evidence provided by twelfth-grade students' self-reflections of their achievements. As a graduation requirement, the Louisiana DOE employs End-of-Course (EOC) examinations for certain high school subjects. The DOE does not offer a world history EOC but does require one for US history. Since the Louisiana content standards for high school US history start chronologically with the latter part of the nineteenth century, the students at NOCCA are unable to take this assessment until the spring of their senior year. As shown in the content outline for the NOCCA Integrated World History Curriculum Framework (Appendix D), the late nineteenth century is studied in the latter part of grade 11 and the twentieth century in grade 12. In the spring of 2015 the first senior class in the new Academic Studio program at NOCCA took the Louisiana DOE US History EOC. The table below, taken from the Louisiana DOE July 17, 2015 test report, shows the percentage of NOCCA students who scored in each of the four ratings compared to the state as a whole.6

US History
EOC 2015




Needs Improvement










> 1%

Note: Scores do not equal 100 percent due to DOE rounding procedures.

     It is clear from the students' successes on these standardized measures that the four-year integrated format for studying world history is not an impediment to meeting state standards for the teaching of US History. There are good reasons to think, in fact, that learning US history in a contextualized manner increases student comprehension of the subject. When the results were reported to members of the NOCCA Integrated World History Curriculum Advisory Board, Dr. Ross Dunn replied with this comment: "…your students' performance confirms so much of what we have all been arguing for many years: Teach history in ways that encourage students to situate 'facts' in larger contexts of meaning, and they will excel."7 Dr. Carl Guarneri added: "Congratulations to … NOCCA for this success, which demonstrates that enriching US history with a broader contextualization does not have to mean neglecting essential facts and events."8

     The impression left by the quantitative evidence is supported by anecdotal evidence about learning outcomes contributed by the first class of students to complete the four-year world history course. In April 2015, each senior in NOCCA's Academic Studio program was asked to write a reflective essay on what he or she had learned during four years in the humanities program. These essays provide insight into the students' learning experiences. The students wrote about many aspects of the unique structure of their world history program. A common thread in their responses spoke to a feeling among many students that the curriculum enabled them to see and understand the connections in history more easily. They were able to perceive continuity through the themes and concepts that recurred throughout the four years of continuous study. Students also expressed appreciation for the fact that events both early and later in time were linked, and noted how they were able to see issues of national concern through a global perspective. Students appreciated knowing what peoples and places have gone through over time. In understanding change over time, they saw the evolution of societies. One student noted a better understanding of the pace of change.

     Students more readily understood causality and contingencies in history. They wrote about learning the "why" of events. The framework's chronology provided opportunities to think back and forth in time. Students described the chronological framework as efficient, coherent and logical. One student viewed history as an epic adventure that felt like time travel. These forms of continuity helped students see history as an ongoing process, not something that is "over and done with."

     Recognizing the continuities of the past as well as change over time gave students a broad perspective on history. Their perceptions of the breadth of history were amplified by seeing the places, events and peoples of history from multiple points of view. One student wrote about the value of seeing history from many angles. The teachers often pose the question, "Whose story is being told here, and whose stories and voices are being neglected?" when students are examining a particular document or narrative.

     Broadening perspectives by pushing inquiries beyond the surface and a willingness to turn information "upside down" contributed to a rich appreciation of the complexities of the past. Students noted that the integration of English, the arts, and history in a team-taught humanities program led to coherent and relevant learning. As young artists, students reported that learning in this way made them better artists. Understanding the context of art in the past and present deepened their sense of the importance of art in the human experience. Students cited transferable skills that they acquired in the humanities program including: having a questioning attitude in order to look beyond the surface of things; learning to express themselves; knowing how to critique; and recognizing the importance of culture in everyday life.9 In addition, students see themselves as intellectuals and artists with voices and visions that matter; empathetic members of communities with a responsibility to contribute critically and meaningfully to society; and rigorous thinkers intent on recognizing bias and the influence of power in narratives.

     We feel it is important to acknowledge once again that the successful implementation of this curriculum may have been influenced by factors both tangible and intangible. To properly evaluate the success of the curriculum, it will be important to develop a formal research design, with specific controlled variables, that can be used to assess student learning outcomes. Nevertheless, we believe that this prototype curriculum could be successfully implemented in high schools where teachers and administrators share a common enthusiasm for the potential offered by the framework. Most importantly, the experience of NOCCA indicates that a successful implementation of the curriculum does not require any changes to state standards, since standards can be easily integrated into the four-year program of study. The content emphasized in the classroom, moreover, can be readily adapted to suit the needs and concerns of local school districts and state mandates elsewhere in the country. In the case of NOCCA, we have recommended to school administrators that the framework be reviewed every five years in order to keep the curriculum up-to-date with new research and thinking in history and pedagogy.

     The creation of this world history curriculum was made possible by the support of the NOCCA administrators, the NOCCA Institute and the dedicated teachers in the school's Humanities Department. As with all curriculum frameworks, it is the intelligent and creative implementation by teachers that makes learning rich and rewarding for students. The teachers at NOCCA are doing a remarkable job using the curriculum framework as a resource in order to construct coherent grade level syllabi; generate exciting and engaging lessons; and design interesting learning options for their students. Their exceptional talent and persistence have made the content of the NOCCA Integrated Humanities/World History Framework an everyday reality for all of their students.

Michael Wallace, Ed.D., a history education consultant, is a retired secondary school teacher and school district administrator. His consultancies have focused on teaching history K-12 with a special emphasis on historical thinking. Recently, as a Domain Partner for history at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Dr. Wallace wrote an innovative four-year world history curriculum. In addition, he has presented papers and written articles on teaching methodology, and co-authored the high school textbook Practical Politics and Government. He may be reached at

Daniel Lord Smail is Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of History at Harvard University, where he works on the history and anthropology of Mediterranean societies between 1100 and 1600 and on deep human history. In medieval European history, his work has explored the social and cultural history of the cities of Mediterranean Europe.His current research approaches transformations in material culture using household inventories and inventories of debt recovery from Lucca and Marseille. Smail's work in deep history and neurohistory has addressed some of the methodological and theoretical underpinnings of these approaches to the human past. His books include The Consumption of Justice: Emotions, Publicity, and Legal Culture in Marseille, 1264-1423 (2003); On Deep History and the Brain (2008), and, with Andrew Shryock and others, Deep History: The Architecture of Past and Present (2011).



1 We are grateful to our colleagues at NOCCA, especially Kyle Wedberg and Kate Kokontis, for reading this draft carefully and for allowing us to incorporate some of their suggestions directly into the text.

2 The importance of contextualizing United States history is emphasized in Carl Guarneri, America in the World: United States History in Global Context (Boston: McGraw Hill, 2007); Thomas Bender, A Nation Among Nations: America's Place in World History (New York: Hill and Wang, 2006).

3 Recent publications make a strong case for thinking globally about history; see, inter alia, Ross E. Dunn, The New World History: A Teacher's Companion (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2000); Patrick Manning, Navigating World History: Historians Create a Global Past (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2003); Peter N. Stearns, World History: The Basics (New York: Routledge, 2011)

4 For discussions of how research-based methods can assist with the teaching of historical thinking, see M. Suzanne Donovan and J.D. Bransford, eds., How Students Learn: History in the Classroom (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2005); Peter N. Stearns, P. Seixas and S. Wineburg, eds., Knowing, Teaching and Learning History: National and International Perspectives (New York: New York University Press, 2000); Sam Wineburg, Historical thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001).

5 NOCCA Report presented to the NOCCA Board on 11/12/2015.

6 For the test report see,

7 Personal email correspondence with Michael Wallace, April 30, 2015.

8 Personal email correspondence with Michael Wallace, April 30, 2015.

9 "Accepting the Challenge," Aspirations (July 2015): 4-5.


Appendix A: Socio-professional Composition of the NOCCA Integrated World History Curriculum Advisory Board and School Personnel

Pre-Collegiate Teachers and Administrators: , Larry Burud, Sue Campbell, Peter Cook, Sandy Fischer, Gordon Fitting, Dan Goldberg, John Gould, Karen Hadley, Jason Kahn, Ashley Keegan, Tom Laichas, Darlene Miller, Mark Pearson, Nicole Roper, Gloria Sesso, Claire Walker, Mark Wallace, Beth Williams.

Author: Keith Medley

Performing Artist: Andrew Appel

University Historians and History Educators: Stephen Aron (UCLA), Robert Bain (Michigan), Thomas Bender (NYU), Nikki Brown (UNO), Ross Dunn (San Diego State), Heidi Febert (Saginaw Valley State, deceased), Cybele Gontar (FIT), Carl Guarneri (St. Mary's College), Shennan Hutton (UC Davis), Wade Luquet (Gwynedd-Mercy), Erez Manela (Harvard), Tom Mounkhall (SUNY New Paltz), Gary Nash (UCLA), Carol Reese (Tulane), Teofilo Ruiz (UCLA), Sam Wineberg (Stanford).

Chief Consultant Historian: Daniel L. Smail (Harvard)

NOCCA Academic Studio Humanities Faculty Members (2011-2015): Kate Kokontis, Thomas "Spree" MacDonald, Byron Lilly, Fanta Diamanka, Marty Authier, Rosie Hurtado, Jean-Marc Duplantier, Parvathy Anantnarayan.

NOCCA Administration (2011-2014): Kyle Wedberg, President/CEO; Robbie McHardy, Former Director of Academic Studio; Brian Dassler, Former Chief Academic Officer; Sally Perry, Executive Director, The NOCCA Institute; Elizabeth McMillan, Director of Development, The NOCCA Institute.

Appendix B: Planning Principles and Reference Works

Part 1: Planning Principles for Curriculum Framework Development:

  • Use framework developed for Integrated Humanities-World History including: Key Questions, Content Outline, Themes and Concepts, Teacher Resources, Student Readings/ Activities, Essential Historical Thinking and Research Skills.

  • Connect conceptual threads, identify and analyze webs and patterns.

  • Provide ample opportunities for students to assess evidence, to develop theses, and to use documents in writing narratives and persuasive essays while constructing and comparatively evaluating their understanding of the past.

  • Utilize research-based learning principles for instructional activities.

  • Situate the questions that undergird this world history framework within the discipline of history and the critical studies approach of the overall NOCCA Integrated Humanities Curriculum. Be mindful of options that facilitate integration with English Language Arts and other humanistic/social science disciplinary questions and methodologies. Create touch-points for cross-curricular collaboration with science, mathematics and the arts.

  • Incorporate all relevant Louisiana State Standards for World History, Civics, US History and World Geography and the End-of-Course standards for the American History assessment. Apply the appropriate Common Core Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies.

  • Use a transnational or global approach to integrate US history and world history. Include multiple perspectives and interpretations. Be mindful of history as a contextualizing discipline.

  • Examine appropriate case studies, through a comparative approach, to deepen understanding of broad themes (e.g., multifaceted, contemporary New Orleans culture).

Part 2: General Reference Documents for Curriculum Framework Development:

AP United States History: Course Description. New York, NY: The College Board, 2010.

AP World History: Course and Exam Description. New York, NY: The College Board, 2011.

Building a United States History Curriculum: A Guide to Using Themes and Selecting Content. Westlake, OH: National Council for History Education, 2002.

Building a World History Curriculum: A Guide to Using Themes and Selecting Content. Westlake, OH: National Council for History Education, 1997.

Burke, Edmund, David Christian, and R. E. Dunn. World History, Big Eras: A Compact History of Humankind for Teachers and Students. Los Angeles: National Center for History in the Schools, 2009.

Guarneri, Carl and J. Davis, eds. Teaching American History in a Global Context. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2008.

Louisiana Department of Education. "Academic Standards+ Grade Level Expectations: Social Studies". (accessed 19 September2013).

____________________________. "Assessment Guidance, 2013-2014: Social Studies Assessment Structure". (accessed 19 September2013).

National Standards for History. Los Angeles, CA: National Center for History in the Schools, UCLA, 1996.

National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies: A Framework for Teaching, Learning and Assessment. Silver Spring, MD: National Council for the Social Studies, 2010.

"Reading Like a Historian." Stanford History Education Group. (accessed 6 June 2013)

Roupp, Heidi, ed. Teaching World History in the Twenty-First Century: A Resource Book. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2010.

"World History for Us All," (accessed 12 May 2011) .

Appendix C: Recurring Themes and ConceptsRecurring Themes and Related Concepts in History/Social Sciences

Historical Thinking/Methodology

Essential Questions

  • How do we know what we know about the past?

  • How do we establish the chronology of the past?

  • What questions do we ask about the past?

  • Where do we find evidence about the past?

  • How do we evaluate the evidence?

  • Why do we study history?

  • So what? Why is this important or significant?

Causes and Effects

  • How things change

  • Multiple causation and co-evolution

  • Outcomes/Consequences

  • Human agency

  • Impersonal forces

  • Geographic influences

  • Change and continuity

  • Direction or accident

  • Contingency

  • Complexity

  • Change over time

  • Turning points

  • Macro change

  • Local/Global interactions

Historical Comprehension

  • Viewpoints and values of people who lived in the past (strange and familiar)

  • Be alert for presentism

  • Multiple perspectives

  • Draw information from multiple types of sources, written and non-written

  • Polycentrism

  • Periodization

  • Revisionism

  • Comparing and contrasting

  • Reconstructing meaning from documents, narratives, artifacts and other sources

  • Scales of time and space/Timelines

  • Thinking chronologically

  • Trends/Patterns

  • Longue durée

  • Dating documents and artifacts

  • Change is always happening

  • Error margins

Historical Analysis

  • Sourcing and dating

  • Corroboration

  • Contextualization

  • Close reading of text: key ideas, details, structure and integration, literal and figurative meanings

  • Reading between the lines for unintended information

  • Facts and interpretations

  • Interpreting written and non-written sources

  • Identifying author's or creator's point of view

  • Distrusting the author: Is the author mistaken or lying?

  • Analyzing differing interpretations

  • Historiography

  • Recognizing genre imposed form

  • Synthesizing multiple accounts


  • Formulating questions

  • Stating hypotheses

  • Primary and secondary sources

  • Collecting and selecting data

  • Let sources speak

  • Thesis development

  • Claims and counterclaims

  • Reasoning and evidence

  • Interrogating historical data

  • Persuasive and narrative writing

  • Document-based essays

  • Oral presentations

  • Historiography

Historical Issue-Analysis and Decision-Making

  • Identify problems and dilemmas

  • Analyze interests, values and points of view

  • Identify origins of the problem

  • Propose solution options

  • Formulate action plan

  • Evaluate consequences of action(s) taken

Historical Content

Essential Questions

  • Do humans make their own history?

  • Does history happen to humans?

  • In what ways have humans affected and been affected by their environment?

  • In what ways have the complexities of human relations changed over time?

  • How have humans' views of the cosmos, the world, nature and one another changed and affected change through the ages?

  • How did we get from there to here?

Artistic Expression (including but not limited to)

  • Creativity

  • Genres

  • Aesthetics

  • Cultural heritage

  • Purpose and audience

  • Patronage

  • Symbols and metaphors

  • Iconography

Belief Systems (including but not limited to)

  • Worldview/Cosmology

  • Religious/Spiritual

  • Philosophical

  • Ethics

  • Manifest Destiny

  • Magical thinking

  • Myths

  • Stereotypical thinking

Law and governance (concepts including but not limited to)

  • Institutions

  • Bureaucracy

  • Societies without government

  • Decision making

  • Domestic and foreign policies

  • Spheres of influence

  • Power and authority

  • Law making and enforcement process

  • Leadership

  • Justice

  • Civil rights

  • Rebellion and revolution

  • Cross-regional relations

  • Nationalism

  • Imperialism and colonialism

  • Settler societies

  • Sovereignty

  • Suffrage/Elections

  • Political organizations

  • Civic ideals

  • Human rights

Geography and Interactions with the Environment (including but not limited to)

  • Geopolitical effects

  • Exploration

  • Environmental influences

  • Unifiers, connectors and dividers

  • Flora and fauna/Extinctions

  • Biodiversity/Ecosystems

  • Deforestation, erosion and desertification

  • Conservation/Preservation

  • Cartography/Map Projections

Economic Activity (including but not limited to)

  • Production, distribution and consumption

  • Goods and services

  • Command, market and mixed economies

  • Mercantilism

  • Capitalism

  • Laissez-faire

  • Monopoly

  • Labor

  • Unemployment

  • Unionization

  • Collective bargaining

  • Law of supply and demand

  • Resources/Extraction

  • Needs and wants

  • Material culture

  • Fluctuations/Cycles

  • Priorities and choices

  • Trade

  • Standard of living

  • Industrialization

  • Plantation system

  • Cash crops

  • Banking and Investments

  • Deficit/Surplus

Social Organization (including but not limited to)

  • In-group, out-group

  • Nativism

  • Interaction patterns/Networks

  • Assimilation

  • Status hierarchy/Social mobility

  • Egalitarianism

  • Kinship-Diversity/Uniformity

  • Gender roles

  • Education

  • Customs/Traditions

  • Monumental architecture

Technology, Science and Innovation (including but not limited to)

  • Milieus conducive or resistant to new ideas

  • Adaptation to change

  • Food production, storage and distribution

  • Domestication of animals and plants

  • Shelter

  • Transportation/Navigation

  • Communication

  • Machines

  • Energy

  • Scientific method

  • Writing/Alphabet

  • Time keeping/Calendar

Population Patterns (including but not limited to)

  • Migrations, invasions, explorations

  • Settlement patterns

  • Mobility/Movement

  • Ethnogenesis

  • Nomadism

  • Urban/Suburban/Rural lifestyles

  • Demographic trends

Diffusion (including but not limited to)

  • Cultural

  • Flora and fauna

  • Disease

  • Knowledge

  • Technology

  • Material goods

  • Ideas

  • Language

  • Food

Globalization (including but not limited to)

  • Human webs

  • Connectors and barriers

  • Interdependence

  • Cosmopolitanism

  • Border regions

  • Encounters and exchanges

  • Cultural synthesis

  • International relations

  • Pandemics

  • Balance of power

  • Alliances/Treaties

Appendix D: Topical Outline Years I-IV

NOCCA Integrated World History Outline:

Year One: Ancient Peoples, Civilizations and Empires (Beginnings to 1300CE)

Era One: Beginnings (ca. 13.7 Billion- 200,000BCE)
Era Two: Early Modern Humans (ca. 200,000- 8000BCE)
Era Three: First Agricultural Societies (8000- 1000BCE)
Era Four: Emergence of Complex Civilizations (3000- 300BCE)
Era Five: Classical Civilizations (300BCE- 500CE)
Era Six: Expanding Zones of Encounter (500- 1300)

Year Two: Encounters and Their Consequences (1300- 1700)

First Semester

The Americas (pre-1491)
The Black Death
Medieval Muslim World
Territorial Empires of Asia
Iberian Peninsula
European Renaissance

Second Semester

Africa (pre-1491)
Columbian Exchange
Atlantic World
Early Modern Europe (1500- 1750)
Transformations in Asian Societies during European Expansionism

Year Three: Questions of Freedom and Emerging Global Systems (1700- 1900)

Introduction: Major Historical Trends from 1700 to 1900
Part One: Early Eighteenth- Century Empire in the Americas
Part Two: Eurasian Societies, Global Trade, European Ascendancy and the Enlightenment
Part Three: Age of Atlantic Revolutions
Part Four: Territorial Expansionism
Part Five: Early Industrialization, Markets and Racial Slavery
Part Six: Early Patterns of Democracy, Nationalism and reform
Part Seven: Reactions to Social and Political Changes
Part Eight: Nations and Empires
Part Nine: The Second Industrial Revolution
Part Ten: Freedom, Identity and Early Modernism

Year Four: The Contemporary Period- America in the World (1890s- Present)

Period I: A World in Flux (1890s- 1919)
1. 1890s Review Topics
2. The New Century
3. The Great War
4. The Russian Revolution
5. A Lasting Peace

Period II: New Era, New Deal and a New War (1920- 1945)
1. Modern United States
2. European Recovery and Empire
3. The New Soviet Union
4. Global Depression and Disorder
5. Nationalist Supremacism
6. Latin American Democracy and Authoritarianism
7. Anticolonial Visions
8. The World at War

Period III: The Cold War Era (1945- 1985)
1. Origins of the "Cold War"
2. Superpower Rivalries
3. Postwar European Society and Culture
4. Postwar US Society and Culture
5. Populism and Industrialization in Latin America
6. Decolonization and Rise of Developing Nations

Period IV: Contemporary World Order (1985- Present)
1. Transformations in the 1980s
2. The Globalized World of the 1990s
3. The 21st Century- Problems and Promises

Period V: The Future, Knowing What is Ahead
1. Future Studies


Appendix E: Sample Unit from NOCCA World History Curriculum Framework (Grades 9-12)

New Orleans Center for Creative Arts Academic Studio

Integrated Humanities- World History II (July 2012)

Encounters and their Consequences (1300-1700)

The Columbian Exchange


Key Questions Content Outline Themes/Concepts Resources Activities /Readings

How was the world transformed by the linking of all the major regions through transoceanic travel between 1450 and 1600?

Why did a historical myth develop about a 15th century belief in a flat earth? What purposes did this myth serve?

What were the priorities of each European society for investing in the exploration of the New World?

How did the various regions in the Americas differ?

What types of relationships were established between native peoples in the Americas and European invaders?

Why did more plant and animal species, microorganisms and people flow from Afroeurasia to the Americas than in the opposite direction?

What is the connection between increased deforestation, mining and sugar production?

What is mercantilism and why was it beneficial to Europe at this time?

How did American and European societies change as a result of the Columbian Exchange? How was Asia affected? What would the Americas be like if the Europeans had not arrived in 1492?

Patterns of Change


-Global communication


-World trade

-European wealth


-Land empires of Asia

-Technology & science



-Ptolemy's geography

-Flat earth error

-15th century European societies: spirit of discovery & innovation

-Maritime advances: shipbuilding & navigation

-Goals: gold, glory, God and curiosity

-European explorers:







Regional Characteristics


-North America

-Mexico & Central America

-South America

Early Encounters: Indigenous peoples and Europeans

-Arawak & Spanish

-Aztec & Spanish

-Inca & Spanish

-Algonquin & Dutch

-Wampanoag & English

-Powhatan & English

-Tupi & Portuguese

-Iroquois & French

-Aleut and Russians

Global Exchange







-Gold and silver

-Food, e.g., sweet potato to Ming China, manioc to Africa & rice to America

-Societal and ecological effects

-World trade network


Causes and Effects

-Macro change

-Local/Global interactions


Historical Comprehension

-Multiple perspectives

Historical Analysis

-Analyzing differing interpretations

-Sourcing and dating





Belief Systems


Geography & Interactions with Environment

-Cartography/Map projections

Economic Activity




Historical Comprehension

-Comparing &contrasting

Geography & Interactions

With Environment

-Latitude/Longitude Grid System

-Regional characteristics

Law and Governance

-Domestic and foreign policies

-Imperialism and colonialism

-Empire building

-Oppression and emancipation

-Rulers and ruled


Causes and Effects






-Material goods

-Religious ideas


Population Patterns


-Conflict & Cooperation

-Growth and decline



-Human webs

-Encounters & exchanges




-Formulate questions

-State hypotheses

-Collect/select data

-Develop thesis

-Persuasive writing

-Fernandez-Armesto, The World, 526-527, Chaps. 16-17.

-Diamond, Guns, Germs & Steel.

-McNeill, Human Web, Chap. VI.

-Bickford & Wilton, "Historicizing Christopher Columbus…website

-Columbus, Four Voyages…

-Russell, Inventing…Flat Earth.

-P. Kennedy, Rise and Fall, 16-30.

-"History by Era" website.

-Merriman, History of Modern Europe, Chap. 5.

-Abu-Lughod, Before European Hegemony

Mann, 1493.

Elliott, Empires of Atlantic World.

Bigelow, Rethinking Columbus

Flannery, Eternal Frontier, Chaps. 19-20.

Shryock & Smail, Deep History, Chaps. 8- 9.

Mundy, Mapping New Spain...

Zinn, Peoples History…, Chap. 1.

Elliott, Empires of Atlantic World, 2 (map).

Fagan, First North Americans, 250-257.

Latin American Baroque Music (See Ex Cathedra website.)

Crosby, Columbian Exchange.

Laws, Fifty Plants… Changed…History

Chaline, Fifty Animals… Changed… History

McNeill, Plagues and Peoples, Chap. V.

Map Study: Examine maps available to Columbus. Trace the evolution of the "flat earth error".

Primary Source Analysis: Select writings from Columbus to analyze for content accuracy.

Rameriz, et al, Human Legacy, 70; Sections 1 and 2.

Barber, Map Book, 20-21 and 70f.

Tignor, et al, WTWA, Chap. 12.

Pomeranz, et al, WTWA Reader II, Chap. 12.

Meltzer, Columbus

Establish Study Groups for each European group of explorers. Compare and contrast the different societies and their motivations for overseas explorations.

Rameriz, et al, Human Legacy, 79 (map).

Regional Geography Object Lesson: Use indigenous maps to ascertain world view of Native Americans. See "Relaciones Geograficas" website.

Andrea, Human Record, 397-416

Cowper, History Book,

"Fall of Aztec" 56-57

"Meet Native Amer." 66-7

"Exploring Americas" 58-59

"New World Colonies"76-77

Case Studies: Examine

differences and similarities in the patterns of interaction between American Indians and European invaders. Assess short and long range consequences of encounters.

Pre Exchange Menu

Design menus for restaurants in Afroeurasia and Americas before the exchange of flora &fauna.

Have a banquet of prepared foods and discuss modern diets that have benefitted from the Columbian exchange.

Ramirez, et al, Human Legacy, Section 3.

"Columbian Exchange" website.

Create a Master chart of the exchange of flora, fauna, disease and people. Use this information to design a wall map of the world that illustrates the routes and results of the exchanges. Conduct a research project to ascertain the significance of the Columbian Exchange.


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