Teaching world history: from StudentsFriend.com

Study Guides

These study guides correspond to the twelve units (Parts 1 and 2) of the Student's Friend concise alternative textbook available free on this website.  Usage notes are included at the bottom of this page.

Study Guides for Student's Friend Part 1

Prehistory to 1500

Unit 1: Overview and Prehistory: pdf file, MS Word file (can be modified)

Unit 2: Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt: pdf file, MS Word file

Unit 3: Ancient India and China: pdf file, MS Word file

Unit 4: Ancient Greece and Rome: pdf file, MS Word file

Unit 5: The Early Middle Ages: pdf file, MS Word file

Unit 6: The Late Middle Ages: pdf file, MS Word file

Study Guides for Student's Friend Part 2

1500 to Present

Unit 7: the 1500s and 1600s: The Early Modern World

          pdf file, MS Word file (can be modified)

Unit 8: the 1700s: Enlightenment and Revolution: pdf file, MS Word file

Unit 9: the 1800s: Industrialism and Imperialism: pdf file, MS Word file

Unit 10: 1900 to 1950: World at War: pdf file, MS Word file

Unit 11: 1950 to Present: Cold War and Space Age: pdf file, MS Word file

Unit 12: Current Issues: A Changing World Order: pdf file, MS Word file

Usage Notes

Each unit's study guide provides an introduction to the historical content to be covered during the unit, related map locations, and questions—many of them open ended—meant to stimulate thought and discussion. Study guides are available in Microsoft Word and pdf formats. (Map locations are identified in the online view of each unit, available here.)

Basic writing guidelines for students

These three guidelines are compatible with the Student's Friend Study Guides:

1) When you are asked to state your own opinion in this class, remember, opinions don’t count unless they are backed by historical evidence.

2) Any time you are asked to describe or explain a historical concept or event in history class, a good answer would include "What is it?" (definition) and "Why is it important?" (historical significance).

3) When asked to answer a question, state your answer in such a way that it is clear to the reader what the question was. (Some teachers put it this way: "Restate the question in your answer.")


Most of these study guides ask students to be familiar with a timeline of major historical events from the Big Bang through the current unit of study. A sampling of such major events can be found on the "4 Eras Timeline" available here.

Essential Questions:

These study guides emphasize a scheme of eight "essential questions" that overlay the entire course of study from Unit 1 through Unit 12. These are the kind of big, over-arching questions advocated by the Understanding by Design curriculum model.

Listed beneath each essential question in the study guides are one or more sub-questions, or topical questions, relating to specific content from the unit under study. These topical questions can serve to illuminate the larger essential question. Topical questions may be used as discussion starters at the beginning of a class session to preview an upcoming concept or to reinforce an earlier lesson, and they may show up later as essay-type questions on the unit exam.

Essential questions could be used to form the basis for a final exam at the conclusion of the course. Students might be asked to state a thesis relating to an essential question and support if with evidence from history.

Following are the eight essential questions featured in these study guides. The first four focus on fundamental aspects of human experience, and the second four deal with major forces of history.

- What is human nature?
- Can we know the truth?
- What makes a good society?
- When is war justified?

- How does geography make history?
- How does trade make history?
- How does technology make history?
- How does human choice make history?

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© 2001-2016 Michael G. Maxwell, Maxwell Learning LLC