This volume of lesson plans covers a large spectrum of world history. Our goal is to provide middle school history teachers with lessons that incorporate economics into a variety of world history topics. We began the project by surveying the coverage of world history in middle schools across the country. Naturally, we found wide variance in what was covered and when. However, most middle school courses focus on the earlier parts of world history—generally from the beginning of human history through the Roman Empire and sometimes quite a bit further. The rest of world history is then saved for high school. We decided to do lessons from the beginning of human history to 1776, which is the latest any middle school seemed to go. We also think that Adam Smith is an appropriate endpoint for the volume.
While the lessons are geared for the middle school, many can be easily used at a high school level. The lessons generally include an activity that engages the students. We also use original documents in a couple of lessons to give the student a feel for history as it was originally written. Finally, each lesson includes a "Connections" section. The intent of the section is to connect the lesson to other concepts or to other points in time. How the connection is accomplished varies by lesson—some include ideas of how concepts apply to other times, some include small lessons or references to websites. The Connections section should help teachers relate the economic concepts in the lesson to other historic ideas.
The process for writing this book used a team approach. As a group, the authors decided on the topics and economic concepts to be covered in each lesson. Each author was given a set of lessons to write. After each lesson was written, other members of the team reviewed it—including our economic historian and the project director. The lesson was revised and sent for field testing by teachers in the classroom. Based on the teachers' comments, the lessons were revised and finalized.