Summer Assignment

Overview of the course 

Welcome to AP World History--a college level course offered at Klahowya Secondary School. As of June 2015, you were scheduled in this course for the Fall.  I appreciate your willingness to challenge yourself with this AP class.  Approx. 1/5 of the sophomore class (with a few students from other grades) is registered for AP World History.  Don’t let a summer homework assignment scare you away.  If you stick with it, you will discover that you will become a far greater student than you thought possible!

We begin our studies in 8000 BCE and proceed to the present. As the focus of the course is truly global history, coverage of European history will not exceed 30% of the total materials covered.  The purpose of the course is to develop greater understanding of five specific themes throughout history:


                1. Interaction between humans and the environment

                2. Development and interaction of cultures

                3. State-building, expansion, and conflict

                4. Creation, expansion, and interaction of economic systems

                5. Development and transformation of social structures


Course Commitment

Please understand this course is not an honors class; it is an actual freshman college course and so requires a higher level of individual commitment and accountability as well as intellectual maturity.  You will be expected to analytically read 10-15 pages a night: not casually read, but write margin notes, reflect, and truly comprehend the content. The materials have been prepared for college students, so they take more time to consider. While one of the emphases in the course will be on building college level skills, in order to be successful, you should have strong reading and writing skills upon entering the course as well as a consistent willingness to work hard.



The text we will use is Traditions and Encounters 4th edition by Jerry Bentley et al, published by McGraw-Hill (©2003), ISBN number 978-0-07-333067-9 (sometimes listed as 9780073406930). There are several editions of this text; the one I will be teaching from in class is pictured below. Do not get just half of the book; the first chapter should be entitled “Before History” and the last “A World Without Borders.”   It is possible to get older (2nd or 3rd) editions, but the 4th ed. Is what I will be teaching from.  I would recommend a book which is used (less expensive) & has only a small amount of writing/highlighting in it (you will want to do your own highlighting).  This book will be far cheaper to buy online in June than August.


Some students from the 2014-2015 class might be willing to sell their textbooks to you (contact them directly):  Owen Reeves, Gabe Carter, Cyan McCord, Bethany Lunden, Thu Aung, Katie Mills, Drake Ballou, Nicole Mills, Kevin Lunden, Lili Kealoha (2nd ed)


Book coverI recommend you purchase the book if at all possible:  writing margin notes, underlining, and/or highlighting are important reading tools for comprehension in a college-level text. Students who do not purchase the book this summer may check out a book the first week of school—library has a limited amount of these.

To order this text, type in the ISBN number in one of the following book seller sites:,,,,,,,


Required summer assignment

Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel is a history book of BIG IDEAS.  Large questions and themes guide the author’s narrative.  Since the AP World History course focuses on big ideas, concepts, themes, and trends of world history, this book is an appropriate entry into this way of thinking about history.  The book is available in paperback at major bookstores and on-line, as well at the public library.  I highly recommend purchasing the book so that you are able to interact with it through reflective writing in the margins.


Read the chapters listed in the left column.  Answer the guiding questions in the right column for each chapter.  The questions will help you concentrate on and extrapolate the big ideas of the chapter. 


The following students have GGS books that they are willing to sell (contact them directly):  Owen Reeves, Gabe Carter, Cyan McCord, Bethany Lunden, Thu Aung, Drake Ballou, Nicole Mills, Kevin Lunden, Lili Kealoha, Ursula Hampton



I also have 4 copies that I can loan out to the first 4 students who come to see me before 6/17/15.

Note:  I know the book is large.  Don’t let that scare you off.  Read the questions below first and try to find the answers in the assigned chapter.  It isn’t about reading every word, but rather about getting general ideas.


We will be discussing this book and these questions are due on Friday 9/4/15.  Please read it BEFORE the first day of school.


Prologue: Yali’s Question

What question is Jared Diamond trying to answer?Why is this question important?

What is Diamond’s overall thesis (the answer to the question)?

Chapter 1: Up to the Starting Line

In the year 11,000 BC, could an archaeologist have predicted which human societies would develop guns, germs, and steel?Explain.

Chapter 2: A Natural Experiment of History

How are thePolynesianIslands“an experiment of history”?


Chapter 4: Farmer Power


How does Diamond challenge traditional assumptions about the transition from hunting-gathering to farming?

Chapter 6: To Farm or Not to Farm


What advantages did theFertile Crescentpossess that caused it to become the earliest site of the development of farming?


Chapter 9: Zebras, Unhappy Marriages, and the Anna Karenina Principle


What is the importance of the Anna Karenina principle to Diamond’s overall thesis?


Chapter 10: Spacious Skies and Titled Axes


According to Diamond, what effect did the orientation of the continents’ axes have on the spread of crops, livestock, and inventions?

Chapter 11: Lethal Gift or Livestock

How does civilization lead to epidemics?


Chapter 12: Blueprints and Borrowed Letters


Why did only some peoples not others develop writing?How many separate times did writing evolve in human history, under what circumstances, and for what uses?

Chapter 13: Necessity’s Mother


How does Diamond attempt to debunk the common view that necessity is the mother of invention?

Epilogue: The Future of Human History as Science


How does Diamond explain the fact that it was Europe and notSouthwest Asia, where agriculture and civilization originated, that ended up spreading its culture to the rest of the world?And how didChinalose its lead?


Overall:To what extent is Diamond successful in supporting his thesis?What particular chapters or components of his argument stronger than the others?What chapters or components of his argument are particularly problematic or weaker than the others?WHY?


*Some questions from W.W. Norton & Company Reading Group Guide,

**this assignment was adapted from Assignment.09-10.Revised.doc, Ms. Benson


Recommended viewing—Extra Credit 

Watch one movie from each time section—see list on my webpage—you choose which ones you want to watch.

After watching the movies, write a summary for each movie (A TOTAL OF FIVE SUMMARIES!!). Use the summary description below to guide your writingThis EXTRA CREDIT Assignment will be due on Friday 9/4/15.  Note that extra credit is RARE for AP classes, so you are encouraged to take the opportunity.  Summary: 150-200 words each, typed, should include:

                        *a brief description of the historical event or person    *the dates of the event or person

                        *where the event took place or the person lived           * the major lesson to be learned from that event or person

                        *What connection can be made between the past and the present? * How did you like the film and did it sparked any  interest.


HINT: If you have friends, you all can watch the SAME movie BUT YOU HAVE TO TURN IN SEPARATE SUMMARIES. Watch the movie together and have a  discussion on it, so you understand it better!! ☺


For this Extra Credit, see my webpage.


To contact me:


Mr. Kreifels

[email protected]     --  I will be checking this school email periodically over the summer.



AP World History


Before you take this class consider the following and return this page with the appropriate signatures to Mr. Kreifels (room 117) on or before June 17th. 


You should take this class if:

·         You want to challenge yourself.

·         You like history.

·         You are able to read a textbook and learn from it on your own.

·         You want to earn college credit.

·         You want to have fun and work hard, gaining the satisfaction from a commitment to excellence.

·         You want to be prepared for the rigor of college classes.

·         You attend school almost every day.


You should not take this class if:

·         You do the bare minimum to get by.

·         You don’t like to read or reading is difficult for you.

·         The only reason you want to be in it is your best friend is in it.

·         You are not self-motivated.

·         You can’t commit to working hard at school all year.

·         You get test anxiety.

·         You have a bad attendance record



1.      It is expected the AP student will commit to at least one hour per day of homework, reading, and/or study during non-school hours per AP course.

2.      It is expected the AP student will remain in the AP course all year and will take the AP exam in May.

3.      Like similar college level courses, if you miss a day of an AP class, it is like missing multiple days in another course.

4.      It is expected the AP student will not cheat or plagiarize on ANY work.


In order to have a realistic understanding of the workload I will encounter in AP courses, I have had a conversation about my work habits and academic goals with my parents.



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