Course Syllabus




Dr. Cacace

Wellesley High School

Room 410

Voicemail: 781-446-6290 ext. 4410




This course surveys key periods in United States history from the founding to the present.  The course is taught thematically instead of chronologically.  It begins with an introductory mini-unit on the Founding Period that considers the revolutionary character of the American revolution.  With the historical, philosophical, and social background of the course established, we will then move into the thematic core of our studies.  In particular, we will study four themes:   


  • Striving for Balance Between Democracy and Authority
    • How effectively has the government maintained its authority while protecting the rights of individuals and of states?


  • American Foreign Policy
    • What have been the paths, costs, and motives toward becoming a superpower?


  • Struggle for Equality
    • Through what mechanisms have marginalized groups gained greater equality in both law and in practice?


  • An Economic History of the United States
    • How has the American government grown and contracted over time in its intervention in our economic lives?


We will study each theme independently, tracing it from the founding to the present.  This means that we will cycle through American history four distinct times, each with a different perspective and focus. 


A thematic approach to the study of history is advantageous because it allows students to:

  • Evaluate and analyze how key issues in American history transcend time and space
  • Engage meaningfully with material, as we study it from a range of perspectives that resonate in different ways with different students
  • Learn equally about all eras of United States history without rushing to get to “the end”
  • Understand how various aspects of American history cohere to form a narrative of the American experience



  • To approach history critically and analytically
  • To analyze and evaluate competing sources of historical information from multiple perspectives
  • To describe history through the experiences of those who lived it in order to gain historical empathy and imagination 
  • To develop a clear sense of historical time in order to explain patterns of historical continuity and change
  • To formulate and evaluate original and insightful arguments using primary sources, secondary sources, and historical data
  • To develop and deepen critical thinking, reading, speaking, and writing skills at an advanced level




Grades will be determined using a total point system.  Each quarter, your grade will be calculated by dividing the total points earned on each assignment by the total points offered for each assignment.


Grades are issued in accordance with the Wellesley High School Policy:

A+       97-100                B+        87-89                C+        77-79                D+       67-69                F  0-59 

A           93-96               B          83-86                C          73-76                D         63-66

A-          90-92               B-         80-82                C-         70-72                D-        60-62



Please familiarize yourself with the accompanying Canvas page for our course.  On this page you will find copies of handouts, class lessons, course readings, and assignments.  It will be a touchstone for all of the information you will need complete this course successfully.    



This course will be exciting, rewarding, and memorable.  I know you will all succeed, learn, and have fun.  However, to make this possible all of us must follow certain behavioral expectations. 


  • Be positive! Embrace others’ opinions and share your thoughts and feelings!
  • Be curious! Ask questions, grapple with difficult issues, change your opinions, seek a greater understanding!
  • Be prepared! Bring needed materials to class every day.  Be in your seat and ready to work when the bell rings!
  • Be respectful to everyone and everything!



The following policies are in place to maximize your opportunity to learn and to ensure that the class runs effectively and efficiently.  



  • All assignments are due at the beginning of class.
  • Assignments are to be completed at home.  If you are found to be working on assignments during class time you will receive a zero on that assignment. 
  • No assignments will be accepted via email!
  • Late assignments will be accepted, but will be subject to a late penalty.
  • No assignment may be rewritten.



  • Please complete all assignments on either 2-sided or “scrap” paper when possible.



  • I am available for extra help before, during, and after school.
  • I am more than happy to meet with students for any reason, please come by!





Course Summary:

Date Details