Course Syllabus

Honors U.S. History

Course Syllabus


Ms. Despo                                                                                                       Fall 2019                                                                                Rm. 321



Course Description:

This course will explore the history of the United States through four major themes that include striving for balance between democracy and authority, the struggle for human equality, economic history and U.S. foreign policy. We will also explore the Constitution at the beginning of the year to provide a foundation for better understanding the principles that guide the U.S.


  • 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?



Grading Guidelines:

The following should be considered a general set of guidelines.


Class Participation:

Your participation in class is critical to the success of this course. Participation, however, goes beyond answering questions in class. It may also entail: your performance in group work; the enrichment of classroom discussion through the contribution of thoughtful perspectives and ideas; listening to and treating your classmates with respect; preparedness; and, of course, attendance.



Assessments: Tests, Essays and Projects:

Written assignments will compose and integral portion of your grade in this class. Expect a research paper or project to be assigned at least once each quarter. Tests will be given as unit assessments and will include all material covered in class as well as additional reading assignments, primary documents, videos, student presentations, handouts and lectures.



Classroom discussions are emphasized in this course and will occur regularly throughout the year in various formats and designs. These discussions present important opportunities for you to articulate what you have learned in the course, present new information to your peers and present your own perspective and analysis on a topic.


Class Expectations:


  • At home assignments are designed to extend learning from the classroom and are essential to the discussion and lesson in class during the next meeting, it is very important to complete assignments on time. The only exceptions will be excused absences and those outlined in the Student Handbook. Be prepared for class by having your homework and other assignments completed on time and at the beginning of class. Unpreparedness detracts from the class and may also have a negative impact on your grade since it will make you unable to fully participate in that day’s lesson.


  • I do not impose orthodoxy of opinion. In fact, legitimate and thoughtful debate on issues raised by the course material is both welcome and encouraged. However, I do expect that you will treat everyone with courtesy and respect.


  • Your attendance is essential to being successful in this class. I expect you to be in the room and prepared when the bell rings. If you are late and do not have a pass you will be given an unexcused tardy. If you miss class it is your responsibility to contact a classmate or myself to obtain any notes, assignments or handouts. I also abide by the attendance policy described in the Student Handbook.



  • If a paper is turned in late, I will deduct ten percent (one whole letter grade) from the final grade for each day that it is late. I will accept certain major assignments up to four days late including any school days on which the class does not meet. For example, if a 100 point paper is due on Monday and the student turns it in on Friday they will have 40 points deducted from their final grade. Any assignment that is not turned in when due, as the result of an unexcused absence will not be accepted. Please review the Student Handbook for further details on make up work.


  • Although grades will be posted using the online platform on a regular basis, final term calculations will be determined at the close of the quarter. The online site is best used to keep track of assignment completion and test grades and not as an indication of your quarterly performance.


  • I am available for extra help in the mornings and after school. Appointments may also be made at mutually convenient times. However, I do not stand on formality. Please feel free to meet with me whenever you need help, clarification on an assignment or simply want to talk. My door is always open for students!Part of my role as your teacher is to give you support at any point. I welcome visitors!



 Come see me! Here is where to find me 

 My Schedule: 





Course Summary:

Date Details Due