Course Syllabus

U.S. History

Course Syllabus



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 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.


Grading Guidelines:

The following should be considered a general set of guidelines.


Class Participation: 10%

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: 55%

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.

Homework: 5%

Homework will be checked on the day it is due. Homework assignments may be collected and graded or I may just ensure that it is complete at the beginning of class. 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. 

In-class Assignments, Discussions and Formative Assessments: 30%

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. In-class assignments, in turn, may include cooperative, individual or group work. Formative assessments include grades assigned to checkpoints throughout the process of completing assignments.

Class Expectations:

  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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!


Writing and Research:

Writing is a central component to the work we do in the Social Studies Department.  This year you will have multiple experiences producing essays, both analytical and narrative. Below is a preview of the types of assignments you will complete.

  • 2 analytical assignments
    • 1 Historiographical essay
    • 1 Analytical essay/project
  • 1 narrative or summative


U.S. History Curriculum


Essential Questions:

Throughout this year we will continually turn to the following essential questions and try to formulate thoughtful and analytical answers based on the knowledge gained through our various units of study:



Essential Questions for the Year:

  • What is the relationship between the national government, state governments and individuals?
  • To what extent did US foreign policy decisions further national security?
  • What forces have made the United States legally and socially more inclusive?
  • What has created economic opportunity? Is there economic opportunity for all?



Thematic Essential Questions:

Unit 1: The Constitution

This unit addresses the framework of the Constitution.

  • In what ways does the Constitution limit the power of the government to make change?
  • What are the characteristics of the U.S. government set forth by the Constitution? How do these processes work?


Unit 2: Striving for balance between Democracy and Authority

This unit examines the increasing power of the federal government and the rights of the people in the U.S. This theme will explore how the power of the federal government fluctuates at various time depending on circumstances, including the cultural and political climate.

  • How has the relationship between the national and state government evolved over time?


Unit 3: U.S. Foreign Policy

This unit examines the motives and methods of United States involvement in foreign affairs.

  • Assess the costs and benefits of American foreign policy on the rest of the world.
  • To what extent has the motivating factors of American foreign policy (i.e, isolationism, ideology and practical interests) sacrificed American ideals?


Unit 4: The Struggle for Equality

This unit explores how different groups throughout history have experienced movement on the spectrum of full equality and being part of a rigid social/political/economic structure.

  • Through what mechanisms have marginalized groups gained greater de jure (legal) and de facto (practical) equality?



Course Summary:

Date Details