Course Syllabus






Dr. Cacace

Wellesley High School

Room 410





This course surveys key periods in United States history from the founding to the present.  The course is taught thematically instead of chronologically, and is organized into the following units:  


  • Introduction: The Founding Period
    • What philosophical, social, and economic ideals were established for the nation in the founding period?


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


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


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


  • Theme Four: 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



This course will use a standards based grading system. 


  • A standards based grading system is one in which students’ performance is evaluated across a series of core competencies.
  • This course will evaluate your performance on the following four standards:
    • Explain: Can you accurately explain the facts of history?
    • Synthesize: Can you make meaning about, and connections across, history?
    • Reflect: Do you understand yourself as a learner?
    • Approach: Do you demonstrate appropriate student skills and behaviors?
  • For each assignment, you will be evaluated using a rubric listing relevant standards.
    • You will receive a “models,” “meets,” “approaches,” or “in progress” on each standard measured on that assignment
  • Because WHS will still be reporting quarter and year-end grades using an A-F scale, your evaluations will be indexed to a final letter grade. 




  • Late Work Policy
    • All work completed at home will have a three day due date window
    • There will be no extensions
    • If work comes in late, there will be a series of interventions taken to address the underlying reasons why work is not completed on time
      • 1st Incident: Free Pass
      • 2nd Incident: Work plan with my signature
      • 3rd Incident: Meeting with me and your parents to discuss strategies for improving your time management


  • Resubmission Policy
    • You will be permitted to resubmit some work that is not yet meeting standards
    • You will have ONE cycle from the date the work was passed back
    • You MUST meet with me during the resubmit process


  • Missing Work Policy
    • All missing work will be given an incomplete until it is submitted in full
    • Any incompletes may result in an incomplete for the quarter



  • Our Canvas page will be absolutely essential to our course this year
  • On Canvas you will find topic schedules, archived copies of class lectures, handouts and readings, and you will be able to access and submit assignments



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, and seek a greater understanding!
  • Be prepared!  Bring your laptop, binder/notebook, pen/pencil, and your assignment book to class every day.  Be in your seat and ready to work when the bell rings!
  • Be respectful to everyone and everything! 



  • I am more than happy to connect with you for extra help or enrichment!
  • Think of me more like your coach!
  • Please email me to set up a time to talk or connect!



Course Summary:

Date Details Due