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AP US History Syllabus (DOC)


									                           AP U.S. History Syllabus
                                 Belleville High School
                                 Block 1 (8:00 – 9:33)
                                       Fall 2004

American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible
than anything anyone has ever said about it.
                                                                    -James Baldwin

It is good to remember Baldwin’s statement as we begin our semester together in
Advanced Placement United States History (also known as APUSH). We will never
reach a complete understanding of American History in only one year or even one
lifetime. However, we should be able to develop the basic understanding and skills
necessary to prepare students for a college history class, as well as for a lifelong
exploration of history in all its exciting permutations.

The objective of this course is to increase the student’s understanding of United States
history with the goal of having each student pass the AP examination. Areas of
concentration will include historical, political and economic history. We will also take a
close cultural look at America during respective historical eras. These areas will be
studied from a variety of perspectives with the student gaining a balanced view of United
States history.

This course is taught at the college level. The main difference between this course and
a regular United States history course in high school is the amount of reading and the
depth of focus. Students will be required to frequently analyze, synthesize, and evaluate
primary and secondary resources.

Mr. Chad K. Hodgson
Room 489
424-1902 xt. 489
Course Objectives
It is also my belief (as the teacher responsible for this class) that some other goals are
worthy additions.
      Argue respectfully, competently and persuasively about historical dilemmas
      Improve your reading, writing, thinking, and discussion skills.
      Produce writing of a level acceptable in a collegiate environment
      Use historical data to support an argument or position
      Interpret and apply data from original documents, including cartoons, graphs,
         letters, etc.
      Effectively use analytical skills of evaluation, cause and effect, compare and
      Develop the skills necessary to be a competent historian and an exemplary citizen
      Evaluate evidence for bias, accuracy, and significance
      Appreciate the impact of the past upon the present
      Master a broad body of historical knowledge
      Demonstrate an understanding of historical chronology
      View U.S. history critically from multiple ideological, political, and personal
      Value the benefits of undertaking challenging tasks, even if the results are
      Earn up to 6 hours of college credit for “free”
      This course is the best preparation of succeeding in college.
      Successful completion will help you get accepted into the more prestigious

I am committed to supporting students in a difficult endeavor with the belief that
successful completion of an AP course is a triumph in itself. I do not judge success based
on the exam scores at the end of the year (although higher scores are certainly

This does not mean, however, that AP US is for everyone. You are in this course by
choice. This is a rigorous, accelerated, demanding course. This is a college course, taken
at the high school level. In fact, you will be taking 28 weeks worth of college
coursework in an 18-week period. As you can see from the course pacing guide (see
attached), this course will speed along quickly. Attendance in class is crucial to success.
Experience has shown in the past that students who frequently miss class will struggle
with the coursework. Advanced preparation for absences (when possible) is highly
Nuts & Bolts of the Course
 This course will explore the history of the United States from the arrival of Columbus
until the 1980’s. Equal weight will not be given to all periods of our nation’s past, but all
the major ones will be covered sufficiently. The time period of 1776-1919 will be
covered more in depth due to the emphasis on the AP Exam. In addition it will reference
current events that are linked to the history we will be studying.

Our primary resource will be American History: A Survey, a college level text used by
respected historians and that is a popular book used in high school AP U.S. history
courses. It is 951 pages long and students can expect to read about 90% of it over the
course of the semester. In addition, we will be reading numerous works that analyze U.S.
history from various perspectives. These will include, but are not limited to,

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
A History of the American People by Paul Johnson
Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen

We will also study an extensive body of primary source documents written by major (and
many not so major) figures in U.S. history. Doing the readings and coming prepared to
discuss them in class each day is essential and non-negotiable for students in this class. If
we can’t attempt to intelligently discuss history every day, then why are we here?

Students can expect to spend at least 60 – 120 minutes, depending on skills and abilities,
on their homework for each class. In addition to the readings, students will be expected to
write essays on historical topics and write papers constructing an argument based on
historical documents (a document-based question, or DBQ). Essays and DBQ’s will be
assigned almost every three weeks and should average at least two typed pages. Quizzes
and tests will also be given. It is my belief as an instructor to assess often to catch any
misconceptions or errors in the instruction process quickly, so changes can be made
immediately. Finally, all students will be expected to participate fully in class
discussions and adding to the life of the class, which includes group work and learning
from your peers. As the AP exam approaches a series of optional review classes will be
offered after school and on weekends. Students are strongly encouraged, but not required,
to attend. Past experience has proven them to be extremely helpful.
A 3-ring binder (4-5”) with following dividers:
    Syllabus and guidelines
    Notes
    Handouts, and homework assignments (loose-leaf paper)
    Primary Resource Readings
    Returned tests/quizzes and other key assignments, and writing assignments
Loose Leaf Notebook Paper
1 Folder
Comfortable Writing Utensil
A collegiate dictionary (to be kept at home).
AP Success – U.S. History by Peterson’s (Study Guide)

Course Requirements

Homework is used to supplement and enhance regular classroom activities. As it unites
the environment of school and home, it emphasizes the importance of education.

1. The most important homework in AP History is the reading assignments! Students
will be expected to read 10-20+ pages per class period. Success in this course is based on
a sound knowledge of the material and the ability to analyze and evaluate that material.
Classroom instruction will focus on understanding, analyzing, and evaluating AP History.
Students are expected to come to class "prepared" to discuss assigned topics. Prepared
means they have read and taken notes on the topics to be discussed.

2. Each student will keep daily reading and class notes on loose-leaf college ruled paper
in his or her class binder, which will be a valuable tool to be used in preparing for tests,
essays, and the AP Examinations.

3. All homework must be turned in at the beginning of class after the attendance is taken.
Any assignment turned in after the teacher has completed the attendance is LATE (see
late work policy below).

4. Discussion Questions (DQs): Discussion questions are meant to direct students to the
major themes of the units of study. Each unit’s discussion questions will be scored 20 –
40 points (depending on the length of the unit. Discussion questions will provide a focus
for the following days introduction and as a link between “old” material and “new”
material. At least half of each class period will be class discussion. Students will be given
one or more questions that they are to prepare to discuss. They need to read and take
notes over the topics. Students will be expected to think critically, express points of view,
and to support their viewpoint with factual evidence.
Study Techniques
The reading load, especially in the first 7 – 10 weeks, is considerable. In order to cover
the maximum amount of material with the least amount of stress, sharing, not copying, is
definitely encouraged. While each student is expected to read all text material, outlining
discussion questions and supplemental readings may be shared with your group. You are
responsible for understanding all of the material for testing. The amount of time required
for homework for this class will vary with your reading speed. Assignments vary in
length. Watch your daily assignment sheet and plan ahead for long assignments,
supplemental readings, take-home essays, etc. Time management is an essential skill for
this class, and you must take the responsibility for budgeting your time. As you become
accustomed to the course format and texts, things will fall into place and become easier.
It is important to not get discouraged.

Make-up Assignments
1. The responsibility for make-up work lies with the student. If your absence from class is
excused, you have two class periods to complete all make-up work for each day that you
miss. It is your responsibility to schedule the make-up time for all test and quizzes within
the two-day timeframe.

2. If you are tardy to school or have an early dismissal that results in missing this class,
you should pick up your work on that day. You should also turn in any assignments due
that day.

3. All assignments turned in after the roll is complete are late. All written assignments
must be in blue or black ink and on loose-leaf college rule notebook paper. Name, period
and the date must be placed in the upper right hand corner of the first page. Your name
must be in the upper right hand corner of each additional page. Paper with frayed or torn
edges (i.e. from a spiral notebook) will not be accepted.

4. NO LATE WORK WILL BE ACCEPTED!! All work will be completed and turned
in as directed by the teacher. (Except in cases of illness, in accordance with the
attendance policy, family emergencies, etc.)

5. If you are absent from a class you will be held responsible for any and all lecture notes
you might have missed. It is up to you to obtain the missed material from one of your
fellow classmates.

6. There will be no extra credit assignments given. When students do the required work
on a daily basis there is no need for any type of extra credit activity.

7. Outside activities (Debate, sports, work, etc.) are not an excuse for the failure of a
student to complete class assignments. If you are having a difficult time completing
assignments please discuss this problem with the teacher before it adversely affects your
Much of this course cannot be duplicated outside of regular class time. Consequently,
daily attendance, promptness, preparedness, and readiness to learn are necessities.
Attendance is extremely important. A student should not be absent from class unless
absolutely necessary. Excessive absences are a common cause for student failure. You
cannot succeed at something if you are never there. A student should miss no more than 5
days out of the entire semester.

Behavior Expectations:
Appropriate, reasonable behavior is expected in class at all times. I ask students THINK,
RESPECT, DO. Behavior that interferes with others rights is not acceptable. I expect
students to behave in a mature manner in the classroom. Because of the amount of time
needed to give students quality instruction in the classroom, I will not deal with behavior
problems. If you are continuously misbehaving you will be asked to leave permanently.

Usually will have a quiz or test at least once each week. These are very important. A
student cannot pass the class without demonstrating knowledge and understanding of the
subject in tests, quizzes or other equivalent assessments. If a student has difficulty in
testing situations, alternative assessments can be arranged after conferencing with

The AP Exam
All students in this class are expected to take the AP examination for U.S. History on
Friday, May 12, 2006 from 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM. This would be a very bad to day to
schedule other commitments (other than a local celebratory feast in the evening). The AP
exam in 2004 cost $82 but students with demonstrated financial need can have that
reduced to less than $50. However, when compared with the cost of a college course
(often upwards of $300 per class), this is still a bargain. If you have questions, please see
me for further information.

The AP exam itself is three hours and ten minutes long and has both a multiple choice
and an essay section. The multiple-choice section has 80 questions and accounts for 50
percent of the final score.

The essay portion consists of a required DBQ and a section in which students write two
essays that they choose from groups of questions. The DBQ and the essays account for 50
percent of the composite score.

The final score is on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest and 3 being the minimum
necessary to be awarded college credit by most universities.

While the primary focus of the class is on learning history and developing skills, the AP
exam in May is still a concern and this course aims to prepare students to perform
competently on the test. Students and parents should not see the exam as the sole
barometer of accomplishment or success. The school and I certainly do not.
Learning Differences and Accommodations
 It is extremely important that all students who have learning differences or IEP’s identify
themselves to me early in the semester. I am committed to making this course as
accessible as possible for all students and will happily alter assignments and the course to
accommodate the needs of every student. I will do my best to accommodate the needs of
all students but it will not remove the college-level nature of this class. Please let me
know how I can make this course work for you.
                        STATEMENT OF UNDERSTANDING
                               AP US HISTORY


I have read the above syllabus and understand the expectations for my child in AP US
History. I agree to support my child by making it possible for him/her to meet the
expectations of the course. I also understand that my child is expected to take the AP
Exam on May 12, 2006 and that I am responsible for providing the cost of the AP exam
no later than March 30th for the May 12th exam.

Parent/Guardian Signature                                   Date


I have read the above syllabus and understand the expectations of AP US History. I
promise to work hard to the best of my ability and to seek help when I need it. I promise
to prepare for and take the AP exam on May 12, 2006. I also promise to contribute to the
life of the class and have fun along the way.

Student Signature

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