American history course syllabus mr. Quinn

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E-mail: Free Period/Office Hours: 12:00 p.m.-12:45 p.m.

“Nor for the past alone but meanings to the future”

---Walt Whitman

TEXTBOOKS: Honors/Regular - David Kennedy & Lisabeth Cohen, The American Pageant, 13th edition, 2006 -- state issue book

Assorted handouts & articles

COURSE DESCRIPTION: The class is based on a survey of American history from Columbian times to the present. Students will be expected to identify key moments in American history and master a number of different historical issues central to the American experience. The class follows a chronological course through American history. The textbook and reading materials are chosen to correspond to this premise and are written at a level of comprehension of a high school sophomore. The major thematic components of the course focus on the social, cultural, political, economic, artistic, and diplomatic history of the United States. The honors class will be required to complete more reading in these areas than the college prep classes. Most often, the classroom focus will be on discussion and developing analytical and comparative skills. The belief is that intelligent, informed conversation is a great means of learning. The class emphasizes the study of history as a living story and a dynamic process. The most important goal of the course is to prepare the students for success in a collegiate history classroom.

  • Learn the fundamentals of inquiry learning

  • Master the historical method employed by professional historians

  • Develop a meaningful understanding of the ideas of democracy & freedom

  • Confront & explore the nature and historical meaning of racism and prejudice

  • Understand and explore the American tradition of protest and citizen action

  • Trace and explore the origins of big government and the welfare state

  • Evaluate America’s rapidly changing role as a global superpower

  • Become more aware of America’s marginalized & disenfranchised groups including women, immigrants, and racial minorities

  • Develop a thorough understanding and application of constitutional principles

INSTRUCTIONAL METHODS: The course will employ a varied approach including seminar discussion, some lecture, small group work, video, role-playing, handout readings, and internet research. Reading assignments will always accompany the class theme or big question for the day.

STUDENT EXPECTATIONS: The successful student must

  • Read all assignments in a timely fashion and be prepared for class discussion

  • Keep two notebooks---one for class and one in a binder for homework

  • Take daily notes in an organized, detailed way

  • Complete occasional short (two-three page maximum) essays on pertinent topics

  • Master periodic objective multiple choice tests always with an opportunity to correct mistakes in small group exercises

  • Evaluate his/her individual performance on a quarterly basis in consultation with the teacher and parents according to a fixed set of criteria

  • Complete an historically based primary research project in the second semester

GRADING/EVALUATION: The student will be evaluated on their demonstrated mastery of the daily reading assignments, their level of interest and participation in class discussion, their consistent performance on their homework assignments, their written essay work, and their ability to master the questions on objective tests and quizzes. Late work will not be accepted unless the student has explicit approval from the instructor. The class will follow the 90-80-70-60 grading scale and the grade earned is final at semester’s end.
FURTHER ASSISTANCE: The teacher is available to any student or parent after school with a predetermined appointment. If further help is necessary, the “write place” and Friar Mentors offer excellent opportunities for tutoring and help. The best way to reach the instructor is by email at My extension is 128 on the school voice mail. Additionally the instructor will utilize Edline and Schoology to keep parents and students aware of work completed and work expected.
1. Our Documents ---

2. National Archives --- http//

3. The Avalon Project at Yale:


4. Library of Congress American Memory Collection:


5. America’s Story: http//

6. Teaching American


  1. Foner and Garrity, The Reader’s Companion to American History,(New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1226 pages, 1991, 1994

  2. Richard D. Heffner, A Documentary History of the United States, Signet, 2002

  3. Diane Ravitch, ed., The American Reader: Words that moved a Nation, HarperCollins, 2nd edition, 2000.

  4. Paul Boyer,, The Oxford Companion to United States History. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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