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Syllabus

Term: 2014-2015 School Year



Course: U.S. History


Mr. Cook
jcook@waynecountryday.com


Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns about work for the course. My
objective is to see the entire class succeed. This course will be heavy in reading and writing in
order to develop your critical thinking skills, and I do not want you to be afraid to ask questions
if you are struggling. As Abraham Lincoln wrote, Your own will to succeed is more important
than any other one thing. I am here to help you and guide you in your quest for knowledge, so I
urge you to take pride in your work and put forth the effort necessary for success. Knowledge of
history will assist you in becoming productive and informed citizens in our modern world, so
take advantage of the opportunities this course offers for exploration.


The happiness of America is intimately tied to the happiness of all humanity. Marquis de
Lafayette


Course Objectives:

Students will
develop an appreciation for the study of U.S. history
master a broad body of historical knowledge
gain an understanding of the significant people, issues, ideas, and events of U.S. history
demonstrate an understanding of historical chronology, including the interconnection of
events
improve reading, writing, and research skills
improve critical thinking skills
use historical facts to support arguments and positions
analyze, interpret, evaluate, and apply data from original documents including cartoons,
graphs, letters, and pictures

Grading Breakdown:

Tests and Quizzes 30% Participation (including homework): 20% Projects/Papers 40%
Journal 10%


Conduct expectations:

Students will show respect for each other and for the school at all times.
Debate and discussion will be conducted courteously and with respect for the opinions of
others. History coursework helps to develop the ideologies of students, and demonstrates
the value of differing opinions. Differing opinions based in fact all have value, and they
will be treated accordingly.
Students will approach the subject with a positive attitude and use appropriate language.
Students will ask questions
Students will bring all necessary materials to class.
Students will complete all assignments on schedule. Extensions may be granted in
extraordinary circumstances (I understand that things come up in life), but must be
approved by the teacher ahead of time.
Students will use their creativity and imagination in completing assignments. Passion for
your work is the surest guarantee for success.
Students will actively participate in class discussions.
Students will refrain from wearing hats in the classroom.
Students will not use cell phones or other electronic devices during class.


Coursework overview:

1. Homework: There will be a significant amount of reading for homework. This is
unavoidable in order to get through as much of U.S. History as possible in the amount of
time available to us. This will also serve to prepare you for future coursework in college,
where history courses can sometimes require reading a full book plus journal articles
each week for each course (Do not worry! We will never come close to that amount of
required reading). Frequently, there will be questions to answer in order to demonstrate
your comprehension of the reading. I encourage you to complete these questions on your
own, because the material from the questions will appear again in quizzes and tests.
2. Papers: Students will be expected to write three short papers during the course of the
year. One will focus on an issue from the colonization of America through the creation of
the republic; one will focus on an issue related to the Civil War era (this can include the
Mexican War through the Reconstruction period); one will focus on an issue related to
Americas place in the world since the Spanish-American War of 1898. I encourage
students to think early about topics that may be of interest to you. I want these papers to
excite your own interests in the past. Topics will need to be selected in consultation with
me, but I will be fairly open-minded in terms of selection. These assignments are meant
to introduce students to research methods and to the development of arguments based on
historical facts. If you care about the subject you are writing about, you will perform
better on the assignment. The general requirement is that topics must be national in
nature. I will be happy to provide any resources I can to help accommodate your topic
interests.
3. Quizzes: Quizzes will pop up every week or two as a quick assessment of your
comprehension of the material. You are expected to complete the assigned reading so that
class time can be devoted to discussion.
4. Journal: Every two weeks you will be expected to submit a brief (1-2 pages) reflection on
lessons we have covered. This can be an explanation of something that struck you as
interesting or amusing; it can be you delving more deeply into a subject if you so desire;
it can discuss things that you are still curious about following the reading and lectures
and discussions. The idea is to show that you are thinking about the material and grasping
it. Obviously these are individual assignments.
5. Project: Working in groups, students will complete a visual project for presentation to the
class. The topic of this project is still TBD, but groups will be given plenty of time to
prepare their presentations a PowerPoint, poster(s), a skit, or anything else within
reason that your imagination can come up with.
6. Tests: After each unit (or group of units), there will be an exam to assess your mastery of
the material. These will feature multiple choice questions, short answers, and essays.



Honor Code: Students are expected to personally complete any assignment on which they sign
their name. Cheating will not be tolerated. Any sign of it will result in a private discussion with
the teacher, as well as a possible zero on the assignment if the evidence is clear of cheating or
any of other form of academic dishonesty. I am always available if a student needs help; there is
no reason to resort to cheating.

Please note that academic dishonesty includes plagiarism on your papers/projects. If you quote
from a source, you must give an indication of what that source is. This is the most common and
most-easily-avoided form of academic dishonesty.

Work hard, and work honestly, and I am confident that you will all succeed. To bring it back to
the Lincoln quote from the beginning of this syllabus: Your own will to succeed is more
important than any other one thing. (From The Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, edited by
James C. Humes)