U.S. History & Government at Miller School

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Syllabus for US History & Government

United States History and Government

The Miller School of Albemarle

2017 – 2018

Instructor: David F. Riddick     Contact: driddick@millerschool.org

Class Blog: https://millerushistory.wordpress.com

Course Description: This course will survey American history  from the pre-Columbian period to the present with a special focus on the development of the United States government. The student will analyze political, social, economic and cultural themes within the context of broad, chronologically divided units. Special emphasis is placed on the development of American government at the federal, state, and local levels, and the mechanisms of government in America. This course draws upon a wide range of both primary and secondary source material, and students are expected to do significant note taking, reading, and writing. The goals of the course are threefold: to impart to students a working knowledge of the narratives of American history and the American government; to foster critical thinking and analysis; to engage and improve specific skills, including note taking, organization, original research, test preparation, and academic writing.

Texts: In summary, we will read:

  • Hullar and Nelson, The United States: A Brief Narrative History
  • Mintz and McNeil, Digital History http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu
  • Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
  • Theodore White, The Making of the President 1960
  • Primary sources compiled in course  reader (on blog)

Course Outline

  1. From 1491 to Colony: Native Peoples and European Empires to 1754
  2. The American Revolution and the Founding of American Government, 1754-1789
  3. The Early Republic, 1789-1815
  4. Antebellum America, 1815-1840
  5. Territorial Expansion, Manifest Destiny, and the Crisis of Union, 1840-1860
  6. The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1860-1877
  7. The Gilded Age, 1877-1896
  8. The Progressive Impulse at Home and Abroad, 1896-1918
  9. The Interwar Years, 1918-1940
  10. From Total War to Cold War, 1940-1952
  11. The Cold War Consensus, 1952-1968
  12. Shocks, Stalemates, and Revolutions, 1968-1988
  13. America in a Global Era, 1988-2008
  14. American Government and Politics in the Present Day

Student Assessment

Writing Assignments and Projects: 30%

Students will write essays, both in-class and at home, on a variety of topics related to the study of U.S. history and government. They will also complete various projects, including web quests and more creative endeavors, that will require them to create their own arguments about the past. Think pieces written on primary source documents are graded in this category, as well as the spring research paper.

Homework & Quizzes: 25%

Students are required to take notes on assigned readings, which will be compiled in the reading notes section of their notebook and graded once a week. Additionally, in each unit there are required blog posts which are graded as part of the homework grade. There will be periodic reading quizzes on the reading assignments. These are brief quizzes given at the start of class, and are meant to ensure that students keep pace with their reading assignments and that they are comprehending the material presented in the text. There will be on average three quizzes per unit. Some units may have more or fewer quizzes based on the breadth of reading for that unit.

There will be periodic reading quizzes on the reading assignments. These are brief quizzes given at the start of class, and are meant to ensure that students keep pace with their reading assignments and that they are comprehending the material presented in the texts. There will be on average three quizzes per unit. Some units may have more or fewer quizzes based on the breadth of reading for that unit.

Exams: 30%

Each unit will be assessed with an exam on the chapters covered in that unit. The exact structure of each exam will vary. As we progress in the course, the writing sections will grow from short answer questions to full-length essays.

Participation: 15%

These grades are based on student engagement in class discussion and activities. They are assigned weekly, and students are more than welcome to speak with me to discuss their participation grades. A student who is merely present in class but does not take notes or speak during class discussion will receive no higher than a 70 for their participation grade.

Help Sessions: Students are encouraged to bring questions regarding readings, assignments, study habits, tips, etc., to the instructor during the help period, Monday through Friday, 2:45-3:20 PM.

Attendance and Make-Up Policy: Attendance is imperative for success in this class. The student is responsible for making up all work missed during his or her absence. Tests can be made up before or after school up to one week after the initial exam date. If a student arrives late to class and misses a reading quiz, s/he can make it up during the help period of the same day the quiz was given in class. If a student misses more than one reading quiz due to sickness or other legitimate absence, alternate arrangements will be made. Students should attend help session when they are next in school to cover missed material. Students missing more than four (4) days in a grading period will be subject to a mastery exam.

Late Work Policy: Timeliness in the completion of one’s work is an important skill for both academic and real-world purposes. As such, this class will follow a very strict late work policy, as follows:

All assignments are expected be submitted on time unless with prior permission from the instructor.

Students must schedule a face to face meeting for the instructor to consider their desire to turn in an assignment after the due date. Permission rests solely with the instructor.

If an emergency occurs, contact the instructor ASAP to arrange a later due date. Emergencies must be dire and life threatening.

Honor and Plagiarism: As Miller students you are all expected to uphold the Honor Code. Additionally, every assignment should contain the Honor Pledge, which is as follows: (Work that has not been pledged will not be accepted.)

I have neither given nor received any unauthorized aid on this assignment, nor am I aware of any violation of the Honor Code by any other student.

Plagiarism is when you use another person’s ideas, words, thoughts, or language and present them as your own. To quote from the MSA Writing Manual: “Intentional plagiarism is plagiarism done deliberately, with the intent to deceive.

  • Buying a paper off the internet
  • Having a friend write your paper/do your homework for you
  • Using a paper written by a previous student
  • Copying/pasting information/direct quotations from any internet source or printed source without citing it
  • Taking ideas from a source without giving it credit”

Some concrete examples of plagiarism:

  • Copying from a Wikipedia page or other internet page without citing it
  • Reading a free essay online and using its information/ideas/organization in your paper without citing it (even if you don’t directly copy the words!)
  • Copying your friend’s reading notes for your notebook
  • Copying the textbook directly to answer a question

Any of the above actions are intentional plagiarism and will result in an honor referral and disciplinary review by the Honor Board.

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