Like many US History courses, this class will begin with the American Colonies and will conclude somewhere near the modern day. Unlike other classes that function primarily as a survey of American History, this course will focus its attention on three key periods of conflict in the history of the United States: the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the various social upheavals of the Sixties. This is not to say that the rest of the countryís existence over the past two hundred and fifty years will go unremarked, but our study will center on the origins, details, and impact of those three eras.
I firmly believe that it is crucial for the citizens of any country to understand their national history. The past is a direct link to the present, and much of what happens today can be explained and informed by the events that came before. Knowledge of the past is a tool that can be either be smashed about like a bludgeon or wielded with delicate precision. My primarily aim for this class is for students to develop a keen analytical ability that enables them to properly explain their personal views of Americaís past, present, and future while engaging with the potentially very different perspectives of their classmates and fellow citizens.
This is why we are using the particular pair of textbooks that we are. Howard Zinnís A Peopleís History of the United States has inspired various liberal and progressive interpretations of the US and our historical impact for almost forty years; Larry Schwiekart and Michael Allenís A Patriotís History of the United States, as the title suggests, is its exact opposite. This class is not designed to push a particular viewpoint. Rather, it is meant to enable students to weigh the approaches of two contrasting interpretations and come to their own conclusions. By the end of this course, they do not have to agree with me or any of their classmates. It is more important that my students know why they believe what they do and be able to reasonably discuss and debate it.
This class will meet twice a week. Reading (less than fifty pages a week) will make up the majority of most assignments, and students will be required to briefly write in a History Journal on related topics (these can be paper or digital, but entries will need to be uploaded to a private Moodle thread once a week). Occasionally there will be quizzes, but assessment will primarily take place through class participation and three unit research projects. These projects will be introduced at the beginning of each unit, and while there will be in-class opportunities for feedback and writing support, students will be expected to complete the bulk of their planning, research, and production of their projects on their own time. Of course, I am available to answer questions and provite support via email.
I must acknowledge Paul Christiansen, a previous instructor, and all the work he did to develop the earlier version of this course. I liked the curriculum he designed so much that I have kept a significant amount of his class structure and schedule.
Due to our focus on the three historical eras mentioned above, this course is not an AP US History course. However, the skills developed through this course will help any student preparing for the APUSH exam, which tests general survey knowledge of the US and the studentís ability to understand the cause and effect of major events and movements. In addition, we will place some emphasis on important people, places, events, and ideas, all of which will benefit any student planning on taking the exam.
Participation is essential to this course. Nearly every class session will be discussion based, and in a setting like Scholars Online quiet students make for a very boring class, so I will expect regular attendance and participation of every student. Any day that a student fails to participate will count as an unexcused absence and will negatively affect their grade; excused absences should be arranged ahead of time via email. Unexpected absences or emergencies can be excused by a parent within forty-eight hours of the missed class.
In addition to regular participation, students will be expected to submit weekly journal entries, meet all deadlines (which will be announced well in advance, so students should bring any conflicts to my attention as soon as possible), respectfully discuss and debate the various topics covered by the textbooks, and present well reasoned arguments.