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SYLLABUS


Dave Powell, Instructor / Room 1.392 / SY 2005-06
Mill Creek High School Social Studies Department
4400 Braselton Highway / Hoschton GA 30548
tel: 678 714.5850
email: dave_powell@gwinnett.k12.ga.us

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places--and there are so many--where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.    --Howard Zinn

The purpose of this year-long course in United States History is two-fold: first, it is to prepare you for the rigors of academic work at the college level by ensuring that you receive college-level credit for your work in this course. As much as possible, you will be treated like college students and you will be held to the same standard that advanced college students are held to.

The second goal of the course is to infuse you with the knowledge of over 500 years of American history. This will be no simple task given our time constraints, but it is one that we will attack vigorously. Many people have a hard time articulating why the study of history is so important. Howard Zinn, for one, has stated his case for the study of history quite eloquently above. What you will be expected to learn in this class is not just a select group of facts; instead, you will be asked to develop your own personal interpretation of American history. What does the history of this country mean to you? Is it a history filled with heroic deeds performed by heroic people? Is it a history of discrimination highlighted by the struggle of ordinary people to overcome that discrimination? Is it a history of wars and other conflicts fought to protect the “American Dream” from foreign tyranny? Or is it a history of social struggle against the tyranny of the majority?

As you complete the requirements for this course, you’ll also be expected to catalogue the material that has been given to you (and the material that you produce) and comment on that material’s contribution to your view of American history. At the conclusion of the course, you will be expected to produce a portfolio of work that clearly demonstrates your understanding of American history. This course is, ultimately, about you--how you internalize history, how you make sense of information, how you use your knowledge of historical events to come to an understanding of how history shapes our lives today, and how history can be used to make our lives better.

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Course Policies and Procedures

Please observe the following guidelines throughout the year:

  1. Expect to come to class every day prepared and willing to learn. Class will only be enjoyable for you and for me if everyone shows up with a desire to learn about American history. You are expected to be in class every day, on time every day, and properly prepared every day.

  2. Do your own work. Cheating will not be tolerated. Those suspected of cheating will not be given the benefit of the doubt. You are expected to do your own work to the best of your ability; if you do not, you will be referred to Ms. Crum and your grade will be put in jeopardy.

  3. Keep an open mind and take the class seriously. If you come to class with a willingness to explore new ideas and question unexamined beliefs you will find the study of American history very rewarding. The more open-minded you are, the more you’ll enjoy coming to class.

  4. Be respectful and polite at all times. We will discuss controversial issues in class, and you will all have a chance to express your opinions on these matters. Class discussion cannot be effective in a climate of intolerance. Be prepared to ask questions and to listen to the questions of others without passing judgment on them. It is the historian’s job to ask questions as well as answer them, and you will be expected to behave as historians do.

  5. Do all of the work you’re asked to do. If you do what’s asked of you, you will get the grade you deserve in this class. If you do not--or if you do your work with a minimum of effort or with a poor attitude--you will find it very difficult to pass the course. By the same token, successfully completing everything that’s asked of you will increase your chances of passing the AP exam exponentially.

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Grading Policies

Your final grade in the course will be computed based, in part, on the following formula:

Content Module Grades (15% each; total 75%)
Work completed in each module will be aggregated at the end of each six weeks to reflect the quality of the work you turned in for that module. Each of the Five Content Modules will count as 15% of your final grade.

Synthesis Module Grade (10%)
The final module will comprise 10% of your grade; here you will be expected to produce a portfolio that features your work from the entire course. It will be due in the final six weeks of class.

End-of-Course Exam in U.S. History (15%)
The EOCT is a required component of all US History courses offered in the state of Georgia. It will be administered early in May, toward the end of our course of study.

Please note that these averages will only be a component of your final grade for the course. Ultimately, my judgment of your knowledge of US history, your growth as an individual student, and your dedication to and participation in the life of the class will determine the grade that appears on your transcript.

Specific information about Content Module grades will be made available in class.

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Additional Information


A companion website for the course has been created and can be accessed at any time: http://history.powelltown.com.

The website contains information critical to your successful completion of this course. You will have many assignments to do online so internet access is essential. If you do not have internet access at home, please inform me immediately so that arrangements can be made to provide you with access to course materials at school. Also, each student must have an active email account. I will use your email addresses only to communicate vital information about the course, including grades and assignment info. Your email address will not be shared with anyone else or used for any other purpose.

Parents: I look forward to involving all of you in this course this year. If any of you have special interests in US History and would like to share them with our class, please indicate that by contacting me via email. Our classroom door is always open.

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          Mill Creek High School
          Hoschton, Georgia