Early American History
Jason Sperling 2013-2014
This course will
focus on American History from the Age of Exploration through the Civil
War. However, the following themes will
be highlighted and studied across time to the present day:
1. Profit vs. the Common Good.
Imperialism and notions of cultural superiority
of power by government
causes and results
Who decides? How do they decide? Who benefits?
vs Conservative perspectives in politics and social issues.
Students will keep a timeline at the beginning of their notebooks. It will span from 1492 to 1865 and will be
divided into five major sections:
3. United States under the Articles of
4. The US under the Constitution
5. The United States during the Industrial
*A timeline to put
modern day events in perspective will also be incorporated.
Throughout the year students will use the University of Kansas writing program to develop their
paragraph and essay writing. We will
start the year of off with some lessons on these skills and continue to build
on them while using the methods with the content.
The following syllabus provides a brief overview of the content and
themes of each unit for the year. For
more detailed information, go to my page on the Leland and Gray website. There will be a unit map displayed that will
provide a visual representation of the essential questions and
assignments. Included on each of these
maps will be a description of an “honors strand assignment.” This differentiation will be reserved for
students who are motivated, higher-order thinkers. In addition, many assignments will be
accompanied by rubrics that will provide opportunities for higher-order
- The Age of Exploration-This unit will
include dramatic interpretations of historical events as well as a mock
trial for Columbus. It will be approached with a focus on
themes #1 and #2. Readings form Howard Zinn's "A People' History of the United States" will be included. The main assessments will be a performance grade for the lawyers in the trial and an argumentative essay for the jurors.
- Native American Culture and Modern
American Culture; Focus on Food-
This unit, which will coincide with English class assignment of
“The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” will include a screening of
the film “Food Inc.” and an opportunity for local community action. Theme #1,2 and 3 will be considered. The major assessments will be a written test and an argumentative essay.
- Jamestown and Plimoth- Themes #1,2 and 4 will be
used to study these early settlements.
The beginning of Western settlement will begin fittingly with the
themes of “Profit vs. the Common Good” and “Strategic Imperialism and
Notions of Cultural Superiority.”
The unit will include a basic introduction to stock companies as
well as an exploration of Puritanism.
It will also include a trip to the local cemetery to explore the
relationship of life span and religion. In addition there will be a unit on the Massachusetts Bay Colony where a Native named Uncas will be put on trial. Excerpts from Sara Vowell's "The Wordy Shipmates" will be used. Assessments will be an argumentative assay and a written test.
- French and Indian Wars- In this unit, students will dive deeper
into Native culture and further explore comparisons to Western culture, especially
in terms of warfare and the use of terrorism. This section of the unit will
be done using theme #1 on notions of cultural superiority. For the second part of the unit, local
events of the French and Indian War in Deerfield and Brattleboro will be studied. The
activity for this section will call for students to design and create
their own French and Indian War era fort. Excerpts from "A Struggle for a Continent" by Albert Marrin will be used. The assessment will be a written exam.
- The Salem Witch Trials-This unit will
begin with a review of Puritanism and then continue with an exploration of
the event. Recent findings by
historian Mary Beth Norton will illuminate the relationship of theme #2
with the causes of the trials. Excerpts from her book "In the Devil's Snare" will be used. The assessment will be a written exam.
- The Revolution- This unit will start
with an account of the Seven Years War with a focus on geopolitical
strategy. This will be studied
under theme #1. In addition, the
first two films of the HBO John Adams series will be viewed which span the
period from the Boston Massacre to the Declaration. These films will also mark the
culmination of a list of vocabulary used in the films. Assessments include vocabulary and content exams.
- Shay’s Rebellion-This unit will feature
a dramatic interpretation of the events and study the background conflicts
that will fall under themes #3-5. The assessment will be a written exam
- The ratification of the constitution and
early American politics- These events will be explored under theme #5;
liberal vs. conservative viewpoints on political and social issues. The unit will be viewed through the lens
of the ideologies of Hamilton, Jefferson, Adams and Washington. Primary source documents from the period will be used. Assessments will include a written exam and and argumentative essay taking the conservative or liberal side of a topic.
- Balancing power in the US; The
Louisiana Purchase, the Missouri Compromise and the protective tariff. This
unit will establish the groundwork for the Civil War and be studied using
themes 1,2 and 5. It will also include a study of the Industrial
Revolution and the cultural differences between North and South. Excerpts from the book "The Rise of Industry" by Albert Marin will be used. The assessment will be a written exam.
- The Mexican War-This unit will tie in
with the previous Unit on balancing power but will mostly be studied under
theme #1; Strategic Imperialism and Notions of Cultural Superiority. US
involvement in Iraq and
will be studied in comparison. The assessment will be a written exam.
11. The Civil War -This Unit will begin with a review of the
previous two Units and will pick up with the Kansas-Nebraska Act and John Brown. It will continue with a study of the major
events leading up to the War and continue with a study of Antietam, Gettysburg and the
Emancipation Proclamation. A major
section of the unit will focus on Slavery and African-American Culture and
include sections of the Narrative of Frederick Douglas. The novel "Across Five Aprils" will be read. Assessments will include an argumentative essay and written examinations.
A three ring binder
Tests and projects will count 3x
Quizes will count 2x
HW will count .5x-1x
Work is due at the beginning of the class. After that there will be 20 points off. After two days the assignment will count for 50%. After a week past the due date or after the test for that unit has passed it will be too late for any credit. The only viable excuse for missed assignments is a parent note
The final exam will be open-notebook and count for 15% of your grade. This should give you initiative to keep a binder in order!