~2019-20 U.S. History Course Syllabus~

MacArthur K-8 University Academy   

Eighth Grade U.S. History

2019 - 2020 Course Syllabus


"History is who we are and why we are the way we are.  

History is not just the past.  History is the present. “



Mrs. Joyce E. Johnson, M. Ed.





This course introduces students to American history from the Revolution through the Reconstruction Era, with an emphasis on the values and ideals of our constitutional republic. Using the text of the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution as the touchstone for the course, students assess how the meaning of the phrases “We the People” and “to form a more perfect Union” are reflected in past decisions and events and have inspired generations of Americans.


Beginning with the political and intellectual transformations that preceded the American Revolution, students explore how the ideas of inalienable rights, limited government, social compact, rule of law, equality and the right of revolution stimulated English colonists to declare independence. Students further their understanding of American government from an in-depth study of the United States Constitution and the evolution of the government created during its first century. They examine the challenges faced by the new nation and the role of political and social leaders in meeting these challenges. Students also analyze the nature and effect of territorial, demographic, and economic growth during the 19th century. Using economic, social/cultural, and geographic/environmental events, trends and issues, students also assess the nature and effect of territorial, demographic, and economic growth through 1877. They analyze and evaluate early attempts to abolish or contain slavery and to realize the ideals of the Declaration of Independence for all. In studying the Civil War and Reconstruction, students evaluate multiple causes, key events, and complex consequences of the war and its aftermath.


While a chronological frame structures the course, there are many opportunities for students to consider how contemporary public issues. Disagreements on public issues emanate from the inherent tensions among the values found in our nation’s founding documents such as liberty, common good, security, diversity, equality, etc. This course will highlight how the nation addressed these tensions within their historical context.


Significant attention is paid to developing students’ content literacy skills including reading informational text, writing, and speaking. Using primary and secondary sources, the course also develops students’ disciplinary literacy in history. Students become investigators of the past as they engage in the analytical skills of sourcing, contextualizing, and corroborating evidence, thereby restoring agency to students in the learning process. Students deepen their understanding of the evidentiary nature of history as they use historical evidence to both support and analyze historical arguments and narratives. In an effort to cultivate students’ analytical reasoning skills, students use multiple texts to explore ideas of significance, continuity and change over time, and the importance of perspective in understanding the past.

Unit 1: Foundations of United States History

Unit 2: Challenges to an Emerging Nation

Unit 3: Regional and Economic Growth

Unit 4: Antebellum Reform Movements

Unit 5: The Coming of the Civil War

Unit 6: The Civil War

Unit 7: Reconstruction

Unit 8: America in Last Half of the 19th Century



  1. 1½ - 2” Binder

  2. 2 Spiral Notebooks

  3. Colored Pencils

  4. Highlighter


Discovering Our Past:  A History of the United States by McGraw-Hill, 2014




Visit MiStar Parent Connect on a regular basis to view grades and attendance in this course.  Contact the main office for login information.


Visit MiStar Student Connect on a regular basis to view grades and attendance in this course.   Contact the main office for login information.


Google Site is designed for students to take full advantage of the wealth of resource and practice activities that I have provided. This is used by students on a regular basis, enriching them with educational and interactive links that are related to the topics that we cover.


  • Grades are based on assignments (35%), tests (35%), projects (25%), and student participation/parent communication (5%). 

  • Completing assignments, taking notes, studying for tests, and monitoring grades online equal SUCCESS.  Submit quality work on time. 

  • Getting a parent signature on project checklist/rubric, as requested by the classroom teacher, helps parents know well in advance what to expect and resources needed.

  • To help gain  deep knowledge on the topics/concepts that are covered, additional research can be found in the class Google Site (webpage) and Google Classroom.


Each card marking, students are administered a pre- and posttest.  Students are assessed throughout each card marking. Assessments include assignments, group collaboration, presentations, quizzes, unit tests, projects, etc.


  • The grades in this course are based on tests, activities, assignments, and classroom participation.

  • Students are expected to complete and turn in all assigned work on time, demonstrating accountability and responsibility. 

  • If absent, students may make up their work without penalty.  Refer to Middle School Policy.

  • Anyone missing an exam will make up the exam during SEAMS.



Students will receive a username and password for their eText.



Students will use the following textbook, which will remain in the classroom.  

Discovering Our Past:  A History of the United States by McGraw-Hill, 2014