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American History and Geography, 1877-Present




Instructor: Mr. Van Loon


Course Work: Students are expected to bring their textbooks, notebook/paper, and a pen or sharpened pencil to class each day.


Worksheets and text questions: There will be regular worksheets to correspond with daily reading. Worksheets will be due at the end of class and are worth 15 points. Textbook questions are worth 5 points and are due at the end of class.


Opening question: Days will often begin (especially on days when reading from the textbook) with an opening question written on the board. Students are expected to copy the question on a sheet of looseleaf. Students must then write ten lines about the question. Opening questions are due at the end of class and are worth 10 points. Except when absent, no late opening questions will be accepted.


Current social studies events in national or international news: Approximately once a week, students are expected to bring in a current social studies events article about national (the United States) or international (outside the United States) news. The article can be about U.S. domestic news (ex. U.S. presidential race, the U.S. economy) or about events related to U.S. foreign policy (ex. Iraq, Israel). The articles must be about social studies. Articles about local murders, kidnappings, sports events, state news, etc. will not be acceptable and will not receive credit. When choosing an article, it is best to think in terms of what news events will be in a future history textbook. For any student with access to a computer, could be a useful website. For students without internet access, a newspaper like USA Today could be useful. Students must submit a half page of written work along with the article each week for credit. The half page can be a summary of the article or the student's thoughts about the article. Students must be prepared to do a short (2 minute) presentation about the article each week, with a short question and answer period following. Students must read their own articles for credit. Each article/written summary is worth 20 points. Each presentation is worth 20 points. During the final 15 minutes of current events day, students will complete one or two short social studies worksheets (often on the geography of the period we are discussing). The worksheets will be worth 5-10 points each and will be due at the end of class.


Projects: Once per quarter, students must submit a project about a topic in post-Civil War (after 1865) American History. Students may write about virtually any topic in post-Civil War American History with the permission of the teacher. Serial killers, rock bands, sports, and game show hosts do not fall under the topic of "history" and will receive no credit. Students will receive topic suggestions before entering the media center (students will have two days in the media center to work on the project). The project will take the form of 2-page hand-written paper that will be due at the end of class on the second day in the media center. Students may receive extra credit by creating a visual aid (ex. poster board with pictures, etc.) or by doing a power point presentation. All projects should contain a title and bibliography of sources used. All papers copied directly from the internet (or elsewhere) will receive a grade of zero (as well as a referral for cheating) and the project may not be made up. Students must be prepared to do a short (5-minute) presentation about the project, followed by a question and answer session. Students writing about an individual may choose to role-play during the presentation. Projects are worth 50 points.


DVDs/videos: We will watch approximately one video/DVD per quarter.

According to school board rules, parental permission must be obtained for PG-13 films. The attached permission slip for PG-13 videos/DVDs will be due in the first week of school. Students will answer comprehension questions on a worksheet while watching videos/DVDs. Video/DVD worksheets will usually be worth about 15 points.


Geography Quizzes/History "Quizzes"/History Chapter Tests/Quarterly Exams: Geography quizzes will occur the school day following the day we cover the material. Quizzes will be five questions based on the material covered the previous school day. Worth 50 points. History "Quizzes" will occur at the end of each day we cover written material in the textbook. Students will answer 3-5 questions based on the material covered for the day. Questions can be based on anything spoken in class or on material covered in the book. Each question will be worth 1-2 points. Students will take one history test per chapter. We will cover twenty chapters in history during the school year (five per quarter). Chapter tests will take place either weekly or every other week, depending on the length of the chapter. Students must use Core Democratic Values when answering essay questions on chapter tests in preparation for the social studies portion of the ACT (most students will take the ACT in the spring of junior year). Chapter tests will be worth 150 points. Quarterly exams will, of course, take place at the end of each of the four quarters. Quarterly exams will be more comprehensive (covering five chapters each) than chapter tests and will contain a significantly longer ACT practice essay. Quarterly exams will be worth 10% of the semester grade.


General Rules/Guidelines: Classroom rules follow the rules of the school board in the student handbook. No food or drink is allowed in class (except for water in clear containers). No radios, Ipods, or games (including cards) are allowed. A student must raise his/her hand to participate and must listen while others are speaking. Students are allowed two hall passes per quarter (eight for the entire year). It is strongly recommended that students use these passes sparingly. Students may also receive up to 14 bonus points per quarter for bringing in two boxes of tissues-5 points per box or 7 points per box of anti-viral tissues. Students may only sit on the seat portion of the desk (not the top). Students may sit in assigned seats only, unless permission is given to do otherwise. No late work will be accepted!!


Absences/tardies: Students have as many extra days as absences to make up work and tests. For example, if a student is absent one day, he/she has one extra day to make up work, tests, etc. If a student is absent two days, he/she has two extra days to make up work/tests, etc. Any student absent ten days in one semester will lose all credit for that semester. Three tardies count as one absence. An absence is defined as missing ten minutes or more of class. A tardy is defined as arriving after the bell and less than ten minutes late to class. Students of 1st hour are strongly advised to arrive to school on time. Students of 4th hour are strongly advised to arrive on time to both halves of class if we have B lunch.


Announcements: Students are expected to listen silently during daily announcements. Failure to do so may result in a referral.


Sustained Silent Reading (SSR): Students are expected to bring an item to read at the beginning of class for sustained silent reading. It is up to the student to know which hour is SSR for the week. A student who arrives after the bell because he/she was looking for something to read for the day is still considered tardy. Students who talk/make noise or do not read during sustained silent reading may receive a referral.


"Three strikes, you're out!"policy: For minor offenses (ex. talking out of turn, a purposefully distracting noise, not sitting in the correct seat, not sitting until the bell rings/waiting by the door before the bell rings, talking during announcements, talking while students are reading the textbook or the teacher is talking, not reading or not being silent during sustained silent reading, talking during Channel One), students will usually be given three warnings before receiving a referral/detention. The first letter of the student's name will be put on the board for the first warning, the second letter for the second warning, and the third letter for the final warning/detention. Immediate referrals/detentions will be given for major offenses, such as swearing in class, rudeness, publicly arguing in a distracting way with a fellow student or the teacher, talking/making distracting noises during a test, or throwing an item in class. Parents will be called when any referral is given. "Three strikes" is a guide only. Any student who disobeys the rules can receive a referral for one minor offense only.

Conduct grades: A "1" in conduct will only be given to students who receive no more than one tardy per quarter, never talk out of turn, and never need to be reminded to do their class work or follow classroom rules. A "2" in conduct will be given to students who are tardy no more than two times per quarter and need to be reminded to follow classroom rules only on a rare occasion (no more than once or twice per quarter). A "3" in conduct will be given to students who fall under any of the following categories--tardy three or more times per quarter, talk frequently out of turn, swear, write on desks, are frequently idle, receive a referral at any time during the quarter, or simply do not follow classroom rules in general.


Grading: Grading will be based on the point system outlined in the course work section of the syllabus. A student may find out his/her grade at any time by dividing the total number of points he/she has received by the total number of possible points. The grading scale is as follows:


A 98-100      C 78-79

A 92-97          C 72-77

A- 90-91         C- 70-71

B 88-89        D 68-69

B 82-87          D 62-67

B- 80-81         D- 60-61

E 0-59