AP US History

Course Description and Requirements

Mr. Motter


Description: This course is a survey of United States History from 1492 to the present. This year you will not only learn about our nation’s past, you will learn to be a historian. Many people believe that history is simply a collection of facts to be memorized. While it is true that historians must “know the facts,” the facts become history only when the historian gives them meaning by artfully arranging them in stories. It is through storytelling that historians accomplish their main task: explaining the past. Part of the challenge of explaining the past is that we must leave the present for a world that is much different from our own. “The past,” one historian said, “is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” To explain the past, historians must imagine it as it was lived by people different very different from ourselves. What was their world like? How did they live? What did they believe? What did they fear? When we approach the past in such a way, we realize what a richly complex and fascinating place it is.

Requirements: Come prepared to class each day. Bring your iPad to class and be sure that it is adequately charged. Complete the assigned work thoughtfully. Make contributions in class discussions and on collaborative work. Respect one another. We will often hold different points of views on the issues, but it is essential that we strive to understand and learn from each other. In the course of our discussions, we must be willing to accept as well as give criticism in a spirit of collegiality.

Assessment:  Points are distributed as follows:

Homework: 25% All homework must be submitted by the beginning of the period. Tardy submissions suffer a late penalty of a letter grade. Assignments must be submitted within three class days of the due date or a zero is recorded in the grade book. If you are habitually late submitting homework, I will require a note from your parents before I accept it.

Major Assignments and Tests: 65% Historians write and, as young historians, so will you. Please observe the rules of good writing as described in The History Essay. Tardy submissions suffer a late penalty of one letter grade for every day late. Assignments must be submitted within three class days of the due date or a zero is recorded in the grade book. If you need more time to complete an assignment, it is your responsibility to notify me of your situation no later than 12 hours before the due date and arrange for an appropriate submission date.

Professionalism: 10% The historian’s enterprise requires both individual and collective responsibility, so you will earn credit for professionalism: participation, timeliness, organization, communication, collaboration, and reliability. Please remember your obligations to Clio, daughter of Zeus and muse of History, and to your fellow historians.

Extra Credit: I will periodically post on our class blog current articles from newspapers and magazines that relate to American history. Read the article and post a substantive comment and you receive one point. By the end of the quarter, you may have collected 5-7 points that you may apply to any one major assignment as a grade boost. For example, if you score 87 on a DBQ, you can apply five extra credit points to change the grade on that assignment to a 92.

Plagiarism is not tolerated. If you are caught stealing words, I will refer the matter to Mr. Yamamoto.

Extra Help: If you have trouble with any aspect of this course, please see me immediately. We can meet before or after school, during your free periods, or during lunch. Just make an appointment so that can decide on a mutually convenient meeting time. Do not hesitate to consult with me. My job is to help you learn.