This course meets the requirements for Advanced Placement U.S. History; the IB History of the Americas course (year one); and will prepare students for the Florida End-of-Course exam for U.S. History. It follows a chronology from 1491 to present day and follows the APUSH curriculum of key concepts and thematic learning objectives. Within that curriculum, we will also incorporate the following IB units: Slavery and the New World (1500-1800); United States Civil War: Causes, Course, and Effects (1840-1877); and Civil Rights and Social Movements in the Americas (post-1945). Consistent with the global perspective of the IB program, the slavery unit and civil rights unit will incorporate comparisons with other American nations (i.e., Canada or Latin American nations).
Our overall theme for the course is "Rights and Protest" -- focusing on the evolution of rights in America and how protest and debate has played a critical role in the expansion of American rights and democracy. In addition, we will explore each unit using the seven AP themes: National Identity (NAT); Power and Politics (POL); Work, Exchange & Technology (WXT); Culture & Society (CUL); Migration & Settlement (MIG); Geography & the Environment (GEO); and America in the World (WOR).
Throughout the course, students will be practicing the historical thinking skills required by AP U.S. History, IB History of the Americas, and the State of Florida. These include:
Analyzing Historical Evidence and Sources
Students will work with both primary and secondary sources. These will include both qualitative and quantitative data in the form of text, images (art, cartoons, photographs, advertisements), audio (speeches, music, advertisements, news reports), film (newsreels, speeches, debates, documentaries), maps & graphs, etc. When examining such evidence, students will be tasked with identifying its historical context, audience, purpose, point of view and relevant content. This will help them assess its usefulness and reliability and understand its limitations as a historical source.
By analyzing scholarly interpretations of historical evidence, students will come to understand that even when the evidence remains the same, interpretations of that evidence may vary depending on the time period it was written and the circumstances in which it was viewed. Analyzing various interpretations helps students think critically about the historical evidence presented and create their own interpretations and/or critical commentary.
Making Historical Connections
Comparison involves finding similarities and differences between two or more events, people, groups, etc. Comparisons can be made within a time period or across time periods -- within a particular region, nationally, or internationally. Some examples of comparisons made in this course would be: comparing the tactics of antebellum reformers and progressive reformers or comparing the Great Society to the New Deal. Whatever the required comparison, students will be expected to use those comparisons to draw meaningful conclusions on historical topics.
Contextualization involves the ability to connect specific historical events and processes to their larger circumstances and extend from local to regional to national, and even to international, perspectives. Synthesis is similar because it also involves making connections to larger themes, contexts, geographical locations, or eras. Both these skills require students to think beyond the event or process to how it relates to broader issues.
While hindsight bias might lead us to believe some events in history were inevitable, all events are contingent upon multiple other events that create them. Identifying the causes of historical events and distinguishing those causes from simple chronology and correlation is part of becoming a historical thinker. Not only will students identify causes and effects, but they will evaluate their relative significance. Similarly, students will look for patterns in the chronology of continuity and change and evaluate whether we can organize time into periods, or chunks of time, based on those continuities and changes.
Practicing the skills above ultimately allows students to formulate effective historical arguments -- making defensible claims about the past and supporting these claims with relevant evidence. Students will learn to write effective argumentative essays that include: a thesis, evidence, analysis, context, and synthesis.