Advanced Placement United States History

2003-2004 Syllabus

Instructor: M. Laskowski
Office: Room 292, Upper School
Telephone: 919.847.0900 ext. 2643


Advanced Placement American History will cover the spectrum of American history from colonial days to the present. Students will be exposed to extensive primary and secondary sources and to the interpretations of various historians. Class participation through seminar reports and discussion will be required, and emphasis will be placed on critical reading and essay writing. The course is open by department approval to those juniors and seniors who have demonstrated an interest and special ability in social studies. Students will be prepared to take the AP American History examination in May.

--Ravenscroft School Curriculum and Registration Guide, 2003, p. 46

Welcome! By entering this classroom, you are taking your place in American History. All the famous Americans, from George Washington to Martin Luther King, from Susan B. Anthony to Aaron Burr, and from Mark Twain to Franklin Roosevelt, all knew their country’s history, and they knew that they were living parts of that history. This year, your task will be to take your place in line behind them: to learn about the people, events, words and ideas that have shaped our country’s history and made it unique and unforgettable. By the time you leave this classroom, you will know that history is not just some dusty old thing in a textbook, but a living, changing process of understanding. You will know how our country came to be, who and what made it the way it is, and what challenges face our future. And, of course, you will be well prepared and well equipped to take the Advanced Placement United States History Exam. Now let’s begin the journey.


Books: Your textbook will be The American Nation, by John Garraty and Mark C. Carnes. Unless instructed otherwise, you will need to bring it to class every day. Throughout the year, we will be referring to The Birth of the Republic, 1765-1789 by Edmund S. Morgan, so do not misplace it or burn it in a ritualistic bonfire. Other readings will be distributed to you in class from time to time.

Other supplies: You will need a notebook, and a folder or three ring binder to hold all of your papers, of which there will be many. You will also need to obtain at least two packages of index cards. They can be in fun colors if you would like, but please make sure they are 4”x6.” You might also consider getting a box to hold your cards.


College Level: This course will be run as a kinder, gentler version of the college courses that you will be taking in a year or two. As such, there will be an emphasis on independent work and higher order thinking. It will be a challenging course, but do not become anxious or overwhelmed about it. You can do it, and Mr. Laskowski will be here to help you along the way. The most important thing you need to remember is this: DO YOUR BEST! You are not expected to be perfect historians; you are expected to make a real effort and show progress. If you do these things, you will succeed.

Attendance: If you are absent from class, regardless of the reason, you must get and complete the assignment by the next class. If you are absent on the day of a test, you must make it up the first day you are back. Special accommodations will be made for students who are absent for a number of days. Please let Mr. Laskowski know well in advance of any expected absences.

Reading Assignments: You have a tremendous amount of material to cover prior to the AP Exam. For this reason, you may expect to read about one chapter every week. It is your responsibility to keep up with your reading, and each quiz or test will have some material drawn not from class activities but from the reading.

Participation: History is an inherently fascinating, troubling, challenging and exciting subject, but it can be murdered by endless lectures and rote memorization assignments. To avoid this, you will be taking part in numerous interactive exercises, including: debates, discussions, projects, and role-playing activities. Come to class ready to be an active participant.

Tests: Tests are designed to measure your command of the factual material covered in class, and to help prepare you for the exam in May. You will be given at least one week’s notice on all tests or major papers, but Mr. Laskowski reserves the option to administer a pop quiz on the assigned reading or on review material.

Essays: Essays will not have absolute, single correct answers. Instead, your work will be judged by how effectively it analyzes the issues, how focused is your response, how comprehensive is your coverage, how developed are your arguments, how well supported by evidence are your arguments, how accurate is your factual information, and how well organized is your overall presentation.

Respect: You have a responsibility to be considerate of your fellow students. As this class is theoretically the equivalent of a college course, you will be treated as adults with all the responsibility that comes with that.

Grading: It is hoped that you will do your best at all times. However, do not become preoccupied by grades. No one grade will ruin you or bring you eternal happiness. Instead, focus on learning to love history. It is its own reward. That said, the following factors will be considered in determining your grade: participation, tests, quizzes, homework, essays, and projects. Creativity and ingenuity will also be rewarded. The standards for grading are comparable to those used to score the AP exam: an A being comparable to a 5, a B to a 4, a C to a 3, a D to a 2, and an F to a 1.


The schedule below is a basic outline of topics we will cover and the time frame for doing so. We will do our best to follow it, but unexpected events and variations in the pace at which we can cover the material effectively may force us to be more flexible. As a result, you should always be sure you understand what is expected of you for each class in terms of readings, homework, class projects, and papers.

Week of:

August 18: Introduction and Summer Reading test

August 25: The Federalist Era (Chapter 5)

September 1: LABOR DAY--No School 9/1/03

Jefferson, Madison, and the Republican Ascendancy (Chapter 6-7)

September 8: War and Society in the Republican Era (Chapters 7-8)

September 15: Era of Good Feeling and the Developing National Economy (Chapters 7-8)

September 22: Jacksonian Democracy (Chapter 9)

September 29: Jacksonian Democracy Part Two (Chapter 9)

October 6: FALL DAY--No School 10/6/03

Democratic Culture and the Rise of a Middle Class (Chapter 10-11)

October 13: North vs. South: Culture and Economy (Chapter 13)

October 20: Manifest Destiny (Chapter 12)

TEACHER WORKDAY--No School 10/24/03

October 27: The Road to War: Politics of the 1850s (Chapter 14)

November 3: The Civil War (Chapter 15)

TEACHER WORKDAY--No School 11/7/03

November 10: Reconstruction (Chapter 16) Jefferson, Madison, and the Republican

November 17: Post-War Western Expansionism (Chapter 17)

November 24: Thanksgiving Week Catch Up

THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY--No School 11/26/03-11/28/03

December 1: Industrial America: A Time of Titans (Chapter 18-19)

December 8: Catch Up and Review for Exams

December 15: Exams

Holiday Break: Reading Assignment TBA

January 5: The Rise of Urban America (Chapter 19-20)

January 12: The Progressive Era (Chapter 21-22)

January 19: MARTIN LUTHER KING HOLIDAY--No School 1/19/04

Becoming an Imperial Power, Part One (Chapter 23)

January 26: Becoming an Imperial Power, Part Two (Chapter 23)

February 2: Woodrow Wilson and the Quest for Peace (Chapter 24)

February 9: 1920s America: a Roaring clash of Cultures (Chapter 25)

February 16: WINTER BREAK--No School 2/16/04-2/20/04

1920s Politics: Normalcy to Depression (Chapter 26)

February 23: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal (Chapter 27)

March 1: Franklin D. Roosevelt and World War II (Chapter 28)

March 8: The Roots of the Cold War (Chapter 29)

March 15: The 1950s: the End of Innocence (Chapter 29)

March 22: The Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam (Chapters 29 and 30)

March 29: 1960s Politics: the New Frontier and Beyond (Chapter 31)

April 5: SPRING BREAK--No School 4/14/03-4/18/03

1960s Culture: a Society in Flux (Chapter 32)

April 12: 1970s: Nixon, Watergate and the New Political Order (Chapter 32)

April 19: Readings in Post-Modern America (Chapter 33)

April 26: Exam Review

May 3: Exam Review

Friday, May 10: Advanced Placement United States History Exam, 8:00

May 13: Meet Joseph McCarthy

May 20: McCarthy Continued!


Remember, Mr. Laskowski is here to help you learn. If you feel you need extra assistance in completing your work or understanding concepts, see him either before or after class to discuss the matter or to set up an appointment.

Welcome and Good Luck !!!