American Studies

This course is taught both thematically and chronologically over a 2-course sequence, covering roughly the mid- 19th century to the present.

Some of the Themes:
Settlement of the West, Native American Relocation
Growth of Industry
Immigration/growth of cities
Progressive Era
Women's Rights
Imperialism, WWI
Roaring 20's
Great Depression/New Deal
The Cold War
Civil Rights/Vietnam,
Terrorism, The new Millennium

Creating America
The Mann Act
A people's history of the United States
The Constitution, Roe v. Wade, Miranda Case
National Archives/Primary Sources
Media Used: 
Google Earth
Films - Jack Johnson Unforgivable Blackness, The Birth of a Nation, Patton, Windtalkers
Significant Assignments: 

Students complete a research paper on either the events of September 11, 2001 or the impact of the Interstate Highway System. They formulate a thesis using primary as well as secondary sources. Specific topics of the assignments were suggested. Students complete a 5-7 page paper that addressed the thesis question. The papers are evaluated using the New York State Performance Standards Consortium rubric.

Portfolio Assessment - Analytical essay on the first decades of the 20th and 21st Centuries. What theme in American culture, history, or society runs through the two centuries? What is different? What seems to remain constant? Develop a coherent thesis that argues about one of the common themes of this time period and conduct research needed to support that thesis, using primary and secondary sources.

Significant Activities or Projects: 

Student created a poster board about the Great Depression. They had to list key dates, figures and events of the time. A presentation followed the creation of the posterboard that involved giving detailed information of the Great Depression.


Portfolio Assessment - Students were required to use various primary sources to complete their assessments. Students use electronic and some print sources to this end. Students develop further research skills by connecting evidence with historical analysis and argument construction.

Examples: Students drew comparisions between billionaires JD Rockefeller and Bill Gates using empirical evidence to gage their impact on the United States labor Movement, corporate monopolies, and their philanthropic efforts.

Sample PBATs: 
Civil Disobiedience and Social Discontent: students develop questions based on this issue
Political and Social Response to Change: another theme on which students may develop their research paper.