History and Social Sciences at Maine Coast Semester
We believe the study of history helps students grapple with the context and developments crucial to understanding the present. The experiences of those in the past are taken as case studies to guide contemporary decision-making while acknowledging diverse viewpoints and perspectives. Above all, history offers students the chance to hone their own values and see themselves in the stories of their nation and community. Maine Coast Semester offers two history courses, Honors U.S. History and Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH). Both provide a chronological survey of our nation’s past. In the fall semester, we begin studies with a unit on the European colonization of North America and end with a study of the Civil War and Reconstruction. In the spring semester, we begin with an overview of the Gilded Age and conclude with an examination of major themes in contemporary American life. While the honors course offers a closer examination of the role of coastal Maine in American history, in accordance with Maine Coast Semester’s “place-based” pedagogy, APUSH is taught in a more traditional approach as to better align with the College Board’s national frameworks and sending schools’ syllabi.
Honors U.S. History
This U.S. History course examines the social, economic, political, and cultural forces that have influenced the development of the United States through the dual lenses of Northern New England and Midcoast Maine. Particular attention is paid to the different ways that history can be constructed and the role of perspective. Students have the chance to work with a variety of sources—both primary and secondary—while developing the critical thinking skills necessary to “connect the dots” between past and current events. Additionally, history students will steadily develop their research skills, written and oral expression, and the ability to form a persuasive argument supported by their analysis of diverse evidence.
U.S. History has class meetings four times per week. Students can expect nightly homework. Assignments include close-readings, essays, Socratic seminars, and a personal journal to record responses and reactions to prompts relevant to course material. Additional assignments have included a mock trial, Congressional simulation, and an oral history project. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in one or more field trips to connect the history of the classroom to local communities and histories. History students also have the responsibility of reporting on the news to the Chewonki community. While there is no textbook, in the past students have read from secondary sources such as By the People by Jim Fraser, A People’s History by Howard Zinn, and These Truths by Jill Lepore. Primary sources include letters, speeches, cartoons, newspapers, and interviews.
A.P. United States History
Prerequisite: Students must be enrolled, or plan to enroll upon their return, in their sending schools’ APUSH course. All students taking APUSH must also be registered to sit for the College Board exam in May.
The AP U.S. History course adheres to the criteria established by the College Board, focusing on the development of students’ understanding of American history from approximately 1491 to the present. The course has students investigate the content of U.S. history for significant events, individuals, developments, and processes in nine historical periods, and develop and use the same thinking skills and methods (analyzing primary and secondary sources, making historical comparisons, chronological reasoning, and argumentation) employed by historians when they study the past. The course also provides seven themes (American and national identity; migration and settlement; politics and power; work, exchange, and technology; America in the world; geography and the environment; and culture and society) that students explore throughout the course in order to make connections among historical developments in different times and places. (Source: College Board, AP U.S. History Description, 2015)
APUSH meets four times per week. The course is taught at a fast pace, and students must be capable of self-direction in following a reading and review calendar. While some prescriptive instruction is given in reading and writing, students enrolling in APUSH are expected to be able to read a college-level textbook and write expository essays that are structurally and grammatically correct. Students will have daily “reading checks,” participate in text-based seminars and debates, and complete unit tests that are based on published exam materials.
Texts used include:
- Shi, David E., and George Brown. Tindall. America: A Narrative History. 10th ed., W.W. Norton & Company, 2016.
- Published exam materials from the College Board
- Primary Source Readers
- The American Spirit edited by David M. Kennedy
- For the Record edited by David Shi and George Tindall