Course Syllabi


    Grade 8 Social Studies

    United States History: “Reconstruction to the Present”

    Contact Information

    Mr. Michael Serotte, Room 213

    Telephone: (716) 816-4230


    Textbook: America; History of Our Nation (Prentice Hall)

    Course Overview

    This course is the second course of what is essentially a two year comprehensive study in United States History. Since the 7th grade program left off upon the conclusion of the Civil War, this course basically begins with the immediate era following the war, that being Reconstruction. Other topics of study for this course include, but are not limited to the following; The Rise of Industry, Westward Expansion, Racial Segregation/The Jim Crow Era, The Progressive Era, US Imperialism, WWI, The Roaring ‘20’s, The Stock Market Crash, The Great depression, The New Deal, WWII, The Cold War (Korea & Vietnam), The Nixon Presidency, Watergate, and we wrap up the course with a look at the Reagan, Bush(1&2), Clinton, and Obama presidencies. This course will be taught at a Regents level, although it is NOT a Regents course. This means that the level of content and the expectations of work turned in will coincide with the level at which the course is being taught. Lastly, while there will be a Final Exam, IT IS AN IN CLASS EXAM AND NOT THE STATE REGENTS EXAM.

    Additionally, the course content is aligned with the Common Core Standards. While the state has yet to issue Common Core Standards specific to US History, we will strictly adhere to the Common Core requirements for literacy and writing with an obvious emphasis on historical works. The use of historical evidence to construct an argument, critical analysis, proper source citation, the skills necessary in reading, research, and research writing as well the general research writing process are the skills that will be taught and modeled.

    Course Objectives

    Standard 1: History of the United States and New York

    Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in the history of the United States and New York.

    Standard 3: Geography

    Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the geography of the interdependent world in which we live—local, national, and global—including the distribution of people, places, and environments over the Earth’s surface.

    Standard 5: Civics, Citizenship, and Government

    Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the necessity for establishing governments; the governmental system of the United States and other nations; the United States Constitution; the basic civic values of American constitutional democracy; and the roles, rights, and responsibilities of citizenship, including avenues of participation.

     Class Policies

    • An atmosphere of respect and politeness toward everyone will be maintained at all times.

    • There is to be no food, drinks, and gum/candy allowed whatsoever. If seen, I reserve the right to confiscate and dispose. The only exception to this rule is during a class sponsored activity. Bottled water or a water bottle is allowed.

    •  Electronic equipment such as cellphones, IPods/ MP3 players, etc. is strictly prohibited. 

    • Homework is expected to be turned in on time.  Homework will consist of class readings (text and related articles) and worksheets.  Homework will be administered 2-4 times per week AND sometimes on weekends.


    • Late homework policy: All homework is due on the stipulated due date. Homework will be accepted with penalty for up to, but not exceeding, two (2) days past the stipulated due date. The penalty is a proportionate reduction of the grade. A homework assignment turned in one day late will have its grade reduced by one full letter grade. A homework turned in two days late will have its grade reduced accordingly. For example, if a student earned an 18/20 on a homework assignment that equates to 90% or an A-. If it were turned in one day late that A- then becomes a B- and the numeric grade, which is recorded in the grade book, becomes a 16/20 or 80%. The same homework turned two days late would be entered in the grade book as 14/20 or 70%.


    • After the second day of being late a “0” will be entered into the grade book and will remain permanently. Normally in such situations homework assignments will not be accepted. However, at times parents prefer a student to complete the missing assignment and although the zero “0” won’t be removed, I will review these assignments.

    • Any homework assignment that is turned in late and earns a failing grade upon initial review will not be subject to the late homework policy and therefore, it will not be reduced any further. This is double jeopardy and I do not endeavor in such a practice.

    • Tardiness will not be tolerated! Each class begins with a warm-up activity of varying extents and you are expected to be commencing this exercise as the bell rings signaling the beginning of class.  Failure to do so will result in verbal warnings from me and continuation of this unacceptable practice will lead to parent notification and potentially an administrative response.

    Grading Policy

    Marking period grades are determined by the following: Tests, Quizzes, Homework, and any project if applicable. Your grade is simply the average of all work turned in during that respective marking period. Obviously tests and projects are more complex and involved than quizzes. Quizzes will be week to week and will essentially surmise the material covered in that same time span or vocabulary, or both. They are generally short answer and objective in nature; thus, they are intended to provide support for any grade you are not happy with.

    As a general practice, I usually do not “drop lowest grades” nor do I assign extra credit work. Exceptions have been made in the past but they are rare and usually involve extreme circumstances. There will be no consideration for extra credit at all for any student who is considerably delinquent in turning in his or her work.


    Extra Help Opportunities

    I usually arrive at school by 7:15 AM. I can be found in my classroom getting prepared for the day. It is during this time that I welcome students who may have questions or simply desire a chance to get extra support for an upcoming assessment.

     Final Exam

    The final exam will be on Thursday and Friday June 5th & 6th, 2014 for all classes. It will be held in our classroom, room 213 during your respective class period. Day 1 of the exam will consist of the multiple choice component and day 2 will be the writing component, be it DBQ OR Thematic. Make up date for any absence will be Monday June 9th and/or Tuesday June 10th, 2014


    Course Outline

    Unit 5: Civil War and Reunion

    Chapter 16 (Only) - “Reconstruction and the New South”

    • rebuilding the nation
    • the battle over Reconstruction
    • the end of Reconstruction
    • the sharecropping cycle

     Unit 6: An Age of Industry

    Chapter 17- “The West Transformed” (1860-1896)

    Chapter 18- “Industry and Urban Growth” (1865-1915)

    Chapter 19- “Political Reform and the Progressive Era” (1870-1920)

     Unit 7: A New Role in the World

    Chapter 20- “The United States Looks Overseas” (1853-1915)

    Chapter 21- “World war I” (1914-1919)

    Chapter 22- “The Roaring Twenties” (1919-1929)

    Unit 8: Depression and War

    Chapter 23- “The Great Depression and the New Deal” (1929-1941)

    Chapter 24- “The World war II Era” (1935-1945)

    Chapter 25- “The United states in the Cold War” (1945-1963)

    Unit 9: Moving Toward the Future

    Chapter 26- “The Civil Rights Era” (1945-1975)

    Chapter 27- “The Vietnam Era” (1954-1976)

    Chapter 28- “New Directions for a Nation” (1977-2000)

    Chapter 29- “Challenges for a New Century” (1980-Present)

    Review for Final Exam. This year New York State decided to remove the 8th grade State Assessment from its agenda. In consideration of this significant change in policy, there will be an in class Final Exam. Unlike the State Assessment, your in class final will consist of material covered only this year. It will contain multiple-choice questions along with a DBQ OR a Thematic Essay. Please note your final exam will count as one marking period grade, or 20 % of your final grade. Please take this information seriously!

    The review will not only include content learned but I also like to include instruction on essay writing skills.

    Needed Materials:

    Notebook paper/Spiral Notebook

    • blue or black ink pen (Please, no red pen or any other fancy colors!)
    • highlighter
    • (1) 1” three-ring binder OR folder with pockets

     Parent Acknowledgement

    Dear Parents/Guardians,

    Please acknowledge that you have read and reviewed the information contained in this course syllabus by signing you name below in the space provided. Also, I realize how critically important it is to maintain communication with each other throughout the year so I have included a space for you to write down your E-mail address (print please) and phone number. I keep this information locked up and on file throughout the school year in the event I need to contact you for any reason at any time. Obviously, please feel free to contact me at your leisure. E-mails work best for me.

    Thank you very much and I look forward to a pleasurable and constructive year in working with both you and your children.


    Mr. Serotte


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