Literary critic Lionel Trilling remarked that the study of Humanities is built upon the notion that “there is a certain minimum of our intellectual and spiritual tradition which a man must experience and understand if he is to be called educated.” Students in this class are asked to examine cultures different from their own, appreciate literature and the arts in written assignments, write persuasively and analytically, and fearlessly participate in class discussions. As part of their investigation, students probe the works of early cultures, classic folktales and fairytales, world mythology, great civilizations, philosophical treaties, and world religions. Their main instrument of exploration is a reading journal, a cumulative work in which they respond to a series of prompts designed to deepen their understanding of the material. They create Facebook pages to profile philosophical and religious leaders, craft their own parables and myths, and read in their entirety the works of such notables as Homer, Plato and Ovid. In the end, this course centers on the idea that historical events and philosophical exploration are located in humankind’s need to answer fundamental questions such as where do I come from, how do I lead a good life, and what happens when I am no longer here? This class calls upon students to think, perhaps in ways they never have before, about these and other issues. To that end, an open mind, strong work ethic and curious intellect are keys to success.
Textbook and Reading list:
- World Literature (No textbook purchase necessary; class set available)
- Odyssey by Homer (No textbook purchase necessary; class set available)
- The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff (No textbook necessary; class set available)
- Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, ISBN-10:0553208845, ISBN-13:978-0553208849
- Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, ISBN-10:0553375407;ISBN-13:978-0553375404
ESL History students will gain an overview of the social studies concepts and vocabulary that they will be studying as mainstream students, and they will build the reading skills needed for success in all high school courses. Focus will be on the study of geography, world history, U.S. history, and civics and government. Vocabulary building and the practice of reading high school text materials are also key elements of the course. Students will create timelines, write essays, and read at least one short novel to enrich their understanding of world and U.S. history. They will also participate in individual and group projects, including a focus on the role of technology and globalization.
Textbook and Reading List:
- Gateway to Social Studies; National Geographic Learning; Cengage Learning; ISBN-13: 9781111222222
- Gateway to Social Studies Workbook; National Geographic Learning; Cengage Learning; ISBN-13: 9781424017331
Who are we and how did we come to be this way? These are the essential questions we set out to answer in World History, a sweeping survey course in which students explore deep historical foundations to answer questions about our world today. Students follow the development of civilizations around the world, with a focus on human-geographic relationships, political and social structures, economics, science and technology, and the arts. They also investigate major religions and belief systems, explore world geography, and study major benchmarks in world history, such as the development of agriculture, the spread of democracy and the rise and fall of great civilizations. Key projects include the creation of Facebook profiles on historical figures, a research paper designed to generate community service projects to combat current problems on the African continent, and PowerPoint presentations examining everything from the roots of religious conflict to the significance of walls, borders and barricades. Collaborative projects are key to our explorations, as students work together on everything from geography quizzes to Jeopardy tournaments aimed at reinforcing their learning. At every turn, this course seeks to relate events of the past to questions that rage in the present-day world about power, conflict, culture and identity. At the end of the day, we want students not just to learn history, but to be historians and to consider the study of the past a critical component of evaluating the present.
Prerequisites: Humanities or an equivalent grade 9 social science course.
- World History: The Human Experience, The Early Ages by Farah & Karls (No textbook purchase necessary; class set available)
AP World History
AP World History is a fast-paced, college-level course, available to willing and academically prepared students, that covers the span of human history from its beginnings to the present. Students develop a greater understanding of the evolution of global events as well as the nature of changes in international frameworks and their causes and consequences. The course is organized around five overarching themes: Interaction Between Humans and the Environment; Development and Interaction of Cultures; State-Building, Expansion, and Conflict; Creation, Expansion, and Interaction of Economic Systems; and Development and Transformation of Social Structures. These themes serve as unifying threads throughout our studies and help students to relate what is particular about each time period or society to a “big picture” of history. In discussing and assessing these themes, students employ historical thinking skills and utilize historical evidence to craft arguments and assess the significance, cause, and impact of historical events. Key projects includes the creation of posters detailing the importance of the 100 Most Significant Objects in World History, the construction of podcasts exploring the causes and consequences of the Atlantic Revolutions, and the design of propaganda posters aimed at engendering a deeper understanding of the events of World War I. In the end, a goal of this course is to prepare students to take the Advanced Placement World History exam. But that should not be mistaken as a year spent “teaching to the test” or engaging in rote memorization exercises. On the contrary, the aim is to push students to go beyond a simple recitation of history to become true historians, students capable of connecting the dots between historical periods, places and events while developing the requisite reading, writing and critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in higher level history courses.
Prerequisites: Students must have earned a grade of B+ or better in Humanities (or an equivalent grade 9 social science course), AND earned an effort grade of 4 or 5, plus a teacher recommendations. All must have department approval.
- Ways of the World, A Global History with Sources for AP*, Edition 3, Bedford/St. Martin’s 2016, ISBN-10: 1319022723, ISBN-13: 9781319022723
- Cracking the AP World History Exam, 2018 Edition; Random House Children’s Books. ISBN-13: 978-1101920053. College Test Prep Series.
United States History
The United States History class is designed to develop students’ understanding of topics and concepts related to the study of history and development of the United States. Taught in conjunction with American literature, students explore the people and events relevant to American history from pre-colonial times to the present day. Course work begins with discussion of the questions, what is history and why study history, and then focuses on how to study history and an analysis of the history textbook. Topics include but are not limited to the following:: European exploration and Colonial America, the American Revolution, creating the nation – the Critical Period and the Constitution, the eras of Jefferson and Jackson, slavery and the Civil War, Reconstruction and the rise of industrial America, the eras of Progressivism and Imperialism, World Wars I and II, the Jazz Age and the Depression, the Cold War, civil rights, and the role of the American President. Some of the skills students develop include critical thinking and reading comprehension, note taking and study skills, research and writing, group and cooperative learning, discussion and public speaking. In addition to daily reading and discussion, students give several oral presentations, write essays, and take quizzes or tests on each unit. Many tests are “open-note” so that students are encouraged to take good reading and discussion notes for use on the examinations. Videos are available for most units.
Prerequisites: 9th Grade social science course (Humanities or the equivalent), and 10th grade social science Course (World History) or the equivalent.
Textbook and Reading List:
- The American Vision, Student Edition, Edition: 1st by Appleby; Glencoe McGraw Hill; ISBN-13: 978-0078743504. There are enough copies of used textbooks if you do not wish to buy your own copy.
- Voices of a People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove, 10th Anniversary Edition. ISBN-13:978-1609805920
AP United States History
Students of AP U.S. History explore the people and events relevant to American history from the Pre-Columbian period to the present through the study of nine time periods. The class is taught in accordance with the AP U.S. History curriculum framework, and is designed to prepare students for the AP U.S. History Exam in May. All students work to develop their analytical writing skills, critical thinking skills, reading comprehension, reliable outlining, note-taking, and research skills. In addition, time is spent analyzing current events, working in groups and collaborative learning is emphasized. Students will develop public speaking skills, and specific attention is placed on historical writing and thesis development. In order to prepare for the AP exam, students will decode extensive multiple-choice questions, practice writing short answer and free response essays, as well as strategizing and attacking the document-based question. An understanding of primary source documents, emphasizing the author’s point of view, audience, and tone is a priority. Sustainability is particularly emphasized while studying the creation of the National Park System and the conservation efforts of the 1960’s. Special projects include the “Decades Project” and the May Madness Presidential Brackett.”
Prerequisites: Students must have earned a B+ or higher in a 9th grade social science course (Humanities or equivalent). Students must have earned a B+ or higher in a 10th grade social science course, AND earned a 4 or 5 in effort in World History. Students having completed AP World History with a B or higher, and a 4 or 5 in effort, will be given priority into the course. All must have department approval.
- America’s History, 8th Edition by Henretta, Hinderaker, Edwards, and Seif; Bedford St. Martins; ISBN – 13: 978-1457673825
- United States History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination by John J. Newman; Amsco Publishing; ISBN–13: 978-1567656602
- Strive for a 5 America’s History Paperback; Bedford/St.Martin’s Publishing; ISBN–13: 978-1457629020
Students in this semester course will explore the foundations of American government through reading, lecture, and case study analysis. Individually or in collaborative teams, students will learn the introductory concepts of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches of government, participation in government, public policies, state and local government, and political and economic systems. The goals of this course are for students to develop critical thinking and writing skills, understand the three branches of government, be prepared for college-level government or political science courses, and prepare and present information to a group. An emphasis is placed on persuasive writing, developing an opinion, and providing evidence to support a thesis. Students are expected to read the daily newspaper, review online news headlines, and keep informed about politics, business, and current events. Sustainability and the environment are addressed as relevant to both state and national politics. Key projects include a simulation of the Constitutional Convention, a film review of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Supreme Court case studies. Students who wish to take the AP U.S. Government and Politics exam in May will receive additional enrichment readings and essay prompts.
Prerequisites: Students should have successfully completed at least one year of U.S. History or equivalent.
- Government for Everybody, 2nd Edition by Steven L. Jantzen. Amsco Publishing. ISBN–13: 978-1567656817
- 5 Steps to a 5 AP US Government and Politics 2015 or newer edition by Pamela Lamb. McGraw Hill
Law & Society
Law and Society is a semester course dedicated to teaching an understanding of the American legal system. At the conclusion of the semester, students will have gained an understanding of the law through interactive methods that focus on legal issues relevant to their lives. The class emphasizes problem-solving skills, oral communication and listening abilities, general research skills, and mock trial and debate experience. Topics covered include: criminal law, civil law, criminal procedure, juvenile justice, family law, Constitutional law and the Bill of Rights, and relevant U.S. Supreme Court case law. Students develop critical thinking and analytical skills through legal writing and research, mock trials, interviews, debates, trial techniques, jury selection and service, case briefs, and short research papers. Public policy related to sustainability and the environment are emphasized through case studies involving toxic torts. Students enjoy hearing from guest speakers ranging from local attorneys to law enforcement and probation officers. A trip to Ventura County Superior Court is a highlight of the class, as well as preparation for and participation in the Mock Trial final exam.
Prerequisites: One year of U.S. History and one semester of American Government (preferred)
- Street Law: A Course in Practical Law, 8th Edition by Glencoe McGraw Hill; ISBN-13: 978-0078799839
Students in this online senior economics course explore fundamental themes of economics through reading, lecture, and analysis in combination with both individual and cooperative learning. In addition to learning the introductory concepts of decision-making, and the laws of supply and demand, students will participate in a stock market project, and be exposed to financial markets, savings and investment strategies, and government spending. One of the goals of this course is to familiarize students with a distance-learning program prior to graduation. Students develop critical thinking and writing skills, understand strategies in savings and financial planning, and prepare for college-level economics courses. Students are expected to read the daily newspaper, and keep informed about business and current events.
Prerequisites: Students should have completed at least one year of American History or its equivalent. This is a semester online course for seniors.
- The Little Book of Economics, 2nd Edition by Greg Ip; Wiley Publishing; ISBN-10: 1118391578, ISBN-13: 978-1118391570
AP Psychology is a beginning course that unpacks the mysterious, common, and disturbing aspects of human behaviors and mental processes. While psychology has a long history and many perspectives, the prevailing viewpoint is grounded in current scientific research. Nonetheless, other perspectives are presented and examined. The 14 major subfields of psychology, as tested by the Advanced Placement exam, are presented in a developmentally hierarchical structure. Beginning with brain biology and anatomy, students gradually integrate the subjects of sensation, perception, learning, memory, cognition, motivation, and emotion. Students then learn to apply their biological knowledge to childhood development, states of consciousness, testing, abnormal psychology, and treatment. Students will learn the skill of problem solving psychological issues through three approaches: biological, psychological, and social. Students will learn to critically analyze psychological research as well as determine the validity of pop psychology. Discussions develop communication skills as well as the ability to take another’s perspective. By the end of the course students will have the confidence to take college-level social science courses. Students participate in Harkness-style discussions throughout the year, integrating psychological content and applying the concepts human behaviors. These discussions help students be active participants as well as facilitators of group discussions. As a special topic students will explore eco-psychology – human interdependence with nature and the implications for identity, health and well-being. We also look at social and cognitive research that examines the difficulty in changing our attitudes and behaviors related to conservation, sustainability, and climate change. Throughout the course, students are steeped in the material through the analysis of their own behavior and mental processes, the development of quantitative and qualitative research, and the production of their own psycho-educational evaluation. For example, students explore dreams and meditation as ways to improve empathy and reduce stress.
Prerequisites: Grade of a B or better in Biology or AP Biology; 9th grade and 10th grade social studies courses, and department approval.
- Myer’s Psychology for AP, 2nd edition, Author: David Myers. Publisher: Freeman/Worth Publishers. ISBN-13: 978-1464113079