The Study of History at Watershed School

Engagement and Interpretation

Starting in the ninth grade, students begin the process of engagement with history through reading primary sources. In this way, students participate in the process of making meaning and interpreting historical context. They are not passive consumers of others’ work as one might experience using only a history textbook; rather, they themselves become historians making sense out of the past and determining relevance to the present. The teacher facilitates this process through selection of historical documents, direct teaching of study and research skills, and by providing supportive feedback and additional context.

Deliberation and Debate

Deliberation is the central activity through which students learn about history. Deliberation involves a thinking through out loud with the teacher and six to eight other students. Focus is provided with a key question and discussions provide opportunities for greater clarity and understanding of the issues that shape history and influence modern current events. Equally important in the process is the opportunity for each member of class to gain an appreciation for the perspectives of others. Ultimately, each student makes a decision regarding how to interpret historical events and apply them to their own life experience today.  By contrast, students also learn and practice the art of debate, including the essential skills of formulating an opening statement, crafting leading questions, applying cross-examination, and  developing an effective rebuttal.  Each year, the entire student body travels to Bates College on Martin Luther King Day to see the Annual Bates vs. Morehouse College Debate live.  

Connections with Community

Students make history relevant to our own school community  and midcoast Maine through a variety of forums and outreach events, including the annual Student Forum on Foreign Relations, volunteering at the Camden Conference, attendance at the Midcoast Forum on Foreign Relations, or changing local city ordinancesto reduce light pollution. In addition, we travel to participate in events such as the National High School in New York City, Research the City of Boston, attend Bowdoin College lectures, research in Bowdoin’s library,  and attend Marfin Luther King Day at Bates College.

Credits in History

Ninth graders take a course in Western Civilization to 1650, and two semesters of US History during their junior year. In addition, students select from a variety of upper level electives in their sophomore and senior years.

All history classes are conducted in a seminar style with an emphasis on primary source analysis and student-led discussions.

History

World Civilizations

 

 

Course Description:


World Civilizations is a college preparatory course.  This is a rigorous course designed to challenge students in the context of the study of world history and in historical research.  The course is a full year course and students will earn one credit if they are successful in fulfilling the course expectations. Using the themes of faith and reason students will gain an understanding of the rise and fall of societies throughout history. The Essential Question we will focus on is: How do societies create order from chaos?


Course Materials:


There is no textbook for World Civilizations. The students will be using a number of primary and secondary sources for each unit. We will focus on both ancient and modern texts with the intention of building skills such as sourcing, close reading, contextualization and corroboration.


Foundational Skills: Fall Semester


1. Reading:


  1. adjust approach to reading based on purpose and text.

  2. B.form comprehensive summaries of information gleaned from the text.


Students will be using a number of both primary and secondary sources and focusing on the following: sourcing (who wrote the text), contextualization (when was the text written and for what purpose), close reading (examining the text closely to ascertain the bias in the language itself) and corroboration (to what extent is this source supported by other sources.)


2. Writing:


  1. word (word choice, spelling, precision and tone.)

  2. sentence (grammar/punctuation, clarity, rhetorical technique)

  3. paragraph (thesis development, summarizing, sequence, role of paragraph)

  4. Writing form (audience, frame, topic, choice, form-specific conventions)



Students will be asked to write a number of pieces including: summaries, analyses, persuasive essays, and research essays.


8. Information gathering and analysis:


  1. question formation

  2. effective note-taking

  3. information research using internet or library sources: primary sources, databases, maps, journals, websites.



Students will be engaging in analysis of text and materials with the goal of surfacing more questions in relation to the overarching essential questions. The expectation will be for students to work together to build a list of inquiries and to work as a group to address the inquiries with the goal of creating an in-depth understanding of the extent to which societies were able to create order from chaos.  Central to this process will be discussion and deliberation in pairs, small groups and whole class.



 

Geography of the World

Geography of the World

Janet McMahon

Fall 2014

Watershed School


Course Description


Geography brings together the physical and human dimensions of the world. This survey course introduces basic concepts and topics in geography, such as the Earth’s surface and processes that shape it, the relationships between people and the environment, and the connections between people and places. We will make extensive use of maps to identify and explain patterns and flows of people, wealth, and natural resources. The course will introduce issues of global importance, such as demographic change, urbanization, migration, food and water supplies, and international conflict. The overarching goal is to increase geographic literacy so that we can better understand the ideas and events that shape our lives.   This is a one semester ½ credit course.



Course Materials (this list will be supplemented with other short readings)


Text: National Geographic Concise Atlas of the World, Third Edition. 2012


Additional Readings:

Glaeser, Edward. “Triumph of the City [Excerpt].”  Scientific American, August 17, 2011.

Johnson, Steven.  “The Ghost Map.”  New York: Riverhead Books.  (Chapter 1)

Kramer, Steven P. “Baby Gap:  How to Boost Birthrates and Avoid Demographic Decline.”  Foreign Affairs, May/June 2011.

Woodard, Colin.  “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.”  New York: Penguin Books. 2011.  (introduction)

2013 United Nations Millennium Development Goals Report Overview and website


Foundational Skills Addressed:


2. Writing


  1. Increased competence in descriptive and persuasive writing.  


Students will choose a developed country and a developing country and, over the course of the semester,  prepare a series of five bulletins addressing a different geography topic (physical description, population issues, cities, wealth and quality of life, and finally their predictions on what their countries will be like by midcentury.   They will use a variety of sources from the literature, their atlas, graphed and tabular data from the CIA Factbook and other sources, maps, and Google Earth imagery analysis.



3.Numeracy


  1. Competence in creating and interpreting graphs.  


Students will learn to make climographs, population pyramids, and other graphs, and will interpret graphs as part of their bulletin research.


4. Discourse


  1. Increased competence in public speaking (planning and delivery).  


Students will give several in-class presentations and will participate in round table discussions on the topics covered in their bulletins.


Additional skill:  Use of maps to identify, describe and analyze physical and cultural features and patterns.

 

US History

United States History I: 1600-1865

 

 

Course Description:

 

With an emphasis on critical thinking and primary source analysis, this course covers the history of the United States from the age of exploration and colonial beginnings up through the Civil War.  Forming a new nation, expansion, strains of secession, civil war, and reconstruction represent central topics of our study. Students will be encouraged to explore particular interests in greater depth through small group projects and individual research outside of class.

 Class participation and essay writing are integral parts of the course.  It is important to remember that although this is an overview of US History, it goes beyond memorization of facts to analysis of issues, themes, ideas and events.  The textbook is only a bare framework for understanding historical context; additional primary sources serve to provide each student with the depth and diversity of opinion that provides opportunity for historical  interpretation.

 

Course Texts and Readings:

 

Choices for the 21st Century Program.  Watson Institute for International Studies.  Brown                   University.  June, 2006.

 

Kennedy, David M. and Thomas A. Bailey.  The American Spirit.  Volume I and II, (New York:          Houghton Mifflin Company), 9th edition, 1998.

 

Meyers, Marvin, John G. Cawelti and Alexander Kern.  Sources of the American Republic.                   (Atlanta:  Scott, Foresman and Company), 1969.

 

Roark, L. James et. al..  The American Promise: A Compact History Volume I.  3rd Edition.                New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007.

 

Foundational Skills addressed:

               

        1. Reading:


  1. Adjust approach to reading based on purpose and text.

  2. Form comprehensive summaries of information gleaned from the text.


Students will work with a wide range of primary sources to draw their own conclusions regarding historical events and in response to key questions.  In addition, a focused reading and comparison of US History will be developed by reading contemporary historical works written by a range of authors including, Colin Woodard, Arthur Schlesinger, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David McCullough and others.  Comprehensive summaries of textbook reading will provide students with practice in structured notetaking in response to essential questions.



2. Writing:


  1. Word (word choice, spelling, precision and tone.)

  2. Sentence (grammar/punctuation, clarity, rhetorical technique)

  3. paragraph (thesis development, summarizing, sequence, role of paragraph)

  4. Writing form (audience, frame, topic, choice, form-specific conventions)


Weekly essay writing will provide regular practice for students to improve their written work.  Essential questions provide a focus and Foundational Skill rubrics are used for assessment and feedback.  Students are required to integrate and cite a wide range of sources outside of the textbook, including edited collections of primary sources, recent historical writing, historical journals, and current events news sources available on the internet.  Chicago style citation format is used.


8. Information gathering and analysis:


  1. Question formation

  2. Effective note-taking

  3. Information research using internet or library sources: primary sources, databases, maps, journals, websites.


Essential questions provide a focus for classroom discussion, research, and notetaking.  Regular opportunities are provided for students to gain feedback on notetaking structure and form, using the Cornell Notetaking System.  Students are also expected to make connections to current events reported in the news, using a wide range of news sources including the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, Al Jezeera, and others.



10. Social Interaction:


  1. Collaboration


Small group work takes different forms based on the assignment, but all students are required to participate in the analysis, production, and presentation of group work.  Projects include a 3D display of Constitutional Balance of Power, Map making to demonstrate westward expansion, and others.


 

Global Climate Change

GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate change is a complicated global issue that cuts across many disciplines.  In this course you will be introduced to the science of past and present climate change, how human societies could be affected by future changes, and how governments are responding to what is known.  In addition we will explore some of the ethical ramifications of this issue.  There will be several hand-on components, including shadowing an energy auditor, tracking state energy legislation, and, in the final weeks of the course, working as a group on an energy related project that has a local impact.  You will present your findings to members of the community.

 

Expectations

  • Come to class on time every time. If you need to miss a class, please let me know in advance. Please have your parents call if you are sick. You are responsible for getting notes from a classmate and arranging to make up missed assignments.
  • Come to class prepared, with notebooks, readings, and completed homework assignments in hand. Make sure assignments are printed BEFORE class begins.
  • Make sure assignments follow all instructions, are legible, and are carefully proofread.
  • Engage meaningfully and respectfully in class discussions and do your fair share when working on group projects.
  • Assignment due dates will be given in class and posted on Google Calendar.  
  • Homework and quizzes will be returned to you within a week’s time.

·       Leave your computer and other devices in your locker or bag unless I ask you to use them in class.

 

Requirements for Credit

  1. Active and respectful participation in class.
  2. Miss no more than 1 assignment.  Assignments more than 1 day late will be counted as missed.  Poor quality work will be returned for revision.
  3. Score 80% or higher on numerically graded quizzes, exams and major projects and a √ or higher on qualitatively assessed assignments.  Students scoring less than 80% on major assignments or assessments will complete a review session with me and then redo the assignment/assessment.
  4. Maintain a complete notebook (3-ring binder with separate sections for class notes, homework assignments, maps, and readings/handouts).

 

Foundational Skill Objectives

  1. Be able to produce, interpret and explain graphs; be able to discern signal from noise, whether looking at graphs or the media’s representation of scientific information (Skill 3D: Numeracy – interpret and create graphs).
  2. Improve your ability to write clearly, factually, and persuasively (Skill 2: Writing)
  3. Increase your comfort and effectiveness when presenting to an audience (Skill 4: Discourse).

 

Content Objectives

  1. Be able to understand and use basic climate science and building science vocabulary.

2.     Be able to draw conclusions about past and current climate patterns and future climate conditions through analysis of instrumental, proxy, and anecdotal climate data.

  1. Understand the relationship between population growth, economic well-being and energy use.
  2. Be able to apply future climate change scenarios projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to specific parts of the world, including the town of Camden.
  3. Gain a basic understanding of type and scale of emissions reduction scenarios needed to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels.
  4. Be able to apply a basic ethical framework to the issue of climate change.

Russian History / Senior Seminar linked to Camden Conference

 

Russian History*

 


Course Description:


Russian History will be taught with the intention of preparing students for active participation in the Camden Conference. The conference this year, titled “Russia Resurgent”, will focus on modern Russia, however much of this course will be spent focus on the events that have shaped modern Russia. The Essential Questions we will cover over the course of the semester are: How does Russia’s past provide a framework for its present? To what extent is Russia an Eastern empire or a Western empire?


Course Materials (this list is not comprehensive and will be supplemented throughout the semester.):


Service, Robert. A History of Modern Russia: From Nicholas II to Vladamir Putin. (New York:

Penguin Books, 2003.)


Marx, Karl. The Communist Manifesto. 1848.


Foundational Skills addressed**:


1. Reading:


  1. adjust approach to reading based on purpose and text.

  2. form comprehensive summaries of information gleaned from the text.


Students will be using a number of both primary and secondary sources and focusing on the following: sourcing (who wrote the text), contextualization (when was the text written and for what purpose), close reading (examining the text closely to ascertain the bias in the language itself) and corroboration (to what extent is this source supported by other sources.) Each student will also be required to read one of the book recommended by the Camden Conference and journal weekly regarding the work they have chosen.


2. Writing:


  1. word (word choice, spelling, precision and tone.)

  2. sentence (grammar/punctuation, clarity, rhetorical technique)

  3. paragraph (thesis development, summarizing, sequence, role of paragraph)

  4. Writing form (audience, frame, topic, choice, form-specific conventions)


Students will be asked to write a number of pieces including: analyses, preces, persuasive essays, and research essays.


8. Information gathering and analysis:


  1. question formation

  2. effective note-taking

  3. information research using internet or library sources: primary sources, databases, maps, journals, websites.


Students will be engaging in analysis of text and materials with the goal of surfacing more questions in relation to the overarching essential questions. The expectation will be for students to work together to build a list of inquiries and to work as a group to address the inquiries with the goal of creating an in-depth understanding of Russia and its past. Central to this process will be discussion and deliberation in pairs, small groups and whole class.



*Russian History will carry over into the spring semester and students will earn ¾ credit for the course. It will run until after the Camden Conference (February 21, 22, 23, 2015.)


** In the spring semester we will be focusing on the following foundational skill in preparation for the conference:


4. Discourse


  1. planning: determine purpose; choose scope and topic, provide effective visuals, word choice and transitions.

  2. delivery: clear articulation, varied delivery, language appropriate to audience, visuals employed effectively, effective non-verbal behavior.

Ethics

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The objective of this course is to support each member of the group in the growth of new strengths and courage for applying core values to life choices as moral agents.

The course is a brief but intensive examination of ethical decision-making as concept and as practice. It will require of the participants careful examination of personal assumptions, beliefs, and biases. It will require, also, reading philosophical and literary works and responding to them with both written essays and verbal presentation. Furthermore, it will necessitate patient attention to the skills of listening and responding to others when there is difference of belief and opinion--in other words, the process of dialogue.

Each student will be asked to write short pieces, as well as a major paper, which will be due in final form on Tuesday, June 3. The topic of this paper will be of the student’s own choosing, dealing with a dilemma or an issue that relates to vocational and educational interests that are already emerging in the student’s experience.

The norms of Watershed School with respect to our mission statement and the essential foundational skills identified by our faculty shall be consistently referenced.