Social Studies Department Program Guide
Classes and Faculty

Department Head: Angela Colwell-Arbour 508-829-6771 ext. 1698

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Social Studies Program

Social Studies Sequence of Courses: Grade 9, World History 2; Grade 10, U.S. History 1; Grade 11, U.S. History 2; Grade 12, social studies electives.

Students must earn 15 credits in Social Studies to graduate. Ten of these social studies credits must come in U.S. History (unless a student completes both AP World and AP US History).

Social Studies Requirements and Sequences

Advanced Sequence: For advanced history students, an advanced history sequence is available: Grade 9, Honors World History 2; Grade 10, AP World History; Grade 11, AP US History; Grade 12, various Advanced Placement electives.

Social Studies Department Writing Standard and Homework Policy

The WRHS Social Studies Department requires students in all grades and levels to demonstrate research and writing competencies at an acceptable level. Each course in the Social Studies Department will require students to successfully complete a research paper, a position paper, or a project sometime during the year. Homework in Social Studies will: 

  1. reinforce critical reading and writing skills;
  2. support and expand on information presented in class;
  3. involve studying material central to the understanding of social studies concepts.

Homework will be assigned regularly in all social studies classes.  Social studies teachers expect homework to be neat, on time, original, and complete.

Social Studies Classes

Lower School Requirements Upper School Requirement
  • U.S. History 2 (AP U.S. History may be taken in lieu of U.S. History 2)
Full-Year Electives
One-Semester Electives
First Semester
Second Semester

Social Studies Faculty

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Social Studies Description of Levels

Honors: Students at the Honors level will be expected to read scholarly documents and texts for understanding, inference, and context.  They will analyze and synthesize information to reach conclusions and formulate and defend positions on a variety of topics. They will perform extensive independent work and will be expected to read and write at a consistently high level. They will write papers and essays that incorporate independent research and will complete other research projects. They will be expected to complete regular homework assignments as reinforcement and enrichment of classroom lessons. Students at the honors level receive an accelerated curriculum that will allow them to make an immediate transition to advanced college work.

College Prep - Accelerated: Students at the CPA level will be expected to read primary sources and scholarly material. They will write with coherence and organization as they create papers and essays that incorporate independent research. They will complete other research projects that involve independent work. They will be expected to complete regular homework assignments as reinforcement and enrichment of classroom lessons. Students at the CPA level will receive a solid foundation of knowledge that will allow them to make a seamless transition to a college or university.

College Prep: Students at the college prep level will be expected to read primary source material and social studies texts. They will write papers and essays that incorporate research material, and they will complete other research projects under the guidance of their teacher. They will be expected to complete regular homework assignments as reinforcement and enrichment of classroom lessons. Students at the CP level will expand their knowledge in social studies subject areas as they develop the skills necessary for success at the college level.

Lower School Program
World History

World History 2 (H, CPA, CP; Grade 9) 5 Credits (Full year)
This course follows World History I, which students take in the eighth grade. In World History II, students study the rise of the nation state in Europe, revolutions in the Atlantic world, and the economic and political roots of the modern world. They study the origins and consequences of the Industrial Revolution, 19th-century political reform in Western Europe, and imperialism in Africa, Asia, and South America. They will examine the causes and consequences of the great military and economic events of the past century, including World War I, the rise of totalitarianism, World War II, the Cold War, and the Russian and Chinese revolutions. Finally, students will study the rise of nationalism and the continuing persistence of political, ethnic, and religious conflict in many parts of the world.

Lower School / Upper School Options

World History 2 (Grades 9-12) 5 credits
This course spans the time periods from 1815 to the present and covers World Revolutions, Imperialism, World Wars, Cold War, independence movements and the world today. Emphasis will be on how world events affect our country. Class activities will include map-making, research projects and timelines.

Social Studies (CP, Grades 9-12) 5 credits
This class is a comprehensive sociological approach to the historical, cultural and political components of the United States and its interactions with the world; past, present, and future. This course incorporates various topics of United States and World History. The emphasis will be on World History for students in grade 9 and on United States History for students in grades 10 -12. Presentation of materials will include group discussions, hands on activities, and oral/visual presentations in order to meet the diverse learning styles of the students.

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United States History

United States History 1 (H, CPA, CP; Grade 10) 5 credits (Full year)
This course surveys major developments in American history from the Revolutionary era to the end of the 19th Century. Students will examine the historical and intellectual origins of the United States during the Revolutionary and Constitutional eras. They will study the framework of American democracy and the basic concepts of American government, such as popular sovereignty, federalism, establishment of political parties, and economic and social change. Finally, students will learn about the growth of sectional conflict leading to the Civil War, and the consequences of the Civil War through the Gilded Age. Students will read primary source documents, perform authentic research, and complete research papers and other assignments.

United States History 1 (Grade 10) 5 credits
This course will cover the major developments in the country’s history from the first Americans and the Age of Exploration through Reconstruction. Students will study the historical significance of
events in this time period as well as the basic concepts of American government and democracy. Emphasis will be on our government and how it affects our lives. Varied activities will include map making, projects, time lines, field trips and individual reports.

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Upper School Program
United States History

United States History 2 (Grade 11) 5 Credits
This course introduces students to the major events, movements, people, and ideas which have shaped the growth of our country from Reconstruction to the present. The objective of the class is for the student to develop an appreciation of our country while understanding its growth and development. Students will use texts, discussion, maps, and timelines in this study.

United States History 2 (H, CPA, CP; Grades 11-12) 5 Credits (Full year)
In this course, which completes the two-year U.S. History cycle, students will study the historical and intellectual origins of the modern United States. Students will learn the causes and consequences of the United States’ emergence on the world stage. Students will examine the influence of Progressive thought on American government and politics. The world wars and the interwar period as well as the effects these major wars had on America will be a major focus of the course. After learning about the world wars, students study the origins, ideas, and events of the Cold War and its impact both domestically and internationally. Students will probe the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam and other modern trends that have shaped America.  The course will conclude with a study of 9/11 and contemporary issues and how these events have shaped the conditions in modern America.  As in U.S. History I, students will read primary source documents to improve their understanding of history, to perform authentic research, and to complete research papers and other assignments.

Advanced Placement United States History (AP, Grades 11-12) 5 credits (Full Year)
Using college textbooks and reading materials, students study the history of the United States from 1607 to the present; in addition, they consider changing interpretations of historical periods. This course is based on the College Board expectations: 

“The A.P. U.S. History course focuses on the development of historical thinking skills (chronological reasoning, comparing and contextualizing, crafting historical arguments using historical evidence, and interpreting and synthesizing historical narrative) and an understanding of content learning objectives organized around seven themes, such as identity, peopling, and America in the world.  In line with college and university U.S. history survey courses’ increased focus on early and recent American history and decreased emphasis on other areas, the A.P. U.S. History course expands on the history of the Americas from 1491 to 1607 and from 1980 to the present.  It also allows teachers flexibility across nine different periods of U.S. history to teach topics of their choice in depth.” - The College Board, 2014

It is expected that all students will take the AP U.S. History exam in the spring.  A student who successfully passes this examination may be given credit or be released from a required course by the college of her/his choice.

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Year-Long Elective Courses

Economics (CPA, Grades 11, 12) 5 credits
This class provides the student the opportunity to understand the mechanics of the financial world by examining choice-making within the individual, industrial and global marketplaces.  In the Fall Semester, students will devote their attention to the field of Macroeconomics, targeting the topics of unemployment, national income measures and governmental tax policies to remedy recession and inflation.  In the Spring, the course switches gears to concentrate on Microeconomics.  In this semester, students learn the about individual decision-making principles, varying business structures, governmental regulation of the market and market inefficiencies.

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Advanced Placement Economics (AP, Grade 12) 5 credits
This course is subdivided into two courses – AP Macroeconomics in the first semester and AP Microeconomics in the second semester. This coincides with preparing students for the two separate AP Economics exams in the spring. AP Macroeconomics gives students a thorough understanding of the principles of economics that apply to an economic system as a whole. This course places particular emphasis on the study of national income and price determination, and also develops students’ familiarity with economics performance measures, economics growth, and international economics. AP Microeconomics provides a thorough understanding of the principles of economics that apply to the functions of individual decision makers, both consumers and producers, within the larger economic system. It places primary emphasis on the nature and functions of product markets, and includes the study of factor markets and of the role of government in promoting greater efficiency and equity in the economy.

Advanced Placement European History (AP, Grade 12) 5 credits
This course is an intensive study of Western and non-Western history from 1450 to the present.  Students will use college texts and primary and secondary source materials.  Students will write responses to document-based questions, research papers and analytical papers, and learn strategies for taking the AP European History examination.  Students who take this class are expected to take the AP European History exam in the spring.

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Advanced Placement Psychology (AP, Grade 12) 5 credits
This course introduces students to the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings and other animals. Students are exposed to the psychological facts, principles, and phenomena associated with each of the major sub fields within psychology. They also learn about the methods that psychologists use in their science and practice. The content of the course includes the biological base of behavior, sensation and perception, states of consciousness, motivation and emotion, personality, and abnormal psychology. Students who take this class are expected to take the AP Psychology exam in the spring.

Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Politics (AP, Grade 12) 5 credits
This course gives students an analytical perspective on government and politics in the United States. It includes both the study of general concepts used to interpret U.S. politics and the analysis of specific examples. It requires familiarity with the various institutions, groups, beliefs, and ideas that constitute U.S. politics. Topics: “Constitutional Underpinnings of U.S. Government;” Political Beliefs and Behaviors;” “Political Parties, Interest Groups, and Mass Media;” Institutions of National Government;” “Political Policy;” and “Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.” Students who take this course will be expected to take the AP exam in May.

Advanced Placement World History (AP, Grade 10 or Grade 12) 5 credits
This course is a comprehensive study of World History from the beginning of civilization to the present. First semester includes the study of historical events from early civilizations to 1750; second semester includes the study of historical events from 1750 to 2000. Using college textbooks and primary and secondary sources, students study the world by an analysis of events and /or people causing change. Students must complete a required summer assignment before the class begins. Students are expected to take the AP World History exam in the spring. A student who successfully passes this exam may be given college credit or excused from a required course.

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Semester Elective Courses
Offered Both Semesters

Civics in the 21st Century (CP, Grades 11-12) 2½ credits
In this course stuents will actively investigate the rights and duties of citizenship in the United States in the 21st century. The focus of the class will be on the students themselves and how they, as citizens, can impact local, state, and national governments. The course will feature hands-on activities; connections to current local, state, and national issues; and service learning.

Social Studies Seminar:  Topics in Ethics  (CPA Grades 11-12) 2½ credits
Ethics deals with examining right from wrong, good from bad. This course will engage students in exploring and measuring their own ethical value system in the context of studying historical and contemporary problems. During debates, discussions, research-based essays, and other critical thinking activities, students will explore the nature of good and evil, vice and virtue, truth and deceit. 

U.S. Government and Politics (H, CPA; Grades 11-12) 2½ credits
course provides a framework for students to understand the nature and importance of responsible civic participation and to learn the rights and responsibilities of individuals in a constitutional democracy. Students will examine the history of political philosophies that evolved into today’s political and legal systems and will explore this country’s constitutional structure and the processes of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches at the national, state, and local levels. Finally, students will explore their ability to influence policies and decisions as individuals and in groups and will develop the knowledge and inquiry skills to help them understand, preserve, and improve our constitutional democracy.

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Offered First Semester

Psychology 1: Study of Human Behavior (H, CPA, CP; Grade 12 only) 2½ credits
This course is an introduction to the field of psychology.  Students study differing psychological approaches, theories, and theorists.  Students investigate such issues as the biological basis of behavior, sensation and perception, principles of learning, and theories of human development.  Each student examines herself or himself through the theories of Pavlov, Skinner, Freud, Erickson and other theorists in an attempt to answer the question 'Who Am I?'  The activities, materials and requirements will vary according to level.  Honors level students will complete a comprehensive research project.

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Offered Second Semester

Contemporary American Culture (H/CPA; Grades 11–12) 2½ credits
interdisciplinary course that examines recent trends in American culture as they are manifest in the arts and the social sciences. Economics, sociology and political science are joined with the study of contemporary literature, art, and music to give students a better understanding of the world in which they live. This course is offered for either English or Social Studies credit.

Psychology 2 - Study of Exceptional Persons (H, CPA; Grade 12 only) 2½ credits
This is a second-semester course for students who wish to continue their study of psychology.  Students extend their study of human development and are introduced to personality theory.  Additional possible topics to be studied include altered states of consciousness, motivation theory and psychological disorders.  The activities, materials and requirements will vary according to level.  Honors level students will complete a comprehensive research project.

Sociology (CPA; Grade 12) 2½ credits
Students study society at large and their participation in it. Topics included growing up in other cultures, causes of alienation, crime and deviance, sex and gender, race and ethnicity, effects of social stratification, socialization, and institutions of society on the individual. Students use a wide variety of materials and engage in independent and group research.

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Human Behavior (CP; Grade 12) 2½ credit
This course explores topics in both psychology and sociology. Possible topics of exploration include socialization, human development, culture, consciousness, and gender. This course is open for students who took Psychology I as well as for students who have not studied psychology.