Just before class starts, APUSH teacher Mr. Green prepares for instruction while students settle into their seats.

Photo by Rachel Perry

New social studies classes, old history

September 6, 2018

From AP Microeconomics to Animal Behavior, York has consistently offered a multitude of classes to students. This year has been no different.

 

The school year of 2018-2019 came along with the introduction of new social studies classes offered to juniors. Instead of the typical decision between regular U.S. History and AP U.S. History or APUSH, juniors were now able to consider U.S. History ACP and American Studies Honors as their social studies classes for the year.

 

“We wanted to create a course that gives a unique and new option,” Mrs. DiTomasso, American Studies teacher, said. “We’re the only course on the U.S. history side that’s taught thematically compared to the other three offerings and for some students that makes a lot of sense.”

 

American Studies is distinct from the rest of the social studies course offerings from juniors in its combination of both history and English. American Studies classes are two periods long with about 55 to 60 kids and two teachers.

 

Unlike past history and English classes, American Studies marries the two subjects of history and English. Throughout the year, students can expect to read texts and then study the specific time period the text is situated in.

 

“All the texts will be oriented within the teaching of the history,” Mrs. DeLoriea, American Studies teacher, said. “Not only did we choose the texts purposefully to connect two disciplines, but also the sequence of when they will be taught and how they will be approached will be unique to this class.”

 

Contrary to American Studies, one of the long lasting social studies course for juniors, AP U.S. History can be defined as a rigorous course which covers American history from 1491 to present day. Filled with frequent note packets, informative lectures, and abundant projects, APUSH students are quite busy.

 

“There are many more long-term assignments than I have experienced in previous years,” junior Julian Wrobel, APUSH student, said. “If you complete all of them at a constant rate, however, then the workload really isn’t that bad at all. Additionally, the assessments are usually pretty difficult, even if you do all of the assigned work because they are timed and lots of the questions take some time to process.”

 

However, a possible desirable aspect of APUSH is the college credit that can be earned as a result of passing the AP exam offered in May.

 

According to Mr. Green, an APUSH teacher, APUSH is considerably different from typical history classes that strives to prepare students for the future.

 

“We try and have students look at a perspective that they may not have seen before in a traditional history class perhaps in middle school or later on,” Green said. “That’s hopefully something that [students] will gain from APUSH is critical thinking self awareness and understanding that even though you’re learning from this textbook of 1000 pages, you’re still learning the American story.”

Photo courtesy of AbeBooks
The textbook APUSH students use is called, “The American Pageant”.

Similar to APUSH, ACP U.S. History or ACPUSH offers students the ability to take an honors U.S. history course for college credit.

 

“The dual credit option is an excellent opportunity that allows students to get a head start in college with significant cost savings,” Mr. Riskus, ACP U.S. History teacher, said. “ACP credits easily transfer to the overwhelming majority of schools that York students attend.”

 

ACP U.S. History covers similar topics such as APUSH, but in the fourth quarter of the year, ACP U.S. History students will be focused on history from 1990 to current day.

 

Additionally, in the classroom students are tasked mostly with discussions, debates, and source analysis. The class focuses more so on lecture style teaching rather than learning from a book.

 

Curriculum aside, ACP U.S. History was a particularly appealing choice for juniors as it did not have the daunting reputation of APUSH, but was still an honors class.

 

“I’m taking a lot of other honors and AP classes and I heard that APUSH is one of the hardest classes at York,” junior Cassie Sika, ACP U.S. History student, said. “In order to balance my schedule, I chose ACPUSH. The teachers are really understanding and accommodating than other classes.”

 

Regardless of which class juniors choose, the social studies course offerings for juniors are filled with unique educational opportunities.

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