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The Department of Social Studies

The Social Studies curriculum prepares students for effective citizenship, while instilling an understanding of the organization and the institutions of society, and of human behavior in these institutions. The content of each discipline examines the operation and outcome of social, economic, governmental and political systems. The student of social studies develops an awareness of his/her own cultural values, and examines the values of other cultures and develops a sense of continuity with the past. Acceptance into Advanced Placement classes is based on prior high school performance and teacher recommendation.

Students are required to complete 3.5 years of social studies for graduation. The following courses are required for graduation: Western Civilization, Jewish History, United States History and Modern Jewish History. In addition, electives are offered to seniors. Some courses require Department Chair approval.

Courses Offered

Concepts of Western Civilization: 1 Credit

This is a course for freshman that follows the curriculum of Western Civilization tracing the political, social, economic and intellectual patterns and institutions that have molded the modern Western world.  The course begins with smaller units and gradually increases the material covered and skills required, building on what has been learned.   The units are used to teach the skills required for high school, emphasizing reading comprehension, critical thinking, understanding primary sources and writing.  The course begins with Ancient Greece and continues through World War II.  Geography is incorporated into the course and the units include written projects and activities.

Homework requirement: 2 hours per week

Western Civilization: 1 Credit

Western Civilization is required of all freshmen. This course traces the political, social, economic and intellectual patterns and institutions that have molded the modern Western world. Emphasis is placed on critical thinking skills, understanding primary source materials, and writing. Geography is incorporated into the course and current events are discussed. While the focus is on Europe, the course includes a unit on Africa and Asia. Specific units include the Rise of Civilization, Ancient Greece and Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and Reformation, the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, Industrialization, World War I and the Russian Revolution, and World War II and its aftermath. Units include written projects and activities such as essays and newspapers, debates and creating political cartoons.

Homework requirement: 2 hours per week

Jewish History: 1 Credit

In Jewish History, the primary objective is to build upon those skills learned freshman year with heavy emphasis placed on critical thinking skills, research methods, and the analysis of primary sources and documents. In this course, students analyze events in Jewish history from Ancient Greece and Rome through the rise of Nationalism and World War I. This course focuses on the political, social, economic and religious history of the Jewish people. The primary texts used are Understanding Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism by Lawrence Schiffman and the Jewish World in the Middle Ages by Jon Bloomberg. Jewish History is a survey course offered sophomore year.

Homework requirement: 1.5 -2 hours per week

U.S. History: 1 Credit

U.S. History follows a chronological approach to the curriculum and covers the Colonial period to the present. Students learn about the political, economic, and social history of the United States. Classroom activities include lecture, discussion, and debate in order to demonstrate the societal importance of historical study. This course emphasizes cultural development and diversity, using articles, maps, charts and primary sources. Successful completion of this course satisfies the Constitution Test requirement (Illinois Public Law 195). This survey course is offered junior year.

Homework requirement: 1.5 hours per week

AP U.S. History: 1 credit

Prerequisite: Teacher recommendation
Advanced Placement U.S. History is intended to introduce academically talented juniors with a strong interest in history to an undergraduate college-level history class. While utilizing a textbook, students will also rely heavily on the analysis of primary sources in order to encourage critical thinking and the examination of conflicting political, economic, and social interpretations of U.S. History. Classroom activities include lecture, discussion, and debate in order to empower students to engage U.S. History at an in-depth, analytical level. Students focus on a college-oriented method of historical writing to express their analysis and discoveries. This class is designed to prepare students for the Advanced Placement Examination. Successful completion of this course satisfies the Constitution Test requirement (Illinois Public Law 195).

Homework requirement: 3-4 hours per week

AP Modern European History: 1 Credit

Prerequisite: Department Chair approval is necessary
Advanced Placement Modern European History is open to academically talented seniors with a strong interest in history. It involves an in-depth study of European history from 1400 through Contempory Europe. The course focuses on political, economic, social and cultural ideas, with emphasis on the changes and the patterns for each period. Critical thinking and analysis are necessary for document interpretation. In addition, art history is incorporated as it applies to the different historical periods covered. Students are required to do a significant amount of reading and writing for this course as well as several projects. Daily class participation is expected. Students are prepared for and encouraged to take the Advanced Placement Examination in Modern European History for college credit.

Homework requirement: 4-6 hours per week

Modern Jewish History .5 Credit

Modern Jewish History involves the study of European Jewry from World War I through the creation of the State of Israel and its history. The curriculum serves as a continuation of the Jewish History course completed during sophomore year, while complementing the United States History course completed during junior year. It also provides insight into modern Israel and the issues in the Middle East today. The required texts are: A History of the Jews by Solomon Grayzel, and The Jew in the Modern Worldly Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz. Student access to the Internet is required, as this class is web-enhanced through a Modern Jewish history website. This semester long course is required for graduation.

Homework requirement: 4-6 hours per week

Psychology: 1 Credit

Psychology 1 provides students with a basic overview of the major areas in the field of psychology, how to apply this knowledge to their own lives, and how to recognize psychological principles when they are encountered in everyday situations. The first semester of this course includes units on a variety of topics including psychological perspectives, research methodology, biological basis of behavior, sensation and perception, motivation and emotion, learning, and memory and thinking. Second semester units of study include human development, stress, coping and health, and psychological disorders and treatments. The topics in this class are covered through assigned readings, lectures, discussions, demonstrations and group activities. This elective course is offered to 12th grade students.

Homework requirement: 1.5 hours per week

Business Law: .5 Credit

Problem solving and critical thinking skills are an integral part of Business Law.
The course focuses on the law and related issues arising in a business environment. While the rights and duties arising from contractual situations are emphasized, the course also includes the areas of ethics, civil and criminal wrongs, employment law, corporations and property. Actual cases are briefed and discussed in class. In addition, guest speakers from the legal profession are invited throughout the course to speak to students and students create a business plan. Business Law is open to 12th grade students and would be of interest to students planning a career in business or law.

Advanced Placement Psychology: 1 Credit

Prerequisite: This is a college-level course open to academically talented and highly motivated seniors with an interest in psychology. Advanced Placement Psychology is designed to introduce students to psychology, which includes the scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings and other animals. The course emphasizes the psychological facts, principles, and phenomena associated with each of the major subfields within psychology. Students also learn about the methods psychologists use in their science and practice. Topics of study include history and approaches to psychology; research methodology; biological bases of behavior; sensation and perception; states of consciousness; learning; memory; thinking and language; motivation and emotion; developmental psychology; testing and individual differences; personality; psychological disorders; treatment of psychological disorders; stress, coping and health; and social psychology. Advanced Placement Psychology is a challenging, full-year, college-level course offered to 12th grade students.

Homework requirement: 2-3 hours per week

Economics: 0.5 Credit

This course is an elective open to seniors, and it provides students with a comprehensive overview of economic theory and practice. Students will learn the foundations of macroeconomics, including a survey of competing economic systems, the functions of money, the cycles of the national economy, and the trends of globalization. The course will also present students with the fundamentals of microeconomics, from understanding wages to discussing small businesses and government regulations. Projects, student presentations, papers, and lectures will ensure that students grasp important concepts that they can use as independent adults, investors, or entrepreneurs. Analyzing real world phenomenon, including an examination of the iPod and the NFL draft, will capture students’ attention as this course enables students to better understand and interact with the economic world.

Homework requirement: 1-2 hours per week

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