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MYP Group 3: Individuals and Societies - African American History

African American History is a semester-long course that explores history based on the following learning objectives:

  • Provide an introduction to African American history, including local histories;
  • Explore why African Americans have occupied an oppressed position in the US and how they have resisted this oppression to create social change;
  • Examine changes over time and employ sociological, economic, cultural and political tools for understanding the historical and contemporary positioning of African Americans;
  • Consider how social constructs such as race, gender and class shape the lives of African Americans.

The role of this course will be that of providing students with an opportunity to enhance their understanding of the historical and cultural perspectives of African Americans.  This course will examine several issues, topics and themes that are central to the historical experiences of African Americans.  We begin with African origins of humanity and civilization and continue to the present period of the 21st century.

Through our investigations in this course, we will accomplish the broad aims of the Middle Years Programme (MYP) Individuals and Societies Subject Area, which are to encourage and enable students to:

  • Appreciate human and environmental commonalities and diversity
  • Understand the interactions and interdependence of individuals, societies and the environment
  • Understand how both environmental and human systems operate and evolve
  • Identify and develop concern for the well-being of human communities and the natural environment
  • Act as responsible citizens of local and global communities
  • Develop inquiry skills that lead towards conceptual understandings of the relationships between individuals, societies and the environments in which they live.

One of the goals of this course is to study topics of African American history i in greater depth and detail than a standard United States history course does.  Another goal is to create circumstances within the course that enable the student to “connect the dots” between history, politics, geography and cultural studies.  A key challenge is to cover the depth and breadth of African American History in the time given to our study.  As a semester course (approximately 18 weeks), we accept that we are skimming the surface on many of our topics of study despite the aforementioned goals.  With this in mind, the outline of the course is as follows:

  • Unit #1 = From African Beginnings to the Creation of Black Americans
  • Unit #2 = From Chattel Slavery to Emancipation
  • Unit #3 = From Reconstruction to the Harlem Renaissance
  • Unit #4 = From the New Deal to Barack Obama

As is appropriate and necessary, revisions to the curriculum may be made to allow for deeper consideration of course content and to incorporate student interest and voice into the course content.

All students are expected to have the following materials every day for use in this course.

  • A 5-subject notebook and two pocket folder
  • Black or blue ink pens and/or pencils (highlighters recommended)
  • Your textbook and any other assigned readings
  • Your planner

Enrolling in and MyMPS is expected of all students taking this course.  All students will be encouraged to enroll in Remind, a text-based platform through which students can receive updates and information about the course.  Details will be shared in class.

This course uses standards-based grading in determining final course grades.  Standards-based grading ensures that course grades more accurately reflect the level of student proficiency on established course content standards and assessment objectives. 

MYP assessment objectives for this course are:

  • Assessment Objective #1 = Knowing and Understanding
  • Assessment Objective #2 = Investigating
  • Assessment Objective #3 = Communicating
  • Assessment Objective #4 = Thinking Critically

The MYP assessment objectives are scored on a criterion-referenced 8-point scale.  In general, the following scores indicate a student’s general level of achievement or level of progress towards mastering the learning targets, assessment objectives and/or course standards.

MYP Rubric Score


7 – 8

Excellent, Extended, Advanced

5 – 6

Proficient, Consistent, Meets Expectations

3 – 4

Basic, Partly Proficient, Inconsistent

1 - 2

Incomplete, Developing, Limited

More detailed assessment criteria descriptors will be provided via specific academic task rubrics.  Within the electronic gradebook, visible to students and families through the Student Portal and Parent Portal respectively, the course grade scale is as follows:


Average Score




Average Score



6.5 – 8

87% - 100%



4.3 – 4.6

54% - 58%


6.0 – 6.4

75% - 86%



4.0 – 4.2

50% - 53%


5.7 – 5.9

71% - 74%



3.5 – 3.9

44% - 49%


5.3 – 5.6

66% - 70%



2.5 – 3.4

31% - 43%


5.0 – 5.2

63% - 65%



2.0 – 2.4

25% - 30%


4.7 – 4.9

59% - 62%



0 – 1.9

0% - 24%

*The percentages-to-letter grade conversion looks very generous.  This, however, is due to 8-point scale based on criterion-referenced assessment objective descriptors.

Academic practice and formative assessment work will be reviewed to offer feedback to the student.  All summative assessments will be evaluated using the MYP Assessment Criteria for Individuals and Societies. As such, course assessments are organized into two categories:

  • Academic Practice and Formative Assessment (20% of course grade) = Academic practice and formative assessments are assignments and assessments intended to provide students opportunities for the development and practice of knowledge and skills necessary to meet and/or exceed the course standards.  Traditionally, these are the short quizzes, daily class work and/or homework assignments and all forms of academic practice. 
  • Summative Assessments (80% of course grade) = Summative assessments are assessments intended to evaluate the level of student mastery according to established content standards and assessment objectives.  To assist students in meeting or exceeding the standards and assessment objectives, students have the opportunity to improve their achievement on summative assessments by redoing the assessment or completing alternative assessments that address the same standards and assessment objectives.  Traditionally, these are tests, essays and projects but may also include simulations and graded discussions.

Your very best effort is expected in all assignments and assessments, whether formative or summative in nature.  You may track course progress via the online Student Portal and family members may do the same via the Parent Portal. Grades are regularly entered over the course of the quarter, however, there are some periods in the quarter calendar where there may be fewer assessments entered than other periods.  If you have any questions about the course, progress within the course or general concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Ms. Harder at the contact information provided.

If you are absent for excused or foreseen reasons, please notify Ms. Harder and turn in the assigned work before your absence.  Deadlines will be enforced. You will, however, have the opportunity to improve your achievement by redoing the assessment or completing alternative assessments that address the same standards. You are expected to use your student planners to note all deadlines as well as other commitments so that you may successfully manage the demands on your time.

Mondays (in Rm #215) and Thursdays (in Rm #129) after school are the official tutorials for this course. Should Monday be difficult for your schedule, please make arrangements with Ms. Harder to meet another time. 

Active participation is essential for success in this class. Regular and prompt attendance, participation in course activities and discussion, and completion of both formative and summative assessments are expected of all students and critical to meeting the standards established for the course.  Passes, found in the school planner, will only be used for course-appropriate reasons. High school demands that students are self-motivated, organized, aware and attentive to their class assignments and willing to do coursework/homework in a timely manner.  The successful PHHS IB learner does their homework, seeks out support and assistance when needed and engages with full focus and effort every class period.  This class is not an exception to this expectation.

Attendance matters.  Attending class daily and ready to participate is critical for success in this class.  Parents/guardians will be contacted upon the third absence from class.  It is your responsibility to ask Ms Harder for work prior to your absence. Additionally, you are considered tardy if you are not ready to begin class when the bell rings. The school tardy policy will be enforced.  If you are regularly tardy, Ms. Harder will contact the family to address the issue.

No personal passes are issued from this class.  A personal pass is considered any pass requested by a student to go to her/his locker, use the phone or use the restroom during class time.  Passes for instructional purposes and emergencies will be recorded and will be only available through use of your student planner.  

Personal electronic devices – cell phones, iPods, MP3 players, headphones and other personal electronic devices – are not to be seen or heard during instructional time, whether in or out of the classroom, without explicit and specific permission provided by Ms. Harder.  If you are using and/or charging a personal electronic device during class without Ms. Harder’s permission, it will be confiscated and Behavior Interventionists will bring your device to your dean.  All personal electronic devices may ONLY be seen during passing time or in the cafeteria during lunch. Lost or stolen cell phones will not be investigated by staff under any circumstances.  Bring your electronic devices to school at your own risk.     


Academic integrity and honesty in the International Baccalaureate (IB) is a principles informed by the attributes of the IB learner profile.  In teaching, learning and assessment, academic honesty serves to promote personal integrity and engender respect for others and the integrity of their work.  Upholding academic honesty also helps to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they acquire during their studies. (Academic honesty in the Diploma Programme. IB Publications. 

You are expected to demonstrate the highest levels of academic integrity and honesty.  Any form of academic misconduct – cheating, plagiarism, collusion, disruptions to assessment spaces – will be treated as both an academic and a disciplinary issue.  Students who engage in academic misconduct will be required to complete alternate assessments in addition to facing disciplinary consequences according to the PHHS Academic Honesty policy found in the student planner.

You are a member of a community of learners and someone who needs to become independent and responsible for your learning as you look ahead to life beyond high school. The Patriot Pledge, in addition to the specific expectations detailed in your planner, illustrate the broad expectations for PHHS scholars.  As such, I expect the following of all students:

  • RESPECT – Respect yourself, your peers and other community members and your learning environment.  Respect is expected in all of your actions. (Patriot Pledge Points = I will respect myself and others and I will honor myself, my school, my family and my community.)
  • READINESS – Prepare for and participate in class.  Attend class daily, prepared and ready to actively participate in all class activities. (Patriot Pledge Point = I will do my personal best and I will pursue the college or career of my choice)
  • RESPONSIBILITY – Accept personal responsibility for learning and seek to learn from and empower other members of the class.  Responsible use of student planners, organization stations and personal electronic devices is expected of all students at all times. Communicate with Ms. Harder when issues or challenges arise.  (Patriot Pledge Points = I will make good decisions and I will honor myself, my school, my family and my community.)
  • REFLECTION – Recognize reflection as critical to learning.  Revise your work in response to feedback from yourself, your classmates and your teacher.  Think about how you learn, what you learn and connect your learning to your life beyond the classroom. (Patriot Pledge Point = I will do my personal best and I will honor myself, my school, my family and my community.)
  • REALIZATION – Make it happen!  You have a bright future ahead of you.  Realize your dreams!  Persevere when things get hard.  Ask for help!  Try, try, try again.  Never, never, ever give up! (Patriot Pledge Points = I will do my personal best; I will honor myself, my school, my family and my community and I will pursue the college or career of my choice.)

All PHHS IB learners in this course are expected to strive to be knowledgeable, principled, caring, reflective, open-minded and balanced thinkers, communicators, inquirers and risk-takers. Understanding and strengthening these attributes will be a regular part of this course.

All students are expected to have and use their planner for recording course learning targets and assessment due dates every day.  Students will regularly be given time and instruction in class to use their planners effectively.  Organization stations are available in the classroom to assist students in getting and staying organized throughout the class.  Students may use the materials found at the organization station at the discretion of Ms. Harder.

Should you have any questions, concerns or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me by phone or email.  I commit to doing the same.  My email address is  You may also reach me through the Student or Parent Portal.  I look forward to working with you in this class and here’s to a fantastic 2015-2016 school year!