8th Grade U.S. History

Voyager Team- Mr. Gough

Class Syllabus

“American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.”  ― James Baldwin

“These days I wonder more and more why people are pessimistic when American history actually supports optimism.” ―   bell hooks

Contact Information:


School Phone:  219-922-5620

Prep time:  9:48-10:37 (except on Wednesdays, 9:45-10:31)


United States History - Growth and Development: Beginnings to 1914

*To take home a textbook, students must sign it out.  Otherwise, students will use the online textbook. Textbook pages will be available on Mr. Gough’s Google Classroom pages.

Course Objective:

Students will research, study, and survey the development of the United States from early exploration to the Civil War.  The culture, politics, economy, and geography of the early nation will be detailed and contrasted with the U.S. today. Rather than simply remembering people, places, and events, students will focus on analyzing information, assessing sources, and forming their own historical conclusions.


A critical skill in an age of technology and ever-present data is the ability to distinguish facts, opinions, and prejudices.  The students will study patterns of historical events as a way to connect past events to current developments in our country and around the world.  Additionally, high school U.S. history is a core academic course required for graduation. It is important to prepare students with a foundation based on both content and critical thinking.

Useful Websites:


  • Academic Teams → Voyagers
  • Staff Directory → Mr. Gough



The homework will be listed on the board each day.  Absent students may check the calendar in the back of the room.  Worksheets, directions, and notes will be in “mailboxes” next to the calendar.  For example, class notes and homework for August 15th can be found in the "15" mailbox.  You may also find the homework listed on the Voyager website and my homework page.

  • Homework should be: on time, complete, neat, and your 100% effort.
  • Missing (M) and Absent (ABS) work will be labeled in RDS accordingly until turned in.

Class Expectations:

  • Come to class prepared.  Always bring your iPad, class folder, notebook, writing utensils, and relevant notes.
  • Be aware of due dates, especially make up work!
  • Complete class notes.
  • Use your time for this class's assignments.
  • Follow the Social Contract - the list of expectations we agreed upon as a group.

Each 9-week grade is determined by a weighted scale.  Grading labels on RDS will include:

  • Classwork (notes, in-class assignments) - 30% 
  • Assessments (writing prompts, quizzes, tests) - 30%
  • Projects - 30%
  • Homework (short and long term assignments) - 10% 


Interactive Journal:

Students will complete an interactive journal by responding to prompts relating to the quote of the week, current events, social issues, essential questions, and more.


Although it is not required to have a binder for class, it is highly suggested that the students use a binder/folder with 3-rings/prongs to maintain work, notes, and assignments.  Copies of absent notes will be provided in the absent homework bin. Organization is a key, and it is helpful to build these skills now before high school.

Required Materials:

A composition notebook (no spiral notebooks)

3 ring binder or folder (helpful)

Pens and pencils

Units of Study:

Unit 1:  Our Colonial Heritage
Unit 2:  The New Nation
Unit 3:  The New Republic
Unit 4:  The Nation Expands
Unit 5:  The Nation Breaks Apart