Social Studies Department 2.0


Photo by Ashley Veazey.

Roosevelt repriser Joe Wiegand with US History teacher Jennifer Tinnell.

Back to the Course Catalog here.

U.S. History

U.S. History is a great class for students looking for a little less rigor and a history course without the need for enforcing College Board’s stringent requirements.

This course has been and is currently taught by many teachers across the school, including Iris Staten, Jennifer Tinnell, Tenisha Godley, Samantha Gilliam, and Brian Ely, and the particular workload and class structure depends on the teacher.

Overall, students get the freedom in U.S. History to go more in depth into certain events in our country’s history without the need to cover all of the AP material. This freedom allows for more class discussion in an environment that suits some students more.

U.S. History teachers tend to spend class going over notes or PowerPoints and leading class discussions.

Most U.S. History classes have cumulative tests with stimulus-based questions (though not as hard as at the AP level) and quizzes in between tests to reiterate what students are learning. These are often vocabulary-based.

Homework involves studying and book work and sometimes projects, a workload that students describe as pretty easy to manage.

“I would say it’s a pretty reasonable workload,” said Madeline Mravkarov (‘21). “It’s not stressful the way AP classes are stressful, and it’s not like we’re not doing anything. It’s a pretty reasonable amount of work.”

When deciding between APUSH and U.S. History, consider the workload and the material.

“APUSH can be really time-consuming and really hard, and if you just want to enjoy the class, I would definitely suggest taking regular accelerated U.S. History,” said Laine Dyess (‘21).

Also consider the pace and dynamic of the class. “If you’re really good at history and you’re willing to spend a lot of your time doing history, take AP, but if you want to branch out and go on little tangents and go more in depth about certain topics in history, [take this class],” said Mravkarov.

AP U.S History

AP U.S. History is currently taught by two teachers, Jennifer Tinnell and Samantha Gilliam. Both classes are structured similarly with an emphasis on preparing students for the writing section of the AP exam, with DBQ’s (document-based questions), SAQ’s (short answer questions) and LEQ’s (long essay questions) given frequently as assessments to mirror the AP exam. Under both teachers, these writing assignments account for 45% of your overall grade.

Tests in APUSH are typically AP stimulus-based questions, meaning students have to answer questions based on a quote, picture or graph.

The course is extremely fast-paced, but students in both classes say that the teachers manage their time well, taking the students through lectures, showing supplemental videos, and providing them with practice multiple choice questions and SAQ’s.

“On a basic day, we’ll take notes over a certain topic and discuss what happens. If we have a homework check that day, we’ll do that and do a worksheet, or we’ll learn how to structure our essays better,” said Esha Pamidi (‘21), who took Gilliam’s class, though Tinnell follows a similar format. “We work on all aspects of the AP test that the College Board will test us on.”

Ayushi Mukund (‘21) especially appreciates Gilliam’s notes.

“She makes all her own notes for each chapter and they’re really helpful because she makes them herself,” said Mukund. “She highlights the really important stuff so we don’t get distracted by unnecessary information.”

APUSH homework is typically reading one to two chapters a week. As Megan Woo (‘21) explains, the amount of reading is similar to what was assigned for AP World History.

“The workload is pretty comparable to last year for World History,” said Woo, who is in Tinnell’s class. “The reading definitely feels less dense than the textbook we read last year. The American Pageant is more accessible I think.”

With weekly reading checks, this can add up to a lot of work, but students say it’s manageable as long as you manage your time properly and stay on top of your assignments.

“Take notes really diligently because you’re going to have to remember everything for every unit,” said Mukund. “Don’t forget things otherwise it’s going to be hard to go back.”

Overall, Chamblee’s AP U.S. History classes prepare students well for the AP exam.

“I do feel really prepared for the AP exam, because Ms. Gilliam has been helping us improve, and my grades and my scores have been going up to a really good place where most people in that class would be able to get a 4 or 5,” said Pamidi.


Psychology/sociology is a social studies class mainly for upperclassmen which is divided into two sections: the first semester is spent studying psychology, and the second is spent going over sociology. It profiles as both its own distinct class, as sociology is exclusively taught in psych/socio, and as one level of psychology class for students not seeking an AP class’ workload and rigor.

“You go through psychology. You pretty much get like the basics of most aspects of psychology, and that’s first semester,” said Lacy Cook (‘23). “And then second semester, you learn about sociology, which is much more conversation based than psychology and you talk about people and how they interact.”

Psych/socio heavily features class conversations and note-taking, with open-note quizzes and tests.

“It’s mostly conversation-based, so we do a lot of talking and that’s kind of mainly how we learn,” said Cook. “And then you take notes sometimes, and all of the tests and quizzes are open-note, so take your notes if you’re going to take the class.”

Success in psych/socio is generally down to attentiveness and effort.

“As long as you put in the effort, you’re gonna get a good grade in the class,” said Jordan Fleming (‘22). “It’s not really a question about whether you’re smart or not. It’s just a question of whether you do the work.”

Prospective students should, however, be prepared to practice one virtue: punctuality.

“Don’t come in late. Like you will not be let into the class. She’s been lenient with us this year because we just came back from online school,” said Fleming. “But usually if you come in late, she’ll just leave you out here, and you gotta find somewhere else to go.”

As mentioned earlier, assessments in psych/socio are open-note, but are still a large part of the class.

“There’s probably one to two homework checks a week,” said Cook. “And then you probably have a test every two to three weeks.”

The class also features projects, made either alone or with other classmates.

“We do probably two to three projects per semester. We had a really big project for the final where you had to do a video, that was fun,” said Cook. “Yeah, it’s not that much work as a whole.”

AP Psychology

AP Psychology is an elective social studies class that focuses on human behavior and mentality, including personality, learning, and motivation. At Chamblee, it’s taught by Mr. Phelps and Ms. Stanhope. It’s typically taken by seniors and some juniors in addition to their required economics or U.S. History classes.

“Abnormal psych I think is really exciting because I think abnormal psychology shows us a lot about our society and how we treat people suffering from […] abnormal mental states [it] shows a lot about where our society is. I’m looking forward to teaching about and debating some of the ways that we diagnose people and label people,” said Stanhope.

Abnormal psychology is not all that Stanhope is motivated to teach.

“I’m also excited about the motivation/emotion/personality unit [because] I like talking about theories of motivation. I think students have a lot of insight on that; we all have a lot of insight on motivation because we all have to develop ways to motivate ourselves, to do various things in our life,” said Stanhope.

Stanhope understands why psychology is worth teaching at the high school level, and at any level

“I feel like psychology can give us insight into […] our society, but can also give us insight into ourselves and maybe all the changes we need in society start with ourselves,” said Stanhope.

“I really would recommend reading all your notes. Read the whole chapter and make sure you know what the whole chapter is talking about,” said Rebeka Rab (‘21).

The projects are also a big part of the class.

“Most of the time, we just have arts and crafts projects where we have to draw about what we’re learning. It basically forces you to read the book,” said Jonina Bullock (‘20).

All you need to do to succeed in AP Psych is to keep up with your reading.

“Read the book and you’ll be fine for every single thing that you do in that class,” said Bullock.

Principles of Economics

Principles of economics, sometimes referred to as economics/personal finance is a social studies class for seniors, generally taken as part of the requirement to pass an economics course before graduating.

While it is simply called “principles of economics” officially, it is actually divided into economics in the first semester and personal finance in the second.

“Last semester, we were learning, essentially, macro- and microeconomics, and this semester, it’s personal finance, which is all about, basically, life skills,” said Anna Beth Blankenship (‘22).

Principles of economics is an alternative to AP Micro/Macro and AP Macro in terms of sheer workload, but also has its own distinct focus on decision making.

“It’s not just about money like people think, but it’s about individual decision making. Macro is about the economy as a whole, and how that impacts everyone,” said Iris Staten, who teaches all principles of economics classes. “The AP class goes much more in-depth into the graphing, the math. I don’t have to do any of that, which is one of the reasons why I prefer this, but I get to talk more broadly. […] So we talk about it, but we don’t have to spend a lot of time on it. So it’s more about just decision making in general. I call it ‘adulting 101.’”

Students don’t find the workload of the class to be exceedingly heavy, and assessments consist of homework checks and tests.

“We have vocab stuff we have to do at home, and then we have question packets, but it’s not much. and then we have a homework check once a week, usually,” said Blankenship. “I would say every two or three weeks we have a test.”

In general, students find economics/personal finance to be a relatively low key class.

“It’s pretty laid back, Ms. Staten is pretty cool. So it’s not high stress or anything,” said Taylor Maynor (‘22). “You just make sure you do your work and you should be pretty good in the class.”

One of the main benefits of the class is learning about the more practical aspects of economics which can be useful for later life.

“[I wish I knew about] the personal finance aspect of it because before going in, I didn’t know what we were going to be doing,” said Blankenship (‘22). “But I think it’s helpful considering the school doesn’t usually teach personal finance kind of things.”

Ultimately, principles of economics is a good class for students not looking for an overly challenging or conceptual economics course.

“I don’t want to take an AP class in economics that just seems like a lot,” said Maynor. “But yeah, I think definitely, if you’re looking for a more chill class, this is for you.”

AP Macroeconomics

For seniors, economics is a required social studies course. Rising seniors can sign up to take non-AP economics in the Principles of Economics course or either of the AP options: AP Macro or AP Micro/Macro. Macroeconomics is the study of the economy as a whole with concepts like inflation, growth and unemployment, and microeconomics is the study of individuals in the economy with concepts like households, businesses, supply and demand. AP Macro covers macroeconomics for the full year, and AP Micro/Macro covers microeconomics for the first semester and macroeconomics for the second. AP Micro by itself is not currently offered at Chamblee.

AP Macro was taught by Tenisha Godley, who students considered an effective teacher because she was able to explain challenging concepts in a digestible way.

A typical day in AP Macro may involve taking notes from PowerPoints, completing worksheets, working on assignments in AP Classroom, competing on Kahoot, or doing quizzes on Quizizz as review of topics.

Homework in AP Macro is very minimal, as occasional Khan Academy assignments or Edpuzzles are pretty much the extent of the workload.

“You genuinely have no homework in that class,” said Amy Lin (‘20). “Also, if you pay attention in class and you do the practice because we do days of practice after learning a concept then you really don’t need to study for the tests and quizzes.”

Tests in AP Macro are typical AP-style tests with a multiple choice part and a FRQ part. Some students find them fairly reasonable, but others find them really hard.

These other assignments give most students the opportunity to get an A.

“Make sure you keep track of all your deadlines because as long as you pay attention and turn things in, you’re going to be able to get an A,” said Caroline Freshwater (‘20).

Students also say that their work during class is preparing them well for the AP exam.

All in all, Freshwater recommends AP Macro over AP Micro/Macro because there is no difference in the credits or the GPA boost between the two classes.

“Everyone I know that’s in Micro/Macro is a lot more stressed for the exact same credit, and it’s still an AP class,” said Freshwater. “To colleges, AP Macro and AP Micro/Macro are the same credit, so it sounded a lot better than AP Micro/Macro to me.”

AP Micro/Macro

AP Micro/Macro is a faster-paced AP economics class taught by Tenisha Godley that covers twice as much material as its AP Macro equivalent. Students have the option to take two AP exams (one for Micro, one for Macro) at the end, and the students that elect to take AP Micro/Macro are generally very motivated.

“So for Micro, which is all first semester, it’s a lot of paying attention to how different firms or companies do the things they do and why. But we just started Macro, which is [second] semester, and […] that’s what year-long Macro does, they look more at like the country as a whole,” said Isabella Perez (‘22).

Classwork either consists of note-taking during lectures or practice on worksheets or AP classroom, and occasionally Khan academy or other video practice.

“I don’t think she assigns a lot of homework,” said Perez, “but a lot of the way that you can do well […] on the test is to do extra practice outside of the stuff she assigns just to make sure it really solidifies and sinks in.”

The classroom environment is described as relaxed, especially because of small class sizes. “I would say the environment is really collaborative in the class. […] It really feels like everyone is engaged in the discussions and are always encouraged to ask questions and work together on solving problems,” said Naeem Islam (‘22).

One of her only classroom policies is that “we can’t use our phones,” said Perez.

Overall, Godley’s students describe her supportive attitude and skill in economics.

“I think she’s a really good teacher. […] She’s one of those teachers that knows what she’s talking about when she’s teaching and she’s really good at giving us the practice that we need to actually feel confident in the material,” said Perez. “She wants to give you all the chances you need to do well in the class because she knows it’s a hard class. […] She does test corrections.”

As well as fun.

“[She’s] entertaining, like […] she cracks a lot of jokes and she makes the material actually interesting,” said Islam. “And she’s really supportive whenever we have questions. […] She’s definitely helped me understand a lot of concepts that are really pretty difficult.”

Students should not forget that it’s two AP tests worth of work inside one year.

“The material is pretty difficult. It’s not like any social studies class I’ve taken before, because there’s a lot of math and analysis involved in it. But it’s like a pretty fun class because of everyone wanting to help each other,” continued Islam.

Speaking of the AP tests, students described feeling generally prepared.

“We have mock [AP] tests for our final each semester, so it gave me a much clearer idea of where I am in terms of the AP test,” said Islam.

To prepare for the tests, students recommend studying a lot and learning the concepts well. Because the material is hard and the course is so quick, a lot of studying will be required to prepare for one or both of the AP exams.

Katie Kang (‘20) advises prospective students to account for the difficulty and pacing difference.

“When they say that it’s a lot of work, that Micro/Macro is a lot more work than Macro, it actually is,” said Kang. “Everyone was recommending taking Micro/Macro saying that it wasn’t that much harder than Macro, but it does go really fast.”

All in all, Micro/Macro and Macro are very different.

“There’s not really a balance between Micro/Macro and just Macro,” said Hudson McGaughey (‘20). “Macro is really slow but Micro/Macro is super fast, so anyone who just wants to learn stuff really fast is going to have a good time in it, but it’s a hard class.”

AP European History

AP European History, or AP Euro, is a social studies class for upperclassmen about, as would be expected, the history of the European continent and the people who live there.

“It’s basically an in-depth look at all things European history, we go back pretty far, to like ancient civilizations, and I’m pretty sure we’re gonna be able to go all the way into the world wars and modern European history,” said Carmen Bays (‘22). “It’s basically just like world figures, events, wars, conflicts, geographic stuff, basically all encompassing.”

AP Euro, like many history classes, is heavily focused on notes and reading, both in class and out of it.

“In class, a lot of it is taking notes. That’s just most of what we do in class,” said Ryder Santamaria (‘23). “And then occasionally, like what we’re doing right now, we’ll get an analysis packet kind of thing. And then there’s usually probably about one AP daily video that you have to watch and take notes on. There’s usually one of those every one to two days. And then a textbook reading guide probably every week and a half.”

Assessments in Euro are limited to tests, which are taken on AP Classroom, a College Board platform likely familiar to students who have taken other AP classes.

“There are no quizzes. There’s kind of just a test at the end of every unit, which usually have a pretty good amount of space in between them,” said Chris McIntosh (‘22). “And then for projects, they are also pretty, pretty sparse. But also they usually aren’t that, it’s usually not a lot of work on the projects.”

Most of the work in AP Euro is scheduled in advance, making it easier for students to organize their workload.

“Weekly homework, we have usually like a chapter of reading per week. Everything is already pre-scheduled out. So at the beginning of the semester, you get a week-by-week breakdown, every single homework assignment you’re gonna have, tests, the homework, […] all that kind of stuff. It’s super nice,” said Bays. “Sometimes we have like in class activities, if you don’t finish those, you can just take those home and finish them, but honestly, super easy stuff. Like, as long as you’re paying attention and you’re keeping up with your work, you should have no problem with it.”

AP Euro periods usually follow a similar framework.

“So on like a normal day, let’s just say we came in today and did the whole class through, we would usually start with an opener. So we would read a passage and prepare ourselves to do the DBQ and essays at the end of the year for the AP tests. So then once we’ve done that, we’ll go over notes or we have like an in-class activity,” said Bays. “Mr. Valley is really great about doing interactive stuff. So one time we had a mock funeral for Napoleon, and it’s so fun, it’s just a really good way to like, I don’t know, connect as a class and really synthesize the information that you’re learning.”

Two of the biggest positives students take from the class are its atmosphere and teacher.

“Mr. Valley is pretty relaxed. And so he doesn’t try to force engagement a lot, but he does allow for it to happen. Like he’ll let people answer questions. And we do some kind of fun presentation things where we like, pretend to be people from history,” said McIntosh. “I would just say he has a very, very chill vibe.”

Students also appreciate both Valley’s attitude and helpfulness in class.

“He’s really, really chill. And he knows mostly everything. Like if you ask him a question about a specific thing, he’ll more than likely have the answer to it. And he’ll have evidence to back it up or like context for that answer,” said Lirina Curi (‘23).

Since AP European often takes a backseat to the other AP history classes, AP US History and AP World History, there is only one available period, which in itself is small.

“It’s really sad to me that there’s only enough people for one period of AP Euro,” said Bays. “I mean, while it is great that we have a really small class size — it’s just a better classroom environment — it is quite difficult to schedule, I had to choose between this another class.”

Students who do take AP Euro, though, recommend it to students seeking out a history class.

“I would say, I would recommend it if you’re really interested in European history, and you’re fine with taking lots of notes,” said McIntosh.

AP World History

As the first real history course of a student’s career at Chamblee High School, AP World History has the difficult task of covering all of human history in just about 180 instructional days. It draws upon the basic history that sophomores have already learned in elementary and middle school, expanding upon it and going into a lot more detail.

“It’s a lot at first,” said Tyler Sun (‘22). “I remember looking at the textbook in those first couple weeks, and having absolutely no idea what was going on, like all the information on the pages was just not registering with my brain.”

But AP World History teacher Theresa Abernathy tries to make the course fun, and keep the textbook at home and out of the classroom.

“We do a lot of fun activities and projects in her class,” said Aadi Saha (‘22). “The notes we do in class are also really useful for determining what is most important in a chapter.”

In terms of notes, the students interviewed agreed that taking your own notes outside of class on the textbook, and actually studying and reading those notes was essential to getting a good grade in the class.

“You have to put in the effort if you want to end up with a good grade,” said Alex Jovanovic (‘22). “You can’t just coast by like you can in some other classes, you have to read, study, do the note cards and study guides, everything, if you want to actually know what you’re doing when you get a test or a quiz.”

While there is certainly an emphasis on tests and quizzes in preparation for the AP exam in the second semester, there is also a certain element of fun in the course.

“There’s some really fun projects and assignments we’ve done,” said Adam Pohl (‘22). “We also sometimes just have chill days, where we can just study, or where we’ll just watch a video about whatever time period we’re in and answer some questions about it. It all depends on the day what we’ll actually do in class, but it’s never just boring or busy work. You’re always learning something or moving towards a goal.”

While students agreed that the course is certainly not easy, they all recommended that current freshmen should certainly take the class next year, so long as they have an interest in history.

“If you hate history, don’t take the class,” said Saha. “But if you have any interest at all, and you’re going to be driven to put in the work to get a good grade, then you should definitely take it. It’s a great class, and I highly recommend it.”

AP Government and Politics

In freshman year, it’s a requirement to take a civics and geography course. While some students elect to simply take the normal civics and world geography courses, others go above and beyond, taking both AP Government and Politics as well as AP Human Geography to satisfy the course requirement. While the AP class is mostly made up of freshmen, it’s available to all students.

“It’s a fun and interesting AP intended for freshmen, but anyone can take it,” said Jack Dillon (’20). “You get the AP credit for taking a class that is actually fun and informative.”

A typical day in class is spent listening to the teacher, Chloe Kaspar, reviewing a PowerPoint, watching videos related to the current topic of study, or doing fun interactive activities related to the course.

“[Mrs. Kaspar] is a really good teacher. She’s great at making sure it’s a fun course that isn’t too hard, while also helping students to actually understand the material and connect it to our political situation right now,” said Sam Wondsen (‘21). “My favorite part of the class is when we talk about current political issues or discuss things like the impeachment process that are really big right now.”

At the end of every unit, there’s a cumulative test about all of the material in the unit. Students in the class agreed that the tests were difficult, but not as hard as many other APs.

“Your grade definitely reflects how hard you work in the class,” said Kareem Sange (‘21). “It’s definitely not an easy A, you do need to pay attention in class and study for the tests. But it isn’t hard just to be hard, it’s hard because [Mrs. Kaspar] really wants you to learn and know the material.”

Whether they were a freshman or an upperclassman, the students interviewed all agreed that AP Gov was among the top classes to take at Chamblee.

“I’ve really enjoyed taking [AP Gov] as one of my first AP courses,” said Nitin Rao (‘23). “I’ve learned a lot in the class, not just about the course, but also about what I can actually expect out of future AP classes. So I think this class is very valuable, and I recommend that others take it.”

Dillon agreed that the class was definitely worth taking, no matter your grade.

“The class is pretty easy, it’s fun, it’s interesting. It’s a good first AP class to take, or a good AP class to take in your senior year,” Dillon said. “If you’re a junior, you can take it at the same time as APUSH (AP US History) or if you’re a senior, you’re taking economics at the same time. So you can relate it to your other courses, no matter your grade level.”

AP Human Geography

Similar to AP Gov, students can take AP Human Geography in freshman year to qualify as their geography credit for that year, or they can take it later on just to take an AP class. The course is taught by Jesse Hamilton, and covers topics from culture, to the interaction of humans and the environment, to global politics.

“Being able to learn about how all of this stuff, the environment, culture, language, race, country, how all of these things interact and form who we are is really interesting to me,” said Pierce Rosenhaft (‘23).

In the class, assignments range from creating presentations in groups, to watching films depicting different cultures and assessing the elements of Human Geography students have learned about depicted in the movies.

“It’s honestly a pretty fun class,” said Robert Watts (‘23). “I feel like I’m learning, and I do feel pretty prepared for the [AP] exam, even though it’s not until next semester. I’ve learned a lot of content in the class I didn’t know before, and understand how all of this stuff works a lot better.”

As far as out-of-class work goes, there isn’t a lot in the class.

“You do have to read your textbook at home, and do vocabulary words and there’s occasionally some classwork sheet that you’ll have to finish for homework,” said Krishna Srivasta (‘23). “But most of it, you can get done in class. So the workload once you get home isn’t a whole lot, so long as you do your work in class when you’re supposed to.”

Students in the class heavily emphasized the positive combination of AP Human Geography and AP Government and Politics as classes to take in the same year.

“In both this class and AP Gov, we learn a lot about current events,” said Rosenhaft. “I’ve learned a lot about what’s going on in the world from the articles we read in AP Human [Geography] and a lot about the United States and our government from what we learn in AP Gov. So I think the two courses go very well together. I recommend that any freshmen next year take both of these classes. They are really good introductions to AP classes, and both are very interesting.”