This course will cover the development of United States history from its pre-colonial beginnings through recent history (the period covered by the updated AP exam). It will prepare students to take the AP US History exam in May, 2020. However, my goals for this course are more comprehensive than getting students ready to take the exam next May. I also hope to inspire and increase students’ love and appreciation for history, expand students’ capacity to think creatively and flexibly about critical issues, and communicate powerfully and compellingly.
Students will read primary and secondary source material, watch videos, listen to audio, and participate in discussions. They will have access to my college-level audio-visual presentations, which include both improving thinking, reading, and writing skills and covering the content of American history from its pre-colonial roots to recent times. They will learn how to write historical essays like the ones required by the AP exam, not only by writing their own, but by critiquing actual former AP exam submissions for strengths and weaknesses. They will learn how to notice on-going themes in American history. They will engage in threaded discussions with one another, considering questions like “What is the purpose of government?” and “What is the best way to try to improve society?” to collaborating on the best approaches to AP-like questions. In addition, I have created several instructional presentations focused specifically on how to approach different elements of the AP exam, as well as several assignments that will help students practice their test-taking skills. All of these different sorts of assignments are organized in predictable patterns. That is, the AP course is divided into month-long ‘Units’ where each Unit has a Week A, B, C, and D. Students learn that certain types of assignments are always due at the end of Week A, others due at the end of Week B, and so on.
Who should enroll?
Students should be in at least 10th grade. Students should also have already had experience analyzing documents, whether those documents are historical or literary. Students who have only worked on ‘research papers’ really have not practiced the skills that will set them up for success in this course. Given the demanding work load, only hard-working students should apply for this course.
- High speed, broadband Internet
- Streaming video capabilities to watch recorded lectures
Evaluation and Feedback
Some assignments (namely essays) receive extensive feedback. Other assignments that focus more on content mastery do not receive the same level of feedback. Students also get a lot of guidance both on how to write college-level essays in general, and how to write AP-type essays in particular.
A student must apply for this course before enrolling. Once enrolled, accounts are created for both student and parent(s) in the online Canvas course. All communication goes through the Canvas course.