Advanced Placement United States History

    Course Description and Requirements


          Welcome to Advanced Placement United States History!  This course will entail a survey study of American History from pre-Columbian times to the present.  In essence the course covers a massive amount of material in a very short period of time.  You are here for a purpose – to advance your historical knowledge, work at a collegiate level and advance yourself as an intelligent human being.  This course, for high school students, is not for the feint of heart.  Advanced placement courses are designed to be taught at the freshmen college level.  Accordingly, all books, materials, readings, and discussions will be comparable to those used in college.  The course will require students to think, write, read and express themselves at advanced levels.  A great deal of individual initiative is placed upon all students. All required work, as stated below, must be completed to meet the requirements necessary to pass the course.

         The basic curriculum guidelines are established by the AP College Board.  The curricular requirements will enable students, if so desired, to take the Advanced Placement Exam at the end of the year.  Students are strongly encouraged and advised to participate in this testing and placement program.  The exam is composed of eighty multiple choice questions, two essay questions and a document based essay question. Most universities and colleges reward students who successfully complete the course and obtain the required test scores with college credits and/or higher placement at the college level.  Students electing to take the test will have slightly different work requirements and must be willing to complete test prep and review exercises prior to taking the exam.  Our class goal is for ALL students to take the AP exam and earn a score of three or better!

         The time has come to be a soldier and soldier up!!  As stated earlier, this course is not for the feint of heart.  Requirements and standards are extremely high.  Ask yourself, “am I ready to be challenged and am I ready to meet the challenge successfully?”  Play the game!  Play the game!    


    All students completing this course will have:

    --an understanding of the importance and relevance of historical study

    --an understanding of the work of an historian and historiography

    --a knowledge of American history

    --learned “real life” skills

    --worked individually and cooperatively

    --had to think and express their thoughts coherently and accurately

    --been active in their learning

    --completed the course requirements


    Course Philosophy

        This course requires students to demonstrate both a knowledge of the subject matter and the ability to exhibit other skills needed to be a successful learner and adult.  This necessitates a self-directed learner who is willing to complete the required work in a high quality fashion, meeting at least the minimum standards as described in the relevant rubrics.  You will need to create, analyze, interpret andevaluate on a regular basis.  You must also be prepared to share, explain and discuss what you are studying.  Assessments will involve self and peer assessing, as well as traditional teacher grading.  As in the real world, the final product given to be submitted must be the best possible.  Each student will know the criteria by which all work will be judged. Quality work is the only acceptable work!


    Classroom Behavior

         Will not be an issue. 


    Grading Policy

    Point System

         Your grade for this course will be based upon total points.  Point totals will vary from marking period to marking period.  AP test takers will, of course, be assessed upon their success or failure on the AP exam.

         Your grade will be determined by your performance on all homework, essays, reports, projects, DBQ’s, quizzes, tests and quarterly AP practice tests.  All project assignments will be clearly delineated in rubrics that state the requirements of the project.  The assessments of the criteria will be done by yourself, your partner, and the teacher.  Due dates will be strictly adhered to so assignments that are turned in late will receive a maximum grade of 50%.  Computer problems will not negate this requirement.

        Unit tests will be given following the completion of each of the twelve units.  Each test will consist of questions from the text, student study guide, info packs and class notes.  Most tests will combine essays and/or short-answer essays, with 25-30 multiple choice questions. Tests will be 80-100 points each.  If you are absent or have a question on an assignment send an e-mail to my school address or check my website.


    Cheating or Plagiarism Policy

          Cheating and plagiarism are serious breaches of academic integrity and trust.  Students involved in an incident will receive a 0% grade for the related project, assignment, or test. The National Honor Society advisers and scholarship committees will be advised of the infraction, and a discipline referral will be made to the administration.  Parents will also be notified of any infraction or suspected infraction.  Remember that most of you will be needing college recommendations- be smart and be honest!


    Teacher Requirements


       The role of the teacher is to facilitate, coach and instruct.  I will provide the material and technology you will need to learn, direct instruction, and the proper learning environment.  I will also be the final judge of the quality of your work.  All work will be returned in a timely fashion according to the depth and detail of each assignment.


    Course Requirements

         Each student must maintain a notebook throughout the year.  Notes will be class notes and individual notes taken from required readings.  The pursuit of knowledge through individual assignments will greatly enhance success in this classroom.   Personal notes and personal research will definitely aid the cause of your study in this course.  Students should also copy the Giant AHAP Review Outline from historyteacher.net for each unit, as noted in the reading assignment lists.  This outline provides students with critical review material for each unit, and when completed, a superb tool for studying for the A. P. exam. 



    To successfully complete the course students must complete the following work:

    Book Review/Report - (One review/report valued at 50 points)

         All books must be viewed and approved in advance by the teacher.  The book must be a work of American history.  A work of historical fiction is also an option, but not recommended.    Due dates for specified portions of the review will be assigned by the teacher.  Due dates must be met to obtain the credit assigned to each date.  Two copies of each book review will be submitted  A graded copy will be returned to you for inclusion in your notebook and one will be kept on file by the teacher.  The teacher reserves the right to accept or reject selections made by students.


    Journal Review - (One review valued at 40 points)

          Your task is to review an article from a professional journal pertaining to American history.  The review must be taken from the Journal of American History, available on an overnight basis, from the Hershey High School library.  As with book reviews, two copies of each journal review must be submitted.


    Research Paper - (One paper valued at 100 points)

         Project proposals must be teacher approved.  The paper will be a thesis based, traditional research paper in which you will attempt to prove the validity of your research.  A rubric will be provided.  Once again, two copies will be submitted.


    C.D.T.’s and Reading Assignments - (5 points per assignment)

         Comprehension-discussion-thinking activities are homework assignments related to the learning outcomes from the text study guide and/or text reading assignments.  All C.D.T.’s will be checked and graded regularly.  Most CDT’s will involve taking three major points for each subsection of the assignment. This is a key component of the course, your grade, and your ability to score well on the AP exam; therefore they must be taken seriously throughout the course.  C.D.T.’s will be assigned on an average of three per week.  It is imperative that you keep up with the reading and C.D.T. work!


    DBQ’s- Document Based Essay Questions - (30 points per essay)

         Most units will feature a primary source document analysis and essay.  These assignments will combine relevant content knowledge with an analysis of primary source documents from the period being studied.  Students will be required to analyze specific documents, draw conclusions about their worth and meaning, and clearly state their findings in a comprehensive essay.   DBQ’s will be practiced constantly throughout the course of the year.


    FRQ’s- Free Response Essay Questions - (20 points per essay)

         Free response essays will accompany most unit tests.  These essays are traditional format essays, in other words they are not combined with documents but relate to the material covered in each unit.


    Quarterly AP Practice Exams - (50-100 points per exam)

         Upon completion of course units and near the end of the first three marking periods an AP Practice Exam will be administered on the material covered during the marking period.  This test will be comprised entirely of multiple choice questions.  Students will be given a copy of the practice exam prior to taking the test so that a review of the material can be accomplished outside of the classroom.  In the fourth marking period, before the actual AP Exam in May, a comprehensive practice test will also be administered. 


    Content Familiarization  – (scores will vary)

         Comprehensive study guides, identification sheets and outlining will be required

    Extra Credit – (15 points per assignment)

          Document based assessments will be provided for each unit of study.  If students desire to earn extra credit, which is advisable, they will write these thesis based assessments.   Extra credit will be earned due to the difficulty and pace of the course material.


    Peer Review Note- A key element in producing quality work is the peer review.  This responsibility should be taken seriously by both the reviewer and the author.   By utilizing techniques of cooperation and critical analysis, this process builds skills which will be useful to you in college and beyond.    


    AP Exam Philosophy and Policy

         The APUS History Exam is a challenging test comprised of 80 multiple choice questions, a document based essay question (DBQ), and two free-response essay questions (FRQ). The AP College Board scores the tests on a 1-5 scale, with a three, four or five being eligible for college credit or advanced placement, depending on the policies of individual colleges or universities.  Essay scoring is done by readers who award scores based on predetermined criteria, while the multiple choice questions are graded by a scantron type machine. If you work hard, do the assigned work throughout the year and complete the study sequence before the test you can score a three, four, or five on the exam!  As with most successful endeavors, this will require commitment and effort.  If you are not willing to make this commitment to achieve in the 3-4-5 range save yourself some money and time; you should not bother taking the test.



         Please feel free to get in touch with me through my school email at danderson@hershey.k12.pa.us  for any assignments or for answers to your questions or concerns.  Please check my District website and Moodle site.  They will contain important information, assignments, and most of the required paperwork used in the course.