AP U.S. History
On-Line for the 2017-2018 School Year
Teacher: Daniel Burns
Application: click here
Note: The AP exam in U.S. History was significantly revised by the College Board for 2014-2015 with additional revisions in the summers of 2015 and 2017 in response to public feedback. This course has been updated as well to best prepare students for the latest exam format and content.
America: A Narrative History, 9th edition by Tindall and Shi
American Heritage video series by Hillsdale College
The History of the United States: A Christian Perspective by Robert Spinney
Many other free online materials are incorporated, such as review websites, primary source documents, other videos, and so forth.
Class Fees: Early bird (before July 1st): $595, regular $625. Audit option (see below) $195. The cost of the textbook varies substantially depending on choice of used or new and format (ebook or print). All the other materials are available free online.
Schedule: Class starts on August 25th with submission of the summer reading book review and finishes in mid-May. The AP exam will probably be on May 11th, 2018 (pending confirmation by the College Board).
Course Goals: This course takes a unique approach by emphasizing two goals: 1) prepare students to excel on the AP exam, and 2) expose students to a Christian view of American history. Taken together, these goals represent excellent exam preparation along with appreciation for America’s Christian heritage.
The first goal is accomplished by a rigorous college-level course of study. We cover U.S. history from colonization through the present, including political, social, cultural, and economic themes. The main textbook is supplemented with online videos, powerpoint slideshows, primary source documents, and internet research. There are a variety of types of assignments designed to reinforce concepts and encourage critical thinking. Some of these assignments involve the opportunity to exercise creativity if the student chooses. The syllabus sets of baseline of required weekly assignments and allows students to pursue their interests beyond that level for bonus or class participation points. Students should expect to spend about 10 hours per week on coursework.
The second goal is accomplished through the content of the powerpoint presentations, videos, class discussions, and commentary from Dr. Spinney's book listed above. The powerpoints were created by a conservative Christian history professor and designed to expose students to America’s Christian heritage (and to Calvin and Hobbes cartoons as historical commentary!). Students will see many aspects of America’s development analyzed through the lense of a Christian worldview. Our weekly discussions on the message board are usually based on Dr. Spinney's book. In addition, assignments such as the summer reading project will provide several recommendations for books from a conservative viewpoint.
Note that while students are exposed to a Christian worldview through the powerpoints and discussions, the course is not about indoctrination from a single perspective. The main textbook, while not Christian, is one of the most balanced college-level texts available. By critically evaluating a range of perspectives, we strive to arrive at truth. Students will better understand and be able to defend their beliefs when they have considered and debated opposing views. Those who are not Christians themselves will find their beliefs respected and have the opportunity to present their point of view. The student group in 2016-2017 encompasses a remarkable range of religious viewpoints, and the exchange of ideas has been outstanding.
Who should apply: This course is open to homeschooled students who will be in grades 9 through 12 in the 2017-2018 school year. However, in my experience, 9th graders are typically better served by choosing another course as their first AP course and waiting another year before attempting APUSH. There are no prerequisites, but a basic understanding of U.S. History will be helpful. Students should also be willing to regularly engage in thoughtful discussions of historical issues and events.
This course is ideal for those who have a passion for history and enjoy an academic challenge. There will be large readings required along with primary source documents, regular AP-style practice essays, and other assignments, so strong reading and writing skills are essential. I will ask for PSAT/SAT/ACT scores or other measures of academic preparation (such as a letter of recommendation) and a writing sample in the application process. Perhaps most importantly, students should have self-motivation and a love of learning.
Interaction: An important component of the class is the exchange of perspectives and ideas. This is not a class for simply memorizing facts and dates, but for analyzing, synthesizing, and interpreting. What do you think about the transcendentalist literary authors? Did the South have the right to secede? What about Theodore Roosevelt’s Big Stick foreign policy?
We like to have fun in APUSH! The course will have a highly interactive password-protected website (interactive rating of 3) where students get to know each other, respond to each other’s work, ask questions, etc. One type of assignment is a group project where students collaborate on researching and answering a question. We will also organize (optional) live chat sessions for review, interaction, and history games. I will be available to students for conferences via google chat, skype, or phone as desired.
I will post frequent updates on the website as a reminder of assignments. Parents are encouraged to check the website regularly for details about course work and student interaction. I will also send out a midyear progress report and a final progress report to parents (very useful to show evaluators or to include in a portfolio!).
Note that there is *not* a specific time when the class meets in a live setting. Students are expected to check the website daily and participate regularly, but not at any particular time of day. Other than certain optional activities, everything is available around the clock to accommodate different schedules even students living around the world.
Audit option: Audit students have access to all class materials, including automated multiple-choice quizzes. However, they do not participate in assigned discussion topics or group projects and do not receive grades or feedback on any written work. Although the regular course is certainly preferable for AP exam preparation and a fun experience, audit could be a good option for those who can handle a more self-directed course. Just indicate on the application form that the application is for audit status.
Registration: The application is available for download below. Please email me with any questions. Class size is limited and there will be a summer reading assignment, so sign up early!
Instructor Qualifications: This will be my 14th year teaching AP U.S. History online for the Pennsylvania Homeschoolers. I love U.S. history and the related fields of politics, economics, and culture. I have also been a classroom teacher and currently serve as administrator for Puebla Christian School in Puebla, Mexico. My students have done extremely well the AP U.S. History exam in the last 13 years, performing well above national averages. I am a veteran of the AP Homeschoolers program, having taken various AP online courses while in high school as a PHAA student. I went on to attend Patrick Henry College for my bachelor's degree and Regent University for my master's. Another Patrick Henry graduate, Emily Morcos, serves as assistant instructor for this class. We both have a voracious appetite for U.S. history and look forward to another year of teaching this course as a means of sharing that excitement with homeschooled high school students.
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