Online for the 2023-2024 School Year
Teacher: Susan Richman
This class is now FILLED for the 2023-2024 school year-- audit students and waitlist students still accepted!
This AP US History course will thoroughly prepare students for the AP US History exam scheduled for May 10, 2024 at 8:00am, and the course syllabus fully reflects the changes in the new course design from 2017 and further 'tweaks' each year-- see this College Board link for a detailed summary of these exam changes, reflecting the REVISIONS made after several years of redesign and feedback. These re-revisions reflect concerns voiced from the general public, college professors of history, and APUSH teachers in high schools. The revision of the re-design is much much clearer, and I truly feel that all concerns that either the exam was being 'watered down' or was too 'politically correct' have been met-- I'm proud of these final changes! Know that my students, both those who are politically conservative and those who are politically more liberal, have scored better on the *revised* exam than in earlier versions of the APUSH exam. Where globally in 2023 only 10.8% of students earned a 5 on the APUSH exam, in my class 42% of students did! And the next most common score in my class was a 4!
Start Date: Tuesday August 22, 2023-- with submission of Summer Book Review on our class website.
Week off over Thanksgiving, Winter holidays (Christmas & New Years), and Spring holidays -- dates will be in student calendar for the class.
End Date: mid-May 2023, after students take their APUSH exam on May 10, 2024 at 8:00am. Extension offered until May 31, 2024, if students have any back work to complete for the course. Late May special live ZOOM session for all students to share their National History Day projects with the group.
Texts required: Our main text this year will again be the innovative free college-level online text The American Yawp, developed through Stanford University, which includes rich primary documents related to each time period chapter, rich visual images (maps, graphs, cartoons, paintings and photos) and engagingly written chapters from a full range of US historians. For those students who would like to have this text as a print edition, that is also available in two volumes-- volume I covers early history through 1877, and volume II covers 1877 to the present. The full text can also be downloaded free as a PDF-- this way, students wouldn't have to worry about times when their Internet was down to continue reading, and they could also print out a chapter for reading when away from online access. There is even a very good quality AUDIO version of the text available free via YouTube, and many students have appreciated this option. I'm excited about using this text for the 3rd year, and I think students will find this resource very easy to use, and invigoratingly written. It will be a summer assignment to read the opening chapter of this text.
We will also use the supplementary excellent free videos produced by Heimler's History, which go along with each APUSH unit of study. Further, students regularly complete multiple-choice questions and Short Answer Questions at the College Board AP Classroom site for AP US History, giving them lots of practice with exam-style questions.
Other learning materials will be accessed directly on our course website, including audio lectures produced by the Great Courses, video lectures, short review videos, and more.
Tech Needs: hi-speed Internet access; computer that enables student viewing of online videos and listening to audio lectures; highly recommended: students need the ability to watch streamed video on computer, phone, or tablet; SmartPhone for listening to downloaded audio history lectures and podcasts, and a working mic and headphones/speakers for live 3X monthly ZOOM class meetings. Our online American Yawp text can be read very easily on a tablet or SmartPhone.
Class Tuition fees: Regular Tuition Fee $760 early bird fee (after July 1, 2023, tuition goes up to $785).
Who should apply: Class size will be limited this year to 25 students max. Audit option available for strong students after the class has filled ($275 audit tuition for the year), with the option of joining the class and paying the balance of tuition if an enrolled student needs to drop the class. This class is for high school students having a strong passion for history, and who have advanced writing and reading skills. This is not an easy class, and each student must be willing to put in the required time (roughly 8 to 12 hours of study per week, which includes watching history video lectures online and other activities, along with text reading and essay writing).
I will ask for SAT, PSAT, other AP scores or other achievement test scores when available to help in making decisions on which students to accept into the class, as there is a high correlation between overall verbal abilities and success in AP US History. Standardized test scores are not a requirement for admission, but they are helpful if available.
Students will also be asked to submit a personal essay describing their background in history and their goals for taking part in the class. Ideally, a recent US history class has been completed (this is not a requirement), or at least some demonstration that the student comes into the class with a good background in basics and strong interests in at least some aspects of our country’s history. As important is assurance that the student is ready to take part actively in the class through regular discussion on the website and responding to fellow students' work. Highly interactive course.
Class Description: This class will cover mainstream US History from early exploration and colonization to the present, using an online text, The American Yawp, as well as many original source documents, varied Internet resources, and the rich archive of material on our class site. Students will also listen to regularly scheduled history lectures produced by The Great Courses -- these are provided free to students via our class website. They also view the Biography of America lecture series, produced by Annenberg/CPB. Our class archives include all past original History Interviews, Biography Projects, History Film Reviews, Summer Book Reviews, 'History Happened Here' reviews, class entries in the annual Gilder Lehrman Institute Civil War Essay Contest (sadly no longer in operation... this was a class favorite!), past National History Day projects, and more, completed by past students-- new students are truly joining a long line of dedicated history explorers, and will add their work to our archives over the year. Students are also encouraged to use other outside sources (websites, videos, history-related novels, magazines, biographies, and visits to historical museums, etc.) for earning bonus points. Encouraging *student initiative* is a big part of my philosophy of teaching.
Students will be required to submit two formal exam-style essays per month, using past AP US History exam essay prompts, as well as shorter less formal responses to 'History in the News', Primary-Documents (including historical cartoons), summaries of original History Interviews, and Document-Based Question (DBQ) Warm-Up responses. Early December includes a Civil War film/documentary review project. For those students who can readily keep on top of regular assignments, there are also many optional quick bonus assignments for extra credit-- many students really find these engaging and fascinating, even though they are not required for earning a very strong grade in the course.
Our class is *no longer* able to take part in the Gilder Lehrman Civil War Contest, as that program was 'retired' in fall of 2019-- this had been a VERY meaningful research project for students. Know that our class had a national level winner every year we took part (four years in a row!).
Our replacement research activity involves all students in the class taking part in preparing a project entry following guidelines for National History Day, with a project related in some way to the greater Civil War Era. I have always had several students each school year who have taken part in this excellent program, and this year's class is just now working at completing their projects-- some are writing research papers, developing a creative historical fiction piece, creating an original website, filming a 10-minute documentary, or preparing a performance or exhibit. While I don't require students to actually participate in regional NHD competitions, they are all preparing projects that meet NHD guidelines. Monthly 'Check-In's' are set starting very early in the school year, so that students understand the National History Day guidelines and have time to develop a meaningful project on a topic they personally find fascinating. We will aim to have a 'Gala Event' live on Zoom in late May where students will have the opportunity to share their final projects with the whole class. In 2022 we had almost a half-dozen students qualify for the *national* level of this competition, and many who made it to their state-level competitions after earning top awards at regionals-- and in 2023, APUSH'er Abigail Yang earned the 2nd place award nationally for her outstanding research paper. This was a real testament to the time and energy each of these students put into their projects!
A summer history book review project is also part of the class-- I send out a list of possible books to use by early July, and students can also suggest books they own that might meet this requirement. A mid-year review, comprised of 50 multiple-choice questions from actual back AP US History exams, is completed in mid-January, to help students gauge their progress to date. Further, we hold two simulated online 'Dinner Parties' where students take on the role of various historical characters, who 'meet' in a written discussion forum to discuss issues related to a particular era or theme (Revolutionary War Era in October and then Social Reform/Labor/Industry Leaders Theme in February).
Each week students also complete a regular round of requirements: text readings, readings in primary documents, and practice quizzes, while also learning about various effective study and review techniques. Students will also regularly be using audio resources online, including podcast interviews and lectures with historians, internet 'radio' programs on US history, such as BackStory Radio or the new Wondery: American History Tellers podcast, important historical speeches, several series of 'bouncy' quick YouTube history videos (Crash Course US History, Hip Hughes History, Heimler's History etc.), and more.
NOTE: this class does not have a required live ‘meeting day’ every week-- we meet live for a ZOOM class meeting on three Monday evenings (8:00pm ET) per month -- the first for discussion of the AP Classroom MCQ's for the previous unit, the next for a DOCUMENT DISCUSSION, and the third for a CARTOON CONVERSATION about political cartoons and images from the unit under study that month (more details below). These live sessions are recorded for viewing later by students unable to attend live. All other work is done asynchronously, with the major exam-essay assignments due on Fridays (another day can be substituted if that day is not convenient for a particular student), and less formal written assignments due on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. My course TA's (Teaching Assistants who were past strong students) do lead live Study Groups via Skype or Google Hangouts or Zoom, as an option for students who enjoy this type of learning-- and students are also encouraged to set up their own smaller student-organized study groups or one-on-one 'study buddy' times also. We also will be planning shared 'APUSH History Movie Nights', where all students can watch the same film or documentary, with a 'text chat box' running along the side, for quick commenting-- this is strictly a 'bonus' activity, but really fun and worthwhile!
LIVE ONLINE aspects of this class, using ZOOM:
The first Monday evening of each unit at 8:00pm, I will be leading a one-hour discussion about some of the tricky multiple-choice questions from the AP CLASSROOM assignment, to help students gain more understanding of both the historical content and how to 'think strategically' about MCQ's for the exam.
The 3rd Monday of each unit at 8:00pm I'll be leading a live DOCUMENT DISCUSSION via Zoom, focusing upon a range of documents related to one of our Primary Source Document Analysis assignments-- these will be held on Monday evening of the 3rd week of the unit, at 8:00pm ET.
The 4th Monday of each unit at 8:00pm I will be leading a live CARTOON CONVERSATION, focusing on various historical political cartoons and old prints for each time period, using again the ZOOM platform for these group meetings.
Again, students will not be required to attend these sessions LIVE, if they have a schedule conflict, and I will be able to make recordings so that students can watch any of these later. NOTE: there will be a few times I'll need to change the date for these live sessions, but our APUSH Calendar (and my weekly UPDATE messages) will clarify these occasional shifts.
The class will again have a lively website with many ways for students to interact with one another, debate issues, react and respond to one another’s essays, post history interviews, view history lectures, listen to history podcasts, and much more. We also have a direct link and free full access to our online, THE AMERICAN YAWP, along with many excellent resources that we will use regularly. Our site also has links to many other US history sites on the web, including several other free online survey texts.
The class website is password protected to insure privacy as the students learn together. The 2023-2024 website will be updated and ready for action by August 9, 2023, so students with 'free time' then can begin to get acquainted with each other and with the course website. The class will formally begin with student submission of their Summer Book Review on August 22, 2023.
To help students keep on top of course work, I send out a weekly Sunday evening APUSH Update via email (and I also post these to our course website), which includes study tips, review ideas, further explanations, optional quickie bonus assignments, and more. Students are required to post a weekly Assignment Log, detailing their study accomplishments for each week.
Instructor Qualifications: This will be my 28th year leading this class online with homeschool students, and I have also completed four different one-day College Board workshops on teaching AP US History-- including a summer workshop focusing on the changes for the re-designed APUSH exam, and several full-day or 3-day seminar workshops on US history offered through the Ashbrook Institute for Teaching American History, and many online sessions for teachers via the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. I am a PA certified teacher, and have a BA from Carnegie Mellon University and graduate work in education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. My strongest qualification may be that all four of my own adult children have taken the class and have received very high rankings on the AP US exam, and the student scores from this class are in general much higher than the national average-- and that my own US history personal library threatens to require yet another bookshelf very soon. I also love learning with and from my students, and each year I am awed by the abilities and the strong *initiative* of so many of the teens taking part in this course. Do read the student reviews of this class to gain a greater feel for the way we learn together in APUSH.
APPLICATION FORM IS NOW UPDATED FOR 2023-2024 SCHOOL YEAR! CLICK HERE-- this is a GOOGLE FORM for you to submit your application online!