AP United States History Homepage

Home | AP US Govt. | Frontiers | Identities | Women's History

"The arc of history tends toward justice." Martin Luther King, Jr.

"California News" by William Sidney Mount

Course Description

Welcome to our AP US History class. This year will be an innovative experiment both in terms of blending the AP and the Regular US History courses and in terms of how we learn our US History. We will not be studying history through the typical chronological/survey approach. Rather we will learn thematically. We will have 7 themes in the first semester and 4 in the second semester. The first semester will address the Colonial Period-Reconstruction and the second semester will address the late 19th century through the mid-20th century. Our themes are organized around guiding questions which we will seek to answer through our study and understanding of the past. The 7 themes for the first semester are:


Economy and Class

Governmental power and rebellion




Seeking Peace?

In the second semester, we will take a more chronological approach with points of emphasis being on Economics and Government, Social and Cultural Movements, Environment and Technology, and War. Second Semester Course Schedule.

At the end of each theme we will have a debate about how we would answer the guiding question. Overall, these themes will enable us to discuss the different meanings of power and of freedom in United States history and, in the course of those discussions, we will uncover and analyze the critical turning points of American history. We will write intensively, read widely, and support one another in our quest for both skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in this course, on the AP exam, in the college classroom, and in the democracy in which we participate everyday.


Course Expectations:

You can expect to work very hard in this course and to have a lot of fun! You must come to every class prepared to analyze, memorize, and synthesize. You should also be willing come to class ready to think about new ideas and to be eager to consider the myriad perspectives that inform the lives of historical actors.  We will utilize primary and secondary sources, including films and other visual sources.  The course will be reading and writing intensive and will be based largely in discussion so you MUST come to class prepared to analyze and synthesize the documents we've read for the day!

AND I expect you to try very hard...even in the moments just before the final exams and the AP test, that history is, in its essence, a myriad of stories with many different interpretations. It is NOT a mind-numbing, overwhelming jumble of facts that must only be memorized and then forgotten. THAT is our task. To think like historians and to learn how the study of the past can help us all live meaningful lives in the present and make sound choices that make the best sense for us as individuals and for our communities (both local and global). Our present is infused with the past...let's explore it. The enthusiastic study will lead to understanding and understanding will lead to wisdom. And isn't wisdom just as important as a 5 on the College Board test?