AP/United States History


Women on Glacier Point
Women dancing on Glacier Point at Yosemite National Park in the 19th century. The federal government set aside the park in 1894 -- and from then on the area was a site of power struggles. The picture represents many of the themes of the 19th and 20th centuries in the United States including environmental preservation, women's rights, and the struggle between the federal government and local governments. California Historical Society


Course Information

The following a list of your assignments for this year.

Participation: 20%/semester.

Please come to class prepared to participate in class activities. Participation will be recorded at random on 30 of our 35 class meetings. In addition, your 10 worst daily participation grades will be dropped. This means that you need to participate every day because you never know when Dr. Berry is recording! The best way to prepare and participate is to read and take notes on the daily assigned readings from the required books and to prepare ahead of time questions or analytical comments about the reading. Our learning community is a safe place and no one should feel intimidated. At the same time, we all must remember that an important part of learning is listening and respectful listening and quiet engagement will also be rewarded in our class. Should you be curious at any point about what your participation/attendance grade is, feel free to ask! Your participation will be based on the following rubric.

Participation Rubric
There are a possible 10 points for each day.  You begin each day with 10 points  -- work hard not to lose them!

A student who earns9-10 points for the day will:

A student who earns 8-9 points for the day will:

A student who earns 7-8 points for the day will:

A student who earns 6 or fewer  points for the day will:

Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the subject

Demonstrate a solid understanding of the subjects

Demonstrate a somewhat limited understanding of the subjects

Demonstrate a quite limited understanding of the subjects

Stimulate others to address and engage in the important points and issues for the day

Be uncertain about his/her own analysis of the day’s subject

Be uncertain about his/her own analysis of the day’s subject

Have no analysis of the day’s subject

Add important ideas to the discussion

Add  some ideas to the discussion

Add  very few ideas to the discussion

Add no ideas to the discussion

Directly address specific content from the readings at least once during discussion

Generally, not specifically, refer to the readings

Not demonstrate their close reading

Demonstrate they have not read for the day

Show respect for colleagues and Dr. Berry at all times (this includes NOT talking when someone else is talking)

Show respect for colleagues and Dr. Berry at all times (this includes NOT talking when someone else is talking)

Sometimes talk while others are talking, but generally show respect

Constantly talk while others are talking

Have thoroughly familiarized self with topic

Have familiarized him/herself with the topics, but will be a bit uncertain on some details

Be a bit uncertain on some details for the course material for the day

Will be rather clueless

Offer clear, accurate answers for questions

Offer clear, accurate answers for questions

Attempt to answer for questions but may offer searching or imprecise answers

Will demonstrate they have not read for the day

Try to help others clarify difficult concepts

Try to help others clarify difficult concepts

Not try to help others clarify difficult  concepts

Will not be willing to help others

Perform brilliantly on the day’s in-class and/or homework assignments

Perform highly on the day’s in-class and/or homework assignments

Complete in-class and/or homework assignments, but work is sloppy/poor

Not complete in-class and/or  homework assignments,

Listen intently and come to learn and have fun

Listen intently and come to learn and have fun

Listen intently and come to learn and have fun

Generally not want to be in class 



Reading Responses: 10% /semester (2% per response)

You must choose 5 days on which to respond to the readings for the day and write a 1 page, single-spaced reading response. Your response should be analytical and must compare at least 2 sources for the day. These MUST BE WRITTEN BY March 15th in the second semester.

Theme Wrap-Up papers: 20% first semester and 10% second semester

Each semester we will discuss themes. In the first semester, you will be required to write a 4-5 page wrap-up on the theme for 4 of the themes. In the second semester, you will be required to write 2 TWPS. These papers must utilize the sources we have read on the topic and must ultimately answer the guiding question we have been addressing throughout the theme. Expectations and Rubric HERE!

End-of-First-Semester Exam: 20% 1st semester

This exam will be an in-class exam and will be comprised of AP style multiple-choice questions, 1 essay, and 1 DBQ.

Final Exam: 25% 2nd semester

The final exam will be an open book, open note, take-home essay exam. You will choose one question to answer from a list of 5 possible questions. The essay will be 7-8 pages long. You will also have class time to work together in small groups on your answers.


Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and World War II papers 10% each second semester only



Practice essays, Document-Based Questions, and collaborative reviews: 10% 1st semester

Several times throughout each semester, we will practice AP style essay questions and DBQs. You will be warned ahead of time when these will occur. You will also, in the second semester, collaborate on several review projects. More information to come!


Abolitionism/Civil War paper and debate participation: 15% for paper and 5% for debate (first semester only)

This 3-5 page paper will be due in late November. Utilizing primary documents, each student will argue for or against slavery and the need for the Civil War more generally. You will each represent the perspective of a person living in the United States in the late 1850s and will use the paper as the foundation for the all-class debate.

The expectations for the two assignments are as follows:

Grading Expectations for Participation in Debate:
A = Student presents her/his position in a well-informed manner at least once during the debate; student takes the opportunity to rebut another person’s stance on the issue at least once during the debate; student treats all others in the debate with respect
B = Student discusses in the small group, but is quiet during the larger group debate; student is well-informed about her/his position but does not assert it in order to rebut another’s position; student treats all others in the debate with respect
C =  Student does not verbally represent her/his position; student does not participate in either the small group or large group discussion verbally but attentively listens to the activity; student treats all others in the debate with respect

The Liberator
A picture of The Liberator -- one of the most influential abolitionist publications in America. Borrowed from: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/african/afam007.html

D/F = Student does not attend debate; or student is disruptive or disrespectful during the debate proceedings without offering anything of value

The Paper:    In addition to role-playing the position you’ve been assigned during the debate, you will also take on the role of a historian who is trying to figure out the primary arguments of those who are contrary to your debate position (so if you are pro-slavery for the debate, you will read abolitionist sources for your paper).  Basing your argument in the primary sources as well as on what you know about the historical context of the time, you’ll write a short (3-5 page) scholarly article about the intellectual positions of the pro-slavery or anti-slavery proponents.  Remember, this should be from the perspective of a historian in the year 2006 writing about this long-ago event, but since it is a scholarly article, you can assume your audience has some knowledge about the abolitionist debate.  And thus you needn’t spend a great deal of time setting the stage.  Additionally, this should be somewhat interpretive.  You don’t need to offer judgment on whether or not you agree with the positions taken by these historical actors, but you’ll want to analyze their ideas.

GRADING EXPECTATIONS for Paper (each section will be weighted equally):

A = Strong Thesis with sophisticated Argument
B =Strong Thesis with some argument
C =Attempted Thesis but unclear argument
D/F =  No thesis evident

Evidence from the Readings and Lecture:
A =  Excellent use of direct quotes and critical analysis of each quote used as well as linkages to broader context (evidence from lecture)
B = Use of direct quotes, less strong critical analysis; some lecture context
C = Evidence of evidence, but no direct quotes or analysis; lack of coherent lecture context
D/F = No evidence used; no lecture context evident

Grammar and Writing:
A =  Solid spelling, punctuation and sentence structure (perhaps 1 or 2 mistakes) and correct paper format
B = A few spelling and punctuation mistakes; some unclear sentences, correct paper format
C = Several spelling and punctuation mistakes which interfere slightly with comprehensibility, some format inconsistencies
D/F = So many spelling, punctuation and structural mistakes that the writing is unreadable, incorrect paper format

Organization and comprehension:
A = Clear topic sentences for each paragraph, logical progression of paragraphs (including transitions), illustration of excellent comprehension of the material, strong introduction and conclusion, no factual errors
B = Most topic sentences are clear, paragraphs have logical progression, above average comprehension of material strong introduction and conclusion, few if any factual errors
C =  Some topic sentences unclear, paragraphs are weakly connected (limited transitions), average comprehension of material, weak introduction or conclusion, some factual errors
D/F = No topic sentences, no logical progression of paragraphs, incomprehensible or absent introduction or conclusion, no evident comprehension of material, enormous factual errors

Your Choice Paper: 15% 2nd semester

You will be given a choice to either write a paper choosing the most important document in American History. More information to come. This paper will come AFTER the AP Exam.


William Martin, Jr. with a cow

William Martin, Jr. a cowboy and ranch-owner, stands on the grounds of Faraway Ranch in what is now Chiricahua National Monument near Wilcox, Arizona. Image borrowed from the web project "In the Steps of Esteban." Image held by the Arizona Historical Society.