AP World History Teaching Tips

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These activities are taken from the chapter "Teaching Strategies" in the Teacher's Guide -- AP World History.

  • Novels, Fact or Fiction. Students read both a historical novel and a factual account of the background of the novel. They write about whether the novelist did or did not adhere to the historical account, citing evidence to support their opinion.
  • Critical Letter. After students have read about or discussed a historic figure, they write a letter to that person, in which they approve or disapprove of the way the person handled one or more problems. They must state the reasons why they agree or disagree, and then say how they would have handled things.
  • Press Conference. Arrange a press conference for a historical person. The teacher should play this person, since he or she probably has the most information. Choose a student to be Press Secretary. The other students are reporters, each representing a particular newspaper or broadcast medium. They will come to the press conference with prepared questions. At the end of the press conference, each student writes an account of it for his or her medium. An actual newspaper, newsmagazine, or broadcast can be produced, too.
  • Debate: Historic and Modern Figure. Arrange a series of debates between a historic figure and a contemporary figure played by the students. An example of one pair is Leonardo Da Vinci and Bill Gates on the subject of technology. The debates could be presented in the manner of a PBS-type series, and "aired" on a regular schedule throughout the course.
  • Online Threaded Discussions. Student interaction, analysis skills, and writing skills may be improved by using threaded discussion questions. In answering the questions, students become involved in a thoughtful dialog with both the teacher and other students. These two examples of discussions were developed for an online AP World History course, but they can be integrated into a traditional course either as an online feature, a classroom discussion, or a written assignment.

Discussion 1.

What is your explanation for Europe developing new political, economic, social, and cultural systems between 1450 and 1800, while the rest of the world seemingly did not? In your posting, discuss the following in a paragraph each:

  1. Describe the difference between a European country and one from another region in the world. Be specific. Explain how the political, economic, social, and cultural systems of one European country differed from a specific non-European country during this period.
  2. Postulate a theory that explains what happened using at least three pieces of historical evidence to prove your point.
  3. Defend or dispute the theory that Europe developed unique new systems during this time period while the rest of the world did not.

Discussion 2.

Choose an event, trend, person, or social or cultural movement from the 20th century that you think will have the greatest impact on the 21st century. Explain the event, trend, person, or movement thoroughly. Search the World Wide Web for articles that might give you an idea what others might be thinking about this topic, and include this in your response. Then give a rationale for why what you have selected will have importance in the 21st century. In responding to other's ideas, try to consider why the one you have picked might hold more importance.

  1. Want Ads. After students have studied a historic person, they list traits and talents of the historic person. Then they look in the want ads of the Sunday paper to find jobs that the historic person could hold today. Students write a cover letter and a "résumé" to a prospective employer for the historic person.
  2. Looking for new ideas? Consult Bring History Alive! A Sourcebook for Teaching World History, published by the National Center for History in the Schools. Teaching strategies in the sourcebook are easily tied to the AP World History topic outline. The bibliography at the end of this guide provides other sources for inspiration.

Another source of teaching ideas is the AP World History online discussion group. Members of the group frequently discuss the comparative merits of textbooks, Web sites, review materials, summer reading assignments, teaching strategies, and other teaching materials and resources.

Also, attend one or more of the AP teacher development workshops and institutes organized annually by the College Board. Workshops are typically offered on weekends and range from one to three days in length. Each workshop concentrates on the teaching of a specific AP subject with the focus on instructional strategies and the management of an AP course. AP Summer Institutes are intensive, subject-specific courses that provide in-depth preparation for the teaching of AP courses. The workshops and institutes are also a forum for the exchange of ideas and information about AP. Search for one online using the College Board's Professional Development Workshop database.