It is exciting to
hear that you are considering joining the APUSH Planet! Every
year, almost 300,000 students nationwide challenge themselves in
Advanced Placement United States History, and make no mistake about it,
APUSH is truly a challenge for students.
Perhaps the number
one reason Advanced Placement courses are so challenging is a matter of
expectations. Many students taking AP courses for the first time
assume that they are no different than honors-level classes, but that
is not the case. APUSH is a step up from Honors World
History, one you must make consciously and actively. The first
few weeks of class will be a difficult transition as you work to
determine what is expected of you.
Like all AP
classes, APUSH is a hybrid course, incorporating the atmosphere,
expectations, and workload of a college course in the high school
classroom. Students who take the course and pass the AP
Exam in the spring have the opportunity to earn college credit.
While the AP Exam is not required, it is highly recommended, and a
large number of students take advantage of this opportunity every
year. Though not every student takes the AP Exam, APUSH is
structured around the Advanced Placement curriculum for all students
Because APUSH is a
college-level course, expectations and standards are higher. This
does not mean that APUSH is exactly like the college history course
your parents or siblings might remember. Indeed, the workload can
at times be much heavier. For the most part students can expect
our coverage of American History to go into greater depth and breadth
than in other courses; at times we will even get into
historiography—the history of the history. Students will also
find that writing and assessment in APUSH can be intense—expect essays
can expect to work hard for good grades. At West Valley, AP
classes are weighted for GPA purposes. Mathematically, this
means, an “A” is worth five points; academically, this means that “A”
work in a regular class is “B” work in an AP class. The bar is,
All of that said,
APUSH will be what students make it. AP curriculum and AP
only part of the equation; Honors and AP classes thrive on the
curiosity, passion and drive of the students who enroll. Everyone is welcome
to enroll, but we do ask that you make the APUSH choice from an
informed point of view. Read the expectations below carefully,
and take the Summer Assignment seriously. Other than rumors and
urban legends, they are the only real source of information you have to
determine if APUSH will be the right course for you.
choosing to take APUSH. For the majority of West Valley
students, regular US History is the appropriate course to take to meet
your graduation requirement. If you do not feel that you are
ready for APUSH or you do not wish to take the Summer Assignment
seriously, then speak to your counselor now and make the switch.
Otherwise, I look
forward to working with you in the Fall.
The Summer Assignment
is essential to APUSH for two reasons:
- It provides
you with a legitimate idea of what to expect in terms of content and
workload in an APUSH unit.
- It allows us
to get an early start on the content which is essential given the pace
we must maintain for the AP schedule.
Both parts of
the Summer Assignment will be collected during the first week of
school. They will also serve as the basis of our discussions for
the first two weeks of the semester, and you will be tested on the
material within that time frame.
Skills & Habits of
Successful APUSH Students
Below are the skills
and habits that students will need to succeed in APUSH. Further
developing these skills and habits is a goal of the APUSH class, but it
is expected that you have already made significant progress in these
areas. If you find yourself—or your student—deficient in any one
of these areas, you might want to reconsider placement in APUSH.
And as with any situation, students lacking in certain areas but
willing to work and improve will find a most supportive teacher, but
students unable and more importantly unwilling to work and improve will
be actively encouraged to find another placement.
- Attendance: Regular
attendance is an absolute necessity, as class discussions and lectures
will cover material not easily found elsewhere. Absences for
school-related activities is expected among advanced students, but it
is the responsibility of the student, not the teacher, to make
arrangements for work to be turned in and notes to be obtained.
Students with major commitments that will require extensive, prolonged
absences should rethink their enrollment in APUSH.
- Participation: A
successful class depends on student participation to bring in diverse
ideas, interpretations and questions. Additionally, a student’s
individual grade will depend in part on his/her personal
participation. Contributions need not be earth-shattering, but
they must be regular and substantive.
- Homework: Students
should expect to have homework on a daily basis. It is understood
that students learn in many different ways, and a variety of
assignments will be incorporated into the course. But students
considering enrolling should understand that APUSH is a reading- and
writing-intensive course. Exams: Tests in APUSH are quite
rigorous, consisting of multiple choice, short answer, and essay
questions. Exams will assess students’ factual and analytical
mastery of the material. Every unit will end with an exam,
usually one every two weeks, and these exams will be reflective of the
AP Exam students may take in the spring.
- Reading: Students
must be able to read quickly and with understanding both primary
sources and analytical, secondary sources. Students should be able to
read for the main idea while culling appropriate factual
information. A textbook will serve as the main reading, but it
will be supplemented regularly with mandatory outside readings.
Students can expect to regularly read 70 pages of textbook material a
week as well as primary sources and supplementary readings.
Students should be prepared to take notes on everything! Only a
slight exaggeration, notes on readings and lectures are a necessity,
and they will also serve as assignments throughout the course.
The fast pace of APUSH and the complexity of the material make it
absolutely essential that students utilize a method for organizing the
large quantity of content that must be mastered in APUSH.
- Writing: APUSH
builds on the analytical skills developed in Honors World
History. Students will be expected to effectively communicate
their ideas in writing. Formal papers, take-home essays, and
timed essays will all be utilized. Papers will be assessed based
on factual content, analytical depth and breadth, as well as the
categories of the Six-Trait Writing Rubric. Most students will
find writing the most challenging portion of the course, as everything
will be assessed at a higher level.
Personal Academic &
Intellectual Responsibility: The Essential
APUSH is not
specifically required for graduation. Students who take APUSH are
doing so because they seek the challenge and take on the
responsibility. They understand that much is to be gained if much
effort and energy is expended. APUSH students and parents
understand that the upcoming year will be filled with challenges,
crises, controversies, but most importantly great reward. They
also understand that success will require a great deal of personal
responsibility and initiative. Students will be provided with
many tools and opportunities to succeed, but they must choose to take
advantage of them. As such, the final and most important
expectation of APUSH:
- Unassigned Work: Students are
responsible for their own intellectual and academic development.
While the assignments and projects
APUSH are designed to assist in that development, a great deal of the
most important tasks will never be assigned for points. Students
rarely, if ever, be assigned chapter notes, unit vocabulary or online
quizzes, but all of these tools will be available to students. It
be up to each individual to determine the study habits that will lead
to success in APUSH and utilize them to achieve the desired results on
quizzes, tests, semester grades and the AP Exam.
| Go back to
the Summer Assignment Page.
|Go to the Native
American History Assignment Page.
difficulties accessing the materials? Questions on the
until it's too late & jeopardize your class schedule.
via e-mail any time during the summer.