AP World History Teacher

Get your Historical Thinking Skills on

3386620993_79c6bcee07_nDRAFT POST . . .

Years ago when the AP World History course was brand new I could get by with lecturing the content and assigning a few textbook readings each week. Outside of practicing essays, I never mentioned or explicitly taught the Historical Thinking Skills, known at the time as Habits of Mind.

After the curriculum redesign in 2011 those days became, well, history. And with the further changes to roll out in 2016 With the recent (and ongoing) changes to the course, that pedagogy is no longer adequate. Historical Thinking skills need to be woven into the design of weekly assignments and class activities; students should practice them early and often. Every multiple choice question on the exam requires students to employ one or more of these skills, and no student can write quality essays without them. There are no simple recall questions on the AP World History exam. 

I have learned from teachers greater than me that teaching these skills doesn’t have to be independent from learning content. Students need to practice the skills early and often in the course and So how to incorporate them? “Bell ringer” activities work well to provoke skill based discussion and teachers can probe students with questions during class. However,  students need to be made to practice them early and often in this course.  Below are a few examples and resources for accomplishing this in Period 1.

Here’s a group activity that’s been around for a long time. I borrowed it from legendary AP Euro teacher Larry Treadwell and tweaked it for use in AP World.