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The New AP® U.S. History Exam: Will your students be ready?

Guest blogger Rebecca Richardson delights in creating writing prompts for her APUSH students in Allen, Texas.

Last week, I welcomed my students back to class with joyful cheer, exclaiming, “120 days until the AP exam!” They didn’t seem too concerned or excited. After all, 120 days sounds like plenty of time [to procrastinate, LOL]. But for teachers, 120 days isn’t a lot. For me, that is essentially 28 class periods left. 28 days to finish preparing them for a major exam that could earn college credit … 28 days to ensure that passing rates don’t drop, as many have been predicting. Daunting? I’m guessing I am not alone in saying, “YES!”

The good news is, the new framework isn’t dramatically changing the content or skills of the course. The bad news is, CHANGE! Change is difficult. Change requires rewriting, eliminating some things and adding others. For example, gone is my lesson on the War of 1812, replaced with Northwest Indian Wars. The rubrics are different, the skills are different and, to top it all off, many teachers have limited access to reliable, well-written resources.

I have had the benefit of working with some amazing teachers over the years as well as attending a very helpful AP® Summer Institute led by Mr. John P. Irish. With some strategies I learned from Mr. Irish and years of lessons built from released exams and other resources, I embarked in August upon this journey of rewriting. The transition has been going well, although my work days have been extended from 9 to 12 hours in order to stay on top of it. As I have made the transition, I soon learned that many teachers were struggling. Therefore, I started posting my writing activities, reading guides, term reviews, and Crossroads analysis activities openly on my website. The feedback has been tremendous, as teachers and students have contacted me thanking me for making these items available. It warms my heart to know that my work is helping other teachers, just as other teachers have helped me over the years. It takes a village.

If you are worried about getting your students prepared for the test, check out these resources. I believe the most valuable page on this website to help those who are concerned about the new test is the page titled “Writing Strategies and Practice Activities for the new College Board APUSH Framework.” Hopefully, one day in the near future, you will find some of my work posted on Learningpod as well.

120 days? 28 days? Are you ready? Will they be ready? Together, with the help of Learningpod and others, I say, “Yes!”

Rebecca Richardson received the 2014 Educator of Distinction Award from the Coca-Cola Scholar Foundation and was the 2014 Texas PTA Secondary Teacher of the Year.

Posted on January 16th, 2015 in

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