Recommended Teacher Resources for AP US History

There is no shortage of material for AP US History teachers to rely on as they develop their courses.  This page does not attempt to summarize every resource available to teachers. Instead, it focuses on 4 key resources recommended for AP US History teachers.  These resources are as follows:

1. Reasoning with Democratic Values, Volumes 1 and 2, by Lockwood and Harris.  These books provide short (~10 page) readings on a wide range of historical topics.  The topics are usually high interest — the Salem Witch Trials, Jefferson and Slavery, Thoreau and Civil Disobedience, Imperialism in Hawaii, Japanese-American Interment, etc.  What distinguishes these books from others on the market is a) their accessible reading level, and b) their emphasis on important ethical dilemmas that individuals faced throughout American history. You can assign the readings and accompanying questions for homework, and then have students discuss/debate them in class.

2.  Critical Thinking in United States History, Volumes 1-4, by Kevin O’Reilly.  Kevin O’Reilly is a National Teacher of the Year recipient who wrote a series of 4 books focusing on key historical and historiographical debates.  Among the dozens of topics included are the disappearance of Roanoke, the causes of the American Revolution, the coming of the Civil War, and the effectiveness of the New Deal.  The lessons in these books focus on specific critical thinking skills — evaluating evidence, identifying assumptions, etc. — that help to spark class discussions and debates.  The reading level isn’t too bad, though you may need to modify a few lessons depending on your students’ skills.

3. College Board Materials.  The College Board publishes a wide range of materials for AP US History teachers — some for free, some for a small fee.  The most helpful of these materials are sample multiple choice and essay questions taken from actual AP Exams.  Many of these can be found for free at AP Central, while others can be purchased at the College Board store.

4.  Textbook Company Test-Making Software.  Designing multiple choice questions is an onerous, time consuming task.  Fortunately, most textbook companies have test question banks that they will provide to teachers using their textbooks.  Instead of creating dozens of your own multiple choice questions, you can simply choose from a large bank of questions provided by the publisher.  The quality of the questions may be uneven, but since you can select the questions you want this isn’t a major concern.  Overall, this resource could probably save you hundreds of hours over your teaching career.

4 1/2. Doing the DBQ.   This is an outstanding resource that includes approximately 20 DBQs from past AP exams.  Unfortunately, it is out of print, and thus it may be difficult to track down a copy.

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