AP Historical Thinking Skills: An Overview for Teachers

Well, the school year has started, and people are anxious about the new historical thinking skills unveiled by the College Board earlier this month. Let’s face it, teaching the content is hard enough, and now teaching historical thinking is being tossed into the mix. To make it harder, many districts won’t pay for their teachers to attend AP institutes to learn how to implement these skills.

I’ve created two videos that will help you understand what the skills are and how they might be implemented in the classroom. Honestly, I think we’ve probably been doing most of this for a long time, but making it explicit for students is now going to be important. They will need to metacognitively (is that a word?) understand where they are in the historical argumentation process when answering questions. And the College Board has stated that every question on all the AP History exams will attack a specific thinking skill.

In my classroom, I will be walking my students through the skills over a period of time. We will start with sources and contextualization early in the year, and work on argumentation in late winter. Now, all classes and all students are different, so this approach might not be for everyone, but I feel that working slowly through the process will be best for the students in my classroom. In fact, we’ve already begun analyzing primary sources and finding meaning, and we’re just in the second week of school.

As the year goes on, I plan to post updates on what I am doing to address these skills in my classroom. So stay tuned. More to come.

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