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Guides to the Advanced Placement World History Course Revision and the New "Teacher Community" Resource: An Update


The AP College Board has begun a huge revision encompassing Curriculum, Syllabus audit, and new Teacher Communities Discussion/Resources groups. AP World History is one of the first to work through the change process. Eventually, all thirty plus AP courses will be guided through the revision. This article will explain the changes in each of the three areas and offer tips to help AP World History instructors use the new curriculum, get their syllabus approved, and use the new AP World History/Teacher Community effectively.

On the curriculum change: This link on

This site shows instructors the AP World History revised curriculum. Components of change center around five course themes, and nineteen Key Concepts and six different chronological periods.

New teachers can use the Key Concepts (see pp. 23 ff) as a course outline and as a review prior to the May AP exam. Exam information is shown on pp. 91-123. The May exam has few changes. The penalty for guessing on the multiple choice section (70 MC questions) has been removed. The format of the AP World History exam will remain the same (70 Multiple Choice Questions followed by three Free Response essay questions--a documents based question, change and continuity essay question and a Comparative essay question) except for 4 choices (change from 5) for each multiple choice question. AP World History teachers must show how they will use the components, themes, and analytical skills in their syllabus.

Second, course syllabus audit: Note, the information below to help AP World History teachers complete their syllabus audit was taken directly from an AP/College Board message sent to all AP coordinators nationally. Following this information, is a "Helper and Hints" post put together by AP/College Board World History consultant John Maunu which has assisted, literally, hundreds of AP World History instructors gain audit approval of their revised syllabus.

2012-2013 Course audit syllabus calendar

The AP Course Audit Calendar highlights important dates and information to ensure that, during the 2012-13 school year, the AP courses offered at your school are authorized to use the AP designation.
Click here to access the AP Course Audit Calendar: 2012-2013 APCA Calendar

What are the next steps?

If you have an authorized AP course that will again be offered in the 2012-13 academic year, the course must be renewed by your AP Course Audit administrator beginning in August 2012. If the course

will not be offered in the 2012-13 academic year, it should not be renewed but will remain eligible for renewal in subsequent years.

If you are planning to teach an AP course for which you have not yet received course authorization, two documents must be submitted from your AP Course Audit account:

  • A Course Audit form completed by you and approved by your AP Course Audit administrator
  • A syllabus detailing how your course meets or exceeds AP curricular and resource requirements

Please see the AP Course Audit Resources for Teachers page to access the Syllabus Development Guide and four Annotated Sample Syllabi as well as other AP Course Audit resources to support the creation and submission of your syllabus.

If you intend to use one of the sample syllabi and structure your course per that syllabus, submit it using the Claim Identical submission process. To submit a sample syllabus, follow the steps below:

  1. Sign in to your AP Course Audit Account at

  2. Add the course from your Course Status page using the green "Add New Course" button

  3. Complete the Course Audit form for your new course. Your administrator must also approve this form in order for your submission to be complete

  4. Click "Create or Upload Syllabus"

  5. Select the Claim Identical option

  6. Enter the syllabus number of your selected Sample Syllabus. The syllabus number can be found at the top right of the first page of the Sample Syllabus

  7. Upload a copy of the Sample Syllabus. This must be the exact copy of the sample syllabus that you intend to use

  8. Click "Submit Syllabus Now"

Requirements for the 2012-13 Revised Courses

Due to the implementation of the revised AP Biology, Latin, and Spanish Literature and Culture courses, all teachers of these subjects will need to submit a new syllabus and Course Audit form regardless
of prior authorization. Updated resources to support syllabus development are accessible from the AP Course Audit website.

For information about ongoing revisions to AP courses, please visit the Advances in AP website.
If you have questions specific to the AP Course Audit, please send us an e-mail through your Communication Center by logging into your AP Course Audit account from
Or you may reach the AP Course Audit Helpline toll free at (877) APHELP-0 (274-3570); International users call (541) 246-2500. The AP Course Audit Helpline is available to assist you Monday through Friday, 8AM to 8PM EST.

Following are intended as aids  AP World History teachers can use as they develop their revised syllabus for the College Board audit as posted on the old AP World electronic discussion group (EDG) or listserve and now as a thread in the Teacher Community for AP World History which replaced the EDG January 31, 2012:

"There are 4 sample syllabi on the website. (see College Board message above for that specific link)

Here are some key hints. Make sure to include the new time periods, 4 historical thinking skills, 19 core concepts, themes in the beginning of your syllabus.

1. Mindset must change for syllabus from what teacher is teaching to students to what the students are doing--specific activities that exhibit learning lessons for 19 Core concepts, 4 historical thinking skills, themes, etc. al.

Describe these activities quickly with short examples. If you show Guns, Germs and Steel DVD to students, it is NOT enough just to note that film. Explain, briefly, what activity Students will be doing to "learn" about GGS's themes. A POV analysis short paper by students of Jared Diamond and how his background/education influences his "HISTORIOGRAPHY," (historiography being one of the 4 analytical thinking skills).

2. Teachers need at least 2 secondary sources in your syllabus in two different time eras/units.

See Lynda Shaffer's, Southernization for example and quick explanation of how students will be studying it....or use "Students will compare and contrast Shaffer's "Southernization" to Niall Ferguson's essay on the British Empire."

See also:

Self described "Classics" of Journal of World History, cited in University of Hawai'i Journal blog.
Look to right of page for other interesting and edifying world history journals.
Houghton Mifflin lessons, this one, Climate Change in the past, says 6th grade level, but...8 pp. pdf.
Includes Environment theme.

The June 2011 edition of World History Connected , a FREE on-line publication, is focused on Environment in world history. Each issue, published three times a year, has articles and usually a Forum devoted to a subject or theme in teaching in world history with updates such as this one on AP World History matters.

3. Must include an exercise in Anthropology, Archaeology, Literature, Architecture, Political science, geography, visual arts in your syllabus. (see component 15 example below)

4. Do not forget to include Oceania/Australia in two different time periods. Example: 2nd time period-post 600 CE- Polynesian migrations--students will map Polynesian migrations in the Pacific/Oceania then follow with 2011 CCOT on migrations as exam. And, 19th century time period---European imperialism in Oceania/Hawai'i for example. A student paper on how the sugar companies gained control of Hawai'ian properties or student research on how indigenous people are effected by colonialism, with a comparative exercise with the British in India.

The AP College Board has hired auditors who "grade" each syllabus making sure the instructor has included lessons for all AP World History components. These components can be seen in the AP World History curriculum course description cited in first paragraph of this article. For example component 11: "The course provides opportunities for students to examine diverse models of periodization constructed by historians."

Periodization Evaluation guideline: "The syllabus must describe at least one activity or assignment that asks students to critically evaluate periodizations constructed by historians."

See examples of activity or assignments and proper wording to comply with components 11 and 15:

Component 11 Samples of Evidence:

1. Students read and discuss a historian's work that questions periodization from a different perspective, e.g.,
"Did Women Have a Renaissance?" in Women, History and Theory: The Essays of Joan Kelly, (U. of Chicago Press, 1984),Joan_DidWomenHaveaRenaissance.pdf

2. Students compare the appropriateness of 1450-1750 CE as threshold dates for the early modern period in both Western and World History.

3. Students are asked to evaluate the applicability of the "labels" 'medieval' and 'postclassical' to the period between 500 and 1450 CE in World History. Component 15: "The course provides opportunities for students to recognize how the study of history has been shaped by the findings and methods of other disciplines such as anthropology, archaeology, visual arts, literature, economics, geography and political science. (Synthesis)

Synthesis Evaluation guideline: "The syllabus must describe at least one activity or assignment where student recognizes findings or methods from another discipline to examine or solve a historical question or problem. Simply examining primary sources (e.g., art or literature) as historical evidence is not sufficient.

Samples of evidence:

1. The syllabus states that students discuss the findings of anthropologists and linguists on tracing the migrations of Bantu and Polynesian speakers.
Maunu aside: example lesson--"Students will draw an Anthropological/Linguist map charting the movement of the Bantu language in Africa."
2. The syllabus requires students to read excerpts of Karen Wigen's The Myth of Continents, and discuss the different cultural constructions
of map making, or the same author's article Lewis, Martin and Wigen, Karen. 1997. "Geography in History Imagination." The Myth of Continents:
A Critique of Metageography, Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 130-2, 134-5.
3. Students consider how and why art historians emphasize the importance of artists' discovery of linear perspective in the Renaissance.

The New AP World History Teacher Community:

As mentioned, January 31, 2012 the screen went black on the old AP World History list serve or Electronic Discussion group. All AP courses will see this change over time as their EDGs will be replaced by a Teacher Community. At first, some AP World history instructors were disgruntled with the change feeling the new Teacher Community was difficult to navigate and not as chat and user friendly as the EDG. Criticisms floated through the AP World community and the AP College Board listened carefully and made adjustments. The biggest complaint was no daily e-mail digest in the Teacher Community. As can be seen in the Teacher Community posting below, that was corrected:

New Features in Teacher Community: A Reminder About New Teacher Community new features

In early February (2012) there was an announcement posted for 2 weeks around new features for our Teacher Community. This reminder is for folks who didn't have the opportunity to log in over that period and may have missed out on the news or new subscribers who did not see that "change over time."  In February, several new features were added to the community, including:

My Preferences, providing you with communications options such as:

  • Email Digests that summarize and consolidate community activities into a single email (more)
  • Email notifications, allowing you to opt into the community activities that interest you (more)
  • An alternate email address for flexibility with receiving community communications (more)

Edit Resources, letting you update your resources once they are shared with the community (more)

You can learn more about these features by clicking on the 'more' link next to each. If you have any problems, just let me know.

Many feel that the new Teacher Community has features that the EDG did not. For example, educators can download attachments within Discussion threads and on the new Resource Library, a feature the old EDG did not have. As of April 25, 2012 there are over 1300 World history subscribers and growing tuning in to the Teacher Community. One does not have to be an AP World History instructor to subscribe. Anyone with an interest or vocation in world history is welcome including university professors, publishing houses, home school teachers, etc. Note the Teacher community link If an AP World History teacher has a syllabus audit password and sign-on from the College Board that is also their password and sign-on for the Teacher Community. They are automatically subscribed. If not, one can scroll down to the bottom of the Home page and click on "Getting Started" link to subscribe. If you are using a gmail or yahoo e-mail address and not a school or professional address, please include Added Information about your world history status to get instant approval from the moderator.

In summary, the AP College Board change over time is underway and coming to other AP subjects soon. AP Biology, French, German Language, Latin, Spanish Literature, and World History were the first courses to see curriculum, syllabus, and Teacher Community Discussion Group revisions.

Prepared by: John Maunu, an AP History (World, US, and Europe) classroom mentor at Grosse Ile High School, Michigan where he taught AP history for 37 years. He is an AP/College Board World History consultant, veteran Reader and Table Leader, Internet Resources editor for World History Connected journal, and co-Moderator of the AP World History Teacher Community. He can be reached at


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