The AP US History Page

The 1995-1996 AP US History Class, taught by Mr. George Cassutto, developed the following sets of essays for your review and critique. We encourage constructive criticism to be sent to us via e-mail on any of these essays.

We have often been asked how and why we go about developing essays for posting to the Internet's World Wide Web. The following is a graphic description of the process and rationale for going through it.

The objective in writing for the Internet is to have a wide-reaching audience review and critique the writing of the students by e-mail so that they will perform better on the AP US History exam and in historical writing in general.

*Developing a Thesis Statement

Students discussing a historical question in a group.
The students are given a question to research and discuss. We usually work in cooperative groups with each group member being assigned a specific task or piece of information to research. Each student will also contribute to the actual writing of the essay. The process of research lasts about one week. Students use their textbooks, library and on-line resources to locate information dealing with the issue at hand. Students may choose their own topics (as with the first set up essays) or the instructor may provide a structured set of topics to choose from. One primary consideration is that students use primary and secondary documents in their essay. Doing so will help those who plan to write for the Advanced Placement Test.

Students researching a topic in a
cooperative group.
Students must first submit a thesis statement to the teacher, who checks the statement for plausability and historical validity. It is this statement that the students will attempt to prove through their research. If the evidence does not support the thesis, then the thesis statement can be amended to reflect the data. This process forces the students to interact and come to an agreement about what they must prove and how they intend to do it.

*Writing a Rough Draft

Mr. Cassutto assists in developing the rough draft.
Students develop rough drafts in class and on their own at home. They must collaborate and integrate their research and ideas as they place their rough draft on the computer using a text-editor or HTML editor. The instructor provides feedback and guidance as the students work out syntax, content, and documentation of their sources.

* The Writing Process

Carly concentrates on her essay as she composes
using HTML Assistant.
Students are given time in class to write and discuss their findings. Writing is then done independently as the class returns to traditional class activities, but students have access to the computers before and after school for an additional week. The process of writing the rough draft lasts about one full week both in and out of class time.

* The Final Draft

Students refine their essays.

Rough drafts are placed on floppy disks and printed out by the instructor. The instructor reviews and provides criticism for the students. They are then given the opportunity to correct and improve their essays based on the instructor's comments. Students are given a grade for both the rough draft and final draft, but the grade must be given before the students receive feedback from internet-based readers.
Students put the finishing touches on their essays
prior to upload.

* Receiving and Discussing Evaluative Responses

The instructor uploads the final versions to the school's website and places announcements on internet mailing lists and newsgroups dealing with education, US History or Social Studies. Scholars from all over the world are invited to read and critique the essays. The following criteria for evaluation of the essays are placed in the announcements:

1. Is there a thesis and does it apply to the question?

2. Are historical documents used in a substantial way to prove the position taken in the thesis?

3. Is outside information present and does it support the position taken in the thesis?

4. Does the conclusion do a good job of wrapping up the essay and restating the position of the thesis.

Doug and Jason read incoming reviews of their essays.

Students are informed of reviews as they come in. Reviews may arrive the next day or even years after the essay has been posted, but the instructor passes the review on only if it is constructive and is designed to help the student. Flames and provocative reviews are withheld by the educator. Students are given the opportunity to respond to their critics my e-mail (after preview by the teacher), and students are encouraged to thank reviewers for their time and effort. Moreover, students discuss their reviews in class and in their groups. They also maintain portfolios that contain all the evaluations they have received in order to track their progress.

Questions? Send any inquiries or comments to George Cassutto at Thanks!

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Learning history is an important part of any education.  Without examining our history we're bound to repeat our mistakes.  Some of the more popular history topics include ancient history, medieval history and US history.  The history of the US isn't as thorough as some of the European countries since the United States has only been around for 231 years.  If world history doesn't interest you, you should try researching your region's history which might be more exciting since you actually live there.