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European History

Carol Pixton

Carol Pixton taught history for 40 years, including 23 years at the Polytechnic School in Pasadena, CA where she was a member of the History Department. She started teaching AP European History in 1980. She was first appointed a Reader for AP European History in 1984 and she has continued to attend the Readings regularly. Over the years she has also served as a Table Leader and a Question Leader. She participated in both the 2016 and 2017 Readings of the Redesigned exam and will be at the 2018 Reading. She has consulted for the College Board since 1985, leading many workshops and institutes in the Western Region. She served from 2008 to 2012 on the College Board committee that developed the Redesigned AP European History Curriculum.  She earned a Ph.D. in History at Columbia University in 2002.

Course Description

This session offers an in-depth look at the content of the AP European History course and covers best practices for instruction, including a variety of methods AP teachers can use to create a lively and rich classroom experience. We will review the course framework, assessment tools and AP Classroom, as well as other online resources to support daily instruction.  We will look at methods to teach students to respond to  stimulus-based multiple-choice questions, and show how to access these questions from the AP Question Bank. Writing instruction will be a key element, including how to best prepare students for specific tasks on the AP exam, including the Document-Based Question and  the Long Essay Question.


Day 1

Morning Session

  • Welcome and Introductions. 
  • Course basics:  Scope of material, course audit and curricular requirements. Format of exam. 
  • Reading and scoring AP exams.

Overview of the AP European History Course and Exam Description (CED): Skills, Unit Topics, Themes, Key Concepts and Learning Objectives.  

  • Historical thinking skills and Reasoning Processes required for all AP History courses.
  • Nine Units and Seven Themes in the European History course: Course at a Glance
  • Key Concepts and Learning Objectives provide detailed guidance for each unit.

Diversity and Inclusion; Equity and Access in the AP Program. Handout

Recommended Resources:

  • Textbooks and readers 
  • Social Media: Schoology and Facebook 
  • Best sources for primary source documents 
  • Book reviews and publications (History Today; The History Teacher)

Planning your 2022-2023 syllabus (goal for the week):
New AP teachers can ‘adopt’ an audit syllabus and submit it for approval. Experienced teachers who already have an approved audit syllabus can develop a pacing guide for the year considering how timing worked in 2021-2022 and considering adjustments.  Optimally, each teacher will create an assignment calendar with specific daily assignments on it for the first few months of school.

Afternoon Session

  • Introduction to College Board’s Updated Online AP Classroom: 
  • Progress Checks, AP Daily Videos,  Topic Questions, Question Bank and Instructional Progress Reports

Access to the College Board YouTube site that offers more support for using these resources effectively. Links provided to CB videos with more detail on all aspects of AP Classroom. Best practices for using AP Classroom to better assess student understanding and to support your instruction.

AP Classroom requires online sign-ups for all teachers and students. 

  • Strategies and Pedagogical Tools: Focus on the SAQ
  • GRADING SESSION I  Short Answer Questions from 2022 AP Exam
  • Strategies for teaching SAQs.
  • Scoring SAQs.
  • Unit 1 Renaissance and Exploration and Unit 2 Age of Reformation
  • Renaissance humanism lesson: Petrarch’s letter to posterity 
  • Using art in the history classroom:
  • Brueghel images: How art reveals social history
  • Columbian exchange – ecological consequences of contact between Old and New Worlds
    Powerpoint: The History of Poverty through Art
Day 2

Morning Session

  • Sharing questions, concerns, and identifying needed resources.
  • Addressing questions about the CED and how to use AP Classroom.
  • Experienced teachers share your favorite document, image or lesson.
  • Strategies and Pedagogical Tools: Focus on the MCQ
  • Best practices for teaching Multiple Choice Questions with stimuli
  • Unit 3 Absolutism and Constitutionalism and Unit 4 Scientific, Philosophical and Political Developments 
    •    Louis XIV and Absolutism lesson 
    •    Thirty Years’ War overview 
    •    Scientific Revolution debate
         The Enlightenment and the Lisbon Earthquake: documents and video

Afternoon Session

  • Strategies and Pedagogical Tools: Focus on the DBQ
  • GRADING SESSION II 2022 Document-Based Question
    Strategies for teaching students to do the DBQ
  • When to assign DBQs and how to score them.

Assessment and Reflection: How to incorporate AP Daily videos and other resources in AP Classroom into your instructional planning. How to interpret Instructional Planning Reports. 

Day 3

Morning Session

  • Sharing questions, concerns, and identifying needed resources.
  • Addressing questions about the CED and how to use AP Classroom.

Unit 5 Conflict Crisis and Reaction in the Late 18th century and Unit 6 Industrialization and Its Effects

  • Using Music in the European History classroom: 
  • Ex: Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro on the eve of the French Revolution
    Women in the French Revolution.
  • Industrial Revolution and the Standard of Living debate
  • The Irish Potato Famine causes and consequences

Afternoon Session

  • Strategies and Pedagogical Tools: Focus on the LEQ
  • GRADING SESSION III: Long Essay Question from 2022 Exam
  • Strategies for teaching the LEQ
  • When to assign LEQs and how to score themUsing Literature and Music in the History class:
    Romanticism: The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe
    Music: Beethoven’s Ninth and video selection from film Immortal Beloved 

Assessment and Reflection: Covering the required material in the CED. Using the Question Bank to create tests and quizzes. Handout. 

Day 4

Morning Session

  • Sharing questions, concerns, and identifying needed resources.
  • Addressing questions about the CED and how to use AP Classroom. 
  • Unit 7 19th-Century Perspectives and Political Developments, Unit 8 Twentieth Century Global Conflicts and Unit 9 Cold War and Contemporary Europe
  • Using poetry in the AP History class:
  • World War I poetry and memoirs: Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves
    Video clip: The Great War
    Weimar and Failure of Democracy between the wars
  • Hitler’s Diplomatic Revolution 
  • Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz
    Video clip: Jacob Bronowski at Auschwitz
    Time permitting: Video: Russia’s War, Ep. 5 Stalingrad

Afternoon Session

  • Sharing on my APSI San Gabriel Google drive.  Keeping in touch.
  • Teaching the post-1989 section of the course: Crisis in the Balkans; European Union and its historical significance; Brexit and retreat from a larger European vision.
    Using current events in class.