Theme: Change and Chronology Generalization

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Theme: Change and Chronology

Generalization: American History parallels developments elsewhere in World History

Topic: American History: Periodization, Change Over Time
Process Purpose: To group data in meaningful categories for the purpose of analysis

Content Purpose: To teach the paradigms of periodization, Change over Time

Teaching Format: Break the students into five groups based on the themes
Materials: Worksheets - Chronology of American History

Exercises One through Three

Themes in World History

Change over Time Grid

Change over Time Essay Packet

A major problem with AP World History is that American history is taught only in so far as it is part of the wider world. Unfortunately, most students in the United States must take and pass an exit exam in history, which often includes a great deal of American history. As part of their 10th grade AP world history study, students need to integrate American history into the Advanced Placement class without losing time or eliminating other topics. This exercise seeks to include American history in world history in a manner meaningful to the standards of AP World History and preparatory for these exams.
At the center of Advanced Placement World History are two paradigms – chronology and themes. Modern historians seek patterns in development across the ages and within civilizations or regions so that they can make comparisons. Where different civilizations and different ages exhibit similar patterns or trends, historians group them together in what was once called an age or an era. Historians are also forced to arrange data in many different ways in order to understand it and present conclusions about their work. One method is to use chronology and another is to teach through themes.
This TABA exercise has students manipulate data. These dates represent facts and information about American history as it pertains to world history. Students are expected to arrange data into meaningful groups based on themes for analysis and interpretation. At all times students should compare and contrast themes and chronological data of American history with other regions and periods of world history.
Teachers may want to have a class set of American history texts for the use of the groups. An additional resource is the New York Public Library American History Desk Reference, 2nd Edition or The Encyclopedia of World History by Peter Stearns. Both offer useful chronologies of American history.

Teachers can use this set of exercises in one of two ways.
The first method would be to study each chronological period of American history when you study the specific chronological period. For instance, when studying the Foundations period in world history, include a short exercise on America during the same time period. This approach does not do much to teach change over time. But it does teach compare and contrast.
The second method would be to study the entirety of this exercise in a mini unit lasting at most one week. I would suggest doing this several weeks before the State’s TAKS test and the May AP exams, which would be mid-April through early May. This has the advantage of reviewing for both exams, but especially reviewing for the Advanced Placement exam’s change over time essay, which is arguably the most difficult essay to write.

Students should reread the introductory chronological units, which precede all groupings of chapters in the three main AP World History textbooks.
They should review any notes or they may want to make a separate themes chart on each of the periods, if they have not already.

Foundations and Post Classical Periods

  1. Bentley: Parts I to IV, pages 2 – 5; 126 – 130; 274 – 278; 402 – 406

  2. Stearns: Parts I to III, pages 2 – 5; 30 – 33; 108 – 115

  3. Bulliet: Parts I to IV, pages 1 – 3; 81 – 83; 197 – 199; 321 – 323

Early Modern 1450 – 1750

  1. Bentley: Part V, pages 530 – 534

  2. Stearns: Part IV, pages 354 – 361

  3. Bulliet: Part V, pages 441 – 443

Modern 1750 – 1914

  1. Bentley: Part VI, pages 722 – 726

  2. Stearns: Part V, pages 530 – 535

  3. Bulliet: Parts VI and VII, pages 569 – 571, 697 – 699


  1. Bentley: Part VII, pages 876 – 880

  2. Stearns: Part VI, pages 668 – 675

  3. Bulliet: Parts VII and VIII, pages 697 – 699, 827 – 829

Assign students to six groups based on the themes except for Change and Continuity. Each group must contain at least four and no more than six students. And each group would do a different theme across all chronological periods.
In the groups, give each student a different American Chronology of Facts. One student should study the Foundations period, one the early modern, and one each for the modern and contemporary periods. If necessary, two students could work collaboratively on the last two time periods. Each student should select all information from this or her American Chronology of Facts and place it on the chart under the appropriate chronology of his or her theme. For instance, if one group is doing the theme “systems of social, economic, and gender structure including inequalities, slavery, and work or labor,” each student would select facts from their list which address the theme.

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