AP United States History

The Academy of Notre Dame de Namur    

560 Sproul Road

Villanova, Pennsylvania    19085

1-610-687-0650  Fax:  1-610-687-1912   www.ndapa.org

Syllabus:  Advanced Placement United States History

Teacher:   Mr. Thomas Verdi

                  E-mail: tverdi@ndapa.org

                  Voice mail: ext. 178

Google Site link:  


Textbook and Materials:  Brinkley, Alan. The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History of the American People. Vols 1 and 2. 8th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2016.

Course Content: AP U.S. History is a two-semester college-level survey course which examines historical developments from pre-Columbian North America to the present day. The course focuses on the development of historical thinking skills including chronological reasoning, comparing and contextualizing, crafting historical arguments using historical evidence, and interpreting and synthesizing historical narrative. The course is divided into ten historical periods, while there is an emphasis across all periods on themes such as identity, peopling, America in the world, and politics and power. Students use historical facts and evidence to achieve deeper conceptual understandings of major developments in U.S. history. Thesis-driven essays, analysis of primary source documents, and interpretation of historical opinion, within the framework of a college seminar approach, prepare the student for both the AP exam and the SAT Subject Test in U.S. History. All students will take the Advanced Placement United States History exam in May.

Course Objectives: AP U.S. History will build a strong foundation of factual knowledge while promoting the further development/refinement of analytical skills and persuasive writing. This course will help students with historical thinking skills, enabling them to arrive at conclusions through assessment of historical materials, weighing evidence, and critical interpretation.  

Assessment Program: The final grade for this course will be based on your work for the entire year. There will be one quiz per textbook chapter, one writing assignment each unit(every three chapters), and one cumulative test each academic quarter. Each test will consist of College Board style multiple choice questions, College Board Short Answer questions, and one College Board Free Response essay question. Students will also receive participation grades throughout each quarter. In addition, students will complete a series of independent assignments spanning units, academic quarters, and semesters. Quarterly tests and writing assignments will each weigh 30% while participation and chapter multiple choice quizzes will each weigh 20%. The grading scale will follow the official Notre Dame scale found in the School Handbook. Grades will be posted on BackPack so that you can monitor your academic progress.

Missed Work: Each student is responsible for missed work, this includes class notes, work, and homework.  In the event of a missed test or in class assignment, students are expected to complete the assessment the day she returns to school.  In the case of a planned absence students must notify the teacher in advance. For athletes who may leave school early, they are to make arrangements for tests or in class assignments and they are to turn in all work before leaving school.  Failure to submit assignments on time will not only affect the students preparedness, but will result in a one percentage point per day penalty on their grade.  Assignments that are not turned in will receive the grade of NTI, which will count for 0%.


Integration of Writing, Public Speaking, Technology: Writing is an integral aspect of the AP U.S. History course.  Learning to write like an historian is an ongoing process.  The writing process will be focused on skills to develop and refine the students’ analytical and persuasive skills, while remaining grounded with historical facts.  The students will learn how to construct coherent arguments using historical evidence and major historical interpretations.

Class discussions are central to the AP U.S. History course.  It is imperative to engage with the course material verbally.  This is where students will begin to develop their own interpretations of the past as well as engage their peers in intellectual conversations.  Additionally, throughout the year students will address the class through research based individual and group presentations.  

Google Apps are essential study tools at Notre Dame.  Class materials such as the unit syllabi, presentations, and handouts will be posted online through Google Classroom.  Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides are the required programs for completing course assignments, as they facilitate seamless collaboration and help move towards a paperless classroom.  Additionally, Google Classroom will be the vehicle for assignment submission and online class discussions.    

Classroom Policies and Procedures: All students are expected to adhere to policies outlined in the student handbook.  This includes the cell phone and uniform policies.  Students should at all times demonstrate a respectful consideration of one another’s perspectives, open-mindedness, and creative risk-taking.  Students will be treated with college-level respect and are expected to be punctual, prepared, courteous, curious, and honest in return.  Students should read widely and take good notes both in class and while reading.  A unit schedule will be distributed at the beginning of each of the 10 course units.  Students know in detail the material and assignments for the entire unit.

Class participation is more than simply speaking frequently in class.  Students are expected to contribute in a meaningful way through listening carefully to classmates, working well in groups, encouraging peers to participate and share their ideas, and attempting to maintain a positive attitude. Further, students are expected to have their textbook, a notebook or binder and loose leaf, pen or pencil plus one colored pen or pencil, and a folder for each class.  


Technology in the classroom is becoming increasingly important and can be an invaluable tool.  However, the use of devices including but not limited to laptops, iPads, and electronic readers remains a privilege.  Throughout the year, there will be “computer time” and “non-computer time.” Non-computer time includes but is not limited to daily note taking, quizzes, and tests. Computer time includes but is not limited to group projects, individual research, and current events.  The teacher reserves the right to disallow any students’ use of these devices if there is misuse or abuse of technology in the classroom.

It is a privilege to attend a school with an honor code, and I expect students to take academic honesty very seriously.  Students have a responsibility to themselves, their peers, their teachers, their parents or guardians and the learning community to conduct themselves with honesty and integrity.  

I am available during 1st, 2nd, and 6th periods, community time, as well as before or after school by appointment.  Students must set up an appointment for each meeting via email.  Additionally, please do not hesitate to email with any questions, concerns, or comments.