Pennsylvania Homeschoolers

AP* Online Classes

I had a great class experience! Mrs. Reed was very knowledgeable and helpful.  The assignments were challenging, but very achievable. My favorite assignment was the presentation on presidents, and the fun media project. The reading/video assignments were overall very interesting and enjoyable. 

AP World History

On-Line for the 2017-2018 School Year

Teacher: Gwendolyn Smith


This class is full for the 2017-18 school year.  Auditing spots are still available.  Please contact me if you have questions about auditing. 

Class Description:  The course takes on the incredible task of touring all of world history from 8,000 BC to the early 21st Century.  We will make sense of this content by organizing content both chronologically and thematically in a way that develops historical thinking skills.  The history and geography studied in this course will be organized to include Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania with less than 20% of the time spent of Europe.  Our study of major world civilizations will include analysis of their development, contact among these societies through warfare or commerce and comparisons of political, cultural and economic characteristics.  Additional readings include primary source documents, internet research and articles that supplement the main textbooks.  Students are encouraged to use novels, videos, historic sites, and hands-on projects to enhance their learning experience.  Extra credit assignments are strongly encouraged to further engage students and enhance their understanding of course material! 

Students and their parents should understand that the reading and writing component is significant.  Regular weekly requirements will include but not be limited to: text readings, primary source readings and analysis, discussion posting/responses in online learning community and practice quizzes.  Additional monthly requirements such as essays in the style of the AP World History exam essays and creative research (fun!) projects will be required.  The course will have an interactive website where students will post essays and questions, participate in discussions, and respond to postings by classmates.  Students are highly encouraged to participate on the website and benefit from the community of learning that we will develop.  This is an exciting, fun, but very challenging course. Please read through my class reviews to get a sense of this from my former parents and students. 

The class will have a lively website with many ways for students to interact with one another, debate issues, react and respond to one another through essays, Historical Time Period Dinner Parties, take quizzes, listening to history lectures and watching videos, and much more. Our site also has resources to valuable resources which I curate from the web. The class website is password protected to insure privacy as the students learn together. The 2017-2018 website will be updated and ready for action by August 15, 2017.

Parents are encouraged to check the website regularly and be involved.  I send out weekly assignment emails, a midyear progress report, and a final progress report to parents, which includes a final letter grade based on the student’s performance of class work.  After the exam, the student will receive an AP score which, if high enough, will give them college credit. The progress reports and grades will be very useful to show evaluators and include in a portfolio.

General Objectives of the Class


Class Schedule:  The class will begin Monday, August 21, 2017 and end with the AP World History Exam on Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 8am.  There will be a three-week Christmas break.  I attempt to cut back assignments for Thanksgiving and Easter Week but they are included in the 31 Weeks of the AP World History curriculum.  I also build in 3 weeks for review in late April/early May.

Asynchronous Class Format:  The class does not “meet” at a certain time, nor are there any live sessions.  Rather, assignments are sent out on Friday for the upcoming week and are due by the following Friday.  While work is done asynchronously, the class website includes many materials and activities.  The class website will provide interaction and become our community of learning.  Additionally, the teacher will be regularly available for assistance and feedback.  The course typically has at least one TA, a former student of Mrs. Smith.

Class Interaction Ranking: 2 Class interaction between students is an important component of World History.  The class is ranked a 2 and that is my expectation.  Students are encouraged to be involved in the course and many participate at a level of "3" but for students who have many demands on their schedule due to other AP courses or extra curricular activities, the expectation is at a level of 2. 

Texts Required: 

World Civilizations, The Global Experience, by Peter Stearns (6th Edition; AP Edition only please - NOT the "Combined Edition") 

AP World History: An Essential Coursebook by Ethel Wood (3rd Edition - Updated for the 2017 Exam Revision)

There are a few other required texts and several optional texts.  Required text costs will vary but roughly should not cost more than $150 total. The choice of format (i.e. ebook or print) and choice of used or new will impact the overall cost.  Both required and optional texts (as well as advice on which to purchase new v. used) will be described in more detail once students are accepted into the class.  Know that the instructor’s goal in choosing required texts is to balance their reviews and usefulness, accessibility and affordability. 

Note: Families who register early are put in touch with current families to purchase used texts. I usually start connecting families for them to negotiate costs/shipping in mid-June.

Who should apply: Highly motivated homeschooled students in grades 10-12 in the 2017-2018 school year.  Students must be strong readers and writers with a love of learning and keen interest in history.  They need to enjoy an academic challenge, be self-motivated and willing to work hard!   There are no prerequisites, but a basic understanding of ancient history (i.e. early civilizations and classic empires such as Egypt, Greece and Rome) and a strong foundation in World Geography will help students tremendously.  This course prepares students for the AP World History exam in May 2018.  Students are expected to take the exam.   Students can also take the SAT II World History Subject test. 

As with all history classes, AP World History requires large amounts of reading and writing, as well as regular interaction on the class website.  Students must have advanced reading and writing skills and must be prepared to spend 12 hours minimum per week on this course.  Enjoyment of creative projects is a plus as this class will include interest driven research projects within course topics/themes.  I will ask for SAT I, PSAT, other AP scores or other achievement test scores when available to help in making decisions on which students to accept into the class, as there has been shown to be a high correlation between verbal abilities and success in AP history courses. Students will also be asked to submit a personal essay describing their background in history and their goals for taking part in the class.

Tech Needs: hi-speed internet access; computer capable of viewing online videos and listening to audio lectures; highly recommended: video or DVD player for watching related history videos, or ability to watch DVDs on computer; program that will download online videos, such as the free RealPlayer; mp3 audio player or iPod for listening to audio history lectures; printer and scanner or digital camera.  Students will be required to have a Google account and will use Google Documents and Google Drive regularly. 

Class Tuition fees: Early Bird Fee, good before July 1, $735.  Regular Tuition Fee $750 (July 1).

Audit Option:   The audit option is available for $250.  Audit students receive all assignments, emails, tests, materials, and access to the class website.  Students who choose to audit have the option of joining the class and paying the balance of tuition if an enrolled student drops.  If you wish to audit, please e-mail me directly for an abbreviated application.

Registration:    Click the link at the bottom of this page to access an application for this class.  Please email me with any questions, or if you cannot access the application.  

Instructor Qualifications:  

M.Ed. in Secondary Education

   Concentration: Teaching and Learning with Technology

B.S.Ed. in Comprehensive Social Studies - History

This will be my 5th year teaching AP World History.  Officially, I have taught World History for twelve years in both traditional and online (asynchronous) classrooms.  However, my first experience helping students understand World History (WH) began much earlier in my undergraduate program.  I partnered closely with my honors WH professor to provide supplemental instruction to regular level college students on campus.  Over the years, World History has come to truly capture my fascination as it - like no other history course can - provides a comprehensive study of the progression of humankind.  I find it incredibly rewarding to study the big picture and learn to discern patterns and commonalities which bind us as humans across generations.   

In addition to my two educational degrees, I am a PA certified teacher for both Social Studies and English.  In my Master’s program, I extensively studied curriculum development, assessment and teaching with technology.  I have conducted two action research projects which further developed my teaching skills: the integration of art into the history curriculum and student - teacher communication in asynchronous learning environments.  I have lead numerous training sessions to help teachers grow professionally on topics ranging from new teacher mentoring, curriculum development, and technology tools that enhance the curriculum.  What I most love about teaching is the opportunity to facilitate student growth and share my love for learning.  My classes are a safe, academically rigorous and encouraging environment where students (and the teacher!) learn together.  I hope to welcome many of you into my AP course this year.  

Class Philosophy:  Years before online classes were as common as they are now, an online AP history class transformed my life as a homeschool student.  I hope to provide the same type of encouraging and challenging environment for my students.  I believe that studying history should be fun and my desire is to encourage a love of learning and a love of history in my students.  My goal is to provide a safe learning environment for students to interact, learn, and grow as students together.  

In spite of the fun, however, this is a difficult, fast-paced, college-level course.  I expect my students to work very hard and invest a large amount time and energy in their studies—a minimum 10 to 12 hours per week.  If you are not willing work hard and go above and beyond, please do not apply.  Students who do not participate in extra credit work, going above and beyond the requirements, are not likely to do well.

Some material discussed in brief sections of the textbooks may be considered immoral or objectionable.  Although this is a secular class, I am a Christian and will not give assignments on potentially offensive topics.  If for some reason students or parents do object on moral grounds to a certain assignment, we will find an alternative.  Students will not be required to read, watch, or write any material to which they have a moral objection.

Click on images below to read class showcase entries about this class.

Click here to open or download an application to this class (Microsoft Word document)

Click here to read class reviews from past participants
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