Historical Thinking Skills Classroom Posters

Every few years I do a new iteration of my classroom posters for AP World. This year, I focused my new posters around the major historical thinking skills. These were inspired by the skill-based guideposts in Peter Seixas’ book The Big Six.

Besides having these posters up in the classroom, I create an “AP World Skills” digital page on my Canvas course. This includes these posters as well as tips and examples of each skill and task that students are expected to do. The posters are great for in-class reminders, but many students need something digital so they can internalize the guideposts and tips when they are doing practice outside of the classroom. I hope these are useful for other teachers.


I use the term “frameworks for analysis” most frequently with the causation skill so students are constantly reminded that when prioritizing causes or effects they need some kind of strategy for doing so. A couple of the frameworks are specifically mentioned in the AP World CED, but I am a fan of the addition of the role of individuals vs. the role of historical conditions. Embedding these into thesis writing and argumentation helps with analysis and complexity.

Continuity and Change over Time

CCOT can be a challenge for students. It seems easy, but pulling insight from the analysis, or adding complexity through point-of-view and pace of change within an argument is hard. I want students showing that continuities and changes coexist, and then applying them to some larger insight or significance. With the right content, periodization can turn into a fun branch of this skill as well.


I used to teach with a colleague who felt like comparison was too often ignored as it was seen as the easiest of the skills. His argument was that a complex and significant comparison, one that fully explores the reasons for the comparison, is actually hard to do in a way that is not awkward or trite. I agree. Doing this skill well comes with practice and should not be overlooked based on its perceived simplicity.


This skill, when used in a DBQ or LEQ, all too often leads to “kitchen-sinkism” where students just dump as much information into the intro paragraph as they can remember. I like to break up context into different “types” and do practice with each through the earlier units. The upside down pyramid structure is not originally mine, but I have had quite a bit of success with it.

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