For the Teachers Who Want to Teach Modern Poetry

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AP Lit teacher confession: I have never taught an entire poetry collection. Single poems – lots. A collection – never. But when #APBKCHAT introduced me to Counting Descent coupled with Melissa Smith’s push to #teachlivingpoets, I knew this collection would be on this year’s reading list. I fell in love with Smith’s voice, message, and way with words and knew my students would also.

Counting Descent is Smith’s first published collection exploring his life, his response to the world around him, and his questions about history and humanity forcing the reader to do the same. While the subject is weighty, the accessibility of the words on the page and the free verse form eases the reader to think and question with Smith and exploring the poems feels more like a conversation than a lecture. This is the perfect collection for high school students. These lessons were birthed out of the APLit PLN as several of us began the year with Counting Descent; these ideas are also transferable to teaching any poetry collection. KEEP READING

Slow and Steady Literary Analysis

Slowing Down for Literary Analysis

Maybe you can relate to me. Type A. Monitor for the quickest moving rather than the shortest check out line. Get things done. A minimum of five tabs open at a time on the computer. Don’t sit still well. Sound familiar? My high capacity disposition serves me well in most areas of life except for when it comes to teaching literary analysis. Unpacking a text is slow, tedious work. Teaching students to unpack a text can be even slower and more tedious. Slow, tedious work is difficult for me; I operate best in fast and furious mode. This year, however, I am making a change: I am slowing down – way down.

I have always struggled with teaching novels. How does a teacher exactly teach a novel? Back in my day, we read novels, the teacher lectured on the novel, we tested on the novel, and then moved on to the next text. This is not really my style of teaching. My style is more creating experiences for students to interact with the text and make meaning, and while I do a good job providing these experiences, I still rush my students through the process.KEEP READING

Question Like a Four-Year-Old

APLitHelp.com

A few years ago, I was trying to figure out how to get my AP Literature students to go beyond the surface in their analysis. Their essays mostly stayed in “safe” territory, rarely venturing beyond paraphrase and, when they dealt with theme at all, tentative stabs at topic: “Frankenstein’s monster shows the effect of society on personality.” or “Kafka’s Metamorphosis is about the meaninglessness of life.” The ideas in their essays weren’t necessarily wrong, but because they were so surface level, they never really dug into deeper, more focused meanings in the texts and led to similarly unfocused essays, not really sure what they were trying to say.KEEP READING

AP Lit Framework

3 Skills

There are two types of grocery shoppers; those who shop by a list and those who wing it. I’m a hybrid of these two types making and taking my list but falling trap to the end cap displays and piling flavored coffee, nutritional breakfast bars, and Oreos into the shopping cart (or the buggy where I’m from). Classroom teaching is similar. I plan and give myself the stick-to-the-plan pep talk at the beginning of the year but end up throwing the latest technology, newest novel, or current professional development idea into the mix and by the time I’m checking out in May my cart is overflowing with all kinds of items that may or may not add nourishment to the learning soul of my students. I went into this year knowing I needed to have some type of plan to keep me focused but one that also allowed for flexibility and Oreo eating on occassion. KEEP READING

The Jock, The Academic, and The Boy in the Back of the Room

Creating Lasting Relationships that Work

On the first day of every school year the bell rings and students, in my case seniors, walk in, shake my hand, sit where they will, and wait to see what kind of teacher I will be.  I go through the same process with them.  Each student requires something different from me, so I need to understand students individually if I am going to help them grow into critical readers, writers, and thinkers.  I refuse to listen to past teachers’ reports on my new students’ personalities or proclivities.  I refuse to prejudge my students.  To be effective, I must know my students and I must know them well based on my experiences. KEEP READING

Blogging in the Classroom

Classroom Blogs- The Basics

The first time I used blogs was the first year I taught AP Literature.  It was one piece of one assignment, highly structured, and, to be honest, we didn’t really know what we were doing.  That was pretty much it for a while.

Several years later, Brian Sztabnik was looking for readers for his students’ blogs.  I volunteered and had a great time responding to his students and looking around to figure out what he was doing.  It put blogging back on my radar.KEEP READING

Professional Development Reading

Professional DevelopmentSummer Reading

Summer means family, rest, and for most teachers, professional reading. Here’s what some people in our community have been reading this summer:

52 Things I Learned in 52 Years (2017) by Shanna Peeples

Reviewed by Susan Barber

52things

This ebook is a gem and is FREE. Shanna Peeples, 2015 National Teacher of the Year, shares her learned lessons on fear, living, time management, and other subjects that teachers – and people – need to consider. This book is part inspirational, part instructional, and all Shanna. As an added bonus, the ebook is full of hyperlinks to authors, sites, and books that go with each lesson; this in itself is invaluable. This book is divided into seven chapters which taken week by week would be a great way to start the first seven weeks of school. … KEEP READING

AP Lit Resources

Add heading

Sweet summer time which means rest, sun, and family time, but as teachers, we are always thinking about next year. In addition to the Listserve through College Board’s Teacher Community page, here are a few resources for AP Lit teachers. If you are not on the Listserve, you should definitely join. As always, the resources featured here are not only relevant for AP Lit but for most English classes. Best practices are best practices regardless of the level.  … KEEP READING

An Acorn Becomes a Sapling

A First Year AP Reader'sExperience

This coming school year will mark my 10th year of teaching AP Lit., and for quite a few years now, each time I would attend a conference or talk to another like-minded AP colleague, I would hear the same thing over and over: you HAVE to go to the AP Reading.  I quickly decided these people were crazy.  Wait, you want me to volunteer to give up my first week of summer vacation to go and grade essays for 7 days?  So many things sounded more appealing.  You know, things like gouging my eyes out with forks or walking barefoot over broken glass. KEEP READING

Considerations for AP English Exam Scores

AP Lit and AP LangExam Scoring

The following thoughts were originally posted on the College Board AP Lit list serve and are being posted here with permission. 

Dear Colleagues,

We have been having a very good discussion about AP English scores this year, and our director at the College Board, Brandon Abdon, has followed the comments very closely and responded with 8 carefully considered points. In my role as a consultant for APSI sessions and as moderator for this community, I think that these contributions from Brandon are very helpful in advancing our dialogue, and he has discussed them in some detail with me and with our advisors for Language (Jodi Rice) and Literature (Brian Sztabnik). We now offer them for your consideration. … KEEP READING

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