Question 2 Reader Reflections (2019)

Not going to lie, on my way to the Reading, I was hoping to be assigned to Q3 or Q1. So of course, I get Q2. I decided to make the best of it, and because I had never been on Q2 before, I looked at the bright side—at least I would get to learn about a new essay question. I hadn’t even read the passage prior to the Reading. But after listening to it being read out loud to me for seven days straight and reading 1,286 student essays on good ol’ Irene and Penelope, I’m pretty sure I have the whole thing memorized, and have a new-found appreciation for Q2. KEEP READING

Question 3 Reader Reflection (2019)

The days and weeks leading up to my first experience as an AP Literature reader caused me a significant amount of anxiety and apprehension. Especially when I discovered I would be reading for Question 3, the “open prompt,” I worried about my incompetence as I thought, “I’ve hardly read any books!” Jumping right into the sample responses on Monday morning helped allay my fears and reassured me that good analysis clearly reveals itself, no matter the title.

This year’s Question 3 prompt required students to consider a character whose ideal view of the world contributes significantly to the overall meaning of a major work. Specifically, it asked them to do the following: “Select a novel, play, or epic poem in which a character holds an ‘ideal view of the world.’ Then write an essay in which you analyze the character’s idealism and its positive or negative consequences. Explain how the author’s portrayal of this idealism illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole.” I appreciate how this question provides an approachable take on a character’s personality. The best essays I read exhibited a firm grasp on the meaning of idealism and the idea of a character possessing a firm view of what a perfect world would look like.KEEP READING

Question 1 Reader Reflections (2019)

The 2019 Advanced Placement literature and composition reading had some notable changes that seem to benefit both educators and students. The reading was moved from Kansas City, Missouri to Salt Lake City, Utah a full week earlier than 2018. In addition to rolling out the new online support and suggested CEDs, readers focused on their final use of the 9-point holistic rubric. As a whole, students seemed to easily embrace (or fear) P.K. Page’s “The Landlady” in their varied free response essays. The contemporary poem seemed accessible to most students, and the range of interpretations definitely conveyed the students’ voices, including one who named the landlady Doris and gave her a whole personality and back story. This post focuses on three reader reflections after scoring 4,000+ essays and the takeaways they’ll use in their classrooms next fall. KEEP READING

Reflections from 2019 AP Literature Reading

I have just finished my fourth AP Literature reading where I read essay after essay after essay for Question 3, so I am writing with this experience fresh on my mind. For the AP Lit exam in particular, teachers want to know what books students should be writing on to score well on the AP exam. Does the book have enough literary merit to yield a good essay for the open-ended question or does it fall short in the literary merit category thus resigning the student to a lower half essay? And so the work of the classroom begins with many teachers choosing novels that work for the exam and teaching them. This is where we are failing our students: we spend too much time teaching the text and far too little time teaching students how to think and write. KEEP READING

AP Literature Chief Reader’s Opening Remarks 2019

This week several hundred educators are gathered to score AP Lit exams. This is a privilege that we do not take lightly and also a very fun week full of friends, collaboration, and growth. Before the reading begins, the chief reader, David Miller, addresses all readers with not only introductions of a fabulous team of leaders and housekeeping matters but with words of encouragement and inspiration. For those who are not readers and have not had the opportunity to meet David Miller, it’s an understatement to say how fortunate we are to have him as our chief reader. I asked if I could share part of his charge to us today with the AP Lit community at large because I wanted you to not only know the heart of our leader this week but to be encouraged as you finish the year. Here are a portion of his comments: KEEP READING

After the Exam Student Reflection

In Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day,” the speaker asks, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” At this point in the year, students are making plans, dealing with some significant anxiety, and facing important choices about where their lives are headed. I want them to tell me how the lessons in literature have helped them arrive at some answers they can take with them. I’m hoping these answers may help with the big decisions they will inevitably make, and I’m hoping they will continue to turn to literature for guidance long after they leave my classroom.KEEP READING


“When you gamify your classroom, you take the best, most motivational aspects of games and apply them to your course content.  Gamification is a tool you can use to motivate, inspire, and take kids on an adventure within the course content” – Michael Matera, Explore Like a Pirate

I have been interested in gamification for quite a while, but I had not yet figured out how to work it into my class until this year when I was inspired to gamify my multiple choice practices after listening to the Well PlayED podcast episode on Boss Battles (Episode 37).  I always have the best of intentions when it comes to reviewing MC, but rarely manage to follow through on my grand plans.  This year was different.KEEP READING

The Week Before the Exam

I am a marathoner. Actually, I ran one marathon to celebrate turning 40 in order to prove that age doesn’t define me; clearly, I had no friends at that stage of life or they would have talked me out of this crazy idea. Marathon training is interesting. Sometime around four weeks before race day, the runner runs her longest training run of somewhere between 20 – 24 miles, and then the runner tapers. The taper is my favorite part of training not only because I have completed the hardest part of training, my body is in prime condition, and my mental focus is strong, but because I now enjoy some rest in order to be fresh on race day. The taper still calls for healthy eating, shorter runs (I was amazed when 10 miles seemed like a short run), and speed (speed is a relative term at my age) drills, but it’s also a time to get some rest, watch Netflix, and enjoy some carbs. KEEP READING

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