Quick, Reflective Activities for Finishing High School

It's The End of the YearAs We Know It

While many of our students continue to be in the thick of AP exams, AP Literature is over to a certain extent. I only have 10 days with my seniors before exams and graduation. Friends of mine have until the end of June (bless all of you!). And while we will all continue to do meaningful work with our students, the class atmosphere changes with the exam being in the rearview mirror.

Most teachers I have spoken with assign a cumulative project ranging from TED Talks to independent reading to senior scrapbooks with several ideas discussed found in After the Exam or The Exam’s Over What Now?. The focus of this article, however, is quick yet reflective activities for seniors as the year is winding down to help them process the end of high school and continue to build community.KEEP READING

Reminders from AP Readers

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Below are short videos for Questions 1, 2, and 3 with some general reminders for writing. These observations are not an exhaustive list by any means but can be used for a quick review or a to start a conversation about AP Lit essays. (I apologize for the quality of the first video. I didn’t realize how poor the quality is, but the audio is good).

The comments from last night’s Twitter chat can be found below the videos.  … KEEP READING

Building Confidence for the AP Exam

You take the test;the test doesn't take you.

You take the test; the test doesn’t take you.

This is something my students and I talk about a lot. The last thing I want them to do on exam day is walking in feeling powerless to an exam. I want the opposite: I want them to feel like they have a choice in how they decide to tackle the exam. Confidence on exam day goes a long way and knowing some test taking strategies and having a personal plan for exam day helps build student confidence. 

Take advantage of these test-taking strategies and pointers for students:KEEP READING

Writing about Complexity

Unpacking Meaning by Layers

complex

[adjective, verb kuh m-pleks, kom-pleks]

1. composed of many interconnected parts; compound; composite: a complex highway system.

2. characterized by a very complicated or involved arrangement of parts, units, etc.: complex machinery.

3. so complicated or intricate as to be hard to understand or deal with: a complex problem.

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National Poetry Month Resources

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Started in 1996 by the American Academy of Poets, April is set aside as National Poetry month. The purpose is to encourage the reading of and celebrate poetry in the classroom as well as society as a whole. As teachers of Literature, our challenge lies in providing students with the tools to analyze poetry without killing the poem. The idea of having students read a poem daily without the task of deconstructing the poem for meaning but simply to appreciate the beauty of the words is one that is worth exploring this month.

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Essay Organization – Three Common Methods

Organizing Literary Analysis-What's Your Plan-

Writing a timed essay for an AP exam is stressful for even the most confident of students. The job of an AP teacher (or any writing teacher honestly) is to provide as many tools as possible for the student to have in their writing toolbox. Having different methods of organization is fundamental because it provides the outline and structure for the analysis and ideas of the essay. Organizing can be challenging because there is no one “right” way to do this. Below are the three most common ways to organize a timed writing response with examples of sample essays from AP central.KEEP READING

Using Sample Essays to Improve Student Writing

Anchor Student Writing

One of the most underused resources in AP Literature are the sample essays (or anchor essays as I call them) on the College Board AP Lit exam page. College Board provides sample responses for Question 1 (poetry), Question 2 (prose), and Question 3 (open-ended) for every year dating back to 2003. In addition to the essays, College Board provides a summary justifying the scores the essays received at the reading. These essays are GOLD, and the possibilities of using them to improve student writing are endless. Here are a few ways I use them in class:KEEP READING

#thisisAP

WHAT ISAP LIT-

Registration for next year has begun at my school. Students have so many options in today’s education system. Dual enrollment, virtual school, and non-AP English classes are all options offering different benefits. There is no one right answer for all students; instead, students need to figure out which class is best for their strengths and curriculum path. This post is not to take away from any of the other options students have but to promote why I (along with some support from former students) think AP Lit is beneficial. Forgive the question/answer slides, but I’m obsessed with JEOPARDY! and this week’s college tournament. JEOPARDY! is the perfect mentor text.KEEP READING

Multiple Choice Practice Activities

Avoiding Multiple ChoiceMonotony

Multiple choice practice is a staple of any AP class but can quickly become routine and dull and thus less effective for students. As teachers strive to provide opportunities for low-pressure practice, we should also dedicate ourselves to being creative in our approach in an effort to keep students engaged in learning and building skill. The result – students who are confident and prepared for the exam but more importantly mature readers and thinkers. Below are seven ideas to shake up multiple choice practice: … KEEP READING

The Things They Carried: Lesson Ideas

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The Things They Carry by Tim O’Brien has become a favorite in my AP Literature classroom. O’Brien’s journalistic style allows students to delve into theme and literary analysis without being weighed down with heavy diction and ornate syntax, but this is by no means a lightweight book. The stories and reality of war bring the depth.

Lesson Ideas:

Anticipation Activity:

I ask students to write down twelve things that they anticipate they will take to college. These should include a mix of tangible items such as their phone, blanket, and favorite coffee mug with intangible items such as their mother’s love and memories from high school. Students cut these items into strips and turn them face down on their desk. I randomly choose six items from each student’s desk. Students then write for five to ten minutes on their feelings of what was taken, how life will be without those things, what was left, and general observations. Students are then prepped for a conversation on the randomness of war, the effects of war, and personal sacrifices the war required of soldiers the same age as many of my students. Some students are surprised to learn that losing some things can be good but most have negative effects; some students.KEEP READING

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