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

Taking the Mystery Out of Question 3

AP Lit ReaderReflections-Question 3

Thanks to Sarah Soper and Melissa Smith for sharing their thoughts from the AP Lit reading this year on Question 3. The prompt can be found here at AP Central.

Reflections by Sarah Soper:

When my students came back from the AP test this year (and of course waited the 2 days until we could discuss it), I was really excited when I heard Q3’s topic.  A character of an unusual or mysterious origin; it sounded interesting and something accessible to students, so when I found out I had Q3 at the reading, I was excited to see what they had produced.KEEP READING

The Myth of the Poetry Prompt

AP Lit Reader Reflections-Question 1

After last year’s challenging Q1, where students found themselves faced with a most unusual juggler, students seemed much more confident with this year’s poem, Rachel M. Harper’s “The Myth of Music.” This beautiful poem is brief and seems easy to read but offers students an opportunity for in-depth analysis. Spending a week with this poem and the student responses to it has given me new insights and some simple tips to help students write more effectively about poetry. It also reminded me that accessible poetry does not equal easy poetry.KEEP READING

Ideas for Writing Woes

SOS-I Can't ThinkofAnything to Write

I was talking to my AP Literature class yesterday, and when I asked them how they were feeling about the AP test we’ll be taking next week, the response was mixed. While most students feel that they have the skills they need to go in and be successful, there was some apprehension. “What do I do if I hit a wall?” one of my students asked. When I asked her what she meant, she went on to say, “If I read the poem or passage, and just have nothing to write, what do I do?”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

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

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

Dylan Composes His Way into Literary Discussions Like a Rolling Stone

dylan

One of my first lessons in AP or any senior level literature class revolves around the question of what exactly constitutes literature. Because I wanted to change things up this year, I have not done this lesson and am glad because now I am going to teach Bob Dylan.

Question 3 calls for students to answer a prompt using a novel or play that is a work of “literary merit.” Each year students ask if they can write on Harry Potter, The Fault in Our Stars, or The Cat in the Hat for the exam; (surprisingly none of my students have written on the latter to date). While I could direct students to a list of what I believe to be appropriate criteria for literary merit, I prefer to let students wrestle with the difficulty of literary merit before I offer my thoughts.KEEP READING

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