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

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

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

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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

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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

2017 Synthesis Essay Reflection

It’s far more important for an AP reader to see the student behind each essay than to only see the teacher.

Editor’s note: Since AP Lit and AP Lang have a close relationship, I thought it would be helpful to provide feedback from this year’s AP Lang reading. Thanks to Roy Smith for sharing his thoughts on the synthesis essay. If you were an AP Lang reader and read for a different question, I would love to share your thoughts on those questions. Please contact Susan Barber for more information. 

The 2017 AP Language synthesis essay invites students to weigh in on the future viability of public libraries. The question asks students to consider the Internet’s impact on public libraries and their continuing relevance in the digital age.  The specific task reads as follows: “Then synthesize material from at least three of the sources and incorporate it into a coherent, well-written essay in which you develop a position on the role, if any, that public libraries should serve in the future.”  Six sources are provided for students to consider when developing their position. I read approximately 1200 essays over the course of the seven day reading.  I am always amazed by the hard work and dedication AP students and their teachers commit to during their school-year preparation, and it is with their collective commitment to excellence that I offer my reflections from this year’s reading.KEEP READING

What? How? Why?

APLitHelp.com

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Welcome to AP Lit Reading Week!

You may have seen us on day one of the AP Lit reading in our shirts and wondered who we are. The best way to explain is using a method of how we instruct our students to write essays. Answer the what, the how, and the why. KEEP READING

My Commencement Address to the AP Lit Class of 2017

Applying Writing Principles to Life

Today’s post will be the last post for the 2016-2017 school year. Graduation at my school is Friday, and I am wanting to take a little time off before the AP reading. After the reading, look for observations from the reading; I will try to have at least one reader from each question sharing.

I love AP Lit Help because it is written by teachers for teachers, so the ideas and resources found here work in real classrooms. The amount of creative genius and passion for students found in this learning community are like none other I have experienced, and it is my pleasure to serve this group. Now I have a favor to ask of you. I would love for each reader to write a post (or two or three) over the summer about a favorite lesson, teaching method, novel or poem used in class, or community building idea. My plan is to create a bank of posts to use throughout the year. My hope is this will broaden our base of writers giving us more people to learn from and fresh ideas. You can contact me through this site, my email at susangbarber@gmail.com, or find me on Twitter. I would also love to meet you if you are at the AP reading in KC this year! … KEEP READING

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

Meaningful Post-Exam Work

The Exam's OverWhat Now-

May 3rd has been looming large in most AP Literature teachers’ minds. What do we do with this class now? Popping in a movie for the last twenty days of school just isn’t the answer.

There are many factors to consider when planning for the end of the year.  How many instructional days do you really have? There are other AP tests, state testing, assemblies, field trips, and fire drills to plan around. Graduation may be at the end of May or in mid-June.  Do you have a class of juniors? seniors? or a mix?  

Use these ideas to help formulate your plan to make the end of the year, after the AP Lit test, engaging and motivating for students.KEEP READING

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