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Teaching AP ClassesWhat do you do to prep for teaching AP classes?

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Scott Locklear | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted September 7, 2011 at 6:14 AM via web

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Teaching AP Classes

What do you do to prep for teaching AP classes?

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 7, 2011 at 6:48 AM (Answer #2)

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By all means, attend a Summer Seminar sponsored by a cooperating college or university. They will normally have courses specifically designed for teachers of AP Courses. Second, visit the nearest college or university and buy yourself a survey course textbook for your field. Prepare your lessons from that text, NOT the text you assign to your students. They must be taught early on that they must actually READ the textbook, not look up definitions in the glossary. You should prepare your tests with questions from both your reference text and the student's text to keep them honest on the reading. Sacrilegious as mit may seem to some students, they must not only read the textbook, they must do it on their own time--at home, probably at night. Lecture as little as possible; teach socratically so that students will have to think for themselves.

Since the course is to get the students a college experience, you should assign a sufficient amount of work to be completed outside class. If your field is the humanities, it should be reading intensive, preferably books of scholarship in your field, and certainly not a teenage novel. Set high expectations for your students and hold them to your expectations. Many will receive grades lower than they have in the past; but in the long run they will bless you for it.

Finally, develop a thick skin. Until you build a reputation for yourself students (and all too often parents) will find fault with your teaching methods. Since you won't be spoon feeding them, the often heard complaint the first few years is "you don't teach." Don't take it seriously; remind them that it is a college level experience, and they must adjust to it.  Even though they resist, they will benefit from the experience; and over time, your experience will make you a better teacher.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 7, 2011 at 6:51 AM (Answer #3)

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The AP class I've taught is US History.  Over the various times I've taught it, I've prepped for it largely the same way I do when I prepare to teach on the college level.  That is, I try to constantly be finding new scholarship that allows me to see new ways to have my students think about the material.

So, for example, I'll look through Journal of American History to see what sorts of articles and books people are writing about US history.  Then I try to see whether I can incorporate any of their ideas into the class.  I can always use interesting ways to get students to think about the material rather than simply trying to memorize it.  That's why I like to see the scholarly stuff -- it often gives me ideas for discussion topics that illuminate important ideas in US history.

This is, of course, in addition to the basic stuff that you would do with any class -- read the text, create lessons, etc.  What I'm talking about is what I do for AP classes that I don't always do for regular HS classes.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 7, 2011 at 7:20 AM (Answer #4)

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I think the biggest thing that I do is read read read. As #3 suggests, reading a journal or newspaper which would include the kind of articles that an AP exam might include is absolutely important. I have a box that I add to all year, adding articles that I think are interesting and of a sufficient level to challenge my students. We use these as the year goes by, and I give these to students for unseen analysis practice. In addition, I find that reading a range of texts such as fiction and non-fiction excellent help to find other texts that I can use to teach from.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 7, 2011 at 7:37 AM (Answer #5)

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I agree with the post stating to attend classes provided by your cooperating college/university.

Outside of that, much of my preparation mirrors how I prepare for my non-AP classes. While I have a, pretty much, set curriculum, I am constantly adding to the difficulty level each year. The AP class which I teach is Comp and, fortunately for me, Comp does not change much.

I would always suggest trying to figure out ways to engage students. Regardless of ability, students simply learn more if engaged.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 7, 2011 at 1:10 PM (Answer #6)

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I work for the College Board from time to time, conducting workshops for new and experienced AP US History teachers, and the only reason I do it is that I get some great teaching ideas from other educators in my profession, and it is actually one of the few times during a school year where I have the time to talk to anyone else who teaches my AP subject.

I've done the AP reading for the past 12 years or so, which helps me bone up on the specific history from a different time period each year and get a better idea of what the CB is looking for when they evaluate the AP exam.  It's a good experience, but it's also legal slavery, and I decided this summer not to do it again.

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wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted September 8, 2011 at 12:04 AM (Answer #7)

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Other than attending workshops, I'd say it's almost the same as any other class prep.  It's just more intense.  There is much more outside work for the students to complete so there is more class time free to be filled.  I'd say it is important to find supplemental materials for the students as well as teaching guides for you.  For an AP class, you will need a much more thorough knowledge of the material.  Assignments and supplimental materials will need to be more indepth and accademically challenging.  It is important to make sure the students are challenged to use higher level thinking skills and upper level academic strategies.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 9, 2011 at 5:53 AM (Answer #8)

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Summer workshops, colloborating with peers who have taught AP before, reading, reading, and more reading.  I use the 5 Steps to a 5 book, Nancy Dean's Voice Lessons, and the AP listserv for guidance. 

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 19, 2011 at 2:32 AM (Answer #9)

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I am about to teach an AP for this coming semester and what I am doing is getting a blog ready for my students to visit prior to the start of the lesson. In that blog I include major papers and articles related to the objective of the lesson. In another part of it there will be a blog roll of other professors, authors, and researchers whom I know personally and who wish to add their two cents to our central discussion. Of course there is also a list of suggested reading material, and even interactive activity sites where EFL students can go if they find trouble with the reading.

My course is going to be quite focused this semester and will provide many opportunities for written expression. At times I fear this because I can sense that my students may enjoy reading, but not necessarily writing. I often get this prepared by offering another option for writing projects to keep them motivated.

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Scott Locklear | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted September 20, 2011 at 2:31 AM (Answer #10)

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I am about to teach an AP for this coming semester and what I am doing is getting a blog ready for my students to visit prior to the start of the lesson. In that blog I include major papers and articles related to the objective of the lesson. In another part of it there will be a blog roll of other professors, authors, and researchers whom I know personally and who wish to add their two cents to our central discussion. Of course there is also a list of suggested reading material, and even interactive activity sites where EFL students can go if they find trouble with the reading.

My course is going to be quite focused this semester and will provide many opportunities for written expression. At times I fear this because I can sense that my students may enjoy reading, but not necessarily writing. I often get this prepared by offering another option for writing projects to keep them motivated.

Good idea. Where are you hosting the blog?

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 26, 2011 at 6:25 AM (Answer #11)

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I have the one on wordpress (herappleness) and another one (lingtechguistics) on wordpress as well. I also keep one at the elem level using gaggle.net. A couple of years ago I did it through Ning and it was AWESOME but Ning changed its format and I think has some safety features that may or may not fly in a regular district.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 7, 2011 at 3:00 AM (Answer #12)

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Many school systems pay for teachers to attend week-long seminars during the summer at nearby universities that provide much material and great instruction and advice on teaching AP courses.  Additionally, these courses cover example essays written for the AP exam, etc. which also aid in a teacher's instruction come fall.

This week also goes for credited in-service hours, so how can a teacher go wrong?

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pirateteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted October 30, 2011 at 7:37 AM (Answer #13)

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I cannot stress the importance of networking with other AP teachers.  Sites like this one are a huge help.  It is easy to feel as though you are all alone in your AP classroom.  While some teachers like this feeling of independence, it can also be intimidating.

Before the district was broke, AP teachers from across our county had an annual AP Saturday.  On one fall Saturday every year we got together at a high school a talked.  We talked about what was going well, what was not going so well, and found our counterparts across the district.  We haven't had this event in about three years, but I know if I have a question, or need an idea to teach a concept, I have people at 8 different high schools ready and willing to help.

If you're not subscribed to College Board's EDG you should do that.  Their discussions are often relevant and full of great ideas.  It's also a place you can post your questions.  In my case I teach Literature.  If I'm teaching a new book, it's great to be able to send off a question into the virtual world and have many responses come back to me to help me out. It's a valuable asset!

 

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