Between practice, homework, friends, family, tournaments, projects, it's really hard to find time to read for pleasure. It breaks a little piece of my heart every year when my students tell me they either a) don't read outside of school.. ever, or b) are barely keeping their head above water and can't imagine finding time to read for pleasure.
So this year in AP Lang I'm making a point to give students more reading choice. I'll select 2-6 core readings for each unit that will be the crux of what we discuss in class. You will have the readings in advance with the correlated due dates so you can plan ahead and figure out the hype about time management.
I'll guide you to multiple resources (via this website, Twitter, etc.) that are dependable for high-level, sophisticated journalism (we won't settle for less!) and let you dig around. Some of these will be places like The New York Times and others will be apps like Flipboard and Zite. You'll read what you're inspired to read, send me links to particularly interesting articles that I may use in class, and we'll make connections between what we're reading together and what we're reading independently.
I'll touch base with you at the end of every quarter and you'll tell me about your outside reading and what kind of effort you've put into studying high-level writing. That's it. I want to keep it simple and easy.
I'd like to hear your thoughts on this before we hit the ground running in August. So leave your thoughts on outside reading in the comments.
Also, I'm interested in hearing about what you've been reading this summer. Books, stories, essays, blogs, tweets, etc.? What have you loved, what have you hated? You can see what I've been reading here and here.
AP teachers in Maryland were granted access to test scores yesterday at 2 p.m. (students can access their scores on Tuesday at 8 a.m.). I was nervous about checking the scores for a few reasons.
The first reason was that this was my first year teaching AP Language and it took me a while to find my groove. Just like all new things, I had to work really hard for it to feel like we were on the right path. This meant many late nights re-reading essays I read in college; reviewing my old textbooks from my Rhetoric class; brainstorming new activities and lessons; and losing sleep over stacks of papers to grade. I knew I worked hard, but I wasn't sure how that would transfer to test day.
The second reason was that I knew how hard last year's AP Lang classes worked. So many students came in early on a regular basis (some of them at 7:30 a.m. once a week); took advantage of the after-school study group; utilized Twitter and email to ask for my help from home; and kept an open mind about how to improve their writing and reading skills. I didn't want all of those hours to go to waste.
I was pleasantly surprised to see so many students not only pass, but score in the 4-5 range! This means more students are able to get credit for English 101 and not spent thousands of dollars on tuition! Not everyone passed, but no one completely bombed the exam. It's obvious to me that everyone went in to the test with a clear mind and gave it the best they had. Even though not passing a test can be really tough, taking the test and reflecting upon it is crucial for the future. Learning how tests work and how you best prepare for them is one of the best learning experiences you can get before you go to college and do it when there is significant money on the line (be it tuition or salary).
I have a lot I want to do to get students even better prepared for the AP Lang exam next year, but I am so proud of how hard last year's group worked.
If you're getting ready to enter into AP Lang, take a moment and touch base with someone who took the test. Get feedback from them. Ask them what they struggled with or what they wish they would have done differently. This peer-to-peer conversation is powerful and can dramatically improve your AP experience next year.
Questions about the Lang exam? Ask them in the comments!
We're live! The Matheny AP Lang YouTube channel is live and ready for your use!
What's truly amazing is that all it takes to put your face (uh... my face) on the internet is an iPad. It takes quite a while to film, edit, and upload, but the process isn't stressful. I'm a newbie at all these things--filming, iMovie, YouTube, etc. I'm hoping it will get easier, better as I go, and that's where you come in.
1) Watch the videos and give me feedback. What could be better?
2) As we go through the summer and school year, what concepts would be helpful to review via video?
3) What are the pros/cons of using social media platforms like Twitter, YouTube, and blogs? What role do you see it playing your education now and in the future?
If you've already started the summer reading--what do you like so far? We're using #APLang2015 as our primary hashtag this year, so feel free to tweet about it, too.
Happy Thursday, everyone!
We're closing in on the end of June and I'm hopeful that you're all finding a summer rhythm. For me (and Mr. Matheny) that means waking up with the sun to walk Theo, hitting up the gym before the 8 o'clock crowd, reading our current book, and enjoying whatever the afternoon brings. It's nice to have this time off, but don't fool yourself--I'm busy preparing for next school year!
One thing I have been working on (actually, I started before the end of last school year...) are AP Lang tutorial videos. I found that last year's AP Lang students had the most difficult time 1) learning the Lang-centric terminology and 2) using them to annotate effectively*. Both of these tasks are imperative for you to master, so I figure a little at-home review couldn't hurt (hence: the videos). My goal is to create these videos as you need them throughout the school year. They will function as review for you at home. In the education world, this promotes what experts call a "flipped classroom." You do the learning at home and the mastering in the classroom (with me). I'm game for trying out new things if they sound beneficial for you guys.
Anyway-you can expect your first video by the end of June. We'll work together to annotate the preface of Jay Heinrich's Thank You for Arguing. If you haven't gotten your copy of TYFA or Strayed's 2013 Best American Essays yet, get on it! You can follow the links or order them from a local bookstore (2nd and Charles, 4 Season Books, Curious Iguana)! Make it your goal to finish Part 1 of the Summer Reading Assignment by July 25.
You can find the summer assignment at the bottom of this page.
The other thing I plan on utilizing is this blog + discussion board site. Through this forum we can discuss readings, ask questions, and just generally support one another through the AP Lang journey.
I'd love to hear from you!
*One thing about annotating: It's so important to write as you read. Regardless if you write on the actual text or in your favorite notebook, it's important to document meaningful lines, make connections to historical events or your own experiences, and notice patterns within the author's use of words and sentences. I can't give you new eyes--but I can certainly help you train them to pay better attention to detail! The more you do that NOW (you know... before AP Calc or AP Chem homework starts to pile on), the better you'll be in the fall.