Monday, June 22, 2009

Diagnostic AP Testing

I am teaching AP English Language & Composition next year. New to me, the class presents a challenge, so today after meeting with colleagues to discuss the class and how it is structured, I took a diagnostic AP Lang. test at Spark Notes I registered for an account (free) and dove in. Though I am leary of test prep as curriculum, I wanted to see how I did. I wanted to experience the passages and wrestle with the questions--rather difficult I realized in a household with interruptions, but still.

I did fine on the practice test. My confidence bolstered, I thought, "I can do this." I can be an "A.P. teacher" --that mythical A.P. teacher about whom I've heard Kylene Beers wax poetic. I didn't start my career wanting to become an A. P. teacher, but sure remembering thinking I would. I started my career as an intern with A.P. and I.B. classes. Internships, under the best of circumstances, are idyllic but rarely do they map one's professional path. As an intern, I thought that my students were so smart that I should immediately return to graduate school. I didn't know enough to stay one step ahead of them. Surely, I needed graduate school and I needed that master's degree before I could start teaching full-time. Perhaps I just postponed actual work, but it worked out.

As you can imagine, I've traveled far from the A.P. road in my nearly 20 years teaching. I want to blog my way through the experience of coming to the A.P. Language course as a veteran teacher. I'm beginning today.

Wish me luck and post a helpful link or two for me to peruse, I could use the support and who doesn't appreciate encouragement?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer = Time

I compartmentalize. I've think I've always been that way, boxing off my thinking, feeling and writing in particular. For instance, when I wrote about technology and learning web 2.0 tools, I wrote on a blog on my Classroom 2.0 ning page. When I write about my family and personal life, I write on my blog, Pink Stone Days. When I write poetry or memoir and the day-to-day reflections in my classroom, I write in an old fashioned sketch book. Sometimes it works for me, but other times I wonder.

Obviously, I haven't been doing much writing here this year, but with the advent of summer I see time on the horizon. Time to reflect on the year that just ended and think about next year's teaching schedule. Time to participate in book clubs, like the Readicide book club launch a few weeks ago on Jim Burke's English Companion Ning. Time defines this summer.

Speaking of time to think, check out Melanie Holtsman's post on homework, "To Homework or Not to Homework." If you have time, don't miss her links to the posts by Dayle Timmons and Silvia Tolisano that got her thinking. I'm letting myself sink into the quesitons Silvia Tolisano posed about homework. I'm returning to the English classroom next year, teaching among other things an AP Language class. I find I have a lot of questions about homework; here are a few:
  • How is homework different for older studens as the Canadian study suggests?
  • How can I ensure that students are engaged and immersed in meaningful work?
  • How will homework serve my AP students?
photo: Teo's photos. (10 July 2008). "Summer."