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Post Test Syndrome

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This post was originally published on the HS Bits Blog, which was active from 2008-2013.

After months of literary analysis, finally we are liberated from close reading!  And yet, without the pressure of a three-hour exam about literature in English over the last five hundred years, suddenly I am wondering: what now?

So I let my students choose from the following options:

Stage a full-length play

My students love to read plays. So why not put one on? Depending on your class' skill level, you could even invite an audience toward the end of your school year. The former AP® English teacher at my school put on One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. For a larger class, I would divide the students into smaller groups. One of my classes chose this option, so I suggested they perform Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.

Create a ten-minute play festival

Light, fun, and easy, the ten-minute play festival requires only a brief introduction to the genre—sometimes referred to as flash drama—before students can work on their own to create their own scenes. Class time can be spent improvising, rehearsing, learning acting techniques, and theater games. This is a nice, easy way to end the year.

Publish a class anthology

Because of Web sites like Issuu, creating a quality digital publication for free is surprisingly easy. Since the AP® course hardly allows any time for creative writing, I've found that some students are relieved to be able to practice the techniques we've been discussing. Creating a class anthology is a great way to explore themes discussed throughout the course. Class time can be spent drafting, editing, and designing the book to be.

Study an author

Although I planned to have students complete author studies earlier in the year, we simply didn't have the time. Many now want to explore their favorite authors in greater depth, so they'll be spending much of the remaining class time putting together a presentation that involves reading other works by the author, and in some cases reading parts of the author's biography. For example, students surely read The Catcher in the Rye at some point in their high school career; why not use this as an opportunity to read some of Salinger’s other stories, and peruse the recently released biography? At the moment, I'm planning an event at the end of the year when students can share their presentations with one another. Given the forty-plus students, timing the entire thing will be a challenge.

Although teaching at the college level can for some be more intellectually rewarding, I sometimes feel limited by the AP® guidelines. So now is a great time to remember that literature is fun—because it is limitless.

®AP is a trademark registered and/or owned by the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.