This post was originally published on the HS Bits Blog, which was active from 2008-2013.
I always imagined that the audience for Teaching Ideas would be exclusively Advanced Placement® English teachers. So when I was asked to share information about AP® English to two audiences who were not AP® teachers, I was surprised at how easy it was to incorporate the DVD into the presentations.
Session #1: Audience: Building and District Administrators Time: 40 minutes Purpose: To Introduce AP® English
The first session I did with Teaching Ideas was last year in response to one of those last-minute requests: Can you talk about AP® for thirty minutes to a group of administrators, and can you do it today? Struggling for ideas and with the copier in my building broken again, I was fortunate to have had some clips from the then-unreleased film loaded on my laptop. Here’s what I did:
1. Because building administrators are notoriously late for meetings, I had copies of sections from a recent College Board study comparing the experiences of AP® and non-AP® students in college available to those who arrived on time.
2. I started the session by having them write a response to these opening questions: What do you know about AP® English? What questions do you have? And why would you want your students to take AP® English?
3. Then, I played the Introductions to each of the four chapters of Teaching Ideas, and in between each one, I stopped the DVD and asked them to discuss with a partner what they learned and what further questions they have. For your planning purposes, the running times for each Introduction are:
Introduction to AP®: 4 minutes
Introduction to AP® Language: 3 minutes
Introduction to AP® Literature: 3 minutes
Introduction to AP Exams: 6 minutes
4. After we finished with the introductions and discussions, I asked them to respond and share their thoughts on these questions:
What do your teachers and students need in order to have a successful AP® English program?
What are some of the difficulties that you and your school might face as you implement an AP® English program?
Describe the teaching and learning environment that you hope to see in the AP® English classrooms in your building.
The session was successful, I think, because the administrators had a chance to hear directly from the AP® teachers in the film about the excitement and the challenges that the courses create. They still had a number of questions that the video did not answer, but we had a good discussion, and I directed them to explore the administrative resources available on AP® Central.
Session #2: Audience: Ninth and tenth grade English teachers Time: 60 minutes Purpose: To Introduce and Practice AP® English Strategies
Luckily, for the second session, I had a lot more advance notice, so I was able to plan more ahead of time. Whenever I have time to plan a workshop, I try to consider the National Staff Development Council’s standards and think about how this opportunity:
Uses learning strategies appropriate to the intended goal.
Applies knowledge about human learning and change.
Provides educators with the knowledge and skills to collaborate.
Having sat through fifteen years of staff meetings and untold workshops unrelated to my practice, I know that a professional development experience for teachers has to be practical and immediate, so I asked teachers to bring copies of their textbooks or an upcoming novel or two.
Since the main idea of this workshop was to have Pre-AP® teachers learn and practice strategies that are commonly found in the AP® English classes, I decided to use the Browse by Activity feature of the DVD that is accessed through the Additional Resources menu. I displayed the Browse by Activity menu and asked the participants to rate their knowledge and use of the various key AP® strategies listed on the menu:
It didn’t take us long to identify the 4-5 strategies with which the participants were least familiar. The format of the workshop was the following:
1. Play the clip of the strategy or activity (most are only about 1-2 minutes)
2. Allow 5-10 minutes for teachers to look through their materials and describe how they would use this strategy with a text they are planning on teaching. Ideally, teachers would be able to use this time to plan the activity with a colleague.
3. Share the application of the strategy with the large group.
In the hour that we had together, our group was able to go through this process with: Cloze Technique, Graff Templates, Levels of Questions, and SOAPS with about 15 minutes per strategy. Each participant left the session with four applications of these common AP® strategies for their own classrooms, as well as an opportunity to hear how their colleagues will use the strategies as well.
Some of the teachers stuck around for a little while after and wanted to look at the other menus on the DVD, so I showed them the Video Glossary and we talked about what terms they teach or do not yet teach their 9th and 10th grade students:
We didn’t take a lot of time with this, but we did look at the Rhetorical Triangle and Ethos, Logos, Pathos sections, which was new information for most of the teachers there. I imagine, though, that this Video Glossary page could be the basis of an entire workshop modeled on the approach I took with the Browse by Activity page. Hmmm. That will be a good thing, I think, for when I get that call asking if I can do a workshop ….this afternoon!
Teaching Ideas is a powerful new professional development tool only from Bedford/St. Martin’s. This easy-to-use DVD offers a full four hours of strategies, lesson plans, advice, and anecdotes from the most trusted names in AP® English Literature and AP® English Language.