Aaahh, the possibilities!

I just returned from a week-long AP training seminar. These institutes are always so overwhelming because there are so many materials and so much excitement over all the possibilities of things to do in your classroom, but then you get home and it starts to blur. I actually had a wonderful speaker that emphasized the need to teach skills rather than waxing poetic on novels we love. The simplicity of what an AP reader is looking for shocked me and consequently, I have developed a new strategy to approach teaching the students how to write the essay for the AP Lit exam. My problem with the presentation was that the presenter was very anti-technology. He saw no use for it and only engages students with a pen and paper. He is charismatic and there is something to be said for that but all of the research I have read talks about the artificiality of schools and the need to bring some of students’ outside world in. I think I have decided to take the presentation with a grain of salt and use what I think important, but not change my whole approach. I feel it important to allow students to express their learning in multiple ways and provide opportunities to engage with the texts in mulitmodal directions. To that end I began morphing some of the presenters techniques on approaching novels with my idea for the wiki site and collaborative learning. I added a page for our summer reading novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, where students can explore the important moments of the work ( a concept of the presenter), but do so colllaboratively on the wiki site when we get back to school in a couple of weeks. This can then serve as a reference for all of them when they review for the exam, rather than an isolated resource for each individual student. In my mind, this approach will bring together a richer reference guide for that novel than if they completed it individually and filed it in their notebooks.
My head is still spinning on first week activities, but I know I want to develop a tech inventory to see where kids are at with technology. I would also like to develop a learner inventory to get an idea what type of learners I have in the room. Lots of work for me over the next couple of weeks, but I will persevere!

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