Monday, August 13, 2007

New and Improved...or Just New?

As I sat with my leg propped up on ice, with a laptop actually sitting on my lap, I started formulating what my classes would look like this year. And like most changes, I am left questioning whether the changes are new or do they start to get the students and me to new AND improved places.

Given a need to still prepare AP Government students for a national exam that is based on simple vocabulary, will they be ready for that exam if I am much more concerned with them becoming political participants and contributors. I'm not as concerned that they know the title of a concept - yet AP is. I'm not as conerned that they have memorized key cases, but can they use any case to help them build future arguments? SO how do I merge the two and still be effective with the more "old-school" AP requirements as I hopefully push/pull them into the 21 Century lifelong, continuous learner in a world-wide Personal Learning Network?

Blogs, Wikis, and Podcast Oh My. Should be an interesting year!


Blogger mferrill said...

I share your frustration, Brad. When I attended the AP Language conference last year, I was surprised at the number of new terms and definitions we were expected to teach. In fact, students are now expected to learn Latin terms for rhetorical devices that we have taught for years using more updated language.

And so, how do we prepare our students to be successful for the test while at the same time encouraging them to think outside of the box? I answered this question last year by telling my students they were responsible for preparing themselves for this test, not me. I often gave them extra practice material which covered technical material they needed to know and then told them to spend at least one hour per week studying this information. Some studied and some didn't. Since we still don't have the results of the AP test, I don't know if this strategy worked or not. But I do know who did extra practice and who didn't so I'll be eager to see the results.

I guess the bottom line is that we must devote some time teaching to the test, but we still need to focus on the bigger picture and critical thinking skills. And most of all, we must teach with passion. Then our knowledge and expertise will become contagious.

7:24 PM  
Blogger Karl Fisch said...

As usual, I think Marlys has it right - teach with passion. Despite my radical ideas, you probably do need to make sure you spend some time on the "old-school" stuff so that it doesn't hurt them on the exam. But I know that what you're talking about teaching them, what you're passionate about, is what will serve their best interests in the long run.

So minimize the "old-school" stuff as much as you can, teach to their best interests, and continue to strive to get to new and improved places.

1:38 PM  
Blogger Johnny said...

I don't know if a student's perspective will help, but my favorite classes are those where the understanding is put formost.

Any kid can go download the terms off of google and memorize by rote, but if we understand the meaning the learning becomes fun and interesting, and for me it becomes much easier to learn all the terms and details because I can see how they all connect.

3:24 PM  

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