AP English Language

For those that don’t already know, I was in Daytona grading AP English Language exams during the week of the 12th, which was a lot of fun. I met some excellent teachers, who taught me to look at my composition classes differently. Reading what the high schoolers wrote in answer to the prompts made me re-evaluate what I should be expecting from my freshmen, because AP students are supposed to be capable of placing out of my course. (Here’s the inside scoop: most of them are not, which makes me want to focus on more basic stuff with my students.)

It was a fun experience, not least because ETS puts you up at the Daytona Hilton, which is all oceanfront rooms and has direct beach access. Not a bad way to spend a week. They worked us hard (I graded 846 exams in 7 days), but it was worth it. Not only does ETS pay well for a week’s work in a nice location, but you have every evening free with nothing to do, so I got rather used to a piña colada overlooking the ocean at the end of every day, sandwiched between beach time and hot tub soaking.

One Response to “AP English Language”

  1. James Biehl
    February 16th, 2007 15:57
    1

    Your freshmen are ill-prepared because they were forced to endure a middle school language arts program which refused to ascertain whether or not their/your students had mastered the structure (grammar & syntax) and mechanics of English.
    Middle school teachers (not really!) further contributed to your frustration by requiring reading which did not expand a student’s denotative and connotative skills but rather provided pablum for insuring an anorexic literacy.

    Do what you need to do: if your students do not know their grammar, syntax, and mechanics, if their vocabulary is primitive, these are the skills they must have if they are to succeed in an AP course senior year. Teach them. Drill them. Make them memorize. In short, empower them! And by the by, junk the adolescent lit nonsense. Give them Greek and Roman mythology with Ovid, Homer, Virgil; give them Twain and Dickinson; give them challenging, substantial texts which link them to their culture and the traditions that shaped Western civilization and its/their values. Amen.

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