AP Thoughts 6

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14 thoughts on “AP Thoughts 6”

  1. Dittos for the AAT exams. I knew I was “off the reservation” when the dual credit rep from the local CC said my exams for level 3 and 4 did not look rigorous enough. That was code for, they don’t look like textbook based exams. I used to try to sell dual credit, now I hand out the info and tell them to check to see if their college of choice accepts the credit. It’s been two years since I have had a kid enrolled in dual credit and I am not at all concerned. I have just watched the Spanish AP teacher beat her brains out trying to rewrite and re-certify her curriculum.

  2. I have taught AP for years and find good things about it for students who want to pursue an academic career in German. In addition, adducing the AP exam to justify certain things I already do in my class is wonderful. The College Board is all over the Three Modes of Communication, so my use of that in grading is totally aligned with AP – though I’m sure I don’t interpret this in the same way College Board does. 🙂 *smiling innocently*

    So much of this is about using the correct buzz words and expressing things in a certain way. My AP syllabus is built around one full semester of “visiting” Berlin or Vienna and one full semester of studying the Middle Ages or reading Fairy Tales and Poetry. I knew what the College Board wanted to see, so the syllabus passed the audit on the first submission.

    At some point more colleges will probably do what at least a few already do: students are required to take two years of a language, no matter where they place on the placement exam or what score they received on the AP exam. That way the school can “pay homage” to AP and still get their tuition money from the language courses. If you place out of beginning language, you just take two years of higher level courses.

    1. Hi, Robert,

      Thanks for all your insights! Do you know of any California universities/colleges that make students who place out with a given AP score on a language, just take the next two consecutive levels?

    2. Robert,

      Could you also send me your AP syllabus?

      I was officially told today I will be teaching French 3 AP 4/IB in a combined class next year as well as Fr4 Regular and Honors combined, and French 1.

      I am officially cursed because I did not want that. I wanted nothing to do with preparing a great majority of my kids to an exam most of them have no chance of being successful at. Just that idea alone is starting to give me a stomach ulcer.

      The mere thought that my kids trust me to take them on a path of success all the while knowing that given the amount of hours I have versus what they’d need to accomplish that task I cannot possibly meet their expectations is extremely agonizing right now. I do not want to lie to them or give them the illusion that they have a chance at it.

      I will painstakingly and patiently do the best I can with the tools I have.
      I will continue to provide them with CI in hopes of having them continue taking French because they know they can attain a certain amount of fluency given the time they need.
      I will continue to hope they grow a love for this beautiful language so dear to me.

      I believe I was brought on this earth to do just that. That was my calling and it took me a while to find it.

      In the mean time, I need to consult (read collaborate) with CI teachers that are facing the same dilemma.

      Robert, I once again lean on your wisdom and experience (as well as others on this blog) to lead and guide me on this brand new journey using the path of least resistance.

      My school has asked me to write the AP curriculum, as well as an audit letter to get approved teaching AP next year. They want me to write those by the end of June. Having never done that before, I would greatly appreciate any help from you or anyone who has worked that process recently. I say recently b/c AP French has adopted a new format in the last couple of years. I am cognizant to the fact that I don’t need to reinvent the wheel so anything any of you can share would be awesome.

      Thank you!

      Robert, I sent you an answer to your email this afternoon regarding the second revision of the “pirates”. Did you get it?

      1. …I will painstakingly and patiently do the best I can with the tools I have….

        Look at the implications of that sentence Sabrina. The implications are:

        1. The tools you now have are not good enough but if you work hard enough they might become good enough.
        2. The work you do now in this new situation with these advanced classes, with IB and AP both on your list of new responsibilities, is going to be painful for you but if you work hard enough you can do it.
        3. The work you have to do now is going to require patience and you may not have enough but if you just try hard enough you might be able to find that patience.
        4. In spite of not being good enough, and in spite of the pain involved, and in spite of your lack of patience, you will try and you might even succeed.

        I would like to respond to each of those implications:

        1. The tools you have now are good enough. You are a star. You don’t need to get any better. Not for any person, not for any test.
        2. What do you have on your email signature?* Something Krashen says about how we can’t learn a language if its painful? And yet, in order to satisfy your bosses, you are now ready to be take pains to be able to meet their stipulations that you bring into their school’s curriculum their in order to implement their new upper echelon testing status in their building in which teachers are merely pawns in their power advancement game? Am I hearing that correctly?
        3. You have patience and it is enough. You need to keep that patience in your teaching because if you lose it your teaching will change and you will lose all you have built in recent years as a teacher, because of these tests.

        Now, who is in charge of your career, is this their career or yours? Who is commanding you to please them in this shift to high stakes testing next year? My thinking here is that they have seen that they have a superstar in the building and, as happens often with really talented people, they intend to get all they can out of you.

        Have they asked about the expense to you in this initiative? Have they asked with respect to your status as – in my opinion – one of the great teachers of French in the whole country if you even want to do it?

        I didn’t say anything when you went to the IB workshop in Florida, I know you like to travel, but now you have come back and look at all the work this is going to involve!

        Now look what Leigh Anne has done after 16 years of teaching AP – she has dropped it and that was one courageous act, one that rarely happens because most AP teachers never quit, they would rather prefer to just wear out (they are the ones in the building who look like they are in a constant war zone – look at their faces). That was a major move by Leigh Anne, one favoring her and not them.

        I would just like to gently suggest that if you lose your relaxed manner and start getting pulled into the stress of those two exams, you may not be as happy as you are in those awesome videos you sent us this year, which was some top rate video, I think the group will agree.

        I am sure that I speak for more than a few others in the group who don’t want you to lose any of your magic by getting pulled into the testing combine. We don’t want to lose you to testing to a set of tests that will change your relaxed nature.

        *This is taken directly from your email signature:

        …the path of pleasure is the only path. The path of pain does not work for language acquisition….

        Stephen Krashen

        1. Ben says some very good things. The program I inherited included AP German, and I have maintained the AP class, even submitting the new class syllabus for the revised exam. However, I have never stressed over the test or how my students will do on the test. Most of them take the class for the weighted grade, anyway, and don’t take the German exam. In fact, about 5-10% of my students each year take the exam. That’s fine with me. Every year I tell them I am available to meet with them and go over the exam outside of class, but I will not schedule study sessions and wait for students to show up; sessions are “on demand” only. Usually students planning to take the test will ask me to meet with them two or three times, and that’s it. Some don’t ask at all. Since I teach a mixed class every year (either 4 and AP or 3, 4 and AP), I have never taught a true, pure AP class and expect that I never will. I am devious enough and good enough at language to couch everything in the proper terms and still do what I think best for my students, which is not to spend a lot of time preparing for the AP exam but spend time with Comprehensible Input and pursuing things that interest my students and me.

          I am by no means successful with all students; I still have some students who walk out of my class with very little real language acquisition – but there are fewer of them than before TCI, and they still like the language enough to harbor thoughts of pursuing it on their own later. Quite frankly, when I read some of the reports from various TCI/TPRS practitioners I have days when I think I must be doing this whole thing wrong not to have 100% success with my students. Then I remember how much lies outside my control and how much some of my students deal with. Earlier this year I made a slightly sarcastic remark to a student in jest. She laughed because she knew we were just kidding around and then said, “You know, if any of my other teachers had said that I would be in tears right now, but I know you like me and it’s ok [i.e. safe].” This particular student has sufficient issues to keep her home from school some days – so I don’t mind that her German in level 4 isn’t as “advanced” as others’; she does, however, do a beautiful job of writing what day of the week it is on the white board, and I genuinely miss her when she isn’t there. Another student is now my TA because his anxiety attacks have made him miss so much school that he had to drop history. They needed to put him somewhere, and he suggested being my TA because he feels comfortable in my class. He’s behind in language acquisition because he misses so much, but so what? At least his experiences with German are positive and help him stay in school.

          So take up the AP and IB if you think it is a challenge you would like to accept, but don’t – as Ben advises – fall into the vortex of test anxiety. Sail your ship between the Scylla of IB and Charybdis of AP [How do like the classical reference?] to the open sea of language acquisition and involvement with your students.

          In addition, when your administration asks you to take on another task, smile sweetly and say, “I would love to! What do you want me to stop doing so I can start doing [this new thing]?” Do not let them think that you are so underworked that you have infinite time to take on new assignments.

          1. Robert,

            Thank you. I always appreciate all of your analogies but the classical references are always a favorite of mine.
            I personnally can relate to Electra, Antigone and Eurydice’s faiths…….

          2. Robert,

            I meant to write I can relate to Elektra, Antigone or Eurydice’s fates…. and after a second thought faith as well…..

            Have a great day!

        2. Thank you Ben!

          I do know they are using me, and it’s OK b/c they are also extremely nice and accomodating to me. It works both ways. but I always say that I’ m not about to compromise what I believe in and WILL NOT/NEVER teach any other way. I couldn’t, nor do I know how to.

          Now just help me find me a job in the only CI safe Heaven I know of, Denver.

    3. Sabrina and LeighAnne, I just sent you an e-mail with a copy of my syllabus and some preliminary comments.

      Sabrina, I got your e-mail but haven’t had an opportunity yet to work on a solution. The change in font color baffles me.

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