Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's been very frustrating this year teaching AP History where the mandate to "cover" content is merciless. It's purported to be a college level class, but I would never expect my college students to memorize the way students must for AP high school classes. The AP European history essay section - especially the document-based essays in which students grapple with primary sources - is actually quite well-constructed and does a good job mimicking what professional historians actually do. From what I've seen on the AP discussion boards, though, teachers quickly take the rubric and develop formulaic ways of approaching the essay for their students. They have to, to try to get high scores and high pass rates. But it kind of takes all the joy out of it.

A special frustration for me is that the need to prepare for the AP test means I can't spend anywhere near as much time working with students on research papers, which would be so valuable for them. I'm hoping the IT I'm learning to use will help me restructure so we can do more higher-order things (and still get good scores on the test.) For instance, with Proprofs I can put up practice tests, something that would eat up valuable class time were I to do it the old-fashioned paper way. With paper multiple-choice tests, I'd have to grade them by hand, or at very least scantron, so forget re-takes to reiterate the factual recall. But with Profprofs or other web tools like Quizlet or Flashcard Machine I can provide opportunities for the students to re-take and re-visit information many times. I'm looking forward to figuring out ways to use the web to supercharge my course and take the waste out of our precious face time.

About the image: I used BeFunky , a tool I learned about in class last night, to add a European Union flag to an image of a map, then added text.

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