Sunday, April 26, 2009

Count Down...T-Minus 7, 6

Using the Last Week Constructively

OK folks, the final count down begins. I get pretty nervous/excited about right now. As a teacher I have invested almost nine months instructing, guiding, honing, directing, and cajoling my young charges in the hopes that all would pass the AP Government and Politics Exam. I have given lectures, reading assignments, essays, quizzes, tests, group activities in every size, shape, and format that I could invent. Now it all comes down to them...have they learned?

The last week before the test can be important in the entire process. 8:00 am on May 4th is fast approaching, and as the students start to feel the pressure and begin cramming for the Exam you can be a huge help. Two weeks ago I discussed writing the Free Response Questions. If you missed my blog, skip back and take a look at it. One day this week could be used to review the writing process and looking at for clues into writing point earning answers. Having student practice a couple of questions time well spent. I even let them do the practice in pairs. This takes the pressure off the students, gives them a chance to communicate and collaborate on an answer, and makes the review process less stressful.

A second day this week could be used for looking at the multiple choice section of the test. Last week I had a discussion on this, so again, if you missed that blog take a peek back at those suggestions. One thing I encourage my students to do is take a practice test (this can be done in class or as homework) and grade it using the AP method (number of right answers minus 1/4 number wrong equals points off for blanks). I then ask them to take the questions they missed and analyze what type of question it was they missed using the Alisal High School site's question classification. This may help them understand why they missed the question: was it wording of the question's stem or wording of the several choices? Was it the type of question? For example, students seem to struggle with the "sequencing a series of related ideas or events" type of question. Was it the time factor? If the student can identify a problem area and come and talk with me, we can usually work things out and develop a comfort zone for the student on the problem area.

One other thing I will be doing this week is using Hippocampus. I will start with the 1st section, Underpinnings and Documents, and using the glossary, will go term by term until I get to Civil Liberties and Civil Rights. We will define each word and have a quick discussion on the concept. I will also throw out questions AP might ask concerning a word. For example, the term Linkage Institution might draw a question from me such as: "describe 3 ways he media can have an effect on public policy". Or for Policy Making Institutions I might ask: "Describe 3 ways the Courts can affect public policy". It can be a bit of an ardious task going through all of the terms, but for several years now students have come back after the Exam and have said it was very effective in triggering their recall and recognition memory.

I am preparing for a wild week with the kids. Prom, spring sports, graduation, and other AP Exams are competing for space in the kid's gray matter. I hope I get a cell or two for APGOPO! We have all done our best...we will just have to wait and see. As they say, the die is cast. Have a great week and I'll write a few comments next week on Exam Eve! Until then...

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