Wednesday, June 10, 2009

AP Reading is Completed

Sorry for the Glitch...

Sorry that I did not live up to my blogging promise from the reading this year. I had a glitch with my laptop that was not repairable until I returned home. I didn't mean to leave you hanging...sorry!!!! The picture to the left is one of the incredible sunrises on Daytona Beach. The majesty of these events seemed to be outdone with each and every new day.

The reading went very well this year. We finished the entire project about 1/2 day early! Now that is smooth work. The thousands and thousands of essays were completely graded and we had an afternoon to enjoy the beach and the local shops and restaurants.

Monday was a bit of a sad day for me. My schedule for the next couple of years will not allow me to return to the reading, so I had to spend some time saying good bye to friends I have enjoyed for the last 8 years. I must say that life long friendships are developed at the AP Readings. I continually communicate with three or four people in particular that I have graded with over the years. Even this year, in my last year, I met some very interesting people that I really regret not getting to know over the years.

Again this year, as every year, the informal sharing with some of the best teachers in the nation was a real privilege. You would think that after 25 years of teaching I would know it all (ha ha) but again this year I picked up several great ideas for teaching AP from conversations in the evening. I would really like to try some of these ideas next year, and I will give you some specifics on them at the start of the year in my early blogs and then let you know how they work out as time goes by.

I did meet several Hippocampus Government users at the reading this year. I enjoyed hearing their feedback, both good and bad, and intend on passing the information on to MITE. One user in particular was an old friend from the Colorado grading who wasn't aware I was involved with Hippocampus and had not been a reader of my blog (HMMM!) She was telling me how great Hippocampus was and shocked to hear I was involved with it.

In general, the food was great this year. Grading AP can be a bit like being on a cruise...they really feed you and if you aren't careful you can gain a ton during the reading. On Monday night to celebrate the completion of the reading we had a Prime Rib dinner complete with all the trimmings including incredible cheesecake for dessert. The travel arrangements this year were the smoothest since I have been doing AP Reading...all arrangements were made online and the travel service really outdid themselves on getting the best flights for us.

Rumor has it that we will be in Daytona Beach for one more year. Next year the Comparative Government Reading, which has traditionally been with US Politics, is moving to Kansas City. Rumor also spread that in two years APGOPO will join them there...this is totally unofficial so don't bank on it, but many readers would like to try a new local just for the change of scenery. KC is a great town with tons to do in the evening! We will have to see. Again, this is speculation, nothing official on APGOPO was said by ETS.

I hope you all enjoy your summers. I expect to begin this blog back up in August, so look for new entries then. I intend on doing a great deal of bike riding, camping, fishing, reading, and relaxing and getting my reserves filled for another great year of teaching. Until then.......

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thursday In Daytona

OK my friends...

If you look at the picture you might notice it is a bit different than that of the other day. Storms are rolling in off the ocean, the beach is empty, rain is coming down, and another day of reading APGOPO is finished. Those are not blue skies in the pix, those are dark dark gray skies!!!

In the dead quiet of the reading room inside the Ocean Center we could hear the rain beating on the roof as the squalls moved inland this morning. As a land lover from Midwest the ominous skies and rough seas looked pretty bad. The locals, however, said this was nothing. I will take them at their word, but it looks pretty scary to me!

I had a great day reading today. Everyone is saying that the reading is going extremely smooth, which is great news. As a reader today I really felt confident in the job and was able to enjoy reading the students' answers. All in all, the day seemed to fly by and now I am ready for the evening. While the weather outside isn't the best, tonight is Professional night and as I mentioned earlier, D'Andra Orey (PHD) is giving an address on race and elections. I have know D'Andra since I first read on a table with him at the University of Nebraska. He has done some outstanding work in this area and I am anxious to hear his address.

First, however, I am headed down to the workout room and put a little time in the gym followed by a little dinner. Speaking of which, we get fed pretty darn good here! We get the three squares plus morning and afternoon snacks at break. I have to get into the gym just to keep the pounds off. This isn't a bad gig...great food, a room with an ocean view in the Hilton, great friends, opportunities to get intellectual stimulation....what's not to like?

Hard to believe tomorrow is Friday already. Another day of reading is in store; I'll let you know how it goes. Until then...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Day Two of the Reading

Good evening my friends...

Yes...that's me standing in the ocean. I had a really cool video of the sunrise this morning, but for some reason I was having trouble downloading it...I'll try tomorrow

OK, other than standing in the ocean, I actually got quit a bit of work done today. We did grading in earnest more calibrating. The grading room, which had a buzz of conversation yesterday, is dead silent today as 600 readers are busy scanning your student's essays.

Scoring the AP test is a complex task. The buzz from those who know is that the flow of essays seems to be rather smooth as the readers are dealing with the intricacies of applying the scoring rubrics to the essays.

So what does this mean? Overall, the reading is going super. When one stops and thinks of the enormity of the job you realize what a great job the folks from ETS do in preparing for the readers to score your kid's essays.

Tonight we had a College Board Open Forum night. Tomorrow D'Andra Orey will be the main presenter for the Government and Politics Professional Night. Most of us have taken time to spend a little time on the beach, do a little shopping, or just visit with old friends. There is always plenty to keep us busy in our off time.
I will keep you posted tomorrow. Until then...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Day One of the Reading

Dear Readers...

Well, Day One is over. Today began the process of readers learning their jobs and beginning the readings. For the readers there is always an air of anticipation and excitement. I always feel like a kid on the first day of class on this day.

The first day is always a bit arduous, the process of internalizing the rubric is not easy. We read, discuss, debate, and eventually reach a consensus that allows us to grade many, many essays fairly, quickly, and accurately. As always, ETS is organized to the max and we are off and running in great shape.

The weather here today was great with temps in the 90's, a slight breeze (great for para-sailing), and clear skies. We had a great treat this afternoon about 6:00. The shuttle mounted on top of the Boeing 747 flew right over the beach on its journey back to Cape Kennedy. What a sight for us from the Midwest who never get to see such sights. The locals were a bit less amazed than we were. You could tell tourists (AP Readers) from locals; we were all focused on the Shuttle, the locals never even glanced up. Hmmmm!

Tomorrow grading starts in earnest. We are all very excited to get started. We will start getting packets and the reading will begin. If you were thinking about coming to Daytona Beach this year, but didn't apply, be sure you apply next year. The weather is great, the fellow graders are the best people in the world, and while we have a hard job, we have a great deal of fun. I'll fill you in more tomorrow. Until then...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sitting In Daytona Beach...Wish you were here

Dear Readers...

Here I am in Daytona is Monday evening and after a long, arduous day of travel I have finished a workout in the fitness center, had a nice dinner of fresh salad, fried chicken, and corn, and am drinking a cold glass of lemonade while writing this entry to all of my cyber friends.

Sitting with me is my good friend from Texas, who is celebrating his 17th year as an AP Reader. He and his fellow table leaders arrived three days ago and have been hard at work for the last two days learning the rubrics, reading essays, and learning the job of a table leader. Like my friend, most of these folks are veteran readers who know the ropes and completely understand their jobs; however, the folks of Educational Testing Services (ETS) are thorough in all of their procedures.

Tomorrow all of the readers will have arrived and the actual reading will begin. The day will go as follows: first, we will be given our questions and all of the graders for each question will be given a "seminar" by the Question Leaders on the grading rubric. Following this we will go to our tables where each table leader will be prepared to help us internalized the rubric. We will begin reading essays as a group making sure that each reader is grading exactly like every other reader. This process of calibration will last the entire day and possibly in the next morning.

Tomorrow is a critical day for the individual reader. He/she will become an expert on the question assigned to them. The rubric will be totally internalized until it's application becomes second nature. By the end of Tuesday and the beginning of Wednesday, the we will be off and running in a full blown grading session. The first day is critical in giving the reader confidence in the rubric and their ability to apply it in all situations.

According to my friend, the first two days of this year's reading went very smoothly. Rubrics were presented and tweaked, the table leaders had great dialogues on the questions furthering their understanding of the grading, and the actual reading of questions was concise and productive. These are all signs of a great year.

I am excited to get with my table leader tomorrow and begin reading what the students had to say. As I am sitting at my desk on the 11th floor of the Hilton listening to the surf pound the sandy beaches of Daytona I am thinking about having a great day tomorrow. I will report back tomorrow evening and let you know what is happening. By the way, thanks for staying with me at the end of your school year....until then...