Wednesday, December 23, 2009

AP Break Assignments

I don't know about you ("you" being anyone who teaches AP English of any level), but one of the hardest parts of the job is assigning work during school breaks. For me, the dilemma lies between assigning the right amount and respecting the families' time with their loved ones.

So, I open it up to you (same referent). What do you assign for break? What factors help you decide what to assign?

This post is an open discussion, so please write back.


Amy said...

When I was teaching AP Literature, I actually didn't give break assignments. My rationale? If my students were in a college class, they wouldn't have an assignment over break as the semester would have ended. I never felt like I lost anything when we returned to school. In fact, I could see the burn out in my students prior to break, and they seemed much more relaxed and ready to read and write again after break.

AFletcher said...

My AP colleagues load it on during the break -- particularly Calculus. The Calculus teacher is notorious, but he has a sky high pass rate, so no one ever bothers him. He encroaches on student time and energy in a way that I find...excessive. "Excessive" is too polite a word, but this a public forum so we'll leave it at that. Then AP Chem? APUSH? AP Spanish? Finally, AP Language -- the "easy" AP class, because hey! It's English. There are no "right or wrong" answers in English, as long as you can construct an essay that is logical and well supported, fluid, stylish, and reasonably correct. Hey, no problem!

Anyway, I watched my daughter navigate her way through the high school where I teach. I saw first hand the assignments she was handed by the other AP teachers. And I changed my own thinking...all of us who work with the AP population see these overwrought, overworked, stressed out teenagers. It makes me sad.

I assign no essays. I spent the last week before the break doing the pre-reading work with Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, assigned the novel, asked them to get into it -- and tomorrow we'll begin discussions. We'll do Socratic Seminar. I'll give them the rest of the week to finish the book, and next week, we'll write our essay.