Las Vegas seems an odd choice of cities for a conference for high school teachers, but it was the College Board’s pick for last summer’s AP (Advanced Placement) Conference. Over the course of three days at the Venetian, Julia Garvelink (fellow High School faculty) and I had the opportunity to learn helpful techniques from master teachers, to network with colleagues from across the country in our respective subject areas, and to continue to develop our own philosophies regarding best practices in the AP classroom.
One session I attended on the second day was entirely about finding ways to help students identify perhaps the trickiest and most subtle element of a text: the author’s tone. Julia enjoyed being brought into the loop regarding the massive upcoming changes happening to the AP US History test. We were even able to attend one session together, which focused on ways that AP English teachers and AP History teachers can collaborate across the curriculum. We have been brainstorming ways to develop projects and writing assignments that will enhance learning in both classes.
Something that stood out to both of us, as we conversed with fellow AP teachers from various states, was how good we have it here at Calvin when it comes to student motivation and parental involvement. As we listened to teachers relate some of the challenges they faced (things that weren’t challenges for us at all!), we realized how extremely blessed we were by both our students and their families. Most of all, we were grateful for the opportunities we have to integrate our Christian faith into our AP classes. While it’s important for students to be thoroughly prepared for both the AP tests and the college courses that lie beyond them, it’s even more important for them to understand literature, history, and every other subject from a worldview firmly grounded in Scripture.