The Big Picture: Course Planning, AP Literature Skills, and AP Classroom

by Lisa Boyd

I have a confession to make.  I didn’t really use AP Classroom last year in my AP Literature classes.  When AP Classroom opened and we could finally see the resources available to us as teachers, my academic year, which begins in late July, was already well underway.  I had already spent weeks and weeks familiarizing myself with the new AP Literature Enduring Understandings and Skills; I had already spent much of the summer planning out my units–their themes, focus skills, and texts. I structure both my AP Literature and Language classes around four multi-genre thematic units, and the AP Literature CED units are organized into nine genre-based sections.  With all I have to do each year, I simply didn’t have the time to delve into AP Classroom and rethink my own course structure and how I could merge the CED genre units with my own thematic units to effectively utilize the tools open to me.  That was simply one more thing that I did not feel I could add to my overwhelming to-do list. I used my valuable–and limited–time to provide feedback to my students on their formative assessments, to conference with my seniors about their college application essays, to internalize the new AP Exam scoring guides, and to read, read, read (of course).  Something had to give . . . and, for me last year, it was AP Classroom.

Read more: The Big Picture: Course Planning, AP Literature Skills, and AP Classroom

This academic year is different. I have spent time thinking through the AP Literature skills and their progression this summer, and I have made sure to educate myself about what is available to me as a teacher–and to my students–in AP Classroom. If you haven’t yet done so, I encourage you to watch the videos about AP Classroom on the College Board YouTube Channel: AP Daily (under 15 minutes), Topic Questions (under 25 minutes), Personal Progress Checks and Dashboard (under 25 minutes), and Question Bank (under 25 minutes).  I promise you that it will be a wise investment of less than two hours of your time. 

Now that I have learned more about AP Classroom resources and how they align with the CED units and focus skills, I have a plan.  I will continue to teach my four thematic multi-genre units, but I will focus on the skills of the CED units so that I can assign Topic Questions weekly and Personal Progress Checks every four to five weeks to more efficiently monitor my students’ strengths and struggles in terms of AP Literature skills.  Below are charts of unit concepts and AP Literature focus skills.  If you’re interested in seeing how I structure my class, visit my PBworks website, which will be updated by the time my students are back in my class–a remote learning environment for now–on Monday 17 August.  As we all navigate unmapped waters this academic year, I encourage you all to focus on what you do well and use resources available to you to make your work more effective and efficient–and ultimately benefit your students and help them hone their literary analysis, critical thinking, and writing skills.

Thematic UnitsAP Literature Focus Skills
(1) Confinement & FreedomCED Units 1-3 skills
(2) Monstrosity & MagnanimityCED Units 4-6 skills
(3) Futility & TenacityCED Units 7-9 skills
(4) Duplicity & VeracityALL AP Literature skills (AP Exam review & preparation)
AP Literature Enduring Understandings & Skills
CED Units 1-3CED Units 4-6CED Units 7-9

A 2012 Georgia Teacher of the Year finalist, Lisa Boyd has been an educator for twenty-five years.  Currently, she serves as an Instructional Coach and Chair of Advanced Placement faculty as well as English Department and teaches AP English Language, AP English Literature, AP Research, and AP Seminar at Luella High School in Locust Grove, Georgia.  She received degrees in English from Presbyterian College, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and the University of Georgia and also studied at the University of London during her undergraduate career and at the University of Sierra Leone in West Africa after earning a Rotary International Fellowship for graduate study.  Before becoming a high school teacher with certifications in English, Gifted Education, and Teacher Support; Boyd taught composition, literature, and multicultural studies at the University of Georgia.  For eighteen years, she has served as a reader for the AP English Literature and Composition Exam, ten of those as a table leader and one as a member of the sample selection team.  As a teacher leader in her state, Boyd regularly teaches professional learning workshops for the Georgia Department of Education and serves as a consultant for the National Math and Science Initiative across the Southeast United States.  During her career, she has served on the Teacher Advisory Council of two Georgia School Superintendents and received the Presidential Scholar Distinguished Teacher Award. 

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