First Week of AP … Next year?

I know this year has just begun, but I’m constantly thinking about what I can do next year. This activity found on the English Companion Ning is something I’d love to remember!

The poster Christine Beverly wrote:
“On the first day of class, I teach my students the form of the basic business letter and give them a formal letter of introduction to myself. Then, in turn, I ask them to write a letter of introduction for themselves to me in business letter format. This usually takes about 30 minutes, and it keeps my talking to a minimum.
On day two, I give the students an informal note introducing myself (this has more personal details) and ask them to write the same (usually as homework).

Day three, we compare and contrast our use of diction, syntax, details, etc. in both letters. This way I get a chance to talk to them about the importance of purpose and context in helping us choose what is appropriate. It also begins a discussion about analyzing these elements in letters and speeches. In addition, I have learned something personal about each one of them.

I actually keep these letters in their files, and when I’ve learned their names and know them better, I go back and re read them. Many times, these letters help me identify why someone is always falling asleep in class (they are working a job until 2 am each night) or why they don’t want to sit next to someone in class (so and so stole my boyfriend…), or why they seem standoffish (they just moved here and don’t know anyone).”

Another poster, Kelly Miranda , does the following:

“I show my students two different music videos of the same song. I play Nine Inch Nails “Hurt” and we talk about how the images affect the message, why Reznor stands behind the curtain as he sings, etc. Then, we identify the audience, purpose, and tone of the piece. After this, I show them Johnny Cash’s video for the same song. We evaluate this video and compare/contrast it with the NIN version and talk about how the same words are used to convey two different messages to two different audiences. I use this to tell them that this is the type of analysis we will be doing all year but with essays/words. I also give them the Anthony Decurtis interview he conducted with Trent Reznor for Rolling Stone as it is a good study of rhetoric. My kids usually really like this as an introduction.

Reply by Naitnaphit Limlamai 

Kelly, this is a great idea. Do you mind if I use it? Have you also considered using SOAPSTone with it too? Then you can jump from the music to literature and just change the content.

Terry, I’m also teaching AP Lang for the first time and I was planning on using SOAPSTone to introduce them to some Lang-tested concepts in the first week. I wanted to use Billy Collins’ “Introduction to Poetry” and SOAPSTone it as a class, then do a piece of flash fiction so students can SOAPSTone it in groups, then give them “Shooting an Elephant” to see if they can SOAPSTone it individually (derivation of Jim Burke’s “I Do/We Do/You Do”). After this, they should get a pretty good grasp of this primary concept and we can use it as a foundation on which to build. Then I wanted to move to appeals and logical fallacies, moving towards having them use a Q3-modeled question for a summer reading ”


One last post from Haley Moehlis on first day/week strategies :

“Close reading is such a staple of the AP coursework, but I often find that students want to just read it and be done.  I begin the first class of AP Lit and Comp with the first three minutes ofMoulin Rouge.  I tell them to write down everything they notice–colors, details, characters, etc.  We share out after watching.  Then I have them watch it a second time and note new things they missed the first time.  We share again.  For the third viewing, I give them frames or lenses to use while watching (symbol, color, point of view/camera angles, etc.) and we share out again.  It works well to stress the importance of close reading and rereading.  Then, in groups,  I have them write a thesis statement that speaks to their critical “reading” of the film and bullet the details that would help them to argue it.

We follow that with an essay from Slow Reads about the importance of annotation; students mark and discuss it.

From there, we read “My Papa’s Waltz” by Roethke, marking specifically for tone, diction, and imagery.  Students write a one-page analysis for the next class period and we lead with that the next class period. It’s always interesting to see how differently students interpret the poem.

I know they have to sit through a full day of classroom expectations and get-to-know-you activities, so I like to push them into the material.  It’s worked really well for me.”


Some things to think about!



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