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AP Seminar provides new learning perspective

•Trent Sprague

•Trent Sprague

Claire Dwyer

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This school has always had a variety of programs and classes to help students explore options for college and even earn college credits through AP courses. This year, freshmen have an unique opportunity that upperclassmen didn’t have in their first year to earn AP credits for college. A new class, AP Seminar, teaches students how to analyze a variety of forms of information and learn valuable research skills, all while earning credits for college.

“I just wanted to try something new. I like Language Arts, and I wanted a challenge,” freshman Lucy Hahn said.

College Board claims that 98 career areas and 46 college majors relate to this course, so the skills students learn in this class are applicable to a variety of fields.

The class started in Fall 2016, but this is the first year it is offered here. Three teachers, Jim Miks, Matt Michelin, and Amanda Ams, teach the course to some degree, and all are a little different. Michelin’s AP Seminar is only for seniors, Miks has a half seminar, half psych class, and Ams has just freshmen.

Over the summer, teachers had to attend thirty hours of training to get a diploma to teach the class.

Many freshmen are taking advantage of this new opportunity. “AP drew me in. It is good to take advantage of as many of those opportunities as I can,” freshman Annica Gerstung said.

According to College Board, the class teaches students how to, “Examine materials like news stories, research studies, and literary works so you can craft arguments to support your point of view and communicate them effectively through the use of various media.”

The research aspect of this class interested many freshmen. “The class will be helpful in years to come in terms of research stuff,” Gerstung said.

The class consists of two major projects and an end of course exam. “This exam is different because they will be working on their AP score throughout the year. Prior to exam day, two course projects (called Performance Task One and Two) are completed, each with two components,” Ams said.

One unique aspect of the class is that it is half of a new program called AP Capstone. AP Seminar is the first half of AP Capstone, the second half is AP Research. If students score a three or higher on both of those AP tests plus a three or higher score on four other AP tests, then they receive the AP Capstone Diploma.

“The diploma shows skills of critical thinking, argumentation, public speaking, writing, research. It highlights a range of skills… that colleges say students are lacking,” Ams said.

It also encourages students to use multiple perspectives to look at different global issues through research projects.

The AP exam for this class is also a large part of what makes this class very different. In addition to having presentations be a part of the exam, classroom teachers also grade some portions of their own students’ exams.

On the actual AP exam day, students will complete a two part test for a portion of their final score. The first has three sections, each with short answer questions about an article. For the next part, students must compose an evidence-based argument essay.

Some freshmen are nervous for this exam because of how particular it is and because they will be taking two exams.

“I am nervous because I will be taking two, and so it is intimidating because it is kind of a big deal,” Hahn said.

Overall students are excited for the new opportunities and skills this class gives them for the future.

“I am pretty bad at researching and writing essays, so hopefully this will make me better at that for future classes,” Hahn said.

Teachers are also excited to see how students will respond to the new course.

“I think these skills will be extremely beneficial down the road because they learn cross curricular skills which will be very beneficial,” Ams said.

Hopefully this new class will help students learn valuable skills for high school and beyond.

 

 

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AP Seminar provides new learning perspective