kitchen table math, the sequel: Education Quick Takes on College Board reading list

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Education Quick Takes on College Board reading list

books AP students read


Jo in OKC said...

Note that there is no prescribed reading list from the College Board for AP English Lit or Language.

Free Response Question 3 on the AP English Lit exam does list some suggested novels to use to answer the question, but the student can answer the question with anything.

Catherine Johnson said...

Jo - did you take a look at the Cambridge Pre-U literature syllabus?

Catherine Johnson said...

I visited a high school class teaching the Cambridge Pre-U "Global Perspectives" course.


Jo in OKC said...

No, I didn't. I'll look at it.

There are no Cambridge Pre-U programs around here. It's a mostly AP area, with one big magnet school that does IB. Their IB program is VERY humanities focused.

Grace said...

Hey, if anyone can post the approximate number of books from the College Board list that an AP-track or non-AP-track student in your school is assigned, it would be helpful to have more data points on this. So far, we're looking at about 20 books out of the list, but that's just based on two examples.

Jo in OKC said...

At our local high school, I think 20 would be high -- maybe 16. The main problem is that (in our experience) freshman and sophomore pre-AP English are pretty undemanding.

Freshmen read Romeo & Juliet. Sophomores read Julius Caesar (and, work hard on doing well on the English II End of Instruction exam, required for graduation).

There are 2 books read for summer reading each year. They do lots of short stories during school. There's another book or two each year, but I think an average of 4 a year is about right.

At my daughter's current school (not our local school), they read a LOT more. Still, much of it is shorter fiction (pieces from Norton's Anthology, for example).

Since the current school only has the kids for 2 years, I don't think they read 20 books in 2 years. However, I think they easily read 10 books in the 2 years (counting summer reading).

Jo in OKC said...

I finally looked at the Cambridge Pre-U English Syllabus.

So, over the course of 2 years, they're reading 8 novels, 8 plays, and doing some poetry (some of which is pretty challenging -- Chaucer & Pope, for example). They're also doing an independent paper that involves reading 2 more books.

That's averaging a major work a month for the entire school year, for 2 years. I think that's a reasonable reading rate, while still giving students time to do some deep assignments.

AP English teachers tend to LOVE that their reading list isn't dictated. It makes some things much easier to have a set list. However, if you don't like one of the works (or it just doesn't work well for your students), then part of the course can just be a slog.

The Shakespeare is more balanced than the typical US curriculum (which tends to only cover tragedies, no comedies or histories).

The majority of the works on the list are OLD.

There are several works on this list that surprise me. Maybe they're considered the best of an era, but they're certainly not commonly read or discussed works.

Catherine Johnson said...

Jo - you should check out the "Global Perspectives" Cambridge Pre-U course. That's the course Americans seem to be buying (including the Apple school or whatever it is in NYC).

I visited a Global Perspectives class at a local high school, and it was horrifying.

The principal actually said, "It's not a content-rich course."

That was a selling point.

not content-rich

Catherine Johnson said...

They're having kids take Global Perspectives for a full year and a half, and most of them have dropped their English course in order to take Global Perspectives.

Virtually the only reading they're doing is op-eds and feature stories they Google.

The principal explained that it isn't a problem having students not take English because the Regents English exam is so easy they can pass it sophomore year.

Pass a too-easy exam, read no more literature for the rest of your high school career.

Good deal.

Jo in OKC said...

"Not content rich". Ack!

It seems like you either need to be learning content (say, reading a piece of literature you've never read before) or learning how to do things with content you already know (like learning to write a research paper, a persuasive essay, creative non-fiction, a discussion of rhetorical strategies) or both.

I tried to pull up the syllabus, but the site's down for maintenance until after Easter Monday and there don't appear to be any copies on other sites.