Wednesday, July 27, 2011

AP Annual Conference: Was it worth it? Part 1

It’s really not bitching. 

I only say that because I can see already that complaining about the AP Annual Conference is going to seem like needless bickering, except that I paid my own money to go and so I think a realistic review of the conference is perfectly in order.  Yep, I paid for it.  My wife’s school district paid for her registration to the AP Annual Conference this year in San Francisco and we agreed that part of my AP reader stipend would go towards my registration fees.  So I forked over $550 to go to a conference that was very hyped as valuable.  My intent was to find things that would work in my classroom.  Period.

Here’s the thing.  For $550 a participant should have some basics at an education convention/conference.  First would be an idea where to go.  After paying my fee in May, I heard nothing, notta, zilch from the College Board.  I got a receipt by e-mail, but the only idea I had about my destination was that it was at either Moscone Center or the Marriott Marquis nearby.  A couple of days prior I started asking the #APAnnualConf hashtag on Twitter if anyone had information.  Everyone kept saying “just go to Moscone Center.  Ok, but Moscone Center and the Marriott Marquis consists of four huge buildings that span many city blocks.  My wife and I eventually walked from our hotel to the corner of 3rd and Howard, and waited.  We eventually followed people with AP Conference badges to Moscone West and headed to our sessions.

I judged each session based on usefulness to my class and by how many times I checked Twitter from my iPhone. 

-Session 1: Classroom Simulations and 21st Century Learning: A Constructivist Approach.  Exactly what I’m looking for.  Presenter dealt with the simulations from Eric Rothschild and how you need to make students do more of the work.  The first time I heard “let it go” in relation to AP tests.  “Focus on being a great history teacher and let the AP test go.”  Exactly what I needed to hear, and the lessons were great for classroom use. Twitter checks: Very rare.

-Session 2: Contextualizing Colonial America Using the Atlantic World as a Framework.  Used varied primary source documents to focus on the Atlantic Slave Trade.  Really didn’t address anything else, and the primary source documents game from text that I had little or no access to.  This was going to take a lot of work.  Basically, this was a discussion on early slavery that would probably take too long to implement and instruct.  Twitter checks: Often.

-Session 3: Teaching Historical Thinking Skills: Trends in Income and Wealth Since 1945.  Political, Economic, Demographic evidence is presented that shows that income inequality has risen since 1979.  Some country comparative information is also presented.  Very interesting discussion between us teachers, but absolutely nothing I can use in the classroom.  Plus, the evidence is basically weighted towards the presenter trying to justify conservatism as being the reason why income inequality has risen over the last 30 years.  Twitter checks: Rare

-Session 4: Previewing the Revised APUSH Course:  Excellent information about the revised AP U.S. History Course.  I already explained it all on Twitter.  To summarize: revise will be 2014-2015, focus will be on historical skills, AP exam is looking to eliminate all multiple choice questions.  It was really good.  Twitter checks:  None.

I’ll post days 2 and 3 later.

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