Thursday, June 21, 2012

Done grading and outta here

Well the silence in the Kansas City Convention Center has been broken.  No more shuffling of papers, marking of scantrons, and wearing out the carpet moving back and forth between the table and the essay boxes.  About 125 of us graded around 18,000 Free Response Questions.  We figured that each of us at our table graded over 2,000 writings about one question.  I’m done grading.  No seriously, I am really done grading. 

How about a KC AP 2012 recap.

-Last year it was swag.  This year the buzz word on the FRQ tests was YOLO, otherwise known as You Only Live Once.  It was used much less frequently as last year’s but still had a prominent showing.  I didn’t receive nearly as many love stories this year, but did read many students who basically said that they didn’t care enough about the tests because they had already been accepted to universities.  I read quite a few of those.  Art work was also prevalent this year, although at a level that was very disappointing.  Not much to admire.  The really tough ones to read were those that blatantly said that the teacher did very little in class.  We aren’t talking about the usual complaints about how hard the class was, we are talking about students that were really pissed that the teacher didn’t address content, talked about old college stories, or generally didn’t come out from behind his or her desk.  Our table was quite annoyed at those booklets.     

-Once again I saw the interesting split between college graduate students/adjunct professors, and high school teachers.  There is a youthful optimism that is still apparent to a thirty-something that is still in college, and also an interesting trepidation about what they can do with their high-end degrees.  Most all want to teach at a university, something that at the current time is not looking well in a climate of slash and burn to higher education.  I also heard some very interesting academic elitism; holders of PhD’s that insisted that they would only teach at very reputable schools.  Um, how about the institution that pays you.  That would be good.

-My table was awesome.  Once again it was a real collaborative experience where we were able to discuss answers at a deeper level with colleagues that saw different angles and interpretations.  Out of the seven of us, five were high school teachers and the rest dealt in college.  Some were from schools overseas.  All were people I would love to work with again. 

-I went to a Royals game at Kauffman Stadium in the suburbs of Kansas City.  The stadium is really nice. No, it is not AT&T Park in the scope and beauty.  But what is?  It park looks like a modern place to watch a ball game while maintaining an intimate atmosphere that gives it a tad bit of a AAA feel, and I mean that in a good way.  The only problem with a Royals game is the Garth Brooks song that was played in the 6th inning.  I think I died a little bit.  My group looked at me and laughed.  “You probably don’t get this in San Francisco do you.”  Um, no.  Thank God.

-I also took the walk to the Negro Leagues Museum and the American Jazz Museum.  They are in the same building and you can’t beat the $10 admission.  Both are pretty small but do a very nice job describing some of the intricacies of both subjects.  The “Field of Dreams” monument in the middle of the Negro Leagues Museum is pretty awesome.  It’s built much like the Constitutional Convention bronze statue setup at the National Constitution Center except it’s a small baseball field with the most famous Negro League All-Stars.  Standing next to Satchel Paige looking into Josh Gibson was a treat.  And the Jazz Museum does a nice job of not only looking at the history of jazz, but also trying to teach the elements of jazz.  You could easily spend two hours in both places total.

-Only one nasty thunderstorm early on.  It was strong enough to wake me up at around three in the morning.  Humidity was non-existent early on and became oppressive the last two days.  I hate it.

-Ran into people at the AP Reading, the hotel, and at the ballgame that moved out of California for economic reasons to cities and towns in the Mid-West.  All of them regretted it.  Their standard-of-living had gone up but they hated the weather, the lack of the diverse culture of the Golden State, and the laid back (and more tolerant) attitudes of the Left Coast.  The family I met at the ball game had lived in the Bay Area and seemed almost in tears at missing it.  They moved to Kansas City so they could buy a nicer house.  To them it was clearly not worth it.

-If you haven’t heard, Europe and Asia are about twenty years away from serious economic problems due to declining populations.  Russia’s problem has the potential of being catastrophic.  That would not be the problem at the Sheraton Crown Center in Kansas City.  For some reason about three-fourths of the females at the pool were with child, and every single one of them had AT LEAST one other child in tow.  It wasn’t that bad until Friday when the pool became Romper Room and many of the AP Comparative readers started mentioning China’s One-Child Policy. 

-A high school teacher from Minnesota showed me the magic of Google Forms and Flubaroo.  I already knew about embedding Google Forms into Edmodo to create online quizzes.  Now Flubaroo will grade them for you.  Awesomeness. 

I’m hoping for a return next year for more collaboration, and as usual I recommend that AP teachers give it a shot if they have the opportunity.  At the very least you can see how rubrics are created and interpreted, and that really matters when it comes to creating lessons for complex political issues.

Right now my focus is the trip home and the basketball camp I’ll be coaching in, oh, twenty hours.  I’m over the deserts of southern Utah on a Southwest flight at the moment and I’m really looking forward to my own bed, not living out of a bag, at the squeak of basketball shoes.   

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