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How can AP teachers use technology to make readings and comprehension of key texts relevant to learners?

Among the many outcomes of AP Language and Composition, students are expected to be able to

  • Read from a variety of historical periods and disciplines
  • Identify audience, purpose, and strategies in texts
  • Analyze the types of arguments that writers use (Puhr, 2007).

The key texts in AP English are notoriously difficult, classic texts that students find irrelevant.

Using a close reading/peer review technique, adapted from an idea in Rhodes University’s assessment in higher education publication (Clarence, Quinn, & Vorster, 2015), students practice skills necessary to meet the AP standards.

Objectives:

The learner will identify, explain, and evaluate the author’s argument in a text.

 Materials:

Small groups (2-3 students each)

copies of a rich AP text (this textbook has many great examples)

access to a cloud based document sharing application (i.e. Google docs, Dropbox)

Procedure

Opening
Teacher models the identify-explain-evaluate process with a sample text. In this process, the teacher/student identifies an argument made by the author in the text, explains the argument using quotes from the text as evidence, and evaluates the validity of the argument.

Body
Teacher assigns or students choose an AP level text to complete the same process with, uploading or copying/pasting (with reference) the text into a Google Doc or other cloud sharing application. All work is kept in one document for easy reference, sharing, and collaboration.

Students identify one argument made by the author in the text, choosing three quotes or passages that serve as evidence. Then, explain what the author was claiming in the students’ own words. Last, evaluate the reasons the author provided to support his or her claims.

Students share their work with their group members and their teacher. Group members give peer feedback. I suggest the RISE feedback rubric. Students edit their draft based on feedback and conversation (if your class has time for open debate) and then produces a final copy.

Closing
Have students share a draft thesis (for a formal AP essay) or evaluate their writing using the language of the AP rubric

Assessment

Both the quality of the peer review and the quality of their written evaluation should be assessed. You might decide to divide it 80%/20%.

Modification and Differentiation

Access to cloud sharing applications is not completely necessary – it simply makes the process more streamlined and accessible. If this is not an option, have students write the evaluation and complete the peer review with different color pens.

Differentiate this lesson by choosing AP texts that are at an appropriate reading level.

References

Puhr, K. (2007). AP English Language and Composition Teacher’s Guide [PDF]. Retrieved from http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/members/repository/ap07_englang_teachersguide.pdf

Clarence, S., Quinn, L., & Vorster, J. (Eds.). (2015). Assessment in higher education [PDF]. Retrieved from https://www.ru.ac.za/media/rhodesuniversity/content/chertl/documents/RU%20_%20Assessment%20in%20HE.pdf

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