Posts Tagged 'Education'

A Brief History of Butter…

As part of Dr. Melissa Gibson’s class Teaching Middle Secondary Social Science, students are asked to think about social studies in a new light — and throughout the course, their perceptions do shift. Through their blogging during the semester, we can see these changes in the students’ own words. Read on to learn along with our students!

Western-pack-butterBy: Audrey Meyersieck 

While it seems insignificant in our daily lives, butter has a huge impact on the different types of food we eat. Without realizing, I likely consume butter 3–4 times a day. Whether I use it when I’m cooking, spread it on my bread, or even when I eat premade baked goods. Although butter is seemingly a normal, household staple, it actually has an epic history that not many people are aware of. Behind every piece of buttered toast, buttered noodles, or batch of chocolate chip cookies, there is a story. Where did that butter come from, and how did it get into your local grocery store? In first grade social studies we learned that the pilgrims invented butter, and even dressed up at pilgrims to make our own butter in class. But that might not be the case.

In the Desert of ancient Africa around 8000 B.C., a lonely traveler made an accidental discovery. Thirsty from the hot terrain, he reached for the sheepskin pouch attached to his pack animal. However, when he tilted the pouch to take a sip of milk, he was shocked to discover that the milk had turned into a thick mush from churning around on the animals back. Surprisingly, it tasted delicious!

At least that is likely how it happened according to Author Elaine Khosrova in her book, Butter: a Rich History. She writes that butter is like “a historical roadmap of humanity.” While we often get our butter from cows today, early butter came from the milk of yak, sheep and goats. Over the years, butter has taken on different uses. In ancient Rome, butter was used for cosmetics as well as for healing balm; ancient Sumerians offered butter as gifts in temple, and the first student protest was even linked back to butter in 1766 at Harvard after a meal with rancid butter was served to students (Jankowski, 2017).

Today, most of the butter we consume is from cows. In order to make it, cream is held at room temperature, it is then aged in an aging tank for about 12–15 hours. After this process is done, the cream is churned and eventually butter granules form and condense; the liquid left over is called buttermilk. Salt is added to improve the taste and shelf life. In the final step, the butter is shaped, packaged into wax paper, and shipped off to the grocery store where it can be purchased for consumption. Butter factories did not come to the United States until the 1860’s, and it soon became a table top staple. Today, Americans consume about 940,000 metric tons of butter per year, and there is an increasing demand.

While butter can be found in a majority of American homes and grocery stores, many of us forget about the long process that it takes to produce it, or the environmental implications that it has on our planet. Through economic thinking, we can analyze the long-term effects and processes of producing different foods, and weigh the costs and benefits of buying certain things from our grocery stores. As social studies teachers, we can encourage our students to dig deeper into where our food comes from, and can provide them with opportunity to explore something of interest to them. They can discover a wealth of information about the culture during the time the food was discovered, and how such products have evolved over time.

Sources

“Overview of the Butter Making Process.” Animals | Causes of Color, 28 Nov. 2018, www.webexhibits.org/butter/process-steps.html.

Patton, Leslie. “Americans Are Eating More Butter Than Ever.” Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg, 14 Mar. 2017, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-14/a-fatty-staple-once-public-health-enemy-no-1-makes-a-comeback.

Jankowski, Nicole. “Spread The Word: Butter Has An Epic Backstory.” NPR, NPR, 24 Feb. 2017, www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/02/24/515422661/spread-the-word-butter-has-an-epic-backstory.

To My Teachers of the Past

As part of Dr. Melissa Gibson’s class Teaching Middle Secondary Social Science, students are asked to think about social studies in a new light — and throughout the course, their perceptions do shift. Through their blogging during the semester, we can see these changes in the students’ own words. Read on to learn along with our students!
ross

Retrieved from The Ways, © 2019 Wisconsin Education Communications Board.

By Keanna Ross

Growing up, when my teachers or classmates found out my ethnicity, they treated me either as a foreign creature or as if they knew my entire life story: “You people still exist?” “Do you live in a teepee?” (I live in a sturdy house like the rest of my family and my ancestors actually lived in wigwams.) “You won’t have to work as hard for college because you get to go for free!” (If only they knew that my tribe is so poor, they avoid students’ emails and phone calls in order to avoid giving out an $800–$1,100 grant, which I have yet to receive in my fourth year of college.) Or, my personal favorite, “You’re lucky, you don’t have to ever pay taxes!” (Hahaha, I wish!) As you may be able to assume, I am Native American–well, half anyway. My dad is Ojibwe and Oneida, and our family is from the Bad River reservation in northern Wisconsin.

From childhood to adulthood, I have always been very involved in my culture. Though my mom is German, she was always much more enthusiastic about having my sisters and me know our Native half. She would sit with my grandma, my dad’s mother, and learn about all of the traditions; she took us to powwows religiously, learned how to bead, learned how to make regalia, allowed us to dance. When my mom passed away in the fall of 2015, she requested a traditional Ojibwe service at the Congregation of the Great Spirit, the Native American Catholic Church founded by my family years ago. Because of my mother and grandmother, my sisters and I have always been very involved in our culture and always will be. As you can see from this small backstory, my culture is very important to not only me but also to my entire family. I wear Native pride on my sleeve.

Due to this pride, I openly share my background with everyone. This is not a bad thing when people want to become educated. It is a bad thing when you’re a shy second grader, and your teacher puts you on the spot during November because we are talking about the pilgrims and the ‘Indians,’ and makes you the example ‘Indian’ to represent a whole nation. It is a bad thing when you are a senior in high school and you are told by a classmate, “You should be happy the Europeans came! They made this place better,” without having any knowledge of the cultural genocide that occurred.

Along with a HUGE majority of K-12 students, I have only ever been taught small fragments of the truth. We have been taught only one perspective. Imagine the knowledge being passed down as an animal exhibit at the zoo. As students, we have only been taught what we can see when we grab onto the binoculars. We have been focused on only one tiny part of a truth. If that is all we are taught, that is all we grow to know, because we are never taught to take the binoculars away from our eyes and see the rest of reality around us.

This cycle is still happening. Children are being taught a single perspective. This is not only a problem with Native American history being accurately represented but also African American history, Japanese American history (which I have yet to formally learn about), Mexican/American history… world history! As a sophomore in college I took an African history course, taught by an extremely knowledgeable and sweet man from Nigeria. You wouldn’t believe how many times he had to correct students when they referred to Africa as a COUNTRY, or implied that it was tiny, not modernized, or that they felt sorry for Africans. People do not know how huge the CONTINENT of Africa is; they do not know how many diverse countries are in Africa. This professor would always tell us stories about how people would ask– because he was from a country in Africa– if he knew their friend who was located on the opposite side of the continent! This is sad because this is all a result of inaccurate education.

In American schools, we are only taught about the slave trade and of Africans being “primitive;” we only learn about the dehumanizing of these people. When I learned about Egypt in sixth grade, I was never taught that it was a country in Africa; it was never even mentioned. When learning about Native American history, we were taught that the pilgrims and ‘Indians’ had Thanksgiving and that the stealing of homes was consensual. We were told that the Europeans helped the natives. We were taught about the Trail of Tears in high school, but this only consisted of a section of a chapter which was not its focal point. We were not taught that it was wrong of the Europeans; we did not mourn the deaths of millions of indigenous people (not only in what we call America, but also Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, what is now known as Mexico, and also Canada, along with South America, Hawaii, and many many more).

***

If I could suggest anything to my teachers of the past, it would be to take into account all of your students. Stop teaching the dominant narrative of colored people being less intelligent and less capable. It does not matter what your background is, you can teach history with a broader perspective. You can represent ALL of your students, truthfully. Be open to, not only, learning from your students, but also changing how you teach. Understand that history textbooks were made by white Americans who create them to appeal to a certain audience. Learn with your students, because what you were taught is not coming from a point of multiple perspectives. Becoming the difference in your students’ lives is educating them on different people. It is allowing yourself to stray from tradition. Be the one who helps develop humans who are knowledgeable about the world, instead of the one who contributes to stereotypes.

As an educator you should care about how you are shaping the future. Let’s take the binoculars off and see the entire reality and truth.

 

  We Better Listen to the Kids

Dreamer of Dreams, by Joe Brusky/Overpass Light Brigade. Retrieved from Flickr for Creative Commons use.

As part of Dr. Melissa Gibson’s class Teaching Middle Secondary Social Science, students are asked to think about social studies in a new light — and throughout the course, their perceptions do shift. Through their blogging during the semester, we can see these changes in the students’ own words. Read on to learn along with our students!By Cynthia Zuñiga

The goal for any teacher is to not only educate their students, but to make sure students are able to use the knowledge we share and apply it to their daily lives. Personally, I strive towards this goal, but I also hope what I teach my students will help them become great citizens and create a stronger society than the one I grew up in. I have only recently learned that the version of history I was taught when I was in elementary and high school was based on half-truths. A lot of the important information in social studies classrooms is sugar coated or swept completely under the rug. This is something that I do not want for my classroom. I want my students to know the real society that they live in, so that they may not be as shocked as I was once they get older.

Thankfully, some teachers are already striving for this social change. They are igniting a flame in their students to take action and create change. A great example of this is the Milwaukee organization called Y.E.S. (Youth Empowered in the Struggle) that was founded through Voces De La Frontera (Voices of the Border). This is an organization that has been connecting with various high schools around the Milwaukee area to create “chapters.” Students learn about the social issues that are occurring within their area and nationwide. They create plans to get the community together in order to help them face these issues that are effecting their families, neighbors, teachers, etc.

As many students realize over time, the society that they live in is not perfect. Through a variety of social studies lessons, they learn the message that nothing in society will change if effort isn’t given. One helpful lesson would be studying the Civil Rights Movement and how the marches on the streets ensured people that their voices were heard. Another example is when Cesar Chavez began a boycott to help the United Farmworkers to make sure that others would realize the difficulties society would have without farmers. History can never changed by just watching on the sidelines; this is what is being taught to the students that are involved in the Y.E.S. program. You can watch this video of the annual May Day march held in Milwaukee. On this day, May 1st, all Latinx, immigrants, and refugees are encouraged to not attend their school, job, or any other responsibility. It is a day to demonstrate what life would be like without these people. It is a day to bring awareness while also gathering the community together.

When students organize and actually “do” social studies, they are able to use their freedom of speech to stand up for their beliefs and make a change. It allows them to apply historical knowledge of how others before them were able to stand their ground and make an impact. In addition, by organizing and attending these marches, the students become aware of social issue events that are happening within their immediate community and nationwide. Their perspectives on different cultures also change because they become more aware that oppression is not only placed on the Latinx and Black communities, but on other groups as well.

* * *

Another example of students engaging in social studies on a national level is the National Walkout, when individual expressed their perspectives on gun laws and human rights. These students, like the Y.E.S. members, studied history and realized it had been repeated over and over, but that there had been little positive change. By participating in the National Walkout, these students took matters into their own hands to make sure that the government knew they were ready to fight for change. One quote that I heard repeatedly during the time of the walkout was “I think we better listen to the kids”; this quote is one hundred percent correct. Our students can change the world, and they are the ones who often have a clearer perspective than most adults.

The students, like those who participated in the walkout, are hungry for change, and they will not be satisfied until justice and reform have been accomplished. By participating activities such as the National Walkout, students are able to “do” social studies; by using their freedom of speech and applying their knowledge of human rights, they are able to learn and connect more about how the government works — specifically on the topic of guns. When students become politically active, they gain a variety of perspectives and then have the ability to branch out and stand up for many human rights issues.

* * *

It is clear that more students are standing up for their rights and using their voice to be heard by those in power. Examples such as these are needed in the classroom when teachers discuss civic and informed action. Students will come to realize that when they see something with which they do not agree, they have the opportunity to educate themselves and fight back. Once students are equipped with that knowledge, teachers can then focus on the Amendments and other laws that protect them when they decide to speak their mind.

Proactive teachers can also use these examples to teach students the reasons why, historically, these groups of people have fought back and demanded change. Engaging in modern day movements can help students reflect back to the civil rights movement, and it can help them understand how minorities are still being neglected and treated poorly. Ultimately, as educators, we must focus our students’ attention on the differences in the lives of those who are privileged and those who are not. We must help them realize that not everyone has the same social, economic and educational opportunities. When they have such understandings, they will be better equipped to enter the real word and make big things occur. The children are our future, and I am ready to listen to what they have to say.

For the Love of Reading

books-933333_960_720By Stephanie Nicoletti

Recently, I have been participating in a book club for  The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. She discusses how important it is for students to have an actual love for reading, and how teachers can instill that in their students.

When I look back at my own elementary reading experiences, I think of everyone reading the same book in a whole group setting followed by many worksheets. I often wonder how much more I would have enjoyed school if these classroom practices were NOT around:

Reading Logs: As an adult reader I never track how much or how long I read. I find time to read because I simply enjoy it. I think if we want our students to love reading and read on their own, willingly, we need to promote this in the classroom. Sure, we want to hold them accountable, but this can be done through book talks and book clubs.

“You HAVE to finish this book!”: There are so many times I have not finished a book because I simply did not like it. I remember vividly in school, even high school, being required to read and finish a novel that I hated. Children should be allowed to abandon a book when they are just not that into it. This takes tapping into student interest to make sure book abandonment doesn’t happen on the regular.

One Size Fits All: The days of a one size fits all curriculum are over with ranging levels and high achieving standards. Using one book with a class and follow up worksheets will not allow for student growth and achievement. Children are so different than they were in the past and need to be engaged all of the time. When engagement and differentiation work hand in hand, the possibilities are endless.

So what should we do? I cannot sit here and preach all of the problems in reading instruction without giving a solution. The solution is choice. This is what students want the most, let them choose the books they want to read and when. There are so many things we expect of our students that we would never do ourselves.

All You Who Procrastinate

6261230701_7368aa73d6_bBy Dhanya Nair

Let me begin by admitting that I am a procrastinator, have been one for a long while now. The prospect of writing papers and preparing for tests somehow makes tidying my wardrobe, reading for leisure, and sleeping very tempting to me. I cannot trace the origins of this tenacious tendency of mine (probably because I have been a student for most of my existence), but can vividly remember several panic-stricken hours I endured because of it.

So, despite the anxiety and panic caused due to procrastination, why have I not been able to get rid of it completely? I think, the answer to this question lies in my fairly large arsenal of rationalizations for putting things off until the very last minute. One explanation is that after having spent a fairly large chunk of my life being a student, some intelligence native to that role has crept up on me, so I know which shortcuts to take while preparing for a test or writing a paper. Another rationalization is that I think I produce my best work when working under pressure. However, I know that not every task can be accomplished well if it is postponed. Perhaps the intermittent nature of positive reinforcement I have received by procrastinating makes me sustain it. An acquaintance of mine, who happens to be a counselor, once told me that rationalizations for procrastinating are self-sustaining lies.

I do not intend to make a case against procrastination here, however, for those who find procrastination to be a source of concern, using mindfulness might be useful. I have recently started being mindful about my tendency to put things off and feel that I have benefitted from attending to the psychological minutiae of procrastination. Being mindful about the potential costs and benefits of procrastinating can be a helpful start. Having said that, I do feel that no one should abandon their guilty pleasures completely; instead, realistically determining how much time a particular activity will take might do the trick. Attending to one’s visceral and psychological reactions to an imminent deadline might be useful to lessen the negative impact of procrastination. Take into account all the negative reactions you might experience when you can almost hear that deadline whooshing past you and work on mitigating them one at a time. Practicing mindfulness while indulging in pleasurable activities could amplify those experiences, so while watching a movie, make sure you are not thinking about what needs to be done next. The same applies to tasks like studying for a test or working on a presentation, being mindful of the task at hand makes us more productive. Mindfulness might seem counterintuitive in an age where multitasking seems to be the byword and stress, a badge of honor. However, I feel it is the best way to ensure one’s sanity in the long run. So, my fellow procrastinators, keep persevering mindfully! And, now, time for me to practice what I’ve preached and move on to my next assignment.

The Frogs are Boiling

frogBy Claudia Felske – Something inhumane and downright repulsive is happening in school districts across the country. Frogs are slowly being boiled to death, en masse. And once more, no one seems to be noticing, least of all the frogs.

You may have heard the story that if you put a frog into a boiling pot of water, it will leap out to escape certain death. But if you put a frog into a kettle at room temperature, and gradually heat the water to boiling, the frog will stay for the duration, facing death without so much as a splash.

This is what’s happening in education today: the slow and systematic boiling of frogs.

Case in point: my school district.

This past spring, I heard a devastating piece of news—forensics, an extracurricular speech and performance program—was on the chopping block. I expected (or at least hoped) for some vocal opposition, but there was nothing, no letters to the editor, no outraged parents, students, or coaches at school board meetings. Not a croak of a frog or a chirp of a cricket to be heard.  And so, the forensics program quietly disappeared. 

Since I’m not longer a forensics coach, (I resigned when I realized that teaching, coaching, and parenting would render me inept at all three) I can’t make a plea for the reinstatement of my forensics program, but I do want to go on record about what forensics and extracurriculars in general mean to students.

My dozen plus years in forensics as a coach, judge, and participant were defining moments in my life, taking me from a quivery-voiced freshman to a confident orator when I was in high school, and allowing me a deep connection with my students as I coached them through similar experiences.  

When we weren’t dispelling the misconceptions about forensics (no, it does not involve dissecting cadavers) we were reciting, orating, storytelling, demonstrating, impromptu speaking, broadcasting, and acting. (Fun fact: “Forensics” is a tradition rooted in ancient Greek speaking competitions, a skill they deemed central to democracy.)

In forensics, aside from collecting state medals and power round trophies, students gain confidence as speakers, and develop their voices, ideas, and identities in authentic ways, no longer needing to rely on the “imagine your audience in their underwear” mantra in order to survive and thrive in public speaking situations.  

And, as is the case in so many extracurriculars, far more important than the tangible take aways are the incidental ones. I suspect many on my forensics team will remember the following phenomena as much if not more than their trophy-winning performances:

  • The lengthy “thank you” speeches by every team member on the bus ride home
  • The “Golden Pizza Award” given for the most slices consumed at the Pizza Hut buffet
  • Kevin reciting all the US Presidents and their birthdays by memory at each meet
  • The Least-Need-for-Caffine Award (Gwen!)
  • Videographer Andrea’s sordid interviews and season highlights
  • Emily floating down the halls at meets, flapping her “wings” like a butterfly
  • Kopp’s meets (“no cheeseburgers!”)
  • Fel and Scott dancing the tango across the awards stage
  • The improbably coupling of Henry and Leah
  • Jason’s infamous “Capitalism, Sweet Capitalism” speech
  • Jesse, Ian & Brett as the typing monkeys
  • Our Austin Powers themed home meet

And so many more…

Together, we were supportive, hilarious, melodramatic, ridiculous, inappropriate, serious, proud, accomplished, protective, defeated, victorious, nervous, ecstatic, goofy. Priceless stuff in the life of a teenager. 

And such moments, while specific to our team, will feel familiar to anyone who has been involved in an extra-curricular activity. While teams provide a constructive use of time and a structured opportunity to improve skills, perhaps more importantly, they provide a sense of belonging and confidence and happiness that many students don’t necessarily find elsewhere.

Studies confirm that extracurriculars increase student self-esteem, collaboration, positive relationships, and positive feelings about school; they decrease unexcused absences, academic failure, and bullying behaviors. Research shows that 68% of students who participate in extracurriculars are likely to earn a Bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 48% of those who don’t.

What we also know is that our student body is diverse. Not everyone is interested in football or soccer or FBLA, or science club, or forensics, or band, but the hope is that the more diverse our offerings are, the more likely it is that each student can find one activity which interests him/her, one way to connect with peers, build confidence, and develop a sense of belonging at school. And if they do, the relatively small cost of extracurriculars more than pays for itself in the long-term social-emotional well being of that student and in the civic and socioeconomic well being of our larger society.

My fear is that we are so accustomed to cuts and losses in education these days that, like the frog in the kettle, we have become desensitized to the imminent danger that lies ahead. Cutting one more program is akin to cranking the temperature up five more degrees on the stove, all too easy to slip by unnoticed while the frog slowly dies on our watch.  

save the frogsI think about what I would have missed out on without having forensics. I think of Stacey, Tiffany, the Gwens, Scott, Karen, Alan, Andrea, Sarah, Jason, Jenny, Anna, Ian, Laura, Jesse, Brett, Kristin, Brian, Joe, Jackie, Stephanie, Josie, Henry, Alicia, Jillian, Tara, Margaret, Sheri, Molly, Jenni, Vicki, Leah, Alicia, Kevin, Kate, and so many others.

If we don’t speak up, we’re all complicit in the death of this frog.

Save our Frogs.  

Save our Kids.

An Imperfect Cake: Gamification in AP English

IMG_3838

I presented Megan with the first Golden Ape

By Claudia Felske — If you’re a Marquette Educator loyalist (or dare I dream a Claudia Felske enthusiast) you may recall that in Fall, I committed to gamification in one of my classes as chronicled in my post Monkey Business: The Gamification of AP English.

The notion of gamification appealed to me because of its potential to engage and motivate students, and to somehow make the difficult process of writing an AP Timed essay fun.  Shouldn’t that, after all, be the goal of every educator (and possibly very human being): to make the hard stuff in life fun?

So, I took the toughest part of my Advanced Placement English class and    gamified. Each student competed with him/herself to achieve the requisite AP analytical writing skills (one badge for each skill: focusing  on the prompt, embedding quotes, providing scholarly commentary,  using the vocabulary of literary analysis, and including a substantive  closing) in the hopes that this would land them to a good AP exam score,  and more importantly it would help them master these critical skills for  college and beyond. The golden ape pin (their culminating prize with all 5  badges earned) would be a tangible motivator that would remind them of  their writing ability and the growth they made.

badges

Badge Pride on a Student Binder

 So, what happened? After explaining the gamification process and  badge skills, we dove right in, and  the return of each timed essay found  the room teeming with anticipation. Would they get a badge? If not, why  not? And what would they have to improve in order to get one?

These  simple little stickers were somehow having a profound effect on these  high-achieving students.  This was arguably childish, perhaps even pathetic, but it seemed to be working. They were clearly tuned into their writing at a level I had not previously seen. They proudly displayed their badges on their binders and folders.

Bottom line results?  All of my students received some badges, but only 5 of the 16 received all badges (and the highly-coveted Golden Ape). More on my “take aways” later, but first, theirs:

What They Thought: In an end-of-the-year survey,  All but one student reported that we had “the right amount” of focus on the badges or we should have spent even “more time” on them.

 

 

IMG_4157    IMG_4159     IMG_4155    IMG_4160    MEgan.jpg2

Their comments included:

  • “The badges helped my by breaking down each category that I needed to focus on in my papers, and helped me to improve in that way.”
  • “It helped me think about the components of a good essay, especially the Big Ending one. I feel like almost each essay I wrote was stronger than the last.”
  • “Although I didn’t get the golden ape, I found it incredibly useful on focussing myself during essays. It really helped me improve in each of the five important components.”
  • “Not only does it make us think of all of the devices that need to be incorporated, but also adds a challenge and ‘competition’ for us to look forward to.”
  • “I know I worked harder than I would have just for a grade. I really wanted to get that golden APE, and I’m sure any future apes worth their buttons will likewise.’
  • “Having the mini-goals working up to the golden ape was actually very motivating to me and helped me concentrate on all aspects of my papers.”

Not all comments were rainbows and unicorns however, bringing up some critical points for me to consider:

  • “It may have strayed me from the real goal a little bit. I really wanted to get all the badges so I would only focus on doing one thing to get a certain one that week when writing an essay, instead of thinking about having all five components in every one.”
  • “I prefer focusing on well-rounded essays instead of trying to get a specific badge and missing out on the other components.”
  • “It helped me try to incorporate the 5 components, however I think that students should be able to do this without trying to get an award.”

What I thought:
My students were much more motivated to look at specific aspects of their writing and improve them. One of the biggest frustrations in teaching is seeing students make the same mistakes repeatedly without exerting effort to fix them. This was clearly not the case when the process was gamified. Improvement was seen as a logical step in reaching the next level. More students than in any previous year came to conference with me on how they could improve. Students consciously planned what they’d change in their next essay. In this regard, gamification was an unqualified success.

Interestingly, though, when comparing my gamification numbers with the results of the College Board AP English exam, “success” was much more ambiguous. Of the 5 students who received the Golden Ape, demonstrating mastery of each of the timed essay components, 2 of them did not receive a passing score on the College Board AP English exam. Furthermore, none of those who received the top AP English Exam Score of 5 received a Golden Ape in class.

I’ve mulled over these incongruities and I see two different ways to interpret them: 1. My gamification process is not in line with the AP English Exam. I am either measuring the wrong things or evaluating them incorrectly. 2. Those two students who received the Golden APE but did not receive a passing AP exam score either choked on the AP English exam, or their AP Multiple Choice score was so low that even strong essay scores could not bring them up to a passing holistic score.

So my bottom line debrief on year 1: While this experiment clearly succeeded in the areas of student motivation and reflection, there is less clarity in its correlation to AP English exam performance. While I’d prefer that this wasn’t the case (and maybe next year it won’t be) I am comfortable with it.

MistakeBourbonMochaCake-1024x759.jpg

I have always told my students that a passing score on the AP exam  (translating to college credits) is icing on the cake. The true take-away of any class should be learning, self-improvement, and readiness for what the next step in life brings. By that criteria, and from what students said and I observed, I think the gamification process is an imperfect but delicious cake, with or without the icing.  So I’ll tweak the recipe, but continue to serve it.


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