April 2014 Posts

Paper Duty // Divas // Letting Go

At the beginning of almost every class while students are filing in, I’ll split the stack of graded papers1 and hand them to a couple of students to return to their fellow classmates — I call it “paper duty”. I try to pick different students for “paper duty” every class, and of course, students are are always thrilled to help out.2

Well earlier this week, I attempted to give “paper duty” to a couple of young ladies who immediately scoffed and rolled their eyes at me, with looks of disgust that screamed, “WHO do you think we ARE?!”

I replied — in good fun, of course:

You girls are such DIVAS!34

Today, this is what I got when they turned in their group review assignment:



With exactly two weeks until AP Exam day, I’m having mixed feelings. As far as preparation and planning and execution go, this year is the best that I have ever done in preparing students for the big day. Of course, this won’t necessarily translate into the best exam results, as there are so many variables at play.5

But like anything else in life, all that you can do is do your best… and then let go.

  1. that need to be passed back to students. I’m too intelligent to pass them back myself, of course. []
  2. Okay, not quite. But after the first couple of weeks of school, they mostly learn to roll with it. The most common complaint is “But I don’t know anybody’s name!!!” FYI: passing out papers is one of the best way to learn students’ names. =) []
  3. Spoken with HEAVY verbal emphasis on the word “DIVAS”. []
  4. Which made them smile, if you’re curious. []
  5. Having our exam on a FRIDAY AFTERNOON does not help. []

Pregnant with Exam

That’s how I felt this time of the year in 2011-12.1

That was my first year of being the lead AP Stat teacher.2 The planning for that year began in early July of 2011,3 and ran full-steam, nonstop until the end. By the time we were within two weeks of the exam, I felt more angst-ridden than maybe any other time of my life. The very last week was especially torturous. The AP Calc exam was a full week before ours,4 and I remember seeing our calculus teachers on the day of their exam, telling them how LUCKY they were to be finished. By the time we got to exam day, it felt like I had been pregnant with the exam for 10 months. 5

Today, students took the 2nd half of their mock AP Statistics exam.


They spent the first 60 minutes taking the test6, and the last 20 or so fine-tooth-comb grading it.78 Next class we’ll look at their overall practice exam scores and talk about what it usually takes to earn a 3 or a 4 or a 5.9

In about two weeks, they take the real thing.

In previous years, I would have been going ape-nuts at this time of the year, but perhaps with experience comes calmed nerves.10


When the ride starts winding down

If you count the number of actual school days remaining until Summer, we are down into the TWENTIES. On any given day — depending on the alignment of the stars and the flapping of the wings of a butterfly in Peru or something — I’m usually overwhelmed with one of two following feelings:

1) I’m really going to miss this group of classes / students.
2) I freaking can’t wait until Summer.

I decided to grab lunch today at a certain nearby burrito-bowl establishment, and a former student of mine was working the register area. She proceeded to pick up the tab on my grub, which was totally unnecessary, but totally kinda made my day.11

  1. “Season Five”. In terms of angst, the worst. In terms of exam scores, the best. []
  2. and my 2nd year of teaching the course. []
  3. I used to begin my summer prep the week after July 4 each year… a tradition that I finally abandoned this past Summer. []
  4. nowadays, both the AP Calc and AP Stat exams are during the first week of AP exams — Calc on Weds AM and Stat on Friday afternoon. By the way, Friday afternoon is about the worst time imaginable to take a Statistics exam. []
  5. Call that an inappropriate analogy, if you will, but that’s how it felt at the time. []
  6. well, the first 5 problems at least. The last problem — number 6 — is homework. []
  7. Scoring their own work and getting immediate feedback over what they did right / wrong is more beneficial in my opinion than just getting back a score at this juncture. []
  8. Incidentally, this sort of thing would not be possible without 90-minute block periods. []
  9. Incidentally, 5’s are TOUGH to make in Statistics. A well-respected member of the AP community once wrote that while Calculus is mechanically more difficult than Statistics, it is more difficult to earn a “5” on the Statistics AP exam given a similar level of mastery in both courses. After seeing three years of scores, I believe that. []
  10. or is it indifference? hmmmm. Nah… []
  11. Thank you, LW! []