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As a fourth year doctoral candidate, in addition to having completed comprehensive examinations and prospectus and working on the dissertation, my thoughts are also turning towards the job market and securing that first academic position. This purpose of this blog is to chronicle the trials and tribulations of completing my Ph.D. and finding that first job.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

AP Reading

Okay, as you may or may not recall I attended my first AP Exam reading this year - AP European History in Lincoln, Nebraska. I saw that te guys over at Lawyers, Guns and Money posted an entry on their AP reading experience (see Fort Collins II) , so I thought that I should do the same - although muh later.

As an international student here in the United States, the first thaing that I had to do was get INS permission to attend this reading - as we do get paid a small sum. I made the argument that the examinations of the Advanced Placement program are rather unique as standardized testing measures, as these exams include both a selected-item (i.e., multiple-choice) component and a constructed response (i.e., written long answer) component. As educational researchers continue to search for more valid and reliable ways to measure educational effective, this dual format may offer some alternatives to the current, and limiting, use of solely multiple-choice questions in most standardized tests. It worked and I was given permission to attend.

Once I got there, I found the reading to be a little intimidating at first. I had been teaching the course online for the past six years, but have taken a step back from it in the past few and let my co-teacher do most of the work while I focused on my Ph.D. Plus with teaching online, we tend to facilitate a lot more than what I did in the classroom, so I don't necessarily deal with a lot of the content unless students have trouble with it. The last time I would have dealt with the content in any systematic way was when we last re-designed the course.

The first couple of days we spent on the DBQs, but I had also been ssigned to question 5 when the time came. Question five was the least completed question, so we ended up finishing off the week doing DBQs again. One of the main things that I discovered about myself during this time actually happened during the socials. The first few nights of socials I discovered that while the time I spent in politics (before I went back into education) I loved walking into a room full of strangers and when I did I would be the center of attention, since those days I really don't like talking to people - at least not people that I don't know. During the first two socials (which were the only ones I attended outside of the final thing which I went to for about a half hour) I tended to stay by myself, watching the baseball or basketball games on the big screen television and only staying for short periods of time (an hour the first night and half an hour the second night). The first night I stayed so long because someone came up and started talking to me and this guy that was sitting a couple of chairs away from me.

I did have a freaky experience my second night there after supper. I went out for a walk to Walgreens to pick up something for my feet, as I walked for more than three and a half hours during my first 34 hours in town including the daily back and forth to the barn. On the way home I saw this guy who looked familiar and as I got closer and looked at his tag it was in fact Rex Brown of Herdman Collegiate. AP was first introduced into Newfoundland during the 1992-93 school year, my grade twelve year. My school, Herdman Collegiate decided to offer European History and Physics. Mr. Brown, I still can't bring myself to call him Rex taught the first AP European History class in the province and I was one of his students. I actually had Mr. Brown for two classes that year, grade twelve World History as well. As a teacher he did a lot of things that I really hated as a student, but four years later when I had to write a statement of why I wanted to be a teacher and the type of teacher I wanted to be to get into my Bachelor of Education program, Mr. Brown was one of two teachers that I had who I wanted to model myself after. When I saw him, he was tickled to death to see me and wanted to catch up more but he was just starting his stroll before the reception. I tried to catch him down there, but he was talking to someone and I didn't want to interrupt, so I started watching the game. By the time I noticed that his conversation had finished, I couldn't locate him. The funny thing is he had no real idea of the direct impact that he had on me as a teacher cause I've never really told him. My folks moved from Corner Brook (where Herdman Collegiate was located) while I was living in Ottawa, so I only went back once or twice and then never during the school year. So this was really the first time that I have seen him since I graduated. Pretty freaky, huh?

In any regard, the DBQ went well and while I was still a little concerned about being on question 5 - I was hoping for question 7 because that is the one I know the most about. I got the gist of it (i.e., students can talk about this and this). The student responses to that particular question tend to be rather poor all the same. Before leaving I also got to go to my first minor league ball game, apparently Lincoln had a team in some independent league - the Saltdogs. It was a fun time and I got a red foam dog paw that says dogs and everything. Also before leaving, I got one of those thank you teacher cards for Mr. Brown and wrote a little note telling him the impact that he had on my career as an educator.

Well, that was about all from Lincoln...

Tags: AP, Advanced Placement, European history, graduate student, graduate students, graduate school, higher education, education

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