For several years, Black River Falls High School has given students the opportunity to take Advanced Placement (AP) classes. One of the AP classes available for students is AP English, which is also a class that has gone through many changes in the past five years.
“To prepare for teaching this course, I went to a week-long conference for teachers, and that pointed me in the right direction and gave me a lot of good teaching ideas for the class,” said current AP English teacher Brad Lobenstein.
AP courses are meant to prepare students for college. The classes are challenging and require a big commitment from students.
“The class requires students to go further with their discussion and analysis of literature than they have in any of their other classes,” said Lobenstein. “They need to be motivated and dedicated to doing homework, which may include sizeable reading assignments at various points in the semester. Being just good enough doesn’t really work all that well in an AP class.”
There is a reason why AP classes are college-level classes: students have an opportunity to receive college credit for the class at the end of the year. Before they can receive the college credit, students have to take the Advanced Placement National Exam and earn a score of a three or higher on it.
“To prepare for the National Exam, I am having my students take practice exams. So far, they have taken the multiple choice practice test a couple times, and they have also done a lot of practice essay writing,’ said Lobenstein.
Students themselves prepare for the national exam outside of class as well as in class.
“I go over my practice tests that we did in class at home and then I read some of the poetry that we read in class,” said Lipke.
Throughout the year, students also read different types of literature to help prepare them for the essays that will appear on the National Exam.
“We’ve read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Invisible Man, and we’re going to start reading King Lear,” said senior Liz Lipke.
The reading list has changed with different teachers, however.
“Last year, we read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Heart of Darkness,” said senior Hanna Hodge.
Overall, students have responded well to the class and seem to enjoy it.
“I would recommend this class to other students because it’s very beneficial and you learn useful skills to have,” said Lipke.