For the first time in her career, English teacher Jane Bauman will teach an AP class due to the retirement of former AP English Language and Composition teacher Patricia Fels last year.
Bauman, who has switched between teaching English 9 and 11 in the past, will teach all of junior English. Because of her experience with English 11, Bauman said it was “only natural” that head of high school Brooke Wells asked her to take on the class.
In preparation, Bauman attended the “enriching” AP Summer Institute: English Language course at California State University, Sacramento, July 16-19. From 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., teachers discussed argumentation – the main focus of the AP test – reviewed resources on reading and writing argumentatively, took sample tests and studied the grading rubric, according to Bauman.
“We really got a comprehensive view of what the test consists of, how it’s graded and resources for teaching the elements of the test. I’m pulling materials and ideas from that class already; in fact, today (Aug. 31) we’re going to do something from it.”
Bauman also took notes from Fels, whose files fill a drawer in Bauman’s office. Since Bauman hasn’t taught the technique of reading rhetorically – evaluating a writer’s techniques, tools and organizational patterns – in any of her prior classes, she said she is using the abundance of tools Fels gave her. Along with gathering ideas from Fels’s lesson plans and worksheets, Bauman analyzed the course evaluation Fels sent to her students.
“It is daunting to follow in Fels’s footsteps,” Bauman said.
“She had a great curriculum designed and always had good results. I would like to have highly successful students, and I think I can do that.”
Last year, Bauman also returned to teaching English 11 from English 9, which consequently helped her prepare for this year’s classes. Similarly, Wells returned to teaching all of sophomore English this year after recently teaching only one of two classes.
“I don’t see teaching an AP as a big, new change,” Bauman said. “I just see it as a shift – a slight shift.
“I’m taking what I taught in English 11 and applying it to the AP class, but (my previous classes) already shadowed what Fels did before.”
Her two classes will mirror each other except for in long period, when AP students will study the AP test specifically. Because English 11 will parallel the AP class, Bauman said that English 11 students will be better prepared for the writing section of the SAT, as it overlaps with one of the AP essays. Following Fels’s lead, Bauman will teach literature as well as expository writing, although the AP test addresses mainly the latter, according to Bauman.
Bauman will use last year’s English 11 books – including two books from Fels’s curriculum, “All My Sons” and “Ethan Frome” – and her course is unified by the theme of an unusual narrator.
However, while Fels used a writing textbook, Bauman will draw from the nonfiction book “Life Stories: Profiles from the New Yorker” and other resources for essay models.
“I know the framework, and I’ve taught English 11 long enough that I can supply my own materials and not have to rely on a textbook, which saves people money,” Bauman said.
—By Larkin Barnard-Bahn