Many times we’ll see PreAP English I and II and AP Language as individual, stand-alone classes. But you can create a unique and cohesive program by aligning the English 1 and 2 GT classes with the AP Language class. We’ll discuss how to do that in a sec, but first let’s consider why we would do this.
You can create an environment where students are comfortable, feel safe, and are allowed to really focus in on their style of thinking, this facilitates the process tremendously.
It frees you up to teach your students in a way that incorporates their passions and interests, increasing their performance in and out of the classroom. So rather than considering the courses as stand-alone classes, English 1 and 2 are treated as a two-part pre-AP course that prepares them for AP Language.
English I is redesigned to build critical thinking skills
English II is restructured to build student writing abilities
The goal is to create a very smooth transition from English 1 and 2 into AP Language.
Here’s a partial blueprint for creating a similar program for gifted students in your own school, excerpted from the online GT training course, “Pre-AP English for Gifted Students (1 and 2): Building the Thinker – Creating the Learner”
What does a pre-AP English I class look like through the lens of gifted education?
First off, this class should be rich in literature, with seven major pieces comprised of novels, drama and Greek tragedy as well as short stories, poetry and non-fiction.
It is also important to have an overarching theme, a focus for the entire year. For example, the the focus could be the hero and the hero cycle.
The focus at this stage is to:
Build their endurance for the quantity of reading
Build their critical thinking muscles.
They key to get them fully engaged is by discovering what the students are passionate about and connecting that to the material.
Students are then required to write short pieces every day so that they’re prepared for English and come with experience in expository and literary writing as well as rhetorical analysis and literary analysis. Keep them short at this stage because of the intensity of the literary workload, so we focus on quality rather than length.
The shorter pieces allow the students and teacher to zero in on very particular skills.
English II transitions the gifted student to grow their writing abilities
English II is taught in a very similar way to English I but now the focus shifts from a very heavy emphasis on literature to a much heavier emphasis on writing.
Reading begins taking place outside of the class, while you transform the classroom itself to resemble a writing workshop. Get the students participating in a lot of team writing exercises. For example:
Team body paragraph
These will be helpful in overcoming common struggles and get them focused on the meat of their argument as well as assuring that even students who do not complete homework assignments still participate in the writing process.
The goal is to prepare them for AP language so that they do not shut down in an environment that is all timed writing all the time. Every single writing piece is a major grade but flexibility is used for the writing process with a greater emphasis on the finished product than a timely submission of work.
Here’s one way you can accomplish this:
Take a 6 week chunk of the school year and devote it to a project where the students research and build a presentation around an area of study that they believe they want to pursue in their future. This helps them to tap into what they are passionate about and use that in their writing to give it depth and complexity.
This article should be a great start for you brainstorming how to build a comprehensive AP language program for the gifted students in your school.
If you would like to expand on any of the concepts and principles presented in this article, I invite you take the full one hour course, Pre-AP English 1 and 2: Building the Thinker – Creating the Learner.