I’m very excited to be attending the College Board’s AP Annual Conference this year! My department chair and I both went to the conference last year in San Francisco. I learned so much – who ever thought that I would be excited about attending an hour-long seminar on El Nino/La Nina? But it was one of those subjects where I wasn’t very confident in my knowledge, and that probably came across to my students in my AP Environmental Science class. After attending the seminar at the APAC, I felt like I did a much better job of explaining El Nino and La Nina to my students in a way they understood.
If you teach AP courses and have never attended an Annual Conference, I recommend going. The down side: it ain’t cheap! Registration and hotel and travel adds up to over $1000. I am amazingly lucky in that my principal is happy to use a portion of the AP money that the school receives to pay for teachers to attend the conference. Last year he paid for four of us to travel (my DC and I, and two of the foreign language teachers) to San Francisco. I probably would not have asked to attend this year again, except for the fact that this conference is just 3 hours up the road from me. I was actually surprised that more teachers from my school didn’t ask to attend since it’s so close.
One reason it’s so helpful is in the opportunity to talk with other AP teachers. I’m the only person teaching AP Environmental at my school. Occasionally on a PD day, my school district will hold an AP Roundtable so all the AP teachers can work together and share ideas. At the APAC, there are many APES teachers from all over the US and all over the world, so it offers a lot of different perspectives on teaching APES. Last year I came away with so many lesson ideas and resources that it took me a long time to sort through them.
One of the workshops this year is on Climate Change and Global Warming. These topics make up 10-15% of the Topic Outline for AP Environmental, so it’s crucial for me to understand these concepts. I expect to learn a lot! I also can’t wait to attend the session on flipping prelabs. If you aren’t familiar with flipping, it is the process of using students’ out-of-class time (aka homework) to have them learn some of the basic concepts. Many teachers use podcasts or videos (a la Khan Academy, but usually recording their own lessons) to introduce content. Class time is then freed up to answer questions, discuss in more detail, or, in this case, have students come in to the lab PREPARED to do the lab.
I’m not taking my laptop with me, so I’ll update when I return. Now I’ve got to go pack!