First day in AP Lit & Comp

This year I am embarking on a new journey. I will be teaching AP Literature and Composition to seniors for two trimesters at Clinton High School. I am super excited and blessed to have this opportunity. It has made for a busy summer trying to prepare.

A useful experience was attending an AP Vertical Teaming workshop at CHS. Besides other useful information, the presenter introduced an idea called “Getting Started Reflection” that is presented in the College Board Professional Development book “Pre-AP: Setting the Cornerstones for AP Vertical Teams.” The premise is to choose a photo that best represents your understanding of something. In the case of the workshop, it was to choose a photo that “best reflects your understanding of how teams ideally impact students’ education.” The photos were presented to us in the book (black and white) and on the projector so we could see them in color. After choosing a photo, participants were to write what aspects of a team the image evokes.

I’m modifying this great ice-breaker for the first day of class in my AP Literature and Composition course. I would like to know right away how my students perform on impromptu writing assignments. I also want to stress the importance of images in the classroom and making connections to things we read/view to other people and our lives. I put together a PowerPoint slide show of images that I chose and linked to from the web. Each image I chose for a reason. I wanted to provide a variety of thought-provoking images and I thought carefully about what my students might be feeling on the first day of their senior year and an AP English course.

Students will begin by viewing the slide show in its entirety once. Then, on the second viewing, I would like them to choose the image that best reflects how they feel on their first day. Once the image has been chosen, students will write for five to ten minutes on why they chose that image. What does it represent for them?

After students have completed the writing prompt, I will have them pair up with somebody and share their writing piece aloud to their partner. This will emphasize quickly working with peers and the importance of reading writing aloud to hear imperfections (or greatness). Once both partners have shared, I will gather back the whole class. Each group should share their reaction to their partner’s image to the entire group. Why did their partner choose it (briefly) and how does it relate to their chosen image? In other words, I’d like them to do a brief introduction of their partner based on their conversation and writing piece. This quick, whole class conversation will stress the importance of public speaking and connections between peers. A lot of students will be in the same boat (or realize they are in a very similar one) and this should unearth a sense of togetherness in the class.

As always, I will do this writing piece as well. If there is a partner-less student, they can work with me. Any feedback on this activity? I like it for a number of reasons and will see how it goes in a few weeks (first day is Thursday, August 20). Feel free to check out the PowerPoint and provide feedback on that as well!


11 thoughts on “First day in AP Lit & Comp

  1. I absolutely love that. Can I steal it? I so appreciate the immediate start-off with writing, community, and writing from the self.

  2. Thank you! This is my first year teaching AP Literature to seniors and I am also very excited. I love this assignment and will borrow it. Thank-you so much for sharing.

  3. Thank you for sharing!! I was web surfing looking for something fresh and meaningful!! Super!

  4. Thank you so much. I am stealing the presentation as well! This simplified a similar first day idea I have been struggling to refine. Thank you so much.

  5. Hi Tracy,
    Would you be willing to send me your powerpoint for your stimulating opening lesson.
    Thank you!

  6. Hi Tracy,
    Such an interesting lesson! Would you be willing to share/send your powerpoint/pictures file?
    Thank you.
    English 9H, 11AP, 11CP

  7. Hi Tracy,
    Love this lesson! Might you be willing to send your powerpoint file/photos used?
    English 9H, 11AP, 11CP

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