Course Descriptions

Classes may require participant computers to access Instructor curriculum on flash drives. Check the WHAT TO BRING section of the course description. 

PRE-AP courses provide teachers with strategies and tools to engage students in learning that encourages critical thinking for success in AP* and college courses.  AP Vertical Teams* Guides from the College Board are provided for all Pre-AP participants.

NEW TEACHER courses are designed for teachers with three or less years of experience teaching the AP* or Pre-AP* course or those newly assigned to teach the course.

EXPERIENCED TEACHER courses are for those secondary teachers who have taught the AP* or Pre-AP* course for more than three years.

ADVANCED TOPICS courses are for experienced AP teachers who have attended multiple summer institutes. Course discussions delve more deeply into specific course content.

Week 1
July 27 – 30, 2015
Week 2
August 3 – 6, 2015 
AP* Biology (new teachers) AP* Chemistry (experienced teachers)
AP* Calculus AB (new teachers) AP* English Literature & Composition
AP* Calculus AB (experienced teachers) AP* Human Geography
AP* Chemistry (new teachers)

AP* Physics 1 & 2

AP* Computer Science AB AP* Studio Art
AP* English Language & Composition AP* U.S. History
AP* English Literature & Composition (new teachers) AP* World History (new teachers & PreAP)
AP* Spanish Language & Culture Pre AP History (emphasis on TX history)
Pre AP English HS (new teachers) Pre AP Math HS
Pre AP English MS Pre AP Math MS
Pre AP Science MS  

2015 – WEEK 1

AP* Biology (new teachers) – Mark Adame: Over the course of the Summer Institute, new and experienced teachers alike will become familiar with the new and revised AP Biology course syllabus, as described in College Boards course description publication. This will include various strategies and hands-on activities that may help both students and teachers alike to become more comfortable with the new AP Biology curriculum. In addition to these strategies, teachers will become familiar with the inquiry-based approach to laboratory investigations.

 APSI AP Biology Course Objectives: To introduce teachers to (and become familiar with):
• An AP Biology course and the exam
• Writing an AP Biology Course Syllabus
• The more difficult concepts in AP Biology
• How to write a Free Response, response
• Inquiry-Based Laboratories and laboratory write-ups
• The concepts of AP Vertical Teams and Pre-AP Biology
• AP Biology textbooks and multimedia resources
• Teaching strategies for under-prepared and prepared AP Biology students

What To Bring:
• Note taking materials
• Laptop for electronic curriculum

NOTE: Biology teachers must follow the University’s lab safety rules by wearing closed-toe shoes (no sandals), long pants or skirts, and goggles during all lab activities.  Please bring goggles.

AP* Calculus AB (new teachers) – Nancy Grigassy: The intent of the AP Calculus institute is to prepare teachers to design their AP Calculus courses, and familiarize them with the current syllabus, curriculum materials, and effective teaching strategies. Topics from the current Calculus AB syllabus will be investigated through classroom-tested explorations, activities, and hands-on labs that are suitable for cooperative learning.  The TI-84 graphing calculator will be used to explore, discover, and reinforce the concepts of calculus.  This course is targeted for both the beginning and the experienced Calculus teacher.  Time will be spent discussing strategies to prepare students for the AP exam.  Recent AP Exams will be reviewed and teachers will learn the grading process.  Please bring a copy of your current textbook and if you have taught Calculus previously bring copies of a lesson or activity to share.

What To Bring:
• Note taking materials
• Laptop for electronic curriculum

AP* Calculus AB (experienced teachers) – Stacey McMullen:  AB Calculus is a course designed for teachers who would like teaching strategies, methods and materials on how to prepare students for success in Advanced Placement Calculus. During this week, participants will learn how to introduce challenging concepts utilizing a variety of methods, incorporate the pedagogy of the Advanced Placement program into their curriculum, and integrate technology and the internet for a more interactive classroom. Two major themes, rigor in the classroom and student thinking, will be stressed and modeled all week. You will need to bring a jump drive, and most importantly, your energy and enthusiasm to participate in this fun-filled learning experience!

What To Bring:
• Note taking materials
• Laptop for electronic curriculum

AP* Chemistry (new teachers) – Janice Willingham: This workshop is designed for teachers who are beginning their careers as AP Chemistry teachers. Time will be spent during the sessions on the nature of the AP program and on structuring an AP Chemistry course. Many labs are discussed and teachers are given an opportunity to do a number of typical labs appropriate for AP Chemistry. Topics that are often covered are teaching and testing techniques, periodicity, bonding, states of matter, kinetics, equilibrium, instrumentation, equations and product prediction, thermodynamics, and electrochemistry. The workshop makes considerable use of the graphing calculator and the CBL as a data collection device. Typical AP problems and essays are discussed, and strategies for enabling students to perform well on the AP exam will be shared. Considerable discussion will be given to the new course description and format. Lap tops will be needed for some electronic curriculum.  Graphing calculators will be provided.

What To Bring:
•  30 copies of your  favorite demo and/or experiment to share with fellow participants.
• Goggles and appropriate shoe attire for lab work.
• Laptop for electronic curriculum

NOTE: Chemistry teachers must follow the University’s lab safety rules by wearing closed-toe shoes (no sandals), long pants or skirts, and goggles during all lab activities. 

AP* Computer Science A – Glen Martin: This course is for both new and experienced AP Computer Science (APCS) A teachers.  It will increase the participant’s knowledge of required course content, and provide materials, resources, and techniques for use with students.  Participants will receive the latest information from the 2014 APCS A Reading, the new APCS A Course Description, and about the future direction of the APCS A course.

This workshop will have a major focus on the new APCS A Labs.  Participants will obtain hands on experience with both the written and programming exercises in these Labs.  APCS A Lab topics include Strings, one and two dimensional arrays, Lists/ArrayLists, generics, and object oriented programming.

 Participants will also receive materials and information about recursion and participate in a mock APCS A Reading.  Participants are expected to have a basic knowledge of the Java programming language in order to receive maximum benefit from this workshop.

AP* English Language & Composition  – Mary Stanton: The purpose of AP English Language and Composition is to provide the academic study needed for the motivated junior or senior to do college-level work in high school. The content of this APSI course will focus on innovative methods, activities, and assessments to use in your AP English Language classroom. We will discuss and share strategies for the teaching of AP skills, including rhetorical analysis, close reading, writing and analyzing argument and synthesis, as well as ways to bring American classic and contemporary non-fiction and fiction into the AP Language curriculum. In addition, a simulated reading of the 2014 AP Language Test will enable you to look at the methods needed to effectively prepare your students for the multiple choice section and the exam essays-synthesis, analysis, and argument.

What To Bring:
• Note taking materials
• Laptop for electronic curriculum

AP* English Literature & Composition (new teachers) – Celine Gomez: The purpose of Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition course is to provide the academic study needed for students to petition for college credit through the AP Literature and Composition Examination given each May. The course will begin with an overview of the basic structure and content of an AP curriculum. Participants will review the 2014 AP Literature essay prompts and College Board released multiple choice questions to understand strategies and skills students need to analyze literature and write effective essays. We will focus on how to teach genre literature including novels, dramas, verse, and prose passages. All material will reflect the importance of understanding context and how to teach reading, writing, and thinking skills needed to be successful.

What To Bring:
• Note taking materials
• Laptop for electronic curriculum
• Best practices lesson to share (electronic version)
• Novel for a book talk (not from the traditional Western Canon)

AP* Spanish Language and Culture:  Marisa Perez-BernardoThe purpose of this workshop is to familiarize participants with the AP Spanish course, resources and program goals, as well as the AP Spanish exam. This workshop will focus on the new AP Spanish Language and Culture curriculum framework. Participants will learn strategies to develop students’ language proficiency, their ability to negotiate meaning, and their understanding within the three modes of communication. Attendants will become familiar with the themes that explore connections among language, literature, and culture through diverse global perspectives. We will study the six primary learning objective areas within the three modes of communication described by the Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century: Interpersonal, Interpretive, and Presentational. Teachers will also learn how to expose students to authentic language from the beginning of the course.

  1. The AP Spanish Language and Culture course and exam.
  2. Draft a syllabus that meets the curricular requirements.
  3. Develop activities and assessments that present language in cultural contexts.
  4. Build students’ proficiencies in the three modes of communication.
  5. Identify the skills and knowledge the new AP Spanish exam will assess.
  6. Revise the 2014 exam’s free response question.
  7. Create lesson plans for the AP Spanish Language and Culture  course.

What To Bring:
• Note taking materials
• Laptop for electronic curriculum

Pre AP English H.S. (new PreAP teachers) – Brook Bullock: Designed for the English instructor seeking to learn or improve teaching strategies pertinent to Pre-AP students, this course will focus on AP concepts and skills developed during English I and II courses and beyond. Topics will utilize examples from fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama with an overall emphasis on rhetorical style and language analysis.  Presentation examples include: 

  • modifying AP objective questions and essay prompts
  • introducing/applying syntax and rhetorical structure to student analysis
  • teaching tone and author’s purpose as reading and writing assignments
  • utilizing high-interest non-fiction selections
  • developing a Pre-AP course as part of an effective Vertical Team 

Participants will leave the institute with lessons and strategies they could immediately incorporate into their curriculum.

What to Bring:
• Writing tools and note-taking resources (pens, pencils, highlighters, sticky-notes, etc)
• A list of required curricular pieces (novels, short stories, poetry, etc) for the courses you teach (and those of your vertical team, if feasible).
• One, short non-fiction selection that you like (or would like) to use in your class.
• Computer for electronic curriculum

Pre AP English M.S. – Kristina Janeway:  Course members will participate in Pre-AP and AP strategies through hands-on activities for all aspects of English/Language Arts through a variety of mini-lessons that include analysis, grammar, writing, research, technology, and projects. Teachers will discover techniques to implement varied sentence structures into student writing by understanding the basic concepts of syntactical and diction analysis. Teachers will uncover methods for students in mastery of writing and analysis techniques in addition to integrating different technology applications into their courses. The APSI is designed to assist teachers through interactive applications of concepts as well as sample lessons to assist in implementation. Teachers will have the opportunity during training to adapt and integrate of these strategies into existing scopes and sequences as well as individual lesson plans.

What to bring:

  • Computer
  • List of all reading selections taught
  • Copy of your school/department scope and sequence as well as standards
  • General note taking supplies
  • 8G flash drive for digital files
  • Lesson plan book or lesson plan template on computer

Pre AP Science M.S. – Lisa Tobias:  The Pre-AP Science APSI is designed to take participants through each of the major components of a Pre-AP curriculum and then show participants how to incorporate the components into their own classrooms. The week opens by defining what Pre-AP Science is and how it can facilitate to a student’s future success in science. Specific ideas such as what language to use in general questioning, what basic skills to incorporate and when, as well as how to integrate both components into assessment will be looked at during these early days. As we move farther into the week, we will begin looking at the different types of inquiry-based classrooms and how a class can be inquiry-based and still move forward through the necessary material at a reasonable pace. Teachers will also learn how to present inquiry in a way that makes even open ended inquiry approachable to students who are new to the process, saving time, frustration, and resources. In the last main component, we will assess different labs and evaluate how student vs teacher based (inquiry vs cookbook) they are. Once that is completed, we will begin to modify them in a constructive manner, making sure to incorporate other aspects of a successful Pre-AP classroom into the final products. If teachers bring their own labs, we will work on modifying their material and labs, rather than the stock labs provided. Throughout the whole week, we will be looking at and doing a variety of labs, activities, and projects that illustrate some aspect of the wide spectrum that makes up Pre-AP Science. 

What To Bring:
• Note taking materials
• Laptop for electronic curriculum

2015 – WEEK 2

AP* Chemistry (experienced teachers) – Todd Abronowitz: The AP Chemistry institute is designed to assist AP teachers in building the foundations for success in teaching AP Chemistry. Emphasis will be placed on the rigor of the material that students need to be successful on the AP Chemistry exam. An emphasis will be placed on the new curriculum framework and its implementation in your classroom. We will review the requirements on the course audit and the syllabus requirements. Time will be allowed for best practices and for sharing ideas as a group. Laboratory investigations will be incorporated with the discussion of the theory, with special emphasis on student-inquiry labs.

Topics will include the following:
• New test format
• Equilibrium
• Thermodynamics
• Kinetics (non-calculator and calculator approaches)
• Electrochemistry
• multiple choice strategies
• acid-base chemistry
• atomic structure and periodicity
• Topics to be presented and sequence followed will be determined by the group as a whole.

What To Bring:
• Goggles
• Apron or lab coat
• Closed-toe shoes
• Laptop for electronic curriculum
• TI graphing calculator (one will be provided if you do not have one)

What participants will take with them:
• A CD of everything developed for Pre-AP Chemistry and AP Chemistry by the lead consultant

NOTEChemistry  teachers must follow the University’s lab safety rules by wearing closed-toe shoes (no sandals), long pants or skirts, and goggles during all lab activities

AP* English Literature & Composition – Lynne Weber:  Participants in this course will learn the skills and strategies necessary to prepare high school students for success in AP Literature and Composition classes.  The course materials will provide participants with ample resources to anchor their curriculum and to guide the progress of their students.  The workshop leader will place particular emphasis on activities involving higher-order thinking skills and student-centered teaching.

Topics will include the following:

  • Close reading and annotation
  • Writing about literature, including both timed and process writing
  • Composition, including grading, rubrics, and writers’ conferences
  • The content of the Advanced Placement test in Literature and Composition
  • Teaching grammar in the context of writing
  • Building better, more confident thinkers
  • Strategies for challenging students without leaving them behind
  • Using visual texts and graphic representation to aid student understanding

Text to purchase and read before the start of the course:  Please bring to the Institute any edition of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  If you teach a Shakespeare play other than this in your course, bring that play.  We will construct a unit designed for Advanced Placement based on the Shakespeare play you choose.

What to Bring:

  • Copy of Hamlet
  • Sticky notes
  • Highlighters

AP* Human Geography – Susan Hollier: This course will focus on helping teachers prepare to teach a one semester college- level course in Human Geography. Employing a blend of content presentations, effective teaching strategies, and technology, the Institute will provide an overview of the systematic study of patterns and processes that have shaped human understanding, use, and alteration of Earth’s surface. In addition, strategies to help students prepare for the AP exam will be addressed.


  • The role literature plays in geography classroom
  • Using current events daily to strengthen critical-level thinking
  • Strategies to create an exciting, innovative classroom atmosphere
  • Incorporating writing methods that actually improve students’ skills
  • Tap your local resources to bring the world into your classroom

What To Bring:
• Note taking materials
• Laptop for electronic curriculum

AP* Physics 1 & 2 – Terri McMurray: The folloing is the emphasis of this course:

  • The AP Physics 1 and 2 Programs: goals, objectives, content, and resources
  • AP Physics 1 and 2 course development: syllabi, lesson plans, and assignments
  • The AP Physics 1 and 2 Exams: development, scoring and student preparation
  • Labs and activities that engage student learning and promote higher order thinking skills
  • Sharing classroom activities, labs and demonstrations

Included in the course are the following:

  • College Board Workshop Handbook
  • Curriculum Materials and Activities
  • Sample Textbooks
  • Physics Lab Materials
  • Flashdrive

What To Bring:
• Note taking materials
• Laptop for electronic curriculum

AP* Studio Art – Patricia Winnard: An overview of Pre-AP and AP Studio Art will be examined and discussed. Strategies and tips for organization and implementation the studio course will follow. Participants will engage in a series of new activities using a variety of methods according to their level of expertise. This study will include both technological, photographical and by-hand surface preparation processes. A body of work could be in the form of a deconstructed journal, Trish’s Terrific 12, using strategies developed by the instructor, or an independent study. Participants will also be introduced to Creative Imagery Exercises developed by the presenter to stimulate creative choice as well as the student’s voice through the art making experiences.Tips from Trish on photographing and submitting images digitally will be discussed. The issue of teaching students benchmarks for “quality” in art forms will be addressed with the use of reflective, summative and oral evaluation systems. The Reading 2014 and scoring the portfolios will be reviewed and discussed, from the vantage point of a reader, through an overview of images. AP Central and other instructional resources will also be discussed and shared.

Suggested Participant Supply List for Participants
1. Apron
2. Assortment of papers, paints, brushes, drawing mediums
3. Rubber gloves
4. Sketchbook
5. Hardbound used book
6. Photos
7. Misc. collage supplies
8. Small hardside box
9. Digital camera or phone /USB connection cords
10. CDs
11. Jump drive
12. Card reader
13. Scissors
14. Laptop computer& charger – NOTE: I am going green this year. I will provide participants with workshop materials on a CD only.
15. Favorite websites and “best practices/lesson plan to share
Any other “stuff” you want to bring!

AP* U.S. History – Christine Bond:  This week will combine content and pedagogy geared toward successful implementation of an AP United States History course. Teachers will receive instruction on teaching essay writing and document analysis with a special emphasis on the changes to the AP United States History exam.  Teachers will receive numerous resources.

 What to Bring:
• Note taking materials
• 16 gig flash drive 
• Laptop and your favorite United States History lesson plan to share

AP* World History (new teachers and PreAP) – Paul Philp: The purpose of the AP World History course is to develop greater understanding of global historical processes and contrasts viewed against the interaction of different types of human societies. The course highlights the changes in international framework, their causes and consequences, as well as comparisons among major societies. The course emphasizes relevant factual knowledge used in conjunction with leading interpretive issues, types of historical evidence, and appropriate analytical skills. Focused primarily on the past 1,500 years of the global experience, the course builds on an understanding of cultural, institutional, and technological precedents that, along with geography, set the human stage prior to 1000 CE.

This AP Summer Institute in World History is for novice and intermediate year teachers of AP World History. The assumption is that the teacher has never taught AP World History before attending this institute or has taught the course for three to five years. Nevertheless, experienced teachers are welcome and can lend their experience to the institute.  Please note: While this uses as its basis the skills and content of AP World History which is usually taught on the 10th grade or sophomore in high school level, pre-AP teachers in grades 6th through 9th who wish to learn the skill sets for vertical integration are also welcome. However the focus will be AP World History as opposed to pre-AP.

Presentation time is devoted to 50% pedagogy and 50% content. This is necessary because many teachers desire both the pedagogy of setting up and managing an AP course as well as want content specific to the new historiography of world history. Each year the College Board has a special topic –this year it is Nigeria and The Economics of Violence. The four days are organized as follows: The Course Guide, Skills and Geography; Your Syllabus: Structuring the Course; Writing and Essays; and Taking the Multiple Choice Test, Enrichment and Helpful Hints. Mornings are devoted to pedagogy and afternoons to content.  I will provide you with access containing all of my lessons, materials and works through Drop Box. So come prepared to work but learn about a wonderful AP program.

 What to Bring:
• Note taking materials
• Laptop for electronic curriculum

Pre AP History (emphasis Texas History) – Lori Dumerer: The Pre-AP Social Studies Middle School Institute has been developed to address the needs of the various Pre-AP courses, especially at the middle school level with special attention to Texas History. Participants will focus on the content and pedagogy necessary for developing an academically rigorous course. Discussions will include strategies for improving student success in critical reading, and writing, as well as, the content necessary to create an engaging and successful course. This institute will be presented in an active learning environment. A number of the strategies will engage the attendees in the demonstration. Topics will include but will not be limited to the following: Pre-AP Strategies in History and the Social Sciences: Crafting Historical Arguments, state TEKS and test requirements, using historical cartoons to create writing and review opportunities, Texas history, U.S. history, world cultures content areas, creating rigorous test questions that align with state requirements, development of critical thinking skills, document and data analysis, and writing and supporting a thesis. During the week, the group will examine classroom resources, and online multi-media resources, and work together to develop sample lessons for all to share.

What To Bring:
• Note taking materials
• Laptop for electronic curriculum
• Questions related to specific content and TEKS so  the group may address possible approaches.

Pre AP Math H.S. – Donna Speer: This course is designed to help teachers incorporate AP/Pre-AP strategies and concepts into their math curriculum. It will emphasize math topics such as: accumulation, area, coordinate geometry, functions, limits, optimization, sequences and series, rate of change, probability and statistics and how these topics can be appropriately included in different math courses. There will be a variety of teaching strategies including activities, projects, alternative assessments, graphing calculators, CBLs, and internet. Participants will discuss Pre-AP philosophy, resources, vertical teaming, AP exams and grading and how to get support from parents, and administrators.

What to Bring:
• Participants are encouraged to bring their graphing calculator if they have one
• Laptop for electronic curriculum, and
• A best lesson or activity to share

Pre AP Math M.S. (experienced PreAP teachers) - Kathy Heller:  This course is designed to help middle school teachers strengthen their existing Pre-AP teaching strategies as well as introduce new methodologies and activities into the curriculum.  Participants will explore a variety of topics appropriate for the Pre-AP student at the middle school level.  Activities will be hands-on and the use of various forms of technology will be encouraged.   Assessment methods and classroom management strategies will also be examined.

We will also look at how to blend online activities into an existing unit.  Participants should come with a unit of study in mind that they would like to strengthen with online resources and activities.

What To Bring:
• Note taking materials
• Laptop for electronic curriculum