AP Summer Institute Teaches the Teachers
Aug. 13, 2009
The nine-month work year is largely a myth for educators, including more than 600 high school and middle school Advance Placement and Pre-AP teachers who spent part of their summer on campus engaged in professional development.
Teachers attending the 14th AP Summer Institute at UT Dallas took weeklong training workshops designed to help them help their students score well on the national AP exams. The annual event is hosted by the Teacher Development Center in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies.
“They come to learn enriched content and teaching activities that will help their students succeed and score well on the national AP exams,” said Scherry F. Johnson, director of teacher education.
The AP Summer Institute offers teachers a selection of 26 AP classes, including calculus, chemistry, computer science, studio art, art history, biology, English language, English literature, human geography, music theory, physics, Spanish language, U.S. history and world history. The four Pre-AP classes include high school English, middle school English, high school math and middle school math. 2009 sessions were held July 27-31 and August 3-7.
One of the classes offered this summer was AP statistics. Class participants talked about their enthusiasm for it.
“I’d been to an AP Summer Institute here four years ago,” said Anthony Van Goethem, a math, algebra and statistics instructor at Del Rio High School on the U.S.-Mexico border. “I needed to refresh myself on what I needed for my AP students, curriculum-wise. I needed some new ideas.”
His instructor, Kathy Fritz, a consultant for the College Board, certainly had the credentials to help. She has served on the test-development committee for AP statistics and as a table leader at the AP Reading, where AP exams are graded. She is also a teacher and head of the math and computer science department at Plano West Senior High School.
“What sets AP statistics apart is that we investigate and explore,” said Fritz. “Instead of doing lectures and saying, ‘This is the point,’ the kids can see things happening and discover things for themselves, which makes them remember it longer and understand it better.”
“Statistics is a fascinating subject,” said Van Goethem. “Most people go through their whole lives thinking that things are exact. They don’t realize how much change and variability there is. Statistics deals with the change, the variation.”
Susan Walker, an AP statistics and pre-calculus teacher, at Plano Senior High, also registered for Fritz’s class. “One of the things that we’ve been able to achieve in AP stat is to turn it into an application course,” she said. “For the students that are ‘so-so’ in math, the calculator evens the field.”
“Although we manage this program in the Teacher Development Center, this is truly a University-wide effort,” said Johnson. “Everyone works very hard to ensure that these guests have a positive experience while on our campus.
“In addition to the obvious benefits for the participants, it is our goal to cultivate 600 new teacher/advocates for UT Dallas. After all, these teachers have daily contact with more than 70,000 students and hopefully many of those will now consider UT Dallas as future college-of-choice.”