Menu
Jump to content

What's with the ads?

Sign in to follow this  
madteaparty

Did AP English Language ruin your student's writing?

Recommended Posts

I'm being dramatic, I know, and I am not exactly sure what I am asking, but maybe someone else is in this boat. My DS is in a very well respected, organized, highly recommended AP Lang class. The reading is great, the feedback ample, I have no issue with the class at all. He is doing just okay. His essay writing definitely needs work and he is getting decent comments.

The problem? The essays posted as exemplary by the teacher, written by other students, I personally cannot abide. I mean I cannot finish reading them. They are perfectly constructed for sure, I just cannot go on for the content. (the few I have attempted. I am not patient)

So what I am thinking is, if DS applies himself in this class, he might end up with a 4 or 5 on the AP exam but I am also confident his writing will be ruined. I happen to LOVE his writing, rough around the edges as it is. He has amazing ideas and imagery that I have to do a double-take--was it my kid that wrote this? He's also a lazy/busy 14 yr old boy who could do with instruction.

 What does one do?

Edited by madteaparty
clarifying
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh wow. It’s too bad you couldn’t have seen some samples of what is taught or what the goal of the class is before having signed him up. 

By content, do you mean that the arguments are not well-thought out, or is it the prose style that is bad, or what? Do you think this is a reflection of teaching to the AP test rather than the fault of the teacher? In other words, perhaps the individual student’s style isn’t necessarily exemplary, but they did the best job at fulfilling the assignment in terms of what the AP graders will be looking for. 

If I actually thought the class was teaching bad writing, I would pull out a 14 year old in a heartbeat. There is plenty of time to take the AP in the future if that is still desired, either with a different class or self-studying. At that time he will have had another year or two to grow as a writer and can take the idiosyncrasies of writing for these tests with a larger grain of salt. Also when they have more years of writing and studying really good essays of others, they can better objectively tell what other students are or aren’t doing well. But there are kids who will just be brought down by spending a lot of time with the work of other students, as other parents here have shared in the past.

Edited by Penelope
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Penelope said:

 In other words, perhaps the individual student’s style isn’t necessarily exemplary, but they did the best job at fulfilling the assignment in terms of what the AP graders will be looking for. 

Exactly right IMO. I don;t think the class is teaching bad writing, as such. It's just that having seen what I've seen, if my kid's essay made it to the exemplary column one week, I would be super sad. I don't think I make sense.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
55 minutes ago, madteaparty said:

I'm being dramatic, I know, and I am not exactly sure what I am asking, but maybe someone else is in this boat. My DS is in a very well respected, organized, highly recommended AP Lang class. The reading is great, the feedback ample, I have no issue with the class at all. He is doing just okay. His essay writing definitely needs work and he is getting decent comments.

The problem? The essays posted as exemplary by the teacher, written by other students, I personally cannot abide. I mean I cannot finish reading them. They are perfectly constructed for sure, I just cannot go on for the content. (the few I have attempted. I am not patient)

So what I am thinking is, if DS applies himself in this class, he might end up with a 4 or 5 on the AP exam but I am also confident his writing will be ruined. I happen to LOVE his writing, rough around the edges as it is. He has amazing ideas and imagery that I have to do a double-take--was it my kid that wrote this? He's also a lazy/busy 14 yr old boy who could do with instruction.

 What does one do?

 I understand exactly what you are saying.  I won't ever relinquish the reins on my kids' writing instruction precisely bc what I deem quality writing is the only standard I willing for them to work on during high school. 

FWIW, my dd had to take a comp class last yr designed around They Say, I Say.  She said repeatedly that having to conform to that class's writing rubrics only achieved one thing.....forced her to write at a lower standard than she was capable of doing on her own.  At least she was a college student with full knowledge of how to conform for that class and throw it out forever more and go back to her more elevated writing style.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand.  My kid was using the implied thesis in middle school, and the SS teachers enjoyed it, but said that they were required to mark off and use same grading standard for all..so no hamburger, no 100.    I'd conference and ask.  Generally h ere for AP Engl they don't show anything advanced as a rubic example, since most won't be able to produce, but they do happily accept advanced writing pieces. 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My dyslexic girl is in AP Lang right now and it is not doing much for her writing. I actually can't figure out what they are supposed to do, because usually, the rubrics for the assignment don't seem to match what the assignment actually is. For me, much of writing is good thinking and reading good writing. This class seems to do neither of those things. 

My ds2 with a serious learning disability in written expression was helped by They Say, I Say. But that does not make it a good book for even average writers.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd think through my goals for ds enrolling in the course. If the positives (meeting those goals) don't outweigh the negatives (your concerns), I'd drop the class and do something else.

My next option would be to email the teacher and see if there was a way to modify the class to not ruin his writing. (Not do the writing portion, as strange as that sounds.) 

I'm not super helpful with this because when I looked at Dd's college list, just about every place still made you take freshmen comp even if you had AP credit -- they just had you take the honors version or start with the second class in the series (but you still had to take 6 credits of writing). Plus, there were other ways to get into honors or skip the first class (honors program, ACT score). So, the AP exam/class isn't worth the hassle for my oldest. (Each kid is different. )

Edited by RootAnn
  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, I pondered this a bit... First, 14 is young for AP Lang in my opinion- so I offer that. Second, it helps to consider what the course is designed for/ the targets, etc. Honestly, reading your post, I wonder if you would have felt/ would feel more satisfied in AP Lit which is much more about vibrant, expressive articulation of meaning in literary texts, etc.

AP Lang is analytical, logical, rhetorical study in writing and language. It is about argument, persuasion, and structure to advance meaning and unveil analysis. Students learn how to identify logos, pathos, and ethos in essays and apply these tools in their own writing.

Keeping that in mind, it has its place. Your son should be able to learn how to move between the different modes and forms of writing thereby maintaining his own voice and style. AP Lang is one such mode in my opinion.

On a personal note, AP Language did not at all ruin my (now senior) son's writing, and now he is in AP Lit and very well prepared. He is a much stronger, more articulate writer now than he was prior.

My son who is a creative writer is now a college freshman. He took AP Lit last year after having never taken AP Language. He did worry that it was ruining his writing during the course of his class. I, however, did not feel worried about  that.The class he was in gave us a run for the money, was frustrating, demanding, and difficult- but I truly trusted the process- and in the end- he did emerge a stronger, more vibrant, and more articulate writer. And his creative process and "voice" is still intact.

I, too, felt very frustrated with some aspects of our AP English experience last year- mainly in AP Lit which also focused heavily on "exemplary" work. But, I wanted to mentor my sons in the highest level writing I could- and so I was very involved (and still am).

I would study the AP essays in AP Lit. I found many of them inflated, dramatic, and rambling.. but I kept searching to figure out what was launching them into the exemplary category. In the end, I think both my son (and I as a writing/English Tutor) were better for it.

AP Language is just a tool belt. It is providing your son with more resources at his disposal so when he wields  the metamorphical pen, he has more available to him for his own personal expression. While it might structure his writing for a time, in the end, I do think he will be able to fly or rise above...stronger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Rebecca
  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, RootAnn said:

I'd think through my goals for ds enrolling in the course. If the positives (meeting those goals) don't outweigh the negatives (your concerns), I'd drop the class and do something else.

My next option would be to email the teacher and see if there was a way to modify the class to not ruin his writing. (Not do the writing portion, as strange as that sounds.) 

I'm not super helpful with this because when I looked at Dd's college list, just about every place still made you take freshmen comp even if you had AP credit -- they just had you take the honors version or start with the second class in the series (but you still had to take 6 credits of writing). Plus, there were other ways to get into honors or skip the first class (honors program, ACT score). So, the AP exam/class isn't worth the hassle for my oldest. (Each kid is different. )

DS already has a 200 level lit and composition college class, and will have a few more if all goes to plan, and from a liberal arts college (I know never to count on these programs being around when he is of age in a couple years.) So really I don;t know why he is taking AP lang, i guess because we are still homeschoolers and in the off chance he applies to overseas schools. I should think through goals indeed. I need to remind myself 90% of the time I outsource writing I end up kicking self.  I am working more than full time now but I think this is something that needs to be our thing.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, HeighHo said:

I understand.  My kid was using the implied thesis in middle school, and the SS teachers enjoyed it, but said that they were required to mark off and use same grading standard for all..so no hamburger, no 100.    I'd conference and ask.  Generally h ere for AP Engl they don't show anything advanced as a rubic example, since most won't be able to produce, but they do happily accept advanced writing pieces. 

So having met some of the English teachers at our local public and seeing the sort of thing they assign (I had an exchange student, i did many conferences), there's basically no way DS sets foot there not even over my dead body (seriously, I have contingency plans in place). This is why we are killing ourselves shuffling between the college, and a private, and online classes. This is an online class.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, I just reread your initial post and realized that you said you are confident the class will ruin his writing...and then I think I saw that he is in 200 level college classes?

If I felt this way, I would withdraw my son.

In response to your question: AP Lang/Lit did not ruin my sons' writing.

-Rebecca

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand completely what you're saying.

I don't think any one experience can ruin anyone's writing.

I think learning to write within the confines of a particular form is a super necessary skill long term for most people. Now, whether it's good for a 14 yo - even one who's advanced - that's another matter. That's a skill best learned in context of understanding that it's a box you're fitting yourself into and not the be all end all of writing. I think even advanced younger students struggle to really get that an internalize it. But some will. It just depends... I think some students see tasks like exam essays to be like a puzzle or a game. You fit your writing into the box - bending it around and making it fit, all the while knowing that it's not real, so to speak. Other students want to rage at the confines of that box or simply feel downtrodden and resentful about it... or even begin to hate their own, more authentic writing for not automatically fitting inside those confines. If your kid is the first sort, it really won't hurt him. If he's the second... then that's a big problem.

Given what you're saying... I don't know that I'd personally continue with this course. But if you do, I don't think it'll do long term damage - especially if you give him other opportunities to write and talk explicitly about how the AP exam is looking for something particular, which is not necessarily good writing.

  • Like 4
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, Rebecca said:

 

In response to your question: AP Lang/Lit did not ruin my sons' writing.

 

21 minutes ago, Farrar said:

 

I don't think any one experience can ruin anyone's writing.

 

He took that class last year.  re: the ruining, I did say I am being dramatic. :) I think you all get me though. I feel insane half the time when it comes to classes, curricula, etc.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, Farrar said:

[...] or simply feel downtrodden and resentful about it... or even begin to hate their own, more authentic writing for not automatically fitting inside those confines.

YES! this is exactly what my issue is. Thank you.

Yes, he is out of there. I will keep the class open bc some of the reading I do not mind. This is going to be a mom and me project, like studying for French exams, etc. Who needs sleep? 

ETA as a more general comment that of late I seem unable to make decisions without the bee hive here (for those that followed my latest not-really-knowing-how-to-drive-au pair saga)... Thanks, all. ?

Edited by madteaparty
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I took AP Lang and AP Lit in school.  One potential thing I can think of, wrt exemplary essays not seeming very good, is that on the AP test, essays are meant to be done in 40min or so.  Good in that context is far different from good edited, polished writing.  Also, maybe the teacher is trying to be encouraging, by holding up models that are good *at this point in the learning process*.  Not that they are examples of where she wants them to be at the end of the year, but that they are examples of where she wants them to be now, at the beginning of the year.  Related to that, maybe her grading is similar to IEW's, in that she's starting off with a defined checklist that doesn't have all the things needed, but just the starting things.  So those exemplary essays were good examples of the things on the current, starting-point checklist - but that doesn't mean that the current checklist reflects the final checklist - she's going to build up to that over time.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I completely understand your concerns.  I have struggled with the same thing.  My daughter is an excellent writer.  She took an outside English class last year(grade 10).  She scored 100%.  I thought we could be done with outsourced writing.  She had seen that I was not just saying her writing was good.  She had validation.  This year she really wanted to take AP Lang.  I advised her that she will be expected to mold her writing in such a way to fit a formula.  Was she ready for THAT?  She said she was. So, she has looked at this writing more like math/science and understood her creativity belongs elsewhere.  She is 16. I'm not sure I would have allowed that before now.

Does you DS like writing?  Does he do it for fun?  My dd is clinging to NANOWRIMO this year to satisfy her creative writing need.:)

Edited by rjand6more
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This thread cracks me up! 

AP English Language helped my son in so many ways that I will be forever grateful for it! He is NOT a creative writer at all, and he really struggled with even putting words on paper (despite taking various and sundry writing courses). His writing took flight during his AP Eng course, and he developed so much confidence. He still uses many aspects of what he learned in that course in his college writing (math, earth science major). 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, MorningGlory said:

This thread cracks me up! 

AP English Language helped my son in so many ways that I will be forever grateful for it! He is NOT a creative writer at all, and he really struggled with even putting words on paper (despite taking various and sundry writing courses). His writing took flight during his AP Eng course, and he developed so much confidence. He still uses many aspects of what he learned in that course in his college writing (math, earth science major). 

 

I think you just hit a nail in the head. I think this type of prescriptive canned writing is for kids who aren’t writers. My boy is the same as yours. He is not a creative writer at all. 

If I had a writer, this would be a completely different can of worms. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, well, I have a master's degree in education and you would not believe the horrific writing--in all respects, organization, mechanics, content--that the students in the program, who were mostly teachers, produced.  Not just elementary school teachers either--high school English teachers!  So when I hear about kids in high school or college producing terrible writing, it doesn't surprise me at all.  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My daughter took both AP Lang and AP Lit from a highly regarded online teacher. She was a good writer going into AP Lang and the teacher did, in fact, help her take her essay writing further. AP Lit, my daughter would tell you, negatively affected her writing. Two years of that type of writing was overload. I think the problem is similar to what we didn't like about IEW. We tried IEW when she was around 4th grade because of all the wonderful things we heard, only to drop it quickly after a couple of lessons.  IEW's strength, to me, is really about giving resistant or non-natural writers a formula and framework to churn out school essays.  IEW will never make anyone a good writer! I think the AP English courses have a similar strength, but at an obviously higher level. 

I am glad dd did AP Lang, and think the teacher did an excellent job. Truly. However, if we hadn't wanted the AP course and exam score credit for her transcript, we would have had her drop AP Lit halfway through. It was the nature of the game for us - AP scores verified the "mommy" grade, no doubt about it. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, learners4life said:

. It was the nature of the game for us - AP scores verified the "mommy" grade, no doubt about it. 

But it does beg the question as to whether or not the grade issued by the homeschool teacher actually required the verification.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

But it does beg the question as to whether or not the grade issued by the homeschool teacher actually required the verification.

 

I think for most of the schools we were applying to, the UCs, it did. In a pre-applications meeting with two UC admissions reps, their standard thought for homeschoolers was to go to community college and then transfer.  It wasn't until they heard that she had taken AP courses and exams, scoring 5s, that they changed their advice. The exact quote from one of them was "You are not like the usual homeschoolers..."

I think a LOT depends upon where you are applying. That's why i said, it was the nature of the game for US. It doesn't apply to everyone, but I should think it doesn't hurt.

Also want to add to the part in which I said the reason we didn't drop AP Lit was for the transcript.  That is only partially true. It was also because UC Davis gave her AP credit for both AP Lang and AP Lit, which meant she only had to take one of the three required English courses. 

 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...