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Making the Most of Your Classes After the Exam
posted by: Melissa | April 12, 2018, 07:17 PM   

Recently we heard from AAE member Sarah Torzewski, who spoke to us about keeping student learning ongoing even as we start to wind the year down. Sarah provided some advice from her own experience:

For most teachers of Advanced Placement courses, the month of school remaining after the AP exam can be challenging. Students have already received the required content and practiced testing skills to be successful and score highly on the exam. What comes next? How can students continue to be challenged and grow academically beyond the set curriculum?

For AP Biology, I primarily use the remaining weeks after the AP exam to focus on practical science skills to ensure students can confidently walk into any college lab. I return to laboratory techniques and equipment used earlier in the year with a keen eye for detail and proficiency. Gel electrophoresis is a common, college-level experimental procedure requiring several elements to be done precisely. To improve student proficiency and self-efficacy, I have my students make agarose gels, practice loading materials with micropipettes, and run multiple gels. The students also practice applications of the procedure. Students classify unknown samples based on size and polarity background information and comparative sample distances and directions.

I also present the students with more detailed microscopy techniques. Each individual is responsible for finding, focusing, and drawing multiple samples of increasing difficulty. Students are also challenged with troubleshooting problematic microscopic views. For example, when looking through the objective, the student sees just darkness. Several problems could be affecting the view and the student would need to identify and correct the malfunction.

Overall, I believe that in order to prepare a student for college-level science courses, one must present and provide guidance with laboratory needs as well as bulk content needs. The time after the AP exam allows teachers to focus on expanding and fine tuning these essential skills.

Sarah Torzewski is an AP Biology teacher in South Bend, Indiana.

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