APSI provides resources and support

Access to new resources and a community of support are two of the things that Erin Lembke, a chemistry teacher at Havelock High School, appreciated the most when she attended the AP Summer Institute.

Two APSI students look at computer

Two APSI participants discuss their lecture notes.

“We’ve got a really good basis on being able to look through types of sample questions so we can ensure that we’re giving the kids the content and knowledge that they need to be successful,” Lembke said.

She was just one of the AP teachers from across the area who participated in this summer’s AP Summer Institute (APSI), which was held at South Central High School on June 24 through June 27. This year was important in several ways. For one, APSI expanded their course offerings. Previously, educators could only register for courses on AP chemistry, AP English language and composition, AP English literature and composition, AP European history, and AP studio art. However, this year AP art history, AP biology, AP calculus, AP environmental science, AP human geography, and AP Spanish language were added to the roster.

Another change was the introduction of more resources for teachers. Patricia Whyte, an AP English Lit consultant, described how teachers now have a framework they can follow in the classroom as well as a host of online resources. “There are personal progress checks where they [students] can answer questions online and the teachers see who’s doing what and how well they’re doing and can kind of adjust because of it,” she said.

Learning about new resources wasn’t the only thing that educators looked forward to when attending APSI. Rachel O’Kelley, a chemistry teacher at John A. Holmes High School, enjoyed forming a teacher network with people that share similar experiences and who can help each other out. She said that she thinks attending events like APSI is important. “I think it’s definitely important to continually get trained. Put your feet in, try it and come back to get more ideas,” she said.

Participant works on artwork

An AP Studio Art participant works on one of her pieces.

APSI isn’t just informative for AP teachers. Tiffany Grant, a math instructor with North Carolina Virtual Public School, took part in the calculus course to help her teach the classes that precede AP calculus. “I like the endgame of how everything goes and why it’s so important to make sure I teach notation correctly,” she said. “It’s nice to see that vertical line.”

Cindy Ferguson, a teacher at New Bern High School, has attended a previous Summer Institute but said it was good to get updates on new procedures, such as insights into how the testers score. She also learned techniques that she wants to implement in her classroom, like the labs they had been working on that week. “I definitely want to use some of those,” Ferguson said. “More hands-on, interactive activities.”

Grant agreed. “It’s been really, really nice to see the relationship between her labs and the instruction and how it is on the actual test,” she said.

Feedback from teachers was overwhelmingly positive, with many saying they would return to attend future APSI events and they felt the experience would make them a better teacher.

“This will make me a better standard and Honors chem teacher as well. We know how to really set them up for success in the AP course,” Lembke said. Motioning to O’Kelley, she continued, “We both have a chemistry degree from East Carolina in addition to the education degree, so we knew, and I felt confident in my knowledge, of how to get them prepared for college but this has really added a whole extra boost to that.”

The APSI is a four-day non-residential institute sponsored by the College Board Southern Regional Office and East Carolina University, which is offered to current and new AP teachers. The institute is designed to benefit beginning AP teachers and/or current AP teachers wishing to build on an existing course. Participants will work with College Board approved consultants on AP curriculum content and teaching strategies. Teachers will gain insight on selecting course materials, learning ways for higher-level thinking, and preparing students for Advanced Placement examinations. For more information, contact the Ann McClung, the APSI coordinator at the Center for STEM Education, at apsi@ecu.edu or 252-328-6885.

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