AP English and Social Studies teachers bring summer reading alive

by Adrian Munteanu

AP is a term that has become synonymous with an overload of work, an expanse of teachings, and…and a not-so-frightful assignment?

The AP Government, AP U.S. History, and AP Language and Composition classes had an assignment this fall that would gauge their comprehension of the summer reading through role-playing, based on a series called Reacting to the Past that is used at Barnard College. The teachers worked together to pick the historical time period and the readings and create the game book, although each scheduled the project for when it fit best in their curriculum.

Students were assigned the roles of historical figures or members of a group during the year 1800. The students then had to debate a historical topic from that year in character.

“They had to basically have a debate, and before they can have a debate, they have to form factions. And they have to do this organically while acting out the conversations that these people would really have if they were all in a room together,” AP U.S. History teacher Channon Washington said.

The assignment called on students to demonstrate the most important traits of persuasion, which are important in any social studies class. It also tested how well students understood their role.

But what was Washington’s role in this? Just to be a silent bystander?

Washington was a kind of referee that reminded students of the rules and rewarded the extraordinary conversations and actions with money, fake role-play debate money, but it could mean a higher score for certain roles.

Washington is unsure whether the AP classes will do the same project next year, but she is optimistic.

“I do hope that it happens again. I think it’s really meaningful, especially if it becomes a tradition and kids talk about it,” Washington said.

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