Thursday, November 17, 2005

What to do about a course?

There is a class that I teach that I am now wondering about. The class is titled "Pre-AP chemistry" and I am wondering if this is a good offering. My understanding is that the class is intended to be student centered. (At least that is my understanding from The class is anything but that right now. The planning of the class is not just me and I do not know what to do with the structure of the class. I am not at peace with the splitting of students into different ability levels. I currently think that the students should remain together until they can take an actual AP class. I know that my thinking changes from week to week but this is one of the weeks where I am questioning what I do.

I wonder not just to what extent grades and points drive a student's work ethic but what about course titles? When we label something honors, AP or skills does that predetermine a level of student that will be in the class? Are we putting those students in our box?

How do we start to change the preception about classes? What do we tell parents? How do we convey the idea that a class is just as difficult as it always has been even if all of the students are together?

Does CCHE change my thoughts? Maybe.......I am confused by all of this but I know I want to learn more...


Karl Fisch said...

I wish I had answers to all your questions, but they're hard (not unfair!) questions. I think you can have conversations about whether to have a Pre-AP Chemistry class but, given that you have one now, you just have to do the best that you can to teach them the way you believe is best.

As far as CCHE, I have some grave concerns over what I'm hearing about that. What I'm hearing (and I don't know if it's true) is that we are considering changing graduation requirements to match CCHE college entrance requirements. I strongly disagree with this (but that rant will be rather long so I won't put it here) and am wondering why this decision appears like it might be being made without faculty discussion about it. Anybody else have thoughts about how best to address this?

Crosby said...

I agree about the problems with graduation requirements matching CCHE. On another topic, Brian's question about course titles is interesting. I think that we need to have a serious discussion at AHS about what the labels mean (because they are not going away anytime soon)! For example, when we label a class as honors, to me that implies that the class accesses higher-level thinking skills, does not collect daily work for points, and is full of students who want to be challenged. The AHS "Lake Woe-be-gone Effect" is interesting, is it not? Although many of my students and their parents do expect the afore-mentioned aspects of an honors class, I also have a number of students and their parents who think that they / their kids are far above average when, in fact, they are actually just above average. (Horrible, isn't it?) These are the students and parents who complain that my class is "impossible," even though many other students are doing just fine!