The Student News Site of Tompkins High School

The Nestline

The Student News Site of Tompkins High School

The Nestline

The Student News Site of Tompkins High School

The Nestline

New AP Classes Bring New Opportunities


As the new school year kicks off, teacher Shanna Hodges buzzes with excitement about the year ahead of her. Not only does she get to return to teaching a subject she loves, Pre-AP English 2, but she now has a new AP course to teach, AP Seminar. Just below Hodges in the history hall is Monica Birtwistle. She is reminiscing about her summer vacation to Italy and how she plans to incorporate it into her plans she will be teaching this year in AP European History. Both of these teachers are adjusting to teaching multiple classes and their heads are full with fresh ideas for their classes. AP Seminar and AP European History are two of the new AP classes generating a lot of student interest.

“I enjoy having multiple classes because there is variety to my day. Time management is always tricky. Teaching a new class is very challenging as all ideas, lessons and materials used are put together from scratch. This is absolutely thrilling, but can be time consuming. The key is to be flexible,” said Hodges.

Having a new class gives teachers an opportunity to start from the ground up, building in new ways to learn information and giving them more creative freedom in their lesson plans than an already well established course. AP Seminar is a new class, and is a class chocked full of real world skills.

“This class is all about students exploring real world problems in areas of their interest, researching them adequately and developing workable solutions that will be presented through artfully constructed arguments. I am absolutely elated to help students develop these critical thinking skills and cannot wait to see the marvelous projects they construct over topics they are passionate about,” said Hodges.

AP Seminar is unlike most classes because it is full of real world application and realistic scenarios. Students research topics interesting to them while using what the course teaches them such as argument development and critical thinking skills to use in their real life. The class offers an alternative end of course assessment as well. Instead of then conventional written AP exam, students complete a research project. This can pose challenges for students because it is over the entire semester rather than the shorter deadlines they are used to.

“Time management is always tricky. This class is very exciting, but can be time consuming. Pacing can also be a challenge as you don’t have previous experience with lessons to predict just how many days it may take to cover a certain concept. The key is to be flexible,” said Hodges.

Birtwistle is an avid fan of all things history, specifically European. This passion for what she teaches makes AP European History such an engaging class to take. She incorporates pictures from her many travels to Europe and interesting tidbits of little know information about the content learned that is not included in most history classes. She welcomes all kinds of students who are interested in history and would like to try making an AP outside of their core classes.

“Generally it will be AP students who take this class, but it is open to anyone who loves history and is willing to give an AP elective a try. I welcome all who love history,” said Birtwistle


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