AP Class Reviews
AP English Literature taught by Kay Ben-Avraham
by Students and Parents
An Ode to Miss Kay's AP Lit Class posted by Isabella Kiedrowski on May 21 2019 at 17:33:29
Hello, hello! Since you're reading this, I can only assume that you are considering a very good decision indeed: enrolling in Miss Kay's AP Lit class. I have only good things to say about this class, and Miss Kay is an incredible teacher who cares about the subject, rather than just teaching for the test. I don't mean that you won't be prepared for the test; I feel incredibly prepared, and can't wait to take the AP exam. Miss Kay puts you through your literary paces over the course of the year, and under her tutelage, you will be prepared for the exam and whatever literature college throws at you.
A small caveat to the above statement: you will be prepared if you do the work. You get what you put into the class. Miss Kay will do her best for you (she certainly did for me) but you have to expect a maybe two hours of work per day (or ten-plus hours per week. You could write a paper in twelve hours in one sitting (bad idea--I can vouch for this) or you can spread it out over the week. It's better that way).
If I had to pick a favorite assignment this year, I would vacillate between two: reading Chaim Potok's The Chosen (which you, lucky students, get to read for the first time. How I envy you!), and the independent novel project. I chose to read Gone With the Wind (which convinced me that I will probably never read it again), but I tremendously enjoyed the dialectical journal. I want to pick up a journal and pen every time I read a book now, because the habit of recording your thoughts while you read is such a valuable one (also, you get to record all the snarky thoughts you have along the way).
I already had an all-consuming love for books, literature, and the English Language in general, so I was already at the front of the line when it came to being interested in literature. But believe it or not, I love English literature even more after taking this class. I've discovered C.S. Lewis outside of The Chronicles of Narnia, which was a revelation, and I have yet to experience a reader's burnout (if anything, I want to read more now. And as someone who goes through a book or two a week, that's saying something). If I can credit Miss Kay with anything, it is that she got me to not love, but to appreciate Shakespeare by making us read Hamlet.
The wonderful thing about having a small class is that you become like family...or perhaps more of a clan. I loved talking to my classmates: we had weekly live video session, and at one point tried to organize another one to further argue about The Great Gatsby after class was over. We also respond to one another's posts and assignments, so we get feedback not only from Miss Kay, but also from people whose views might differ greatly from our own. Over time, you get to know each other through the posts you write, the novels and poems you choose to write about--it's a nice way to get to know each other. And yes, you do become pretty good friends by the end of the year.
Now, as to what type of student would do well in this course: I would say just about anybody who wants to learn and is willing to do the work. But I absolutely would recommend this class to any- and everybody, because this was my favorite class out of my entire high school career. You will not only learn English Lit, you will also have a delightful time (and lots of reading. Could it be better?).
Letter to Incoming Class posted by Tatum McKenna on May 20 2019 at 17:51:03
Dear Incoming Class,
Congratulations! You’ve made the wonderful decision to take this course! You're in for a lot of work, but most of it is actually pretty enjoyable (certainly more enjoyable than my other classes this year). Miss Kay is an incredible teacher; she's definitely been the highlight of my school year. I almost didn’t take this class—I realized during the summer that I was going to put too much on my plate this year, so I decided to drop a class (and I was thinking about dropping this one). But around that time I received a welcome email from Miss Kay in response to my application to the class, and she completely won me over in just that one email. I’ve never had a teacher who is as invested in their class and students as Miss Kay. She’s the biggest reason to take this class (even if you hate reading/writing).
This is an AP English Literature class, so you’re preparing for the AP exam, but I never felt like Miss Kay was just teaching to the test. The scope and depth of this course went far beyond the AP exam—I think I learned more in this class this year than in all my other high school English classes combined. I feel prepared for the test, but I also feel way more prepared for college and life in general. This isn’t the kind of class that you finish and think, “There’s no way I’m ever going to need that stuff again.” I learned skills here that I know will be with me for years to come.
Even though I loved this class, I’ll be the first to admit that it is hard. You can’t just do the least amount of work possible and expect no one to notice (our class had eight students; there’s no way to fly under the radar). You’ve got to work hard and put time into the class. But I promise the work is worth it—I feel so accomplished and prepared having taken this class. And one huge thing to remember is: don’t get scared away by all this because you think that you aren’t good enough at reading or writing!! This class might seem scary, but it really isn’t. The only thing necessary to succeed in this class is hard work. Miss Kay is a good teacher; she will teach you everything you need to know and work with you on the things you struggle with. She’s also very understanding and kind—don’t be afraid to ask her for help. I started this class very confident when reading/writing about literature, but very inexperienced and hesitant about reading/writing about poetry. Now I am totally confident when it comes to poetry, and it’s all thanks to this class.
But yes, this class is a lot of work, so here are some tips on how to succeed:
- Stay on top of the readings. You’re going to be reading a lot, and you can’t just skim or use sparknotes—you need to really understand what you read. Make sure to finish your readings in time for the discussion questions. I would also suggest taking notes while you read; that really helped me. I would highlight lines and take notes whenever I came across something I liked, didn’t understand, wanted to tell the class about, or thought was extra important to the plot.
- Interact with your classmates. Don’t be afraid to speak up during discussion (whether online or in-person). Let your classmates know when you agree with them, disagree with them, or have questions for them. Getting used to discussion-based classes is important—you’ll probably have a lot in college—and some of the best insights I got into the books we were reading came from bouncing ideas off of my classmates.
- Ask Miss Kay questions. Don’t be afraid to ask Miss Kay when you have questions about books, grammar, writing, etc. She’s your best resource, and she wants to help you. If you can’t figure out why Huck Finn said a particular thing, ask Miss Kay! You’re guaranteed to end up with a better understanding of the material.
I wish you all the best of luck! I hope you enjoy this class as much as I did!
A note to incoming students posted by Enna Henderickson on May 17 2019 at 07:26:48
Dear incoming class,
Don’t be too scared. This class isn’t really as bad as it’s cracked up to be, in fact, it’s actually quite fun. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but isn’t all school? Make sure to keep up with your assignments, and always do the extra credit assignments because the extra points helps compensate for any late work or bad grades you might receive.
Here are my biggest tips:
First, you should always speak your mind. It’s about a hundred times harder to do work when you’re making up a fake opinion on it. People can’t condemn you for speaking about your true opinion with passion and excitement. A bunch of different viewpoints makes class more interesting too! It helps all the students learn more, because they get to hear everyone’s unique perspective. Maybe everyone won’t agree with you, in fact, I highly doubt they will, but at least you’ll be speaking your mind and you’ll actually be able to back up your words.
Second, you should make sure that you prioritize your independent novel project when the time for it comes. It’s so easy to put it off. Don’t fall into that trap! Life is a lot easier when you just schedule a little everyday. You won’t have to cram it in over a week and then turn it in when it’s not quite ready.
Third, starting during the first semester, you should study test vocab because it actually helps a lot, and starting in the second semester, you should study the actual test and do practice tests. When I completed my first full exam (the one that we do for class) I was completely off on my timing. I had 30 minutes left on the multiple choice section and I finished all of my essays in 45 minutes! Needless to say, it wasn’t my best work. Make sure you get used to the timing of the test so you can use it to your advantage instead of struggling with it.
Fourth, make friends with your class members! I love all my current class members because they’re all awesome people. Attending the live discussions really helps you form connections with them. Even disagreements (nice ones, of course) can help you better understand your classmates!
Have a great year!
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