AP Class Reviews

English Language and Composition taught by Debra Bell

by Students and Parents

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Great course posted by Nathaniel Wright on August 08 2012 at 16:35:11

Mrs. Bell’s AP Language course thoroughly prepared me for the AP exam. Going into the exam, I had both the knowledge and the strategies necessary to succeed on each of the three essays. Mrs. Bell’s lectures were especially helpful in showing how to approach the essay topics and how to “unpack” the exam’s writing prompts. The class provided many opportunities for both timed and untimed writing practice that gave me consistent success on my essays. I became familiar with the exam’s multiple-choice questions by practicing consistently with my collaboration group. Our in depth discussions of the passages helped me gain a sense for the types of questions on the AP test and how to fully analyze rhetorical passages. My collaboration group was fun and I got to know my classmates well. During the year we had two big research papers that I found valuable. In these we concentrated on forming arguments on a larger scale and on topics we got to choose.

The emphasis of this course is on preparing for the AP test. Students considering this course should have a good writing ability as the emphasis of this course is on the AP exam and forming arguments rather than learning to write.


An excellent course with a wonderful teacher! posted by Joanna Paul on July 20 2012 at 13:14:34

Preparation: This class was excellent preparation for both the AP exam and all of my future writing endeavors. By giving me multiple chances to practice real test questions and essays it equipped me to face the exam with confidence knowing that I had prepared well and was ready. In addition, the individual feedback Mrs. Bell provided on each essay thoroughly improved my writing skills as a whole.

Workload: The assignments in this class are definitely not easy. However, they are very doable for anyone who is willing to put the time and effort into really learning from Mrs. Bell’s suggestions. She sets the bar high, but is always there to help her students reach it. For example, there were several instances when I sent Mrs. Bell an email asking her about a specific portion of my essay or a specific skill I was trying to improve. She was always willing to answer my questions in detail. As a general rule, this class required a commitment of 1-2 hours per day (although there were some weeks when I spent 3-4 hours per day).

Collaboration: One specific thing that I really enjoyed about this class was the collaborative aspect. Mrs. Bell had several assignments where we had to work together in groups of 4-5 to answer questions, analyze speeches etc. By working with others on these assignments, I was able to learn so much more than I would have been able to learn on my own.

Overall: If I had to choose one phrase to describe Mrs. Bell’s teaching style, I would say “challenging yet nurturing.” It is obvious that Mrs. Bell cares for each of her students and is committed to helping them succeed. In addition to giving basic feedback on each assignment, she gave us several opportunities to send in additional essays for review or schedule individual Skype sessions about certain projects. Given her busy schedule, these things are a clear indication of Mrs. Bell’s desire to see each student learn and grow.

Bottom Line:  I would strongly recommend this class to any student who wants to be stretched, ace the AP exam, and take their analysis and writing to the next level! 

 

 


2011-2012 Great Course! posted by Emily Hauge on June 08 2012 at 14:19:39

I took this course in the 2011-2012 school year, and really enjoyed it! I was a little intimidated last year about how much work other students had said it was in the reviews, but it was very manageable. An average week was probably around 5 hours or so of work, which is great for an AP class.

We had 3 big projects, (all of which Mrs. Bell allowed us a lot of freedom, to pick something fun to work on) and during those weeks I put in lots of extra hours to complete the projects. HOWEVER, Mrs. Bell has the schedule very well laid out, and the assignments are very clear and detailed for what is due each week. That way, you never have an unexpected really hard week; you never have to waste time figuring out what the teacher wants from an assignment, and you always know what weeks you need to plan to put in more time. (in other words...plan ahead and don't procrastinate!) Mrs. Bell is great about answering questions as well.

I think the class prepared me well for the exam. We did not have very many lectures throughout the year, but those we had very valuable; Mrs. Bell really knows what she is doing.

The Course material, Everything’s an Argument was brilliant. I will be keeping this textbook to use in future years for reference, it is very engaging and interesting, which is helpful if you are ever finishing your homework late and trying not to fall asleep! I also learned a lot in the apologetics unit at then end of the year, it was great to put our critical thinking and argument studies to use, and exchange thoughts with classmates.

The only thing I would note is this:  In order to prepare for the exam, we worked very hard at the essays we would need for the exam and what elements were needed to answer the prompts. We wrote two academic papers aside from this presenting our own arguments, but these were based on skillful presentation of research, as opposed to an argument that would incorporate more personal issues/experiences/emotions or an argument for a more personal goal.  We did not write a paper or work on writing a persuasive or emotional argument outside of the essays in the exam, although we did study the tactics used by other authors. I wish we had had more time in the year to concentrate on writing arguments without prompts, college board judges, or time constraints; especially because I really enjoyed and valued Mrs. Bell’s critiques, feedback, and teaching style. But, again, I did feel well prepared for the essays on the exam, and because we studied so many arguments I do feel I am able to write them better.

Benefits of this class (aside being prepared for the exam): I learned to think much more critically, analyze arguments of all kinds on every level, answer the AP prompts, and present evidence and research to make my point. I learned to recognize tactics in an argument—both good and bad. Again, the course textbook is excellent and thorough. I also enjoyed and learned from the opportunities to collaborate, which helped bring the class closer together.


Great, challenging course posted by Ryan Kuhl on May 20 2011 at 15:23:35

Mrs. Bell is an awesome teacher, who really knows what she is doing. I highly recommend this course for those people who need a higher language course or who are preparing for the AP Language Exam. Mrs. Bell gave us plenty of resources, information, advice, and one-on-one help to easily tackle the AP Exam. Another thing i really liked was the Web-ex discussions that we had. Every other week we had an hour discussion where Mrs. Bell taught us live about essays, papers, and the like. We had the chance to ask and answer questions during the discussion with other peers and with Mrs. Bell. Also, I really enjoyed working with other people across the nation and the world. Part of our assignment was to review and collaborate together on Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ), essays, and large papers. It really helped me to see other opinions and make changes that I would have never seen. This course is however very challenging. I put in approximately one to two hours a day, and sometimes more when there was a large paper due. You need to be well experienced with language, and need to have an idea of some rhetorical strategies. I took IEW when I was younger and have used A Beka language since kindergarten. Courses like these will help prepare you for this course. Any student who has taken several writing or language courses and has a good work ethic will do very well in this course and the exam. Again, it was a great course, but very challenging. 

 


Mrs. Bell's AP Lang- great course! posted by Hannah Che on May 18 2011 at 24:19:56

First of all, let me say that this is a great course, and Mrs. Bell is a great teacher.
That said, on to the details.  This course definitely prepared me for the exam.  Assignments of practice multiple-choice questions, essays, and two full-length release exams all helped me to be very well prepared by the time the exam rolled around.
As for hours of work, I generally spent around 4-5 hours on this course per week.  Of course, it varied from week to week; for example, during the research assignment weeks I was putting in up to 8 hours per week, and even more during the final few weeks before the exam.

I don't really have any favorite assignments, they were all very helpful.  The research assignments helped me hone my research and academic writing skills, and the practice multiple-choice questions and essays helped to prepare for the actual exam.  Of course, the two real full-length exams that we had to do at the end of the year were also very valuable and allowed me to get a feel for what the actual exam would be like.
One thing I really liked about this course was the high level of interaction between both the students and teachers.  I found the discussions on the class forum, the frequent Web-ex live online meetings, group email collaborations, etc. to be very interesting and valuable.  
I think that a student who is willing to work hard, has a good grasp of writing and analytical skills, and has a desire to be challenged in their abilities will find this course definitely worth it.  Not only will your writing and reading skills imrpove but you will also find that your thinking and analytical skills will be honed and sharpened as well.  One warning, though: Don't Procrastinate!  One you begin to fall behind in the coursework, it can become very hard to catch up (trust me, I know from personal experience).  If you do, however, Mrs. Bell is incredibly helpful and understanding and will do all she can to help you get back on track.   The constructive criticism she gives for the assignments is very helpful as well, and she is always quick to answer questions, give suggestions, and help you with areas you may be struggling with in the course. I would definitely recommend this course to other students.


AP Language with Mrs. Bell posted by Sara Scheler on May 16 2011 at 13:45:47

I thorougly enjoyed this class. There were plenty of resources available that helped me prepare for the test and I learned a great deal of information that helped me strengthen my writing skills. I didn't actually take the AP test (my college doesn't give credit for AP tests), but Mrs. Bell graded my practice exam and told me I would likely receive a 5 on the exam. This mock test was extremely helpful and it would have eased my stress about the test a great deal had I actually taken it.

I spent between 5 and 8 hours a week on this course.

I especially enjoyed having the practice tests.

I really enjoyed having other students in this class to interact with and to peer review my work.

I would recommend this course to anyone who has a fairly good foundation in writing but wants to take the AP Language test or wants to be better prepared for college writing assignments.

Mrs. Bell is an amazing teacher and works very hard to interact one-on-one with each of her students. She offered very helpful WebEx lectures which were kind of like online classroom environments. These were particularly helpful because they provided a different and more interactive learning resource.


Aaron Ackerman posted by Aaron Ackerman on May 16 2011 at 12:52:34

Unlike most English courses, this one teaches stuff people might actually us in real life. I mean, it's still english, but it's the lesser of 2 evils. It involves a high level preparation for AP exam, and there is a high level of student involvement so there will not be a feeling of total isolation. Mrs. Bell is a good teacher, not like the usual psychos you get in English class.

Overall, if you need to take an English course, I would take this one. You'll learn a lot, and most importantly, you'll do well on the AP exam. 


AP Language posted by Annabel C on May 14 2011 at 02:08:00

Mrs. Bell's AP Language class has been at once one of the most stretching and the most enjoyable courses I've taken. As a student who had been used to excel without much effort in English-related classes, I wasn't prepared at first for the amount of work I'd be doing: several hours very week, from frequent essays to multiple-choice questions to research papers. So this is certainly not a course for students who want an "easy A." With some motivation and hard work, though, the work that was daunting at first proved to be a welcome challenge.


Perhaps one of my favorite elements of the class was the high level of student interactions--through the class forums, live WebEx discussions, and email study groups, I and my classmates were able to collaborate on papers, share opinions on our readings, and debate current issues, and I think all of us benefited from the exchange.


By the time I took the AP Language exam, I felt quite confident to do well on the test; more importantly, though, I feel better-equipped to handle expositional or argumentative writing in general. I would definitely recommend this class to anyone who is willing to be challenged.


Mrs. Bell's AP English Language and Composition posted by Sarah Poel on May 13 2011 at 18:03:24

I would highly recommend this course!  Going into the AP exam this past week, I felt thoroughly prepared.  Mrs. Bell taught us the key skills needed for the exam, and she steered clear of the busy work I found in other prep books.  While the workload varied from week to week, I probably spent an average of eight hours a week on this course.  I enjoyed the research writing; Mrs Bell has a higher standard for research than any other teacher I've written for, and my writing definitely benefitted from it.  The other kids in this class were great, and Mrs Bell encourages thoughtful, honest, yet winsome (to steal her favorite word), discussion.  I had a busy school year, so I didn't participate in every group opportunity that Mrs Bell offered.  My advice to incoming kids would be to take as many as you can; they are a great opportunity to hone critical thinking skills with high-caliber classmates.  The WebEx discussions were very engaging, which is not a given in online lectures.  Mrs Bell has a high standard for critical thinking, and she used this context both to teach us specific techniques for attacking the exam and to challenge us to quickly form defendable positions on a variety of topics.

As a teacher, Mrs Bell was one of the best I've had.  She has high expectations when it comes to writing and reasoning, yet she is very aware of other factors in the lives of her students.  Looking back, one reason I enjoyed her class so much is that she gives her students a lot of freedom (and therefore responsibility) in studying.  She offers a variety of ways to learn the material and leaves a lot of options open to the student.  Because of this, this course requires a motivated student.  At the same time, Mrs Bell is extremely accessible.  She is prompt and thorough in answering questions and extremely generous in offering her time to give specific help.

I loved this course.  Fundamentally, this course improved both my thinking and writing skills, but I leave this class without the smug confidence in my own watertight reasoning that I had last summer.  Learning under Mrs Bell has increased both my appreciation for other people's opinions and my desire to communicate my own convictions winsomely.  Thanks, Mrs Bell!


Thanks for a good year! posted by KatieK on May 13 2011 at 11:26:31

I wrote my first research paper in this class; Mrs. Bell's coaching really helped me improve each of my papers.  She also made us plan out our paper week by week; that saved us from going into panic mode the week before the paper was due.  She gave us the chance to earn extra credit by conducting peer reviews; the feedback helped immensely.

The Webex lectures were also helpful.  Every so often, Mrs. Bell would put one of our critical reading passages up on the screen and tell us why the answers are what they are.  She would also explain how we can improve our critical reading skills.

These were my two biggest growth areas this year.  I am grateful for the coaching and would recommend the class.  


APLang posted by Marlena Parker on May 12 2011 at 21:04:37

Mrs. Bell definitely prepared us well for the AP exam :)

I spent about 1hour a day for this course, also depending on the assignments due that week I would spend as much as 3 hours a day.

I travel a lot so I did not communicate with other students as much as others in the class did, but when I did I found it very beneficial to be able to talk and collaborate on questions and such.

I'm an athlete, I ride horses and am out of town a lot, but I was able to do well in this course, and juggle with being gone nearly every Thursday/Friday- Sunday, so I think as long as your willing to put the hours in when needed, you'll be fine :)


AP English and Comp. Class with Debra Bell posted by Nicholas Revels on May 12 2011 at 21:00:45

This was a wonderful class. I feel that it prepared me very well for the exam. Generally I spent 3-4 hours a week working on homework and assignments. Mrs. Bell did a great job of balancing the syllabus and keeping the class interesting. She did video conferencing with the class through Web-ex, and that helped a lot. Also I found my study group to be very helpful in getting through some of the assignments. All in all, I  think anyone who is willing to put the time into it will have a great experience in this course. Thanks Mrs. Bell!!!


Wonderful experience! posted by Amy Buchmeyer on May 12 2011 at 18:45:12

 

I really felt the course prepared me for the AP exam. There was lots of great practice, by the time I took the actual test it felt like no big deal.

 

Mrs. Bell was great at giving coursework that worked towards the test. Not only did it give me good practice, it also helped give me a great mindset. Lots of MCQ and practice essays, which were nice, but she also started out in such a way that you weren’t overwhelmed. Things built on each other.

Personally, I also really enjoyed the writing assignments, from the persuasive speech to the research paper. Writing the research paper in three parts made it manageable and helped focus on different parts of the paper.

 Mrs. Bell was great at providing collaborative class experience. I made friends and really felt like I got the opportunity to interact “in a classroom setting” (albeit online). The Web-ex discussions were a great, a fun way to ask questions and connect with the teacher and other students on a better level.

Mrs. Bell was totally encouraging and her constructive criticism was very helpful. She was very open if I was struggling with something, quick to offer suggestions and help. She was also flexible and accommodating when I couldn’t an assignment in on time because of a busy schedule, she was willing to help me make it up.  My writing has definitely improved over this year, and I’d even say my reading, thinking in terms of ‘syntax’ and ‘rhetorical strategies’ gives great insight into any text. The books used this year were also fascinating, especially Blue Like Jazz and A Reason for God. We had some great class discussion comparing their two different styles and approaches to arguing. The book Everything is an Argument was very useful and a good introduction to arguing/AP writing.

It takes some time, but the class is definitely worth it. I learned a lot and felt completely prepared for the test, and whatever college may throw at me.

Great experience


Carly Abney AP English and Comp. Class with Debra Bell posted by Carly Abney on May 12 2011 at 15:51:57

This was the hardest class I've ever taken, but I loved it. The challenge made me push myself, and I really had to work on the skills that it takes to do well on the exam. The online forums allowed me to talk to other students about what they were struggling with, and we were able to study together. I felt very prepared for the exam because I had taken two practice exams and knew what to expect. I usually get A's, but I had to work hard to get a B in this class. I'm more happy with that B than any A I've ever gotten.


Review of Mrs. Debra Bell's AP English Language and Composition Course posted by Rebekah Taylor on May 12 2011 at 13:31:54

The course most definitely prepared me for the AP exam.  I walked into the test feeling confident, and was prepared to handle every aspect of the test.  I knew exactly the types of things that would be asked, and was ready to answer both the MCQ's and the free response questions.  (Unlike some of the kids at the school at which I tested).

I put 10+ hours into the course per week.

All the specific test prep was wonderful (MCQ's and essays).  I loved writing the research papers, as they really improved my writing techniques and my critical thinking.  The WebEx discussions were most valuable.  It was neat getting to interact with other students (and Mrs. Bell) live.  Having the teacher answer questions in a live setting was wonderful, and it made discussions much more exciting.

The course definitely enhanced my interest in the subject! 

My communications with other students were both interesting and valuable.  It was great getting to know everyone in the class, and working through assignments and test prep with them.  I made wonderful friends.  It was interesting hearing all the different views about different topics... I think it broadened all of our ideas about things.

I would definitely recommend this course to other students, but they must be willing to work hard.  A dedicated, driven student will be most successful in this course.   It is loads of fun, but the work has to come first. :)


Review of Mrs. Bell's AP Language and Composition Course posted by Keegan Pronovost on May 12 2011 at 13:00:13

I just recently took the exam for this AP course. The night before, I had gone over the recommended 5 steps to a 5 book. As I went through it, I was shocked that everything within this textbook was now inside my head; thanks to Mrs. Bell's incredible teaching. As I took the exam, I felt I knew what was required, what was expected, and how to respond to everything they threw at me. This was with a minimal amount of study. Mrs. Bell just drills her students again and again on the steps to achieving high scores, personally participating on "one on one" discussion times for those who have questions, comments, or feel behind. 

As for workload, I spent about 6-8 hrs a week on this course. Honestly, for the amount and quality of information and study her students glean, 6-8 hrs seems like nothing. The course was honestly not to heavy; it required a significant amount of time, but not the dozens of tedious hours one would think comes with a difficult AP course. I think the course work could be summarized: The workload won't overload you time wise, but they will academically. 

If there's one thing I learned from this course, it's that assignments don't need to require hours of homework to be some of the hardest and most draining work - that's a compliment. The assignments Mrs. Bell gave us were a constant variation between learning how to write a polished research paper to learning how to tackle the AP exam. Personally, I found the most helpful and exciting assignments to be the Multiple Choice Questions taken from previous exams or diagnostic tests. Those were invaluable to my study. In the beginning of the year, I could barely average 70% on those questions. Now, after literally dozens of practices, I walked into the testing room confident and composed, totally ready for the questions. 

But not only was this class helpful in preperation for the exam, it also sparked my interest in this subject and helped refine and pinpoint what area of study I would like to dedicate myself to. I've always loved writing and I thought I was a pretty good writer myself...up until I took this course. No, Mrs. Bell didn't break the news on my head that I couldn't write for my life - well maybe she did (jk) - but she pointed out the many flaws and tendancies I had when I wrote. I've changed SO much as a writer because of this course and the critical thinking she forces her students to use reaffirmed that this is what I want to do with my life: Write, think, and solve. Thank you Mrs. Bell!

I didn't really communicate with the students much - the one I did was a close friend of mine for years. I am almost tempted to say that deosn't count. Although I didn't collaberate much with any of the students, I felt that the reviews and discusions with my peers was extremely helpful, fun, and challenging. What I found most helpful were the Webex - an online discusion place with live vidchat and voice chat - meetings held by Mrs. Bell. Not only did she personally get to answer our questions, slowly explain concepts, and solidfy lessons learned in research writing, she asked us to participate in the discussion; turning what most kids would think of as a boring lecture, into a lively debate. 

This course was truly amazing. I am sad to see it end. Students, if you want to take an AP course and are ready to commit your brain as well as your time to some rigorous activity: Chose this course. Not only will it sharpen your mind, refine your writing, and prepare you for your exam, it will also help you in other areas of your life. The critical thinking I gleaned from this course helped me to breeze through the SAT reading and writing sections. It also helped me see both the sides on many controversial issues. Most of all, it helped me to realize that arguement, isn't what you do when you're mad at your parents for not letting you go out. Arguement is a logical, step by step process, that seeks to find one thing: the Truth. 

A thousand thanks Mrs. Bell. I hope I did you and your course justice in this review. 


Good Course, Lots of Work posted by Jeremy Zimmerman on June 03 2010 at 14:45:59

This course was very good, and prepared me for the AP Lang exam quite well. Mrs. Bell is an excellent teacher for this course, very helpful and always answered all my questions promptly and well. The course itself is quite a bit of work, reading and writing exercises every week, keeping the student contstantly busy. I would recommend this course to students who are willing to put in the work it takes to get ready for this test.


An Evaluation of AP Language with Mrs. Bell posted by Ashley Cook on May 21 2010 at 11:45:08

This course was definitely worth my time this year. I took it as a Junior in highschool and it became one of my favorite classes ever! I already felt that I was a good language student, but this course really helped me to refine my skills and gain a better appreciation for the art of writing.

I felt very prepared for the AP Exam in May. Mrs. Bell provided us with many preperation materials, such as sample multiple choice questions and essay prompts, as well as handouts highlighting rhetorical strategies. We took a full length practice test during the course, and I did not run out of practice work to do in the final weeks leading up to the exam. Mrs. Bell did an excellent job of scoring our essays as soon as she could. She made lots of comments that were very helpful, and I remembered what she said when writing the actual essays on exam day.

I probably spent 10-15 hrs a week on this course, depending on the work load each week. There was a week when we were writing the main part of our 20 page papers, and I spent alot more time working on that than I spent doing the assignments on a normal week of class.

Overall, he 20 page paper was my favorite assignment. At first I was intimidated by it, but Mrs. Bell split it up into sections and that made it alot easier. I was very happy with my work when I finished it and I am confident that I will have minimal trouble writing lengthy papers in college. I also think the debating skills that we developed at the beginning of the course were very. It helped me remember to think about the different rebuttals my argument might face, and that helped me write more persuasively. In terms of the AP exam, the practice essays were most valuable. The practice essays are definitely one of the best ways to prepare for the actual exam, and Mrs. Bell provided us with plenty of them.

Communicating with the other students was also a fun part of the course. In our forum that we used for assignments, we had a place where we could talk about other things not related to the course. We talked about tons of different things, from current events to books, movies, and music, to politics, sports, and religion. There were always differing opinions, but thats what made it so fun! Mrs. Bell would sometimes take the time to point out weaknesses in our arguments, and even though alot of it was just for fun, it really helped us with our writing skills. Mrs. Bell also split us up into collaborative groups. The smaller group was a great way to get to know a few of the other students really well.

If you are willing to work hard, I think you would do well in this course. I would recommend that you have good language skills before beginning this course, so you can focus on refining your persuasive writing skills. Even if you are not entirely confident in you skills as a writer, Mrs. Bell will help you focus on where your weaknesses are. You have to be committed to the course however. Just doing the assignments decently that Mrs. Bell hands out will not result in the best results in this course. You have to take the initiative to excell in your work, and do the extra credit work not for extra credit, but for extra practice. You have to want to do well, because Mrs. Bell can only do so much. If you ignore her advice and don't work as hard as you can, then I can't promise you that you will do well on the AP exam. But if you listen closely to Mrs. Bell, work as hard as you possibly can, and commit yourself to doing the practice essays to prepare for the exam, then you will definitely be confident for the exam. A student who is a hardworker and has self motivation will do well. Creativity, debating skills, and curiosity would also benefit a student in this course.

Overall, this course was wonderful. I highly recommend Mrs. Bell as a teacher. This is the only course I have taken from her, but I know she teaches AP Literature as well, and based on my experience with her in this course, I'm sure that her other class is also wonderful. I had fun, I felt prepared, and Mrs. Bell was an excellent, caring, and committed teacher.


Challenging, but Fun posted by Lydia on May 21 2010 at 10:18:03

This course was a great experience. I found it challenging, but I also ejoyed it immensely. Mrs. Bell gave us clear guidelines on how to write the reaserch paper, tips I know I will use in college. I felt well-prepared for the AP exam. I generally spent about a half-hour to an hour a day doing the assignments. I had a great time getting to know my classmates. Mrs. Bell provided us with a "cyberlounge" for chatting with each other about topics that didn't have  to do with the course. I will mention, though, that sometimes Mrs. Bell didn't get back to us very fast. She has so many other engagements (teaching other classes, speaking engagements) that sometimes I had to wait awhile to get the answer to my questions. In all, though, it was a great experience, and I loved it!


posted by Hanna on June 06 2009 at 17:28:24

I wholeheartedly recommend this course to any high school student seeking to improve her critical analysis skills, craft a convincing argument, and increase the effectiveness of her own writing. We learned about various rhetorical strategies and devices, examining how a skillful author manipulates them to most convincingly present their argument. Additionally, we worked on integrating these rhetorical strategies into our own writing. Even the dreaded 20 page paper ultimately strengthened me as a writer, not only allowing me an amazingly in-depth look at the topic of my choice--bread!--but also enhancing my understanding of an effective argument and (hopefully!) improving my ability to craft a logical, well-organized and persuasive argument.

Thanks to multiple practice tests--which incorporated both timed essays and multiple choice questions--I felt very prepared for the AP exam. Mrs. Bell's extensive preparation made me confident and--dare I say it?--almost relaxed. A terrific course that will revolutionize--or at the very least, renovate--your view of language and argument.

Finally, a quick word to the wise: Don't procrastinate!! That essay looks just as daunting Thursday afternoon as it did Monday morning...and scrambling to cobble something together at the last minute not only deprives you of "wiggle room" but also hinders your overall learning.


posted by Laura on June 02 2009 at 15:51:30

I've really enjoyed this past year with Mrs. Bell. I've enjoyed it so much I am going to be taking her AP Lit class this coming school year. She was incredibly helpful and had good insight regarding writing. She was honest and graded our papers in such a way that she pointed out our mistakes, but didn't just leave us to figure them out on our own. She gave good advice to better our skills. I felt incredibly confident when I took the AP test and am looking forward to next year.


posted by David Maxwell on May 25 2009 at 15:31:08

Having never taken an AP class or an AP exam before, I approached this class with very little idea of what to expect. I was, funny as it seems in retrospect, even skeptical of the idea that an entire course was necessary to prepare for the test. That notion was quickly scuttled after the first few weeks, when I discovered not only several of my own weaknesses as a writer, but also as I learned more about the demands of the exam.

In the end I felt the course strengthened my abilities on several levels. The nature and number of the assignments helped to fine tune and sharpen my talents to the particular demands of the exam, but beyond that I think it developed me in ways that will be beneficial to the rest of my life as a student and beyond. The experience gained in developing, writing, and editing a research paper will likely be invaluable both for my studies in college and for the career as a professor of history that I hope to pursue. The variety of readings exposed me to information, ideas, and vocabulary I had never encountered before, all of which were thought-provoking in their own right, apart from the exercises that utilized them.

When I actually found myself in front of the test, I knew precisely what was expected of me, and tackled each segment confident that I would do well. I'm convinced that this was due almost entirely to the rigorous practice and helpful criticism Mrs. Bell required and provided throughout. I doubt that I could have been much better prepared.


Challenge and Growth for any Skill Level posted by Sharon Seiter on May 21 2009 at 14:59:57

When I signed up for Mrs. Bell's class, I considered myself a writer and expected that the class would come easily to me. But throughout this year, I have been stretched and challenged to sharpen my thinking skills while perfecting the beauty of my prose.

I found the course to be richly intellectually stimulating. Our readings provided intriguing and inspiring examples to follow. Our collaborative small groups formed a sense of community, and in my case, created friendships which extend beyond the class. Of all the aspects of the class which I enjoyed, my favorite was our year-long assignment to keep a blog showing our intellectual and literary development. This unique assingment seems awkward at first, but in time blossoms into a personalized outlet for learning and self-expression.

I highly recommend this course to the motivated high school student. The work is intense at times; be prepared to dedicate several hours a day when necessary. This course is best suited to the older high school student, but I believe an advanced and very hard-working 9th grader could complete the class successfully. Whatever the skill level of the student, you WILL be stretched. This class is not easy, but the experience is immensely rewarding.


Simply.... fantastic. posted by Matthew Muller on May 21 2009 at 13:13:59

I took English Lit with Mrs. Bell in 2007-08, so naturally I was excited to see that she was offering a new AP course this year. Even though this was a pilot AP Lang class, you wouldn't have known it if you took the course -- Mrs. Bell's helpful professionalism prepared me 100% for the exam.

Personally, I feel like English Language builds on what I learned in English Literature, and would recommend taking Lit first for that reason. However, even if you don't, by no means will you feel left out of this class's material. Mrs. Bell is always available for questions, and gives TONS of handouts to assist you -- I literally used a whole ream of paper printing out helpful guides and worksheets.

One of the things that has made Mrs. Bell my favorite teacher, besides her extraordinarily helpful attitude and wry sense of humor, is her ability to push students as far as they want to go. If you want to just scrape by at the bottom of the class (which I don't recommend, that's a complete waste of money), then Mrs. Bell doesn't "force" you to learn. But if you really want to improve your rhetoric, logic, and writing skills, Mrs. Bell will help you find the limit of your abilities and then surpass them. Looking over some samples of my writing before taking her courses, I am amazed to see just how much I've improved.

If you're already taking 3 or 4 AP courses, then this probably isn't a good time to add AP Language to your workload. You definitely have to put a good amount of time into this class, and may get discouraged in the first week or two by what is expected of you. Having taken a class with Mrs. Bell before, I was prepared for the workload, but a new student might find it slightly overwhelming. However, if you make it past those first few weeks -- and I really hope you do -- then you will find that it gets much easier.

Bottom line, this is a top-quality course, and I'd recommend it to any student looking to further their skills in the English language. My only regret is that I'm graduating now, and so I can't take it again. :-P


My Thoughts posted by AshtonF on May 20 2009 at 19:52:36

* Did you feel the course prepared you for the AP exam?

Absolutely - I felt more prepared than ever having taken this course. The pacing was perfect and I learned quite a bit about arguments, syntax, and structure. * Did the course enhance your interest in the subject?

I already have an interest in writing but it definitely brought with it a deeper level to my writing. Mrs. Bell did an excellent job of making the subject matter interesting and engaging.

* Did you find your communications with other students to be interesting or valuable?

The communications were somewhat limited, but the forum helped and working in groups was especially valuable. Peer reviews and critiques really help when writing papers and sharing ideas with like-minded people (or people with differing points of view) really helps one see the whole picture.

* What sort of student would do well in this course? Would you recommend this course to other students (if they are willing to work hard!)?

A student who is willing to learn and work hard and has some sort of aptitude for writing would be an excellent candidate for this course. Going in with strong points in another subject (math or science) might deter one from making excellent grades because of the difficulty of the assignments.


Great Class and Great Teacher!!! posted by Nick Light on May 20 2009 at 18:15:01

Mrs. Bell's class effectively taught me everything I needed to know for the AP exam. She not only did a great job of teaching us the material, but was very supportive, and spent enormous amounts of time with us individually explaining to us any concepts we had misunderstood. She even made it a fun class, because of this, AP English Language was actually my favorite subject taken this year! Because of Mrs. Bell's great teaching skills and effort, I learned a lot, and not only did her class make me feel confident for the test but it has improved my writing skills as a whole. If you take either one of her online courses you will be well prepared for the corresponding AP test!


An Excellent Course posted by Megan on May 20 2009 at 16:41:04

I've taken several pretty advanced writing classes, and when I signed up for this class, I wasn't sure how much I would get out of it. In reality, I learned way more than I ever expected to from this class.

This class is supposed to serve as preparation for the AP English Language and Composition test. It fulfilled that role really well. When I was about to take the test, I heard the AP teacher from that school doing some last minute review with the students. She was reminding them to analyze a passage thoroughly by saying things like "the author used an angry tone to share an angry message". True as this may be, I really felt like Mrs. Bell had prepared us to a much deeper and more sophistocated level of understanding. If someone had made me try the essay part of the test right at the beginning of the year, I would have said "there is no way that I can do this--just no way". But after the class I sat down and did it relatively easily. I really appreciate how prepared I was. Mrs. Bell is a great teacher. It was easy to tell that she really cared about the subject and was interested in engaging us and our ideas, not just doing basic test prep. She made the class fun by having each student create a blog, by giving us interesting books to read, and by letting us try "untraditional" assignments like a visual argument. All of the assignments were helpful and really enhanced my writing style.

The time the class required really varied depending on the week. Sometimes I spent as little as five hours a week, sometimes a lot more. I would say I averaged seven or eight hours a week, though it might take someone else longer if they are a slower reader. I would reccomend this class for anyone who is looking for a pretty advanced writing course. If you struggle with writing or work very slowly, the class might seem overwhelming. You should also be ready to engage with what you're doing--if you do just enough to get by, you will probably struggle.

I highly reccomend this class. Mrs. Bell not only prepares you completely for the exam, but teaches you a lot of other interesting things along the way.