AP Class Reviews
AP English Literature taught by Kay Ben-Avraham
by Students and Parents
Incredible posted by Chloé San-Horstman on May 15 2020 at 12:16:51
Let me begin by saying that the AP Literature and Composition course is not merely a course for achieving a glorious score on an AP Lit. exam, it is much, much more. Miss Kay is extraordinarily adept at guiding her students into and through all that is AP Lit. How does she accomplish this miracle? For one thing, she listens to the engaging repartee of all her students with grand support, enthusiasm, and lends skillful direction to their AP Lit. adventure. I must admit that I am the type of student that must be entertained to be able to learn, which brings up one of my favorite AP Lit. course bonus factors. Once a week, you will join your classmates and Miss Kay in a live discussion via Zoom to explore a few delicious questions designed by Miss Kay and based upon the week’s literature. Miss Kay’s idea of an AP Lit. course will not drive you into insanity. You will grow a deep appreciation for the many genres of literature and including poetry. The incredible Miss Kay serves up a plentiful platter of AP Literature and Composition that is delightfully rich and welcoming, all who come to her feast will be thankful.
I will offer you a handful of tips and tricks that will enable you to survive and flourish to the heights of excellence. Do not be afraid to communicate with Miss Kay and your fellow AP Lit. comrades. The second item in my bag of tricks is annotating. You must, and I mean must, annotate while reading your novels, poems, and short stories. Consistently annotating will increase your analytical skill. This is of great value because you will be writing an essay or two for every piece of literature you read during your AP Lit. course. My next suggestion is, do not procrastinate! This does not mean that you need to get everything done at the beginning of the week, but it is important to complete one or two assignments every day because there will be weeks when you have more than a dozen items on your plate. You need to learn how to pace yourself to keep up with all the varied reading, writing, responding, and special projects that accumulate rather quickly. Now is the time to be open to a variety of literary genres even if they are not necessarily your cup of tea. In other words, keep an open mind and you may be surprised to discover a new appreciation for that one type of genre you avoided at all costs.
Miss Kay offers up a wealth of knowledge and will always have answers to all your questions. Meeting your classmates is a terrific experience. In my class, we were from different parts of the U.S. and we had the added pleasure of one international student. Our class enjoyed a wonderful feeling of community and found ourselves frequently connecting in the student chat room. One of my favorite assignments was an independent novel project. I loved this project because it had three components, a summary, a dialectical journal, and a creative component of our choosing. This project will test your organization and time management skills because it is announced and assigned over several weeks. It was a real treat reviewing each independent novel project posted by my classmates. Miss Kay’s AP Lit. course will promote a positive, rewarding, and challenging learning experience for you. I will miss my AP Lit. class and I do not think that I have ever said that about any course. Miss Kay creates a one of a kind AP Lit. course that sails to the top of the charts!
Class Review Letter posted by James Walker on May 15 2020 at 12:14:03
Hi, my name is James Walker. I liked this class. It was fun. I learned a lot. Hope you like it too.
Did you really think I would leave it at that? Well, we’re probably not acquainted, so no harm done. Anyways, let’s dissect (you must familiarize yourself with dissections if you want to succeed in this class) the simple, monotonous statements portrayed above.
“Hi, my name is James Walker.” Actually, I go by James, but my birth certificate declares otherwise. Case closed. No more, no less. But now that I’ve divulged one secret, I’ll disclose some more. If Miss Kay—the awe-inspiring teacher of this class—adheres to habit, you’ll be working through Slack. Now here’s the catch. Slack… lets you change your name… your profile picture… and everything else regarding your profile… to anything you want! Dear reader, please do not hesitate to exploit this handy tool (or should I say weapon?) during this class. Personally, I’ve impersonated the Birthday Chick (in honor of a classmate’s birthday), the CIA (to spy on my classmates), and John Legend (in order to become the star of a classmate’s play). Slack is clearly more powerful than you could have ever known—it grants you the power of humor. Use it wisely.
“I liked this class.” Bit of an understatement (literary device!). I LOVED this class! Every moment of it. Well, not the late-night excursions turning in late schoolwork. That… was my fault. I had severe scheduling issues in my first semester of my Junior year. Furthermore, I could not help but spend hours on every assignment. I’m a perfectionist, after all. But if you want to succeed, listen to Miss Kay. What did Miss Kay suggest? This: “I want your DQs to reflect careful thought, but not obsessive perfectionism. You should spend approximately one half hour on each DQ, no more.” Listen to this advice! AP Exams are timed. By practicing timed writing, you will familiarize yourself with the exam. In the final few weeks leading up to the exam, I spent hours applying myself to past AP English Literature tests, trying to nail the timing.
Anyways, I sort of jumped onto a tangent—albeit an important one—there. Why did I like the class? “It was fun,” for one thing. The books—The Chosen, Beloved, Frankenstein, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Remains of the Day, and Hamlet—were intensely captivating… For schoolbooks, that is. I’m sort of downplaying them here—they really were really, really interesting! Only, I’m into Brandon Sanderson and David Eddings—epic fantasy. Other than what we read, I loved the classmate interaction that Miss Kay required of us. We were to read our classmates’ work, and I gleaned many profound insights from everyone else. Additionally, the encouragement we received from each other was rather… encouraging. Another thing I loved was that Miss Kay rewards hard work towards the exam, not just results (although great results can earn you extra credit!). If you devote yourself to the course, Miss Kay will provide you an excellent grade. That’s why “I liked this class”: Miss Kay was a wonderful teacher, my classmates were patient with my antics, and the work was entertaining.
“I learned a lot.” That’s another understatement. I learned three thousand! (Variant of an Endgame quote.) I now know and understand synecdoche. I can explicate poetry like a boss. And I can spell onomatopoeia. The things Miss Kay will teach you will stick with you throughout your literary journey. It’s not all about achieving that pretty five. Just most of it.
“Hope you like it too.” Enjoy this class. Miss Kay teaches like you’ll never believe. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of her teaching and writing skills!
AP English Review posted by Rebekah Copeland on May 15 2020 at 12:10:22
Dear AP Class That’s About To Happen,
First and most importantly, you are an APE. Well, all humans are, of course. (If you’re not human, then you can look down your nose/olfactory organ at us for the lest of this letter). In this case, APE stands for Advanced Placement English student, but I bet you already figured that out. Being an APE in and of itself is nothing to sneeze at (see reference to nose/olfactory organ). Congratulations.
Last year, we had a Broadway-worthy actress, a Book Thief -loving Slytherin, a character-naming genius, a world-traveling super-student, a mysterious fashion-expert who never wasted words, a what-doesn’t-kill-you-makes-you-stranger trekkie, and one very out-numbered man. (The rest of us were female.) You’ll be getting their letters too. Good luck guessing who’s who.
It’ll be interesting to see what this year’s class is like. Be nice to each other. You don’t have to agree with your fellow APEs. They will be interesting people, though, so it’s worth paying attention to them.
Ms. Kay is awesome. This is not blatant flattery, it’s a fact. Don’t be afraid to ask her for help if there’s anything you struggle with. She knows that life affects schoolwork. On the other hand, she knows that schoolwork affects life. There are no white wizards in our world, but there are English teachers, the only difference being that white wizards never let anyone pass. Be nice to her too.
Yep, it’s going to be hard work. (Or hard-ish, at least.) Yes, there will probably be one book or story that scares the living daylights out of you, and one book or story (or poem) that bores you to tears. Hope for happy endings, but be warned: Many characters died (or were gruesomely brought back from the dead) in the making of this class. There are even characters who fall into both categories multiple times. Don’t worry, though. There will be one book or story you never want to leave behind. At least one.
Live Long and Prosper,
AP Lit letter to next year's students posted by Elizabeth on May 13 2020 at 19:58:26
Dear Prospective AP English Lit Students (a.k.a APES),
Take. This. Class.
*bows* That is all I have to say. Thank you, and goodnight.
But of course, you’re all sitting in front of your computers asking yourselves why you should listen to the rando commanding you from her screen, so perhaps I should stay and tell you why this class is so magnificent, so marvelous, so majestic. (Yes, I did use a thesaurus to come up with that list of adjectives, and you would do well to make friends with your thesaurus too if you’re planning on taking this class.)
So, here we go:
- This class lives on Slack, which means that, unlike virtually every other online class in the known universe, you actually get to talk to your classmates and Miss Kay. I think this must have been some stroke of genius on Miss Kay’s part, because literature study requires discussion and interaction (as do class shenanigans- looking at you, John Legend), which is next to impossible in traditional online classrooms.
- Miss Kay is quite possibly the most fabulous teacher you will ever meet in your career as a student. And given the law of nature that fabulous teachers must occupy less than 5% of the teacher population at any given time, you may as well take advantage of the good ones when you can find them. Miss Kay truly loves literature (all literature, not just the kind that The Powers that Be decide is Worthy of Study) and she is more than willing to entertain even the most absurd of ideas in the name of education (trust me- during one live discussion, I tried to argue that Hamlet technically fixed things because everyone was dead and there was no one left over for anyone to have beef with, which was of course followed by quite a hearty bout of laughter on everyone’s parts.) Discussions with her are collaborations, not lectures, and she always treats her students like intelligent people whose ideas are valid, regardless of that fact that they’re students and are still learning. She is also incredibly understanding when life happens, as it tends to do, and one or two late assignments aren’t likely to tank your grade as long as you email her and let her know what’s going on.
- The Chosen. I have yet to find another AP Lit class that has the chosen on its syllabus, which I find absurd. The chosen was my favorite book we read all year, and its ending is perhaps the most gloriously heartfelt thing to have happened in literature since books started to be a thing. The Chosen is heartbreaking and heartwarming and all the emotions all wrapped up into one amazing novel, and if I can’t convince you to take this class for any other reason, take it because The Chosen is on the syllabus. I envy all you APES who will get to read it for the first time this fall.
- There’s no busywork. At all. I can’t think of an assignment that felt like a complete waste of time, which was incredibly refreshing.
Now, just to clarify: this class isn’t a walk in the park. The Huck Finn satire project was the bane of my existence, and the poem explications don’t tend to be a fan favorite, either. Some days, words will just be words, and trying to find meaning in them will be like trying to pull an elephant out of a teacup. If you don’t show up to one LDS unprepared or have to completely wing an assignment or two because you didn’t read the book in time, then...well, you’re probably an alien or have figured out how to build a time machine. Congrats. Hopefully, you’ll do the aforementioned things less than me, but either way, you’ll be fine as long as you can come up with lunatic interpretations to simple stories. (No, I did not make that up, it’s actual advice from an actual human who you probably shouldn’t listen to.)
To follow that, here’s some advice that actually might help:
Tip #1: Read the books when they’re assigned, not when you need them to complete an assignment.
Tip #2: If you’re going to do the Tolkien extra credit project (assuming it’s still offered), start early. It turns out there are two smaller books inside each LoTR book, and you’ll be in for a rather unpleasant surprise if you think there’s only one and then realize each novel is twice as long as you thought it was...
Tip #3: Getting a version of Hamlet with an included translation is incredibly helpful. I’m pretty sure this isn’t cheating, and it will save you an immense amount of headache. Now, don’t take that as me saying it’s okay to just not read the Shakespeare, because that is cheating and will cause you to miss out on some truly beautiful writing, but you’ll probably appreciate the help when you’re knee-deep in the play and Horatio’s rambling about Julius Caesar and Neptune and words are just not in the order they’re supposed to be in, and you can’t figure out for the life of you how someone wears their beaver up.
Hopefully, I haven’t scared you off. I promise, in the end, it will all be worth it. You will learn how to write and think and read like never before, and you’ll have fun doing it. You’ll make great friends who love stories as much or even more than you do. You’ll get to see how the study of literature is the study of everything, because books are the stories of life, and life is complex and diverse and nuanced and messy. You’ll get to walk in the shoes of people from every corner of the earth and every background imaginable.
I wish you well on your journey, dear future APES. I hope you take this class, and I hope you fall in love with it as much as I have.
AP English 2020 posted by Lauren on May 12 2020 at 17:51:55
Dear Upcoming APES…
Hi, I’m Lauren, a very proud, devoted-disciple-of-Miss-Kay APE veteran.
I’m so glad you chose this course. To be perfectly honest, I wish with all my heart that I can take it again. You will have an amazing time, to be sure. Before taking APLIT with Miss Kay, I was one of those run-of-the-mill “passionate” lovers of literature and a very mediocre grammar nazi. After taking APLIT, however …*evil chuckle* I became a literature psycho with unrealistically insane perspectives on different works that we studied. Oh, I tell you, I went berserk with my literary insights. Miss Kay graciously prodded my imagination to the point of it just…exploding with fanfares of fireworks. Some days, it was just a tiny sprinkle of sparkles (which, in essence, meant trying to extract a single thesis for 40-50 minutes); other days, I could have drawn literary connections with Handel’s Messiah and Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn in a mere 20 minutes. (Ooh, and I even went from a mediocre grammar nazi to an absolute cutthroat grammar fanatic. Thought it worth mentioning.) Anyway, Miss Kay opened up a whole new world of literature that I had previously never known. Poem explications, DQs, and live discussions (just to name a few), were all incredibly eye-opening for me and better enhanced my skill as a reader and a writer. (Okay, so maybe there were occasional times when I would have rather endured an excruciating trip to the dentist than to explicate another poem…but, y’know.)
Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. I am so thankful that APLIT has taught me to express my thoughts tactfully. Random note: I am, typically, a private person, and I pretty much keep my thoughts to myself, but the APLIT assignments drew me out. I expressed myself in ways I never would have normally. I wrote some real cringe-worthy responses (i.e. the Dear John/Jane letter) and I was so emotionally moved by my own DQs that I teared up at one point. (Perfect example of humility, I know. You don’t have to go that far.) Some DQ assignments allowed me to connect personal aspects of my life with the book we were studying. While working on some assignments, I honestly felt like I was rambling on and on in my journal. (Yes, I feel absolutely horrible for all my poor classmates who had to read through all that AND reply.) It was so refreshing for me, though.
Before you begin to think that APLIT life will be a vale of cupcakes, let me warn you: this class requires effort. Pour your soul into the work. Trust me, it will be worth it. You will learn so much. Don’t procrastinate, and stay on top of the readings. Plan ahead for your papers, and for your upcoming projects.
Miss Kay is the sweetest teacher (no, I am not exaggerating) and I owe all my amazing developments as a writer to her. I tremendously enjoyed learning under her guidance. (She has gone through so much, due to one of our classmate’s tendency to frequently change his profile picture/name. Think John Legend, the CIA, the Birthday Chick, etc.) Thanks to Miss Kay, I am now able to quickly pen a 4-5 page paper over the course of two days, at the most. And of course, I feel beautifully prepared for the AP Exam, in which I SHALL earn a (dare I say it?) five.
Have fun, future APE!
Welcoming Letter posted by Anna on May 12 2020 at 17:47:09
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I welcome you to AP English Literature. From this moment forward, you shall be known as APES (AP English Students). This title holds great weight and responsibility, and we expect you to approach this course with the same reverence and tenderness as you would your favorite novel. Your guide and narrator, Miss Kay Ben-Avraham, is the best in her trade and has yet to lead me astray. Trust her and her judgement, and you shall reach new heights of literary comprehension.
A few words of advice before you begin your journey.
- First of all, take this course. The following points are rendered useless if you do not take into account this crucial step.
- Do not fear, for this course will serve to expand and cultivate a passion for literature that may or may not already exist in you. This is not another course that destroys your desire to read for months at a time.
- I already said this, I know, but trust Miss Kay. She really knows what she’s doing, she’s passionate about her work and her students, and she is one of the best teachers I’ve had over my twelve years of education. She will not hesitate to answer any questions and help her students as best she can.
- I personally hate trying to communicate with people over an online chatroom, but in this class, it’s worth it. In my class, we had six students, and by the end of the year, we were wishing happy birthdays, exchanging memes, helping each other relieve stress, providing study materials and tips, and supporting each other every step of the way. Get to know your classmates; you won’t regret it.
Just a final note before we close – Miss Kay does an excellent job of understanding that, first of all, her students are actual, real, live, people, and so they experience things like stress, emotional or mental breakdowns, and overwork, and she does her best to work with her students to avoid the aforementioned experiences. Secondly, she also recognizes that each of these real people that make up her class think and process information and ideas differently, and so often provides large-scale projects with both a creative or a practical aspect, so as not to force the creative students into the tiny, wet, smelly cardboard box that can be an academically-formatted book report, and to prevent panic in the more academically inclined students whose worst nightmare is a creative presentation. This is something that would have been instrumental in my decision in the beginning of the year, so I thought I’d share with you all.
In conclusion, be passionate, trust your teacher, throw up a hand when you need help, support your fellow APES, and take the course.
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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