Category Archives: Advanced Placement

Join Us For APTTI 2017

Do you want to learn how to teach an AP class? Join us at the AP Teacher Training Institute this summer, June 27-30, 2017, on the University of Iowa campus. This 4-day institute provides comprehensive preparation for developing and teaching an AP course. We are offering 8 classes: AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Chemistry, AP Computer Science A, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Physics 1, and AP US History. You can read letters from our instructors, check out the syllabi, and review the institute schedule on our website.

APTTI 2016-4

Iowa teachers are eligible for a grant from the Iowa Online AP Academy to attend APTTI at a reduced cost. Visit our Financial Assistance page for more information.

For an additional fee, attendees can also earn academic credit and/or Iowa Licensure Renewal Units. Registration for these options is separate from APTTI registration. Further information is available here.

APTTI 2016-23

We had a lot of fun last summer, and we’re looking forward to another great institute! To join us, please visit our Registration page. If you have questions, contact us at aptti@belinblank.org. We can’t wait to see you this summer!

APTTI Logo

Is IOAPA Right for Me?

With IOAPA registration opening this week, we wanted to offer some final considerations for students and mentors considering IOAPA courses. The sections below are broken down into considerations for students and considerations for mentors.

Considerations for Students

  • Time: IOAPA courses require more time than typical grade-level courses, because the content is more advanced and students may need time to adjust to the online nature of the course. When considering enrolling in an IOAPA course, students should consider the other demands on their time, including other courses, extracurricular activities, sports, jobs, and anything else they might be involved in. It would be reasonable to expect to spend 5-10 hours per week on an IOAPA course. Will that be possible in your schedule?
  • Independence/Self-Motivation: IOAPA students must be capable of working independently and motivating themselves. Our classes are different from those typically offered in middle and high school, because instead of receiving whole-class instruction, IOAPA students independently access their course materials whenever they choose. This flexibility can be great for many students, but it requires self-motivation to avoid procrastination. If you’re not sure whether you have sufficient skills in these areas, talk to your IOAPA mentor about what they might look like.
  • Eligibility – High School: High school IOAPA students must be able to handle the academic rigor of college-level courses. Each course in our Course Catalog offers suggested prerequisites and/or pre-tests, and these may be used to determine eligibility for individual students.
  • Eligibility – Middle School: IOAPA has more specific eligibility guidelines for middle school students. Students must participate in an above-level test (I-Excel for 6th graders, ACT for 7th and 8th graders) and obtain a score at or above the 50th percentile. Additionally, it is very important that the student performs well on grade-level standardized assessments (such as the Iowa Assessments), with scores at or above the 95th percentile in the course content area. Other considerations for eligibility include prior exposure to relevant coursework to provide sufficient background knowledge and skills, and scores well above average on any other standardized tests students may have taken, such as the CogAT or an IQ test.

Considerations for mentors.jpeg

  • Time/Scheduling: As an IOAPA mentor, you will need dedicated time to meet with students, answer their questions, proctor exams, and support them in overcoming any challenges they face. Previous mentors have suggested that routine, face-to-face meetings with students are extremely beneficial. Do you have time in your week to provide that support to students?
  • Student Relationships: Research on mentoring suggests that the relationship between the student and mentor is a key to success. Do you have existing positive relationships with the prospective IOAPA students? If not, do you think you will be able to develop positive relationships early in the year?
  • Content Knowledge: In most cases, mentors are not responsible for teaching course material or answering questions about course content. However, some understanding of basic content will be beneficial in answering students’ questions or providing them with resources. In our computer science courses, content knowledge is especially beneficial, and it is required for our AP Computer Science Principles course, which does require the mentor to provide instruction.
  • School Eligibility: This consideration is for both mentors and site coordinators. IOAPA requires that IOAPA courses are scheduled into the students’ regular school day, and that schools provide a designated time and space within the school building for students to work on their course(s). In addition, the school must provide lab space and equipment for science courses (if applicable), and the necessary technology and textbooks for all courses. The school must be an accredited school in the state of Iowa, the course must not be offered through the school district (or at the student’s grade level, in the case of middle school courses), and the school must not enroll more than 6 students per course. For more information relevant to site coordinators and mentors, please see our Site Coordinator and Mentor Handbook.

Still not sure if IOAPA is right for you? Click around our website to get more information about the courses we offer, the supports we provide, and the requirements for enrolling. If you have additional questions, contact us at ioapa@belinblank.org.

Support Materials for IOAPA

IOAPA mentors, site coordinators, schools, and students often have questions about IOAPA’s policies and procedures, or are looking for guidance regarding student eligibility or course selection. We’ve compiled answers to many of these questions on the “Support Materials” section of our website. Presented below is a sampling of the information you’ll find.
  • IOAPA Handbook: All policies related to IOAPA can be found in the handbook. In addition, the handbook offers information about supporting IOAPA students, seeking additional help, and a Student Readiness Checklist. This is essential information for new IOAPA mentors, and a useful reference for all mentors and site coordinators.
  • Middle School Questions: Answers to common questions about IOAPA for middle school can be found in our collection of blog posts, linked directly from this page. There is some especially useful information from previous mentors about how to solve logistical challenges, such as assigning credit.
  • Info Night Presentation: This resource can be used to share information about IOAPA with school personnel, parents, and students who might be interested in offering and/or enrolling in IOAPA courses. Now is a great time to consider hosting an Info Night, while parents and students have time to consider signing up for fall courses before the end of the school year.
  • Infographics: Also on this page, you’ll find infographics presenting course data and recommendations. These can be used to inform course selection for students. In some cases, such as the computer science course graphics, they also offer tips for mentors.
To find this information, navigate to www.belinblank.org/ioapa and click on the Support Materials link. Still have IOAPA questions? Get in touch with us at ioapa@belinblank.org.

Reflections on First Semester of Computer Science with Edhesive

We are excited to share a collection of data and advice based on student and teacher experiences with IOAPA’s Edhesive Computer Science courses in the Fall 2016 semester. Similar to previous semesters, we have compiled the information into an easy-to-understand infographic format. This information will be especially useful for students and mentors considering the options for enrollment in IOAPA courses in 2017-2018 and beyond. See our middle school and high school infographics for guidance regarding our other courses.

IOAPA Computer Science Infographic

Introducing And Increasing Computer Science Education In Schools

There are innumerable benefits to offering computer science instruction in K-12 schools. This policy statement from the Association for Computing Machinery makes a compelling case in favor of increasing CS opportunities for students. The question now concerns how to go about expanding those opportunities. Below are a few resources to aid in bringing CS education into schools.

General Resources: LeadCS.org offers tools to answer questions facing district and school leaders who are working to expand CS in their schools and districts. Code.org contains a wealth of information regarding CS advocacy, methods of teaching CS, and opportunities for students to employ both in and out of school.

Preparing Teachers: The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) provides community and professional development opportunities. Advanced Placement training for a CS course through an AP Summer Institute (like our Advanced Placement Teacher Training Institute) is another way for teachers to gain skills and confidence in teaching computer science.

Offering Courses: There are a wide variety of options for CS instruction that can be implemented by teachers with varying levels of CS content knowledge. One such option is our Iowa Online AP Academy. We offer a high-school level Introduction to CS course for middle school students, and both AP Computer Science courses for high school students through our partnership with Edhesive. Additionally, Code.org offers courses through their Code Studio, and they compiled a list of 3rd party resources offering courses and/or programs at elementary, middle, and high school levels.

Check out the IOAPA website for more on our courses, and the APTTI website to find out how to join us this summer.

Best Practices for IOAPA Mentors

Mentors are a key component of the Iowa Online AP Academy model. These individuals may or may not have expertise in the content areas their students are studying, and in most of our courses, mentors are not expected to provide instruction on the course content. (The mentor’s role for AP Computer Science Principles is slightly different; future posts will address this, or you can contact IOAPA staff with questions.) Instead, IOAPA mentors provide support and encouragement for students, assist them in determining where and how to seek help, and monitor progress in course materials and intervene when necessary.

What should I do to be an effective mentor?

  • Build positive relationships with students. According to the University of Minnesota’s mentoring model, checking in with students frequently can promote strong relationships.
    • One study cited in a research synthesis found that “facilitators that are directly working with students day by day are key to the success of the program” and that the physical presence of mentors can motivate students to engage (cited in Borup & Drysdale, 2014).
  • Connect students with resources. Mentors are not expected to have all the answers for students’ questions, but helping them determine where to find support, or how to ask for help, can be beneficial. Check out our blog post on supporting struggling students for more info.
    • This may include serving as a “communication link” between students and their course instructors (Borup & Drysdale, 2014).
  • Communicate with other mentors. Whether for emotional support or professional guidance, your fellow IOAPA mentors are a great resource for new and veteran mentors alike. Check out the IOAPA mentor support network information in the IOAPA Handbook.
  • Encourage healthy work habits. We all need occasional reminders to take breaks and prioritize, and IOAPA students are no exception. Mentors can help students set priorities, schedule time for relaxation, and promote stress management. The University Counseling Service at the University of Iowa developed a list of stress management strategies that may be useful.

shutterstock_361393745

Do you have suggestions for other IOAPA mentors? Share them with us in the comments or on Twitter using #IOAPA. Also, look out for our mentor survey at the end of the semester to share your thoughts!

AP Exam Reviews Available


IOAPAAttention:
All Iowa high school students taking AP classes.

Now Available: Online AP Exam Reviews for AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Chemistry, AP Environmental Science, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Macroeconomics, AP Microeconomics, AP Psychology, AP Spanish Language and Culture, AP Statistics, AP U.S. Government and Politics, and AP U.S. History.

How Do I Get It? IOAPA students enrolled in the courses listed above for the spring semester are automatically set up. Students in on-site AP classes can be signed up by their schools. (Students cannot register themselves for the exam reviews.) Information about registering can be found by visiting our website.