David Traill with the assistance of David Harvey
As the 1996-1997 school year approached, South Fork High School appeared headed for the 4x4 block schedule format. As a teacher of Advanced Placement U.S. History, I was concerned with what impact this change would have on student performance on the AP exam. Sharing similar concerns was David Harvey, who teaches the two Advanced Placement English courses at our school.
Our concerns were obvious. First, students would have fewer classroom days to prepare for the AP test (in either history or English), while being faced with the same expectations for success. Second, any AP course scheduled for the fall semester would leave students with months of intervening time and without prior review before taking the test. Third, the traditional style of mostly teacher-oriented instruction presented its own challenges in a longer class period.
David and I began talking about how we could team-teach our AP courses so that students would come out in as goodor a betterposition than they found themselves in traditionally. What we confronted was an enormous lack of information on how to team-teach AP courses in a block schedulea situation that prompted the writing of this article.
The Way It Was
In the past, South Fork High School had offered both AP U. S. and AP European History. More recently, only U.S. History was being taught, with about 20 students signing up each year. In the English department, the two AP coursesLanguage and Composition and the more advanced Literature and Compositionwere offered in alternative years. South Fork had also recently become an International Baccalaureate School, threatening to draw away potential AP students from these courses.
The two APs offered during the 1995-96 school year were U.S. History and Literature and Composition. We saw two problems with this. The juniors who signed up for AP English were expected to pass the more advanced test without benefit of an introductory year in Language and Composition. Moreover, we felt that Lit and Comp was far better suited toward combination with European than with U. S. history. However, sharing as we did an 80 percent overlap of AP students, we took our first steps toward team-teaching the AP courses.
Toward a Team Approach
We began our planning with the content of the history course. I sketched out the themes of U.S. History for David. He in turn suggested readings that would support these themes. One was Stephen Cranes Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, which he used during our study of the Industrial Era and the Gilded Age. Several students subsequently remarked on how much better they understood and appreciated the era as a result. It proved to us that the necessary components of AP English could be used to advantage in the AP U. S. history course.
Toward the end of the year, my class came to me and asked whether I could find a way to teach them anything during their senior year. David and I had already discussed the possibility of restoring AP European History to the curriculum. This plea from the students offered the break we needed to sell our favorite idea: team-teaching AP history and English at both the junior and senior levels using alternative schedules.
Alternative Schedules in a Block Format
Alternative schedulesthat is, using alternate weeks for AP English and AP history throughout the yearproved the solution to several problems. By studying both subjects all year, students would avoid the problem of becoming distanced from either one by the time they took the AP exams. Alternative schedules would also provide students with a full week for reading a novel or covering a unit/theme in history. The same weekly transition would allow us more time to prepare materialsimportant at the outset since David had never taught AP Language and Composition and I had never taught AP European.
Our plan required students to take both AP courses (history and English) designed for their grade level. In order to reach our ultimate goa#151;combining U. S. History with Language and Composition, and European History with Literature and Compositionwe had to make an initial adjustment. Our juniors, who were about to complete U. S. History and Literature and Composition, would move into European History and Language and Composition during their senior year. Incoming juniors would take U.S. History along with the introductory Language and Composition class. A final aspect of our team-teaching structure was to alternate which subject began the course sequence at each level. Juniors would begin with history and proceed to English, while seniors would do the opposite.
Students were receptive to the new combined course, as were our administrators and school counselors, who were delighted to see the number of AP classes and students increase. With this go-ahead, we began to plan for team-teaching in earnest.
PlanningAn Ongoing Process
We had two major tasks in the summer of 1996. The first was to mate the school calendar for the coming year with the new AP course schedules. The next was to prepare a combined syllabus for each course. The most recent form of each syllabus appears in Figures 1 and 2. Last, we spent time preparing our classrooms. They are located in adjacent rooms, making it easy for our students to approach us during off weeks, and for us to compare notes on homework loads and to trade days when extra time is needed.
Our students also had (and have) summer work. As background for the colonial period, I asked incoming juniors to read and answer questions about Richard Hofstadters America at 1750. This provided students with good base knowledge about colonial development and the Great Awakening when the course began. Also recommended were two U.S. History review books by Arnold S. Rice, United States History to 1877 and United States History from 1865. For the European students, I recommended Modern European History by Birdsall S. Viault. David assigned both classes Paul Theroux The Old Patagonian Express, but did not ask for written work.
Another burst of planning followed our attending a National Paideia Center conference at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. This provided excellent training in the use of the Socratic method and primary documents, both of which are emphasized in our AP courses.
The designation of South Fork as an International Baccalaureate school caused some modifications in our plans by introducing I. B. topics into the curriculum. For example, the seniors are now using Henry Kissingers Diplomacy in their study of World War II, and we plan to introduce Colin Powel#146;s My American Journey (useful as history and autobiography) in the junior courses. We also plan to take more advantage of local historical and literary sites for field trips, and to expand student use of the Internet. Our great dream is to take students on a grand tour of historical and literary sites in Europe and/or the United States.
Teachers interested in more information about our team-teaching experience are invited to write us at South Fork High School, 10205 SW Pratt and Whitney Road, Stuart, FL, 34997. Telephone: 561-287-9810, ext. 344 for Social Studies, and ext. 347 for English.
David Traill is an Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate history teacher at South Fork High School in Stuart, Florida. David Harvey teaches Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate English at South Fork.
Advanced Placement Syllabus: U.S. History and English Language/Composition
These courses will prepare students to take the Advanced Placement exams and possibly earn college credit.
This course is an integrated, team-taught college level program teaching United States History combined with English Language/ Composition. Where possible, literary selections have been made in conjunction with units in U.S. History. You will alternate each week between Mr. Harveys English and Mr. Trail#146;s history classes using the attached schedule.
You will be expected to keep a notebook for all of your assignments, and to complete each assignment by the due date. Please be ready with paper and pens at the beginning of each class. The basic text for this course is Baileys The American Pageant.
IV. The Schedule by Weeks
U.S. History English Language/Composition
1. Colonization (Reading America at 1750) 2. Paine, Common Sense
3. Federalism 4. The Federalist Papers
5. Jeffersonianism 6. Franklin, letters and essays
7. The Era of Good Feelings and the War of 1812 8. Thoreau, Civil Disobedience
9. Jacksonianism 10. Crane, The Red Badge of Courage
11. Manifest Destiny 12. Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
13. Slavery and the Civil War 14. Lee, Grant, and Douglass, letters
15. Reconstruction 16. (open week)
Winter Break. The Gilded Age Winter Break. Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
17. Imperialism 18. Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
19. World War I/The Roaring 20s 20. Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
21. The Depression 22. (open week)
23. World War II and the Early Cold War 24. Orwell, Politics of the English Language
25. Civil Rights/ Vietnam 26. King, Letter from Birmingham Jai#148; and I Have
a Dream; Mailer, essays
27. Detente 28. Updike, Dillard, Ephron, Didion
29. The 1970s 30. Selzer, Tom Wolfe
31. The Reagan Years 32. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance;
Eisley, Will, Orwell
Note: We will be reading the selections in whole or part.
Advanced Placement Syllabus: European History and Literature/Composition
These courses will prepare students to take these Advanced Placement exams and possibly earn college credit.
This course is an integrated, team-taught college level program teaching European History combined with English Literature/Composition. Where possible, literary selections have been made in conjunction with units in European History. You will alternate each week between Mr. Harveys English and Mr. Trail#146;s history classes using the attached schedule.
You will be expected to keep a notebook for all of your assignments, and to complete each assignment before its due date. Please be ready with paper and pens at the beginning of each class. You will need to buy a copy of Modern European History by Birdsall S. Viault, available at the Arcade Book Nook.
IV. The Schedule by Weeks
English Language/Composition European History
1. Beowulf; Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; Dante, Inferno 2. Renaissance (Part 1)
3. Shakespeare, Hamlet; Machiavelli, The Prince 4. Renaissance (Part 2)
5. Milton, Paradise Lost; Montaigne, Collected Essays 6. Reformation (1555-1603)
7. (open week) 8. Politics
9. Boccacio, The Decameron; Swift, A Modest Proposal 10. Forces in Daily Life
11. de Mirandola, Draft on the Dignity of Man 12. Age of Louis XIV (1643-1715)
13. Voltaire, Candide; Newton, essays 14. Enlightenment (1715-1774)
15. Metaphysical poets: Donne, Herbert 16. Revolutionary Period (1775-1795)
17. Romantic poetry: Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Keats 18. Napoleonic Era (1795-1815)
19. The Victorians: Tennyson, Browning, Carlyle 20. Nationalism & Industry (1815-1830)
21. Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment; Hardy poems 22. Bourgeois (1830-1848)
23. Modern Poets: T.S. Eliot, Pound 24. Bismarcks Time (1870-1890)
25. Kafka, Metamorphosis 26. Pre-W.W. I (1890-1914)
27. Joyce, Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man; Woolf, 28. W.W.I-1930s
To the Lighthouse
29. Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest; Beckett, Watt 30. W.W.II-1960s
31. Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead 32. 1970s-1990s
Note: We will be reading the selections in whole or part.
©1998 National Council for the Social Studies. All rights reserved.