Lauren Hannani staff writer
Advanced Placement exams are over, which also means that studying from a textbook in an AP class has officially come to an end. However, with unique projects, assignments and activities, AP teachers are not letting their students slack off during these last few weeks of school.
AP U.S. History teacher Dan Moroaica has made his class more culture-based since the AP exam ended by giving his students journals related to pop culture, such as current music, movies and books. He is also teaching students about a culture topic of their choice, ranging from the history of Disneyland to the background of the show “The Simpsons.”
“I did this back when I first started teaching AP, about seven or eight years ago, and the reason why is because I didn’t want to just show videos after class,” Moroaica said. “I wanted to do something where I still teach, but it’s something I enjoy teaching and that students will enjoy learning about. So we’re still doing work, it’s still U.S. history, but more about modern popular culture.”
Moroaica has also found that the culture lessons help students later in college.
“It’s something that is ever-changing, it’s part of U.S. history, and what’s also interesting is that studying popular culture can also prepare you for college,” Moroaica said. “I’ve had many students tell me that ‘Mr. Moroaica, I had no idea about such and such, and after your class, I had a two hour conversation in my dorm about this.’ And so it’s something that students can relate to, and if they’re not aware about it, it doesn’t hurt to learn about.”
His students are also enjoying the more relaxed pace at which they are learning the material.
“It’s a nice cooldown from history and stuff, especially now that the AP is over and because finals are coming up,” junior Josh Galst said. “It’s also interesting to see old episodes of a show [“The Simpsons”] that’s been around for so long.”
While Moroaica focuses more on the students’ interests outside of school, AP Language teacher Barbara Bader spends time teaching her students about a subject more applicable to students during their senior year: college applications.
“I’ve taught seniors here now for 10 years, and to watch the seniors struggle through the first semester is always really hard. The application process has almost become like an additional class, and it’s difficult for them to balance that workload with everything else they are trying to do,” Bader said. “So if I could give the juniors a leg up and encourage them to get that work done earlier, it’d make their senior year better, I hope.”
In order to achieve that goal, Bader has been preparing her students for parts of the college applications, such as the personal statement. Since they are starting to write practice essays, some students now feel less anxious about the college application process.
“I think it’s helpful because she’s trying to teach us that the whole process is less daunting than we make it out to be,” junior Zoe Bertet said. “She’s showing us that we all have something to say on the question.”
By giving the students a head start in this process, Bader hopes she can make the future seniors more relaxed and confident about senior year while also offering them a well-deserved break.
“I don’t really believe in wasting time after the AP exam, but I also know that students have worked really hard over the course of the year and I don’t want to make anything heavy,” Bader said. “So I like to do something especially with the juniors that is still workable that they can still use in the future and will serve them well.”
AP Environmental Science (APES) students are also working on a project to spread awareness about environmental issues, such as global warming. By creating posters with statistics and drawings, and hanging them around the school, the students hope they can change some students’ views on controversial topics.
“I think any way to get the word out is a good idea,” senior Jake Kalichman said. “If it affects one person, the project has done its job.”
However, not all APES students think that the time they are spend making posters will make a difference in other students’ opinions about certain environmental topics.
“I feel like there’s really nothing we could do, if you want me to be completely honest,” junior Lauren Aviram said. “Environmental issues are typically not taken seriously by people who don’t know a lot about it. All of us in APES know the serious effects, so we all understand the seriousness, but I feel like people who are not in the class or do not know a lot about environmental issues would not care.”
Whether the project works or not, the students are thankful that their teacher gave them the chance to work on a fun assignment instead of letting the students do whatever they would like during class.
“I’m happy I’m doing activities because sitting in class makes me feel like I’m at a school just to be there and not to learn,” Aviram said. “It’s better for AP classes to do assignments because it’s a waste of time to do random things.”