Game Change - AdvanceKY Content Review Sessions


- Aaron Timmons – Mathematics Content Director

3000 hours.  125 days.  Almost 18 weeks.  Over 4 months.  No matter which way you look at it, that’s how much time Kentucky high school students participating in AdvanceKentucky’s AP College Readiness Program have invested so far in preparing for AP exams this year.  What’s more impressive is that this time is in addition to their regularly scheduled classes. 

In order to promote and support a school culture of high expectations for rigorous student learning in AP courses, AdvanceKentucky’s College Readiness Program is based on a set of elements of success centered around open enrollment.  One of these elements focuses on increasing student time on task.  This is achieved through the coordination of Content Review Sessions.  Held regionally throughout the state on Saturdays, students attend for six hours and receive direct instruction and support from master teachers many of whom are CollegeBoard consultants, AP readers, or both. 

All AP math, science, English, and computer science courses have two review sessions per academic year.  With about half of all sessions completed for this school year, teachers, presenters, and students were asked to give their thoughts, and many were quick to reply!

“Working with AdvanceKentucky since 2008 has totally changed my teaching of AP® Calculus. I ended gatekeeping long ago and welcome any student into my class that is willing to put in the hard work. By casting a wide net, the number of students at SCHS who earn a qualifying score has many times surpassed any goals set back in those early days. As far as how presenting has affected my teaching, I have learned to really incorporate AP® type questions in all my lessons and tests. I don’t wait until the end of the year when it is time to review.”

Michael Marshall; Scott Co. HS – AP® Calculus presenter

Michael Marshall - AP® Calculus
photo of Forrest Spillman
Forrest Spillman - AP® Statistics

“I like the interaction with the students. It feels ‘fresh’ in that the students are not used to me as my own students are, and I’m different from their usual instructor from their home high school. I think the students gain further insights into their subject area that will hopefully pay off on exam day.”

Forrest Spillman; Somerset HS – AP® Statistics presenter

"One of the ways my teaching benefits from presenting is that students share their teachers' best strategies, the ones they remember because they have worked for them, which means they are powerful strategies. Later when I get a chance to talk to their teachers, I start by mentioning how the strategy was working for the students and then ask for additional information that I take back to my own classroom. The information I get comes in the form of tips, lessons, texts, technology tools. I think attending Saturday Sessions speak to the commitment a student has made to make their best effort on the exam. That commitment likely reflects in her effort in the classroom as well. Adding a CRS won't ensure a student earns a qualifying score on the exam, but it does suggest she is doing everything in her power to do so and that's all we can ask of students who take rigorous courses.”

Stephanie Carter; McCracken Co. HS – AP® English Language presenter

“I love getting to see kids throughout the state and realizing that kids that may be separated by distance, but they are not very different. I also enjoy meeting with other teachers and helping them grow. I think the sessions help students gain confidence before the exam and also give them a chance to hear a new perspective which is invaluable.”

Aimee Webb; Johnson Central HS – AP® English Language and Literature presenter

photo of John Williamson presenting
John Williamson - AP® English Language and Composition

“By presenting I get a better feel for misconceptions that students have and can address that with them and also come back and address it with my students. I've learned how to simplify and condense the content to the basics. If they can learn the basics well they should be able to apply anything to it. For me review sessions are revitalizing. Students are usually excited to be there. I had a student thank me once and say that he was impressed with the presenter’s enthusiasm for the content. For students, I think it gives them an opportunity to see that they know just as much if not more than other students in the state.

Students are hard on themselves and seeing that they are in the same boat with other students is good for their confidence. For teachers, I always learned something new when my school was part of the grant and I attended the sessions. You can learn about new resources or just learn new ways to combine or apply different topics of biology together.”

MaryBeth Cook; Harrison Co. HS – AP® Biology presenter

“Selfishly, I enjoy that presenting keeps me fresh. Teaching new students who I do not know with different strengths and weaknesses requires me to examine content in new ways. Secondly, my own personal students are tired of me by this time of year. Presenting to new kids who aren't accustomed to my style is so rewarding. You see appreciation and “aha” moments that don't always happen in the home classroom. Thirdly, I've built a network of fellow presenters and teachers who help me work through issues or new information, and it truly is wonderful PD. Finally, when I was a first year AP® biology teacher the presenters literally saved my year. I learned so many skills and techniques from these seasoned presenters. It boosted my confidence and helped my instruction. If I can do that for a new teacher then that is more than rewarding. ”

Brittany Cox; Lincoln Co. HS – AP® Biology presenter

Photo of Brittany Cox presenting
Brittany Cox - AP® Biology

“Most of the presenters are graders so they know exactly what to look for in order to achieve the best scores on the exam which is something I can’t do at this time. I observe the presenters as closely as possible and take notes. It allows me to take test-specific knowledge back to the classroom. The only students that I had last year who succeeded on the AP exam attended both sessions. That speaks for itself.”

David Ramey; East Ridge HS – AP® Calculus/Statistics teacher

“Sometimes, students learn better in a new or 'uncomfortable' environment (or when they are being held accountable by someone other than the teacher they are used to). Additionally, pitting their own perspectives against students from throughout our region helps to exponentially grow my students’ understanding of both the content and where they stand in relation to others. I often find myself inclined to bring back and incorporate strategies and perspectives from review sessions into my regular curriculum. As the students are learning content, I feel that I am learning different approaches to said content, and we all walk away better for it in the end.”

Dakoda Bowling; Rowan Co. HS – AP® Literature and Composition teacher

“Students and teachers that attend a review session are dedicated to learning the content. The second time hearing something is always better which is what a review session can provide to students. This is my second year teaching AP® Calculus and I learn new strategies and activities to provide to my students. It is well worth your time to attend, and you will be thankful you did come May.”

Kelley Hayden; Frederick Douglass HS – AP® Calculus AB

Photo of networking at Thomas Nelson HS
Teachers and presenters networking at Thomas Nelson High School

“I won’t lie, I initially thought that I wasn’t going to gain anything from attending the review session but a wasted Saturday. I was proven wrong and I felt that I gained a significant amount from attending and look forward to attending the next review session.”

Joshua Adkins; Junior – AP® Chemistry, Language, and Statistics student

“I love being around other peers who are experiencing the same concepts I am. It’s comforting in a way to know you aren’t the only one. I also enjoy being around different instructors who are new to me. It’s good to see different thought processes and methods of doing things. I would tell students to attend a session. You will gain so much knowledge, and in a way gain the upper hand on other classmates who didn’t attend. You’ll also meet new people and instructors who will do nothing but guide you to the right path towards a 3 or above on the exam.”

Tyra Sullivan; Junior – AP® Chemistry, Language, and Statistics student

Photo of Registration at Magoffin County High School
Student Registration at Magoffin County High School

“Attending the review session has given me a better understanding of what they [scorers] are looking for and how to improve my score on the exam. I think the review session will improve my performance in the class along with my chances of earning a qualifying score on the AP® exam.”

Natalie Peyton; Sophomore – AP® English Literature student

“Personally, the biggest difference between review sessions and normal class periods is the pacing and comfort level. Review sessions typically have a much faster pace because you only have so much time with your instructor, whereas you typically spend a much longer amount of time with your teacher. Along with spending time with a new instructor, review sessions can take you out of your comfort zone as you spend time learning in a new environment with students that you most likely haven't met before, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.”

Andrew Davison; Sophomore – AP® English Literature and Biology student

“The review sessions have given me more confidence in my ability to succeed on my AP® exams. In classes during the school day, we are learning the content of the course, but in review sessions, we are strengthening our knowledge of things we have already learned while also learning strategies and tips for the exam. It is a very valuable opportunity that will help you in the long run and it is definitely worth giving up a Saturday.”

Holly Dickens; Sophomore – AP® Biology, Statistics, and Literature student

Photo of Chemistry students at Magoffin County High School
AP® Chemistry students at Magoffin County High School

“Meeting new friends is the best part and talking to them about the AP® course. We obviously have a different instructor, which is great because we are able to get tips and tricks outside our regular teacher. Attending is 100% worth it! You get to hear ideas you've never heard outside your regular classroom and you experience everything all at the same time as others.”

Holly Newton; Sophomore – AP® English Literature student

“The Content Review Session has made me more determined to do my best and earn a qualifying score on the AP® Stats Exam. I think the review session showed me that while I can do better, I am still on the right track for the exam and I should try to do better but not stray too far. I intend to also attend the next review session in April, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Skyla Fuller; Senior – AP® Statistics student

photo of lunchtime at Rowan County HS
Lunchtime at Rowan County High School

The benefits of content review sessions are considerable for teachers and students alike.  Because many schools working with AdvanceKentucky are offering AP courses for the first time, developing and sustaining a culture of high expectations for those courses is crucial for their long-term existence and success.  That can be easier said than done, however, considering teachers teaching new courses and students unfamiliar with the rigor of an AP class.  Current AP Biology presenter, and past AdvanceKentucky teacher, Brittany Cox makes a strong case to persevere in the face of those challenges – “AdvanceKentucky content review sessions are a game changer.  They literally took years off the learning curve for me to learn how to best serve my students.”

For more information on AdvanceKentucky’s Content Review Sessions, click here.

To register for an upcoming Content Review Session, check out AdvanceKentucky’s Events page here.