Confessions Of An Online AP Government Student

08 Feb

I’m not going to lie; I wasn’t too thrilled to be taking an online AP course during my final semester of high school. My second semester was a time I had saved for repairing my extreme case of senioritis. For this reason, I pledged to do the least possible and “sit in the back of the class” for as long as I could. After three days of being in AP Government I knew my slacker approach to the class would not get me very far. This was made especially clear when the first assignments included making an introductory video to tell the class more about yourself and participating in a post State of the Union Address Skype session. I had my doubts, but each assignment enhanced the information I learned from the readings. I’d love to reflect on the pros and cons of this AP Government class, but I haven’t run into anything that would be considered a con. The class is extremely organized and you can easily review the different subjects we’ve covered because they are all on the website, even after they have been turned in. The course work is dense, but the assignments make the readings relevant and give examples of how the subject has been tested in real life situations. For example, an assignment was to discuss who was to blame for the response to Hurricane Katrina. This class solves the main issues I have with a majority of the classes I am taking at my school this year: lack of time, irregular schedule, and busy work.

My favorite parts of the class would definitely be the discussion posts and (don’t judge me) the Wilson textbook. For discussions, our teacher, Mr. Gwaltney, poses open-ended questions for us to reflect about. Each student posts a personal response and then we are able to respond to everyone’s discussion posts. This method gives the feel of a classroom, minus the excess conversations. Recently, we had a discussion assignment that required us to create an amendment. I posted a proposition to repeal the second amendment and had my mind made up about this decision, but a girl in my class, Amber, responded to my post with a different outlook. This made me reconsider my views on this issue and reexamine the reasons it is so difficult to repeal or add additional amendments to the Constitution.

Another reason I’ve enjoyed this class so far has been the American Government textbook by Wilson. This book is very modern, but extremely factual. It even made me laugh at certain points in the various descriptions of Benjamin Franklin. One of the main questions I encountered while reading was why Madison felt so strongly about having large republics. The textbook explained his position perfectly, “If Madison’s argument seems strange or abstract, ask yourself the following question: if I have an unpopular opinion, an exotic lifestyle, or an unconventional interest, will I find greater security living in a small town or a big city?” (Wilson 34). The class would be different for me if this book were not used because Wilson provides the necessary information and allows the reader to make their own conclusions about the content and the questions the information raises. That being said, I’m looking forward to the new and exciting material we will be learning in this class, even if it means I have to ignore my growing case of senioritis.


Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Learning


24 responses to “Confessions Of An Online AP Government Student

  1. Theresa Shafer (@TheresaShafer)

    February 9, 2012 at 7:28 am

    I appreciate your defense of the textbook. While eliminating textbooks is a hot topic in education right now, student voice around this seems to be missing! The powers that be (and me included sometimes) assume that students today prefer digital learning 100% of the time. Also your open-mindedness in really reading and thinking about your views on an issue to point of adapting your thinking will serve you well now and in the future! I will watch and read this blog going forward!

    • hannahlat

      February 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm

      Hi! Thank you for your response! As you probably guessed, I’m definitely against eliminating textbooks. I have a lot of trouble with reading documents or anything substantial for that matter on a screen because I like to highlight and write notes to myself in the margin. I would prefer to have a hard copy of anything that I’m studying because I’ve found, that I don’t retain information as well if it is online.

      • dbambi

        February 12, 2012 at 9:59 pm

        I totally agree with Hannah on keeping books, because I have to write and underline to stay focused too. It’s really helpful to me at least that a lot of our reading comes from two textbooks though this is an online course. On the computer, the assignments are more discussions, videos, or lectures which keeps it balanced for students like me who can not always learn directly off of a computer.

  2. chrissousa

    February 9, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Nice post, well written, and it sounds like a great class! As a History/Social Studies teacher, I like the Wilson book too, although you often have to gleam out his personal commentary and bias’s, but frankly that’s what makes it an interesting read and gets you thinking! Good for you for not settling for “basket-weaving” courses in your final year. Sorry to hear about your “senioritis”, I hope the achievement of your goals and your obviously bright future help you to get over it. Nice job and keep learning.

    • hannahlat

      February 12, 2012 at 12:31 am

      Hello! Thank you so much for the response! Yes, it really has turned out to be a great class. I haven’t really noticed the bias in the Wilson book yet, but I’ll keep my eye out for it now!

  3. William Chamberlain (@wmchamberlain)

    February 9, 2012 at 7:35 am

    I can completely understand your wanting to slack off the last semester. Back in the day (way way back) I tried something similar. Unfortunately it didn’t work out for me either.

    Your post is a great reflection of the class so far. Based on the class so far, would you be more likely to take online college classes as well? My wife (back in school to be a teacher) had some last semester and she didn’t enjoy them at all.

    • hannahlat

      February 12, 2012 at 11:27 am

      Hi! Thank you for your response. In response to your question, I would probably be more likely to take an online college class if it were an elective, not a core class. I would always prefer to take a class face to face with my peers and teachers, but if that was not an option, I would be fine with taking an online class because of what I’ve learned from this class. Also, I wouldn’t be interested in having more than one online class because I think more than one online class would be too impersonal.

      • William Chamberlain (@wmchamberlain)

        February 13, 2012 at 5:10 am

        It seems more and more colleges are going to online classes. You will definitely be better prepared than most students coming out of high school. I agree that it would be pretty impersonal, I don’t think most teachers would be able to get to know you well online.

        • hannahlat

          February 24, 2012 at 4:46 pm

          Yes, I think the class could easily become impersonal. However, my teacher does a really good job with communicating with us. He is always available for questions on skype, email, or the section designated for questions on the webpage. I also communicate with my classmates frequently throughout the week because we respond to discussion posts and have already had two group projects.

          – Hannah

  4. Dayna Laur

    February 9, 2012 at 9:27 am

    I, too, use the Wilson text for my class. I find it to be a great way to reinforce the main ideas behind the political theory that we apply through the class projects we complete. It is the best text I’ve come across for preparation for the AP exam in May – which it sounds like you will be more than prepared to take!

    I am glad that you are finding the class to be rewarding. You only get out of it what you put into it. It sounds like you are already figuring that out. Unfortunately too few students are excited by government and politics, but sharing a blog post like this will help to inspire other students.

    Keep up the good work!

    • hannahlat

      February 12, 2012 at 11:33 am

      Hi, Dayna. Thank you so much for your response! I also find the Wilson book to be very useful in explaining the different theories we explore in our assignments. I always refer back to it if I’m questioning or struggling with an idea presented to us. Thank you for your positive encouragement!


  5. Ron Neufeld (@Neufeld)

    February 9, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Great post, and it sounds like a wonderful course. I am curious what you found difficult about online vs traditional courses. Would you prefer all your courses be online? Or is it a time-saving measure given how busy students are?

    • hannahlat

      February 12, 2012 at 11:40 am

      Hi! Thank you for your response! I’ve found pros and cons for both online and traditional courses. An online course saves time and cuts out the useless information that I sometimes get during a traditional course. Also, because a student can work at their own pace, the teacher doesn’t have a problem sticking to the schedule of the class, so no information is lost along the way. Whereas, in a traditional class, the speed of the class is determined by all of the students. That being said, I would still prefer to have a majority of my classes through a more traditional method. I wouldn’t mind having one or two online classes, but I like the idea of sitting in a class room and learning rather than learning from my computer even though I’m finding that I retain information better in an online course.

      Thanks again for your response!

  6. Ross Mannell

    February 10, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Your post’s title, “Confessions Of An Online AP Government Student”, was intriguing. What deep and dark secrets did the post hold? Okay, in my case I easily take the bait when it comes to blog posts. Perhaps it’s my gullibility or naivety but I’m am rarely disappointed in what I read no matter whether it’s from a four year old or academic or anywhere in between. Yes, I have even commented on the wonderful world of a four year old.

    What temptation there is to take it easy in the final year. I personally know the feeling and remember how lazy I really was. My awakening came in university when I met others who found it easy to gain entry but applied themselves. It seems the challenge of an interesting course is necessary to motivate us, especially when we see the efforts of others.

    Not being part of our educational resources, I am unfamiliar with the book by Wilson but the quote you used in your text certainly caught my attention…
    “If Madison’s argument seems strange or abstract, ask yourself the following question: if I have an unpopular opinion, an exotic lifestyle, or an unconventional interest, will I find greater security living in a small town or a big city?” (Wilson 34)
    There is great truth in this quote. Its harder to be noticed when a crowd is very large. 🙂

    I have found the three posts on this blog to be very interesting for different reasons. Thanks for sharing and to the person who pointed me in the direction of the blog through a tweet.

    Teacher, NSW, Australia

    • hannahlat

      February 12, 2012 at 11:51 am

      Hi! Thank you so much for your response. I really love that quote from Wilson’s textbook because it was a perfect explanation to the question I had. I am very happy you’re enjoying our class blog! I can assure you that it will get even better as more people post.

      Thanks again,

      • Ross Mannell

        February 12, 2012 at 12:14 pm

        Thank you for the reply to my comment. A tweet alerted me to your class blog so perhaps I will again see a link.

  7. dbambi

    February 12, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    First off, I must also make a confession which is I am glad that you did not take my comment as offensive, because I was really worried about that. Secondly, I admire you for taking this class as a second semester senior! When I initially signed up for this course, 6-8 hours seemed like nothing to me, but after the second week I was quite wrong. Hopefully, we will continue pushing through the workload while understanding the complexity of our government, and by the end we will be educated citizens.

    • hannahlat

      February 24, 2012 at 5:51 pm

      Hey Amber! Thank you so much for you response! I definitely didn’t take offense to your comment. I hadn’t thought about that side of the argument and you made me reconsider my views on the topic. I also underestimated the work load of this class, but I am finding that certain assignments aren’t taking as long as they had in the beginning of the class. (Discussion posts used to take such a long time for me!)

      Thanks again,

  8. Jessica Bonner

    February 13, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Hello, Hannah! What a well-written, honest analysis of your AP U.S. Government and History class! As a future History teacher, I can appreciate students who accurately describe their true feelings toward course assignments and required material. It is obvious from your post that you are an open-minded and critical thinker, because you are able to question your own beliefs and listen to the views and opinions of others. This shows a lot of maturity and wisdom on your part. It is a hard thing to admit that you have changed your mind about an issue. I have enjoyed reading this and look forward to your future posts.
    Education Major at the University of South Alabama
    Mobile, AL

    • hannahlat

      February 24, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      Hi Jessica! Thank you so much for your response! I’m glad you enjoyed my blog post and my feedback on the class. Thanks again for reading our class blog. My classmates have posted a lot of interesting reflections on the class that I’m sure you would find interesting.


  9. Kaitlin Boatman

    February 15, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Hannah, I enjoyed reading your reflection on your AP US Government class. During high school I loved history, so I can join you in the enjoyment of reading your textbook. As a future elementary teacher I hope I can instill in my students the same kind of love for history as it seems your teacher has instilled in you. I hope you keep your critically thinking mind throughout college, because you will need it! Good luck on the rest of your educational road.

    Kaitlin Boatman
    Education Major ad the University of South Alabama
    EDM 310 class

    • hannahlat

      February 24, 2012 at 5:43 pm

      Hi Kaitlin! Thank you so much for your response! I just noticed that I have two responses on this post from education majors at the University of South Alabama. I am curious to know if reading this blog was an assignment for a class?

      Thanks again,

  10. zackboone

    February 16, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Hi Hannah, I really enjoyed your post about textbooks and defending them. I am going to be a history teacher and I too feel like textbooks are a great thing for learning and studying. I do however feel like we need to incorporate technology into our education now more than ever with things changing but, we shouldn’t do away with books. I enjoy technology in class but I do not like everything to be fully online. I like having a book to refer to and I like having teachers to have a one on one interaction with in some subjects as well. Overall Great post! I enjoyed reading it and it’s nice to see someone defend textbooks for a change!


    • hannahlat

      February 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm

      Hello! Thank you so much for your response! I agree with you that technology and textbooks should be used in class. Technology could never take the place for textbooks and textbooks can not replace technology. I learn the best by having a balance of technology and textbooks. Thanks again for your response!



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