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What only 4 weeks? It feels like a lifetime.

13 Feb

The beginning experience of AP American Government online has been an exciting but familiar one. Online classes are not new to me, because last summer I took one that focused on the Harlem Renaissance. Though this was an honors class, I felt that the grading for the writing was on an AP English scale. Because I had not taken an AP English class yet, I was at disadvantage. Although my first experience with that online course was difficult, thinking about taking another try at them was not, because online classes suit my odd free time hours. Because I have a love for politics and American government, the decision on which online course to take was an easy choice. However, I did question taking on a seventh class, because that would fill my schedule completely, and no one else from my school was going to enroll in the class. The risk of trying something new by myself has come to be one that I devote a lot of time to and really enjoy.

Taking part in the online AP Government class was the best decision, I have made in 2012. Never before would I have imagined that doing work outside of a normal school day would be enjoyable. Never would I have imagined that after getting off of work at 11:30 p.m. on a Saturday night that I would come home and work on AP Government homework till 3 am the next morning. Others in my school who are enrolled in AP online classes see my homework load and ask why is there so much each week. Because I have no answer, I shrug my shoulders and keep on working. In this class yes the workload is heavy with reading and videos, but the reward is being about to discuss what you have learned with your classmates. Each assignment asks a different question which keeps me going. Because each unit has a different focus, your attention is never lost.

Hopefully, it’s not surprising to say that my favorite part of AP Government is online discussions. Though it’s likely that I will never meet the students in this class, I feel a connection. In the beginning, I wondered if other students would be offended if I disagreed with some ideas. Everyone who knows me from school knows that my family is loud and opinionated, but I am not like that at all. Instead, there are only two classes that I speak in. Not because I have nothing to say, but because I’m not sure if anyone wants to hear my opinion. This class allows me to speak on issues, which have been present in my life and have influenced me. Sometimes I feel like other students think that some issues are not connected to them or that the issues we research from the 70’s, 80’s, or 2000’s are not applicable today, but the weekly discussions help us focus on how government policies affect everyday life. One thing I have regretted so far in this course is not having time to join Skype sessions. There have been two already, and everyone raves about how awesome they are. Because I have missed out due to work, I have decided that I will join the next one even if I’m at work.

With the topic of this class being government and politics, there is a constant examination of history, and how it is a learning cycle. We examine the ever-changing government with the help of Wilson’s text. Though his book is full of bias opinions, they do not overshadow the main goal of educating a reader on several broad topics.  No textbook I have ever read on American government puts events in history in such simple English as he does which is appreciated.

While thinking about this class and how I incorporate it into everyday life, I thought back to being at Disney World last week for a dance competition. Directly in front of Magic Kingdom are the words of Walt Disney “Let the Memories Begin.” Maybe, it’s just me, but I felt that the framers of the Constitution could have said these words. In this course, we have studied the men who wrote and presented the ideas in the Constitution and who also worked diligently to create a balance of power. Because the Constitution is not set in stone every generation has the chance to interpret it differently. Because the interpretation can change from generations different memories are created. While being involved in this course, we examine the memories of our government, but it also sets up a path for the future.  So let us go forth as educated citizens creating our own memories through our journey of AP Government!

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10 Comments

Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Learning

 

10 responses to “What only 4 weeks? It feels like a lifetime.

  1. Shauna Liverotti

    February 14, 2012 at 7:11 am

    I love your comments. As a former virtual school teacher and now a content specialist for AP Social Studies e-courses I truly enjoyed reading this! One thing that seems to really make the difference in your course in the teacher–much like in a brick and mortar school. Without a strong teacher in a virtual class, the e-class is no more than clicking through a series of information. The Skype sessions sound really engaging. Please do take the time to join in on those. I promise that it will be time well spent. If you really cannot for them in often times teachers will record sessions for you to listen to at a later date.

    What I love about virtual education is that students are not prisoners of time and even the quiet kids have a voice. Also, you can learn at the “best” time for you whether that is 11:30 at night or in the morning. Thank you for your willingness to look at school as a verb, not as a noun. Reading this made my day and do keep me updated on the things that you really like as well as the things that you think are totally lame.

    Ms. Liv (Florida Virtual School–Orlando, FL)

     
    • dbambi

      February 14, 2012 at 9:35 am

      Ms. Liv, I totally agree that a strong teacher is necessary for an online class to work. With that being said, Mr. Gwaltney has been a great instructor, because he makes the learning come from so many areas. As a class, we could be using itunes lecture, voicethread, and google collaboration all for one assignment. Also when the next skype session occurs, I will be apart of it for sure. Thanks for your comment, and I will definitely keep you updated on what’s awesome or lame.

       
  2. Jac

    February 14, 2012 at 9:14 am

    So great to hear your thought process behind this online experience. Your words will help teachers create meaningful experiences that bring together people from all over the world to share an learn around common themes.

     
    • dbambi

      February 15, 2012 at 7:16 am

      Thanks for your comment Jac which I appreciate greatly! I’m glad to know that my experience will help others who are willing to take a chance and enroll with online courses. If you ever have any questions, do ask.

       
  3. rwentechaney

    February 14, 2012 at 11:36 am

    dbambi, I love the section about your online discussions. I have found the same. I took several online classes during my graduate school years. The connections I made in those online class discussions have lasted longer than the ones I made in face-to-face classes. I have a couple theories why….

    1) I get to choose with what and whom I want to engage. It gave the quieter of us in our group a chance to have an equal voice. And an equal choice to connect.

    2) The online connections have been easier to maintain, despite moves, babies, changes in jobs, etc…. Our communication doesn’t get disrupted as much by changes of geography or schedule, like face-to-face connections often do.

    3) I love my in-person discussions with friends and family. I never want to give up time around the kitchen table or the campfire. BUT…. I enjoy debating politics and economics and similar topics just as much online (maybe more) as I do face-to-face. I can see how this is a good fit for AP Government.

    Best of luck to you! May you make friendships that extend beyond your class site.

     
    • dbambi

      February 15, 2012 at 7:13 am

      Thanks rwentechaney for your comment, and I agree with all the theories you listed for why online classes work so well. Just extending to your point of how versatile the online classes are to an everyday schedule, I don’t think that a lot of people know this. It’s not until they have taken a class that this realization is made which is why many schools are requiring at least one class be online to graduate. Sometimes though I wonder if this is a good idea. What do you think? Also it’s awesome to hear that your connections made during classes online have lasted through the years which I am hoping can be the same for me.

       
  4. Dayna Laur

    February 14, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    It is great to hear such a positive response to this course and format. As an AP Government teacher, however, I am wondering if you can back up your comment that Wilson’s text is full of bias? I know the text inside and out and would like to know if you could provide some specific examples.

     
  5. Rob King

    February 15, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Terrific observations, Amber!

    Wait–let me get this right. You’re taking a full class load, an AP history online class, dance lessons, and trips to Disney World all while working a job? You really do have it all.

    I’m pleased to know that your class encourages dissenting points of view. You spoke of the framers of the Constitution, and they themselves were a dissenting bunch. As you indicated, each generation has to do a bit of reframing of the Constitution to make sure that it keeps up with modern conditions, and I feel that with thinkers like you, this document is in excellent hands!

     
    • dbambi

      March 6, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      Thanks for your comment Mr. King, and yeah I have a busy plate this year. By being busy, I’m never bored! With your comment of “dissenting points of view,” I believe my teacher really encourages it by making replies to discussions mandatory. Instead of the typical boring reply of repeating the author, we usually ask questions or compare ideas. Once again, your comment is greatly appreciated and have a good one.

       
  6. Ross Mannell

    February 16, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Hello dbambi,

    Throughout life we can meet challenges, some large and some small. Our choice often becomes a choice of taking a risk or letting a challenge slip by. You chose to enter an online course with no others from your school, one involving a great deal of extra homework yet you are thriving on the learning. I know the feeling of finding my way through learning into an area where challenges and extra work are not a burden because of our interest.

    You make valid points when talking of governmental decisions and the impact such decisions have without people realizing. While a decision may not directly effect you, governmental decisions can have flow on effects throughout the community and may impact indirectly.

    I have a short quote in a quotes file I keep. I am unaware of what party he is/was but U.S. Senator Sam I. Ervin makes a valid point…

    “If men and women of capacity refuse to take part in politics and government, they condemn themselves, as well as the people, to the punishment of living under bad government.”

    Accepting the challenge of better knowing your government may one day allow you to be of influence in changes for the betterment of society in general. You may be a creator of your own memories and in the memories of others. This post shows you have the ability and the future will provide the challenges,

    @RossMannell
    Teacher, NSW, Australia

     

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