Having AP Biology for the first time in two years

by David Sanchez (Staff Writer) – 5/17/16

Junior Ezekiel Parks cramming at afterschool tutoring
Junior Ezekiel Parks cramming at afterschool tutoring

Science teacher Michal Kreiselman has been teaching AP Biology for the current school year for her first time at Kennedy and has been preparing her students for the AP test this May.

The class is currently using the Barron’s AP preparatory book to study. The students have been taking practice AP exams every Thursday and Friday since April 7, starting at 7:30 to the end of first period.

The students have the responsibility to get to school on time and prepare for the test themselves because there is no class time used for preparation of the AP test. “The curriculum is just too large to compact everything during 55 minutes of class. Class time is used for students to ask questions on the reading at home and to do labs,” stated Dr. Kreiselman.

The class started the summer before this school year because the students who were planning to take the class had to complete summer assignments that were due the first week of school.

“The summer assignment was definitely a lot of work because of the amount of reading we had to do. I did like how interesting the reading was though, so it made the assignment more enjoyable,” explained junior Alejandra Torres.

The class expected the students to do a lot of work at home. Each AP class typically requires two hours of homework per each hour of class, and the class lived up to that expectation. Students who are considering taking the class are highly encouraged to acquire some sort of self-discipline.

Throughout the school year, the class incorporates many types of collaborative works such as team labs, partner labs, online forums, and study groups. The class isn’t hard on the students just because of the time commitment the class asks for; the curriculum goes into great detail of small aspects that a regular biology class hardly mentions. The textbook that the class uses has chapters on a topic that may only appear as one paragraph in the regular biology textbook.

The class requires that each week the students have to read two chapters from the textbook and answer the corresponding chapter questions, homework assignments, and worksheets that aren’t completed in class.

“We have to turn in all of the week’s work on Friday and have to post on the online forum by Saturday. We also have to take any online quizzes, but we can take them twice to improve our grade. Once at the beginning of the week and another time at the end of the week,” commented senior Paola Noria. The class has been widely deemed one of the hardest APs a student could take.

There are only fifteen students in the class which is a small amount compared to the ideal size which is about twenty. “This year you were only fifteen students gave us less opportunities to mix the groups a little bit, have richer discussions, with more opinions. With a small group, if one or two students are missing, it affects the lesson quite a bit,” expressed Dr. Kreiselman.

The class does have a minor problem in their resources. The current textbook used to teach the class is almost eight years old, so if the students were to use the latest textbook, there would be links the students could use in the textbook and other resources that can assist the students when learning a difficult concept.

The AP Biology curriculum was changed in 2012 but was implemented to classes and the test in 2013. The past curriculum was more heavily focused on vocabulary and memorization.

Even though the College Board redesigned the AP Biology course to focus on analysis, inquiry, and making connections, there is still a lot of material to study, equivalent to about two whole college years. “I hope to add many more interesting and important examples next year, that this year we didn’t have enough time for”, commented Dr. Kreiselman

Dr. Kreiselman will most likely be teaching next year’s AP Biology class, but the amount of classes might change due to the incoming Magnet Program. According to Dr. Kreiselman, many of the incoming freshmen who will be part of the medical magnet have already taken an AP Biology course but not the test.

Having a background of the material is definitely helpful because it will allow the students to further develop known information instead of just introducing complex material. Each teacher teaches differently and may put more of a focus on certain subjects and completely leave out others.

“Having different teachers is fine as long as they had experience in the subject matter, and it will help them when starting out the class. A higher math and chemistry background is helpful but not necessary,” mentioned Dr. Kreiselman.

A student can take physics, for example, and still excel in the class. The knowledge a student enters the class with can only help them.

If students are determined to take the class, it is highly recommended by Dr. Kreiselman to prepare over the summer, learn how to manage your time, use outside resources to help you, have motivation to learn for the entire school year, and get ready to enjoy this enlightening class.