Derek Fang Osis: 274646256 Teacher: Ms.
Ramnath Subject: AP World History As an avid student in the studies of world history, I took the extra step of applying for an AP class at the end of freshmen year. I had just finished the first year of the global history course with my teacher Mr.Fine; with a final grade of 92. It was by far my favorite class because I had a lot of passion for the subject. Mainly the reason I enjoyed the subject and class so much was because Mr.Fine not only provided an effective learning environment, but also an interesting lesson to have everybody in the class involved. He highly encouraged students who were succeeding to go even further in the studies and told students who had weaker grades to come to tutoring and re-explained the lesson to them. When it came to talk about applying for an AP history course, he mentioned that it’s not for everyone but said he encouraged a couple of students to do it if they wanted to. I was one of those students. I applied for AP World History and went to him afterschool to talk about the course. One whole summer later, I found out that I had been accepted and the class appeared on my schedule. I’ve also heard all the praise about how Ms.Ramnath is and I felt comfortable being in this class despite the pre-cautions of how an AP class works. On the first day of class, Ms.Ramnath took the time to introduce herself and explain the rigorous challenges brought upon the course. The most important issue she came across was that this year, every class only had a single period in contrast to last year’s double period classes. We would have to move faster and work harder. It also doesn’t help to know we lose time to holidays and vacations. Plus, Hurricane Sandy cut out a week and a half’s time and only two days are given back in late February. Ms.Ramnath also stressed about how much she will help us every step of the way and will commit to success. Of course, that prep talk was just for introducing and settling us into the class.
As a young teacher, Ms.Ramnath supposedly has four years of experience in teaching AP World History. She’s had students succeed and students fail. After the first marking period, I had an 86 in the class. My first thoughts were that I needed to work harder although I had a pretty fair grade. A pretty fair grade won’t on the AP exam in May. Only 6.7% of students who took that exam last year achieved a five out of five score. Everybody wants to see each other do well and get a 5 but let’s be realistic. 6.7% of 30 students in a classroom is 2.01. It’s expected that two people will have a five out of a large group of students when prestige colleges want to see a four or five score on the exam to accept the college credit. I really want to do my best and achieve that. After the first month into the course, I started having second thoughts. Was I getting the education I need to prepare for the exam? Honestly, I thought I hadn’t learned much from the class. A couple months later, and I could confirm it. I really wasn’t learning much from the class and had to do everything on my own. Ms.Ramnath doesn’t provide the help or needs for this subject. The most notable part about her teaching style is what we do in class. You can ask any of her students and they will respond “we don’t do much in class.” It’s so ironic that she constantly mentions that we’re behind on schedule and we have to catch up in the 40 minutes that we have. On average, we only spend 10-15 minutes of the 40 minutes doing work. For example, the Tuesday everyone came back from January Regents week, she spent the first 15 minutes of class socializing with multiple students about tea and health. Yes, tea. When she does move on with the lesson, she uses poorly created powerpoints that are 50+ slides long that don’t get to the point of the lesson. At max, half a page of notes are written within a period on an average work day. Sometimes when we don’t finish the powerpoint in class, she puts it as optional homework to finish reading it. Optional homework to do. This is connected to how she gives homework assignments and tests/quizzes. If classwork was bad enough, homework is a huge issue. The last time I remember her collecting, genuninely going through the assignment, and returning the homework was in September. It’s a lack of effort that lead to many of her students skipping her homework. Most of the homeworks are 20-30 page readings in the Stearns textbook with a few questions. Here’s the problem. She doesn’t bother to collect it or go over the assignment. The reading is usually not
even related to what we do in class and the textbook is terrible. When it’s not textbook hw, it’s Moodle hw. This involves reading powerpoints or documents of some sort. They’re usually poorly written, confusing to read, and difficult to analyze. It doesn’t prep us and she doesn’t go over what we read at all. I wish she would enforce to homework more so I could get more out of it and be prepared for the next class, knowing what topics we have been covering. Sometimes, we do essays based on the ones given in the AP exam. The first essay we wrote in the beginning of the year wasn’t even handed back to us. She put a grade up on Skedula but never handed back the paper so the students could assess the mistakes they made. Winter break assignment was only 5 questions long but they were practically their own mini essay. Answers had to be throughly written and required a lot of research since we were entering a new topic. Many of my peers have told me to do it earlier because it required a lot of work. A friend of mine finished the assignment, over a time of two days (he also worked on other homeworks from other classes). She went over the answers in class and collected it. But she never handed it back a month later. This ties into the test/quizzes she assigns. The first test of the year had terrible results. Many people fell into the 50-70 score range. She even handed out extra credit because we did that bad. Many of the test questions, give or take 10 or 15, are taken out of a website for the Stearns textbook. Sometimes the questions asked are completely strange to me. I’ve never seen this in any classwork or homework assignment before and I end up guessing. After the test, I go back to find the answer and regret that I wish I knew prior to taking it. Recently, we’ve been having a lot of open note quests. These quests only count for half a test but they are chaotic. They’re usually given to us in a rush because we don’t have time to cover a chapter. The first open note quest she gave us was when we were going over the Mongolian empire. The problem was that the quest also involved the next chapter, Feudal Japan. Since we’ve never covered this yet, everybody in class printed out sheets and notes from the textbook and websites. During the quest, you would just skim for the answer to the question, never fully understanding what we were supposed to learn. We never go over tests or see the questions we took. The last quest was the worst thing to have happened all year. Ms.Ramnath pushed our next quest after the winter break. The quest would cover three chapters; Modernization of Russia, Latin America, and African civilizations. We weren’t doing any material related to these three chapters in the classwork or homework. Everybody ended up having to learn three whole chapters of information in one week to try to pass this quest, only to forget this information a week later. The
quest was 30 short and long response questions that was required to be completed in about 35 minutes. It was a pain to have to print out almost 40 sheets of notes, read them, and then have no idea what I just read when I finally sit down for the exam. When she said we had 15 minutes left, to finish, small whispers of “what?” and “how?” were heard. I was only up to about question 10 by 20 minutes. When she called pencils down, I was furious. I had only wrote down answers for 15 questions, half of the quest. I ended up getting 13 out of those 15 questions right, which is pretty good but that’s not why I was so angry. We were so pressed for time while taking the quest. To have to learn three whole chapters off of textbooks and notes in a week, while doing a completely different topic in classwork and homework, is a huge pain. To be expected to take an exam at the end of the week? No, that’s a terrible idea. I’ve already forgotten almost everything I’ve learned from the chapters three weeks later with a poor score on the quest. Then I wonder if it’s even worth turning back and learning those chapters for future reference. Or is she going to pull this sort of thing again? It’s a headache because I don’t want to predict what will happen or end up guessing wrong and learning something I’ll never see for the rest of the year. I think I’ve spent enough time on my part considering I’ve bought two review books to help me study and prepare. We had to write an essay based off of the changes and continuities essay on the AP exam. I took those two review books and read the information and guidelines as help to writing. I ended up getting a nine out of a seven. I read the textbook, took notes and outlines, and studied. I ended up getting a 13 out of a 30 on a quest. That result lead me to the decision that I should study on my own. But it’s already too late into the year. With barely three months left to prep for the AP exam, I don’t think I can learn the entire World History course on my own. I’ve lost confidence in myself and in how well this class is going to turn out. Even though Mr.Fine’s class gave me passion about the subject, I can’t help to feel that if I stay, I’m committing suicide to my grade and to my score on the AP exam. I know I’m not going well at this rate. I am strong in this subject, but not strong enough to take an AP World History exam practically on my own. This is why I would like a request to transfer to a global class for the second semester of my sophomore year.