Oak Mountain High School is now offering a blended course, for Advanced Placement Government and Macroeconomics. Instead of taking one course per semester the students spend the entire school year with teachers Susan Schwartz for AP Government and John Milton for AP Macroeconomics.
The two teachers have 140 students spread among three class periods. Each class period is separated into two teams, purple and green. Students spend two days a week with each teacher, reserving Fridays for either joint classes or third day in one of the two classes.
The blended class still counts as two separate courses and allows the students to take an AP Exam for both subjects at the end of the school year. This gives students the opportunity to receive college credit for the work they have been doing. In the end, the students will essentially still be spending one collective semester with each teacher, but the class time is spread out over a year-long period.
Being with the AP teachers for a full year, instead of just one semester, is one reason for the blended concept. Previously, students who took one of the AP courses during the Fall semester had to wait five months before taking the national AP exams, which are administered in May.
“When I looked at my scores from last year, most of my 1’s and 2’s were from the first semester,” said Schwartz. “This will solve the one-semester problem.”
The teacher are hopeful the extra class time will lead to an increase in scores among the students taking the exams, especially since it allows for a much longer review time. The blended course is also allowing both teachers to collaborate lessons and provides a broader learning experience for the student. It also simulates what college-bound students will experience with their classes only meeting certain days of the week.
Oak Mountain Senior Cooper Gray, who is participating in the blended class, said it is a great concept that he feels will get better as the teachers and students get used to a slightly different schedule than what they are accustomed to. Staying in a routine with the schedule, which has been interrupted a few times due to weather days and other school-related activities, is the only complaint from students who have otherwise eagerly embraced the concept.
“Mrs. Schwartz and Mr. Milton are both great teachers and compliment each other very well,” Gray said. “They are doing a great job and this program is something that I believe is going to be crucial for success on May’s test.”
“I am a very focused student, but, like most kids, I find it arduous to do the same type of work over and over,” added Shannon Hill. “This schedule has given me an opportunity for a break in the mundaneness of a five-day a week course. I have thoroughly enjoyed the mixture.”
One project the students have completed is a Coca-Cola commercial featuring some of the important terms and concepts from both courses on bottles of Coca-Cola. Milton assisted students with this project by helping with the funding and budgeting of the video.