Finding Resources and Support in Virtual Communities

Curious about virtual communities? Read on to discover the power of the Advanced Placement Virtual Community. 

I have been teaching Advanced Placement Literature and Composition for over eighteen years. Even so, I frequently have questions, and I appreciate the support of other Advanced Placement teachers. Before virtual communities, I subscribed to an AP Literature ListServ group, which featured discussions on everything from answering open response questions to choosing poetry selections for study. When ListServs became anachronistic, I joined the College Board’s AP Teachers virtual community. The AP Teachers online community is a place where AP teachers can connect with one another, discuss teaching strategies, share resources, and, most importantly, support each other in the difficult job of being an AP Teacher.

It was easy enough to join the community. I simply went to https://apcommunity.collegeboard.org and selected the AP English Community, and then the Literature and Composition Community (English is divided into AP Language and AP Literature). If you’re shy about what to expect in a virtual community, the College Board provides you with a video tour, which explains how you can engage in discussions, share materials, browse the curriculum, use help features, and view member profiles.

I find the Discussion Board particularly helpful. You can reply to already existing threads or create a new one. If you find a particular thread interesting and helpful, you can subscribe to it. The support a teacher receives in the community is outstanding. For example, “Help I Feel Like I’m Sinking (1st Year AP Teacher)” received over 27 replies. The thoughtful responses would most definitely buoy the struggling teacher, with veteran AP teachers providing many great tips and strategies for making it through the year.

Recently, I re-added A Raisin in the Sun to my AP curriculum. Since I haven’t taught the book in a few years, I plan to turn to my virtual community for resources. You can easily search titles of books, specific skills, and even assignments and activities in the Resource Folder in the community. Teachers can browse and filter topics, as necessary, and are even able to see how each resource is aligned to the curriculum. Teachers can also share their own resources with the Community.  Since colleagues are able to rate resources, teachers can find tried and true resources that have already been proven effective.

AP teachers in the virtual community are able to decide whether to permit other members to email them directly from the community, without sharing their email address. They can also choose to receive email updates on member activities within their Community, and they can manage which email notification they’d like to receive.  Educators can also choose to receive a Digest on their subject, (weekly or daily), as well. Finally, teachers are able to connect with individual members of the Community by asking them to join their Network.

Being a member of the AP Literature virtual community has enabled me to keep my AP class and curriculum fresh and relevant.  It’s great to be part of a supportive community filled with practitioners who can relate to many of the same issues I’m experiencing in my classroom each day. And it’s nice to speak with teachers outside my own district because they provide insight and new ideas. Virtual communities can be empathetic, helpful, and fun, and for these reasons, I highly recommend becoming part of one!

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  • RubenJames

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