5 Things I’ve Learned In The First Week of the Remote School Year

Hello everyone!

I started my junior year of high school on August 19 and am sitting down to write this after the first (half) week of school. There’s already been quite a few ups and downs, and this is definitely going to be an interesting year for everyone. I’m going to share five things I’ve learned thus far, so keep on reading if you’re interested in hearing about my remote learning experience.

  1. Patience is key. I know this might seem obvious, but it’s SO necessary that I need to include it anyway. As you might have heard from teachers and other staff, it’s difficult on their end too. We all have to be understanding and adaptable, as that’s what this situation is all about. Expect bumps in the road and that you won’t always be prepared for everything coming our way, but be willing to work past it.
  2. The phone needs to be out of sight. This might not be as much of a self-discipline issue for everyone, but I’ve found that I’m way more focused if my phone is away from my desk. I’m not even tempted to look at it or noticing notifications pop up if I can’t see it on my surface at all. There’s already so many possible distractions on a computer/whatever device you’re distance learning on, so extra devices definitely need to be put away.
  3. Zoom can be awkward, but it gets better if you actually participate. I used to be terrified of Zooms and having to speak before I did my writing program over the summer that was run completely on Zoom. That’s helped me so much in this distance learning already–although it was a completely different experience, getting comfortable with Zoom and being able to interact with people I only knew through the screen has made me more confident to participate in my Zoom classes.
  4. You have to reach out if you want to actually interact with your friends. There’s not a virtual equivalent to lunchtime or just walking from class to class with all your friends. Make sure to check in on your friends and see how their virtual learning is going, and just interact as normally as you possibly can.
  5. This is a very independent journey. Try to make the best of it, as you would with anything else. This will impact everyone differently, and there may be different pros and cons of this experience for different people. It will definitely test us and make us stronger, so try to make the most of that. Challenge yourself, but also know when you need screen time breaks or when things are getting overwhelming. Use this time to figure out what works for you and how you can build your schedule a little differently.

I hope you guys enjoyed these few little tidbits of things I’ve learned so far! I will make sure to do an updated one sometime soon. Although I’m definitely still focused on coming up with new writing content, I think it’s important to include some education related stuff, as it is the beginning of the school year, and this will be a school year no one forgets. Please feel free to leave feedback in the comments. Stay safe and healthy out there.

Brooke

Check Out AP Study Resources

Welcome back everyone!

I recently made a website called AP Study Resources with links to videos, study guides, notes, and any other helpful resources I’ve come across that will help you excel in your APs next year! If you’re interested in learning more, keep on reading and check out the site here.

I had the idea to make the website because while searching for extra resources to study for my AP European History and AP Psychology tests this year, it was hard to find everything I needed in one spot. There’s so many amazing free resources on the Internet, but it can be difficult to find them and keep track of them. I decided to get started on making a hub for all of them, and that was that.

I currently only have dedicated pages to the APs I’ve taken (AP Human Geography, AP European History, and AP Psychology) but I have been digging for resources for other classes and more classes will definitely be added to the website soon; it’s in my best interest too, as I will be taking 5 APs next year! The website is currently a rough outline of what I want it to be, but I wanted to get the word out on this blog so you guys are aware of it for next school year and can bookmark it or scan it now.

If you’re interested and end up checking out the site, please let me know what you think and what additional classes you’d like me to add first! I’ll probably do the 5 that I’m taking, and any requested/most common ones next. I hope this can help out some of you guys next year and/or in years to come.

Make sure to check out the website here. I haven’t bought the domain or anything yet since it’s just a side project, but I might in the future if it ends up being helpful to a lot of people just so I can get the word out easier. Stay safe and healthy out there.

Brooke

10 Things I’ve Been Looking Forward to Doing After AP Tests

Welcome back everyone!

If you’re a high school student who took AP classes this year, you would definitely know that APs are officially over! I only took two tests, but considering that I basically had to reteach myself the material for one (AP Psychology) I was still stressed out, especially with the unique online format of the tests this year. Much of my time the past few weeks has been divided between my online schoolwork and then extra studying for my AP tests, so now that APs are over and the actual school year is winding down, I have plenty of free time to focus on relaxing and fun. Keep on reading to find out what I’m planning to fill this newfound time with!

  1. Reading! I had been on a reading roll during quarantine until it got closer to AP tests and I had to give up my leisure reading time for extra studying time everyday. I have a long list of books I’m planning to read once my library reopens, but I also have a few books at home I still hadn’t gotten around to reading. I also recently got a subscription to the Kenyon Review literary magazine, and I’ve been looking forward to reading the latest issue. In addition, I have three books as assigned reading before the Sewanee Young Writer’s Conference (online, of course!) in late June.
  2. Writing! Okay, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise either if you’ve been reading my blog for a while. I had been steadily working on a novel this past month or so and writing 1,000+ words per day, but I also had to put that aside to study for APs the past few weeks. I’ve been looking forward to returning to working on it– hopefully my time away from the piece will have given me a fresh perspective and some newfound inspiration for the chapters to come.
  3. Netflix bingeing. I haven’t gotten around to watching Outer Banks yet, but everybody’s been talking about it so I really want to. I also want to watch season 4 of Riverdale since it’s now on Netflix. I know it’s a hot mess but that’s what makes it entertaining; I love to watch the commentary videos on YouTube making fun of it, so I have an idea of what’s gone on in the season. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine though– I devoured season 3 on train rides and plane rides during my summer trip last year, and the ridiculousness made it entertaining.
  4. Harry Potter movie marathon. I guess this could qualify as Netflix bingeing, but it’s not on Netflix. The Harry Potter movies are going to be on HBO’s new streaming service (which I believe you get for free as long as you pay for the HBO channel), and after rereading the books about a month ago, I’ve been dying to watch all of the movies. To be honest, I only really remember the first four and part of the fifth… well, I really only remember Professor Umbridge’s horrid pink outfits in the fifth and not much else. It’s been years since I watched any of them.
  5. Swimming. If you didn’t know, I live in southern California and it is starting to get hot. I am lucky enough to have a pool at my house– my family has been using it the past few weeks while I’ve stayed inside studying. I’m looking forward to enjoying the pool and hopefully getting a tan.
  6. FaceTiming friends just for fun. I’m still social distancing so FaceTime will have to do for now, but I definitely am looking forward to talking to friends about topics other than school and studying for tests. Make sure to stay in touch with your friends! I know these times can be super lonely, and it’s important to reach out.
  7. Organizing my room. Yes, I’m kind of a neat freak and I find reorganizing my stuff fun. Since I can now recycle a lot of my notes and unwanted assignments from this year, I can definitely reorganize my desk and a lot of my school stuff. I can also bring out all of my summer clothes and try everything on to see what still fits and what I should donate.
  8. (Hopefully) starting a Little Free Library in my neighborhood. This is something I’ve really wanted to do since quarantine started, but I never dove into the research. My neighborhood has a pretty strict homeowners’ association so I’ll probably have to get it approved, but I really hope I can do this by the end of summer. If you don’t know what a Little Free Library is, you should look it up and check out their website. It’s an awesome nonprofit and a really cute concept.
  9. Going on hikes. There’s a ton of gorgeous hikes in my area, but I rarely find myself making plans to go on them. There’s definitely been an increase in people making use of these trails since quarantine started, but I personally haven’t found the time to. Now that I’m not bogged down with school, I’d like to explore more of nature (locally, of course).
  10. Researching colleges. This is kind of a weird thing to be excited about, but I guess I get excited about things most people wouldn’t be. I’m going to be a junior this coming school year, so it’s finally time for me to get serious about researching colleges. I’ve been waiting for this since I was a little kid, so I’m looking forward to embarking on the quest of finding schools I think I would fit in at through extensive online research.

I hope this inspires you to celebrate the end of AP testing and the school year coming to a close. I wanted to address that from some of the comments in this post it may seem like I centered my life around school the past month or so in preparation for AP testing, and although that’s true to an extent, don’t worry; I still managed a somewhat balanced schedule. I just had to sacrifice a couple things since my family’s also been going through some stuff (not corona related) and I still needed my own personal time to spend with them right now. Stay safe and healthy.

Brooke

Should You Take An Online AP Class?

Hello everyone!

AP testing is almost over (to anyone who has an AP test tomorrow, best of luck!) for this year, and you probably have already selected your courses you’re taking next year. If your school doesn’t offer a lot of AP classes/a specific AP class you want to take, or your school limits when and how many AP classes you can take, you might be considering taking an AP course online through an accredited provider.

I did exactly this with AP Psychology since I didn’t have room for it in my schedule at school; I took a self-paced online course through BYU Independent Study during the summer, and then basically retaught myself everything before the AP test. This path might not work for everyone, so keep on reading if you want my advice on whether it will work for you.

Keep in mind that this is all based off of my personal experience and I am not a teacher or education expert! Make sure to talk to your parents and/or counselor to see if they think online AP classes are a good fit for you.

You SHOULD take an online AP class if:

  • You have the funds. Online AP classes are expensive unless you live in a state like Florida that has a program where you can take them for free (use FLVS!). I live in California and we don’t have a program like that, so I had to make sure my parents were okay paying for a class. BYU Independent Study was the most affordable choice for AP Psychology at least, but it’s overall expensive
  • You’re self-motivated and will get the work done. Don’t pile extra work on yourself if it’s just going to stress you out more and you’re going to procrastinate doing it. You’ll have to hold yourself accountable, and no matter how good the teacher of the online class is, you’ll still end up being your own teacher in a lot of ways.
  • You can get an A (or B) in the class to boost your GPA. These classes are super helpful for bumping up your GPA as long as you get a good grade. Make sure your school will accept the credits and put them on your high school transcript if that’s what your after- my school also has a limit on how many online classes you can take, so make sure to check that out too.
  • You’re genuinely interested in the class (or you need it to graduate). Unless you need to take the class or you really want to take the class, it probably will just be a burden and something you dread doing. I was genuinely interested in psychology and didn’t have room in my schedule sophomore year to take the class at my school, so it was worth it for me to take it (especially because of the GPA boost).

You SHOULD NOT take an online AP class if:

  • You want to take an ‘easier’ version of an AP class. Although some online AP classes can be easier than others or the in-class version, this still isn’t the best attitude to have. Most of the time, you’ll still need to put a decent amount of work in, so make sure you’re willing to.
  • You’re mainly taking it to pass the AP exam and get college credit, not because of interest in the class itself. It might be a waste of money to do this. If you’re motivated enough to take extra AP classes/tests, you’re probably motivated enough to self-study the material and take the test without paying for the class you don’t actually care about. I personally didn’t want to self-study since I actually wanted to take the class and I didn’t think I would be self-disciplined enough or have the resources to self-study, but lots of people do it successfully.
  • You have the opportunity to take the same class at school. Unless there’s a scheduling conflict or another reason you’re not able to take the class at school, I would highly recommend taking the classes in person if your school offers them. You’ll have a lot more support leading up to the AP test, and it will overall usually be a better, more complete learning experience.

Another aspect of online AP classes I would like to address is the timing of taking the class. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend taking an online AP class over summer like I did. Although it was useful to get the course done at my convenience in a short period of time, it was much more difficult for me to reteach myself the material and study for the AP test. Taking an online class during the school year might pile on even more to your normal school workload, but it also might be easier when AP tests come closer. This is something you’ll want to consider when deciding to take an online AP course; it’s important to choose the schedule that works best for you.

Lastly, if you’ve decided you for sure want to take an online AP course, here are some reputable providers:

  • FLVS (free for Florida residents like I mentioned, but available to anyone with a price)
  • Apex
  • BYU Independent Study
  • Virtual High School/VHS
  • Laurel Springs
  • UC Scout
  • Johns Hopkins CTY (I think you have to apply first? they’re also extremely pricey and rigorous but are very highly rated by those who take them!)

I hope this helped out anyone considering the pros and cons of online AP courses in deciding whether they would be a good choice for them. I personally plan on taking AP Art History this next year, as I need an art credit to graduate and I don’t have room in my schedule to take the class at school. We’re all in this together! Please let me know if you have any further questions. Stay safe and healthy.

Brooke

A Letter to the Class of 2020

Dear Seniors,

I am so sorry for the loss of your senior year second semester, graduation, and all the activities and celebrations that were supposed to commemorate your hard work leading up to this point. I understand this is a time of mourning and yet a time of excitement at the same time; the unfortunate situation does not strip away these accomplishments and the fact that you have committed to colleges, or that you are, in fact, still graduating.

I cannot imagine what it would be like to be in your position. This COVID-19 crisis has affected the whole world in different ways, but the class of 2020 is all experiencing similar emotions in terms of grieving the loss of finishing the rat race that is high school in its traditional form. As a current sophomore, I’ve looked up to you guys the past year. Observing the seniors and eagerly awaiting the time when you’ll get to be in their shoes is commonplace for underclassmen, but this year is clearly different.

This experience may be defining of this year, but it does not define your high school experience. I’ve seen articles about people trying to organize “redemption proms” at their respective colleges they will be attending, and I hope you are able to achieve this chance at “redemption” in some capacity. Regardless of the eventual outcome, whether your graduation is online, postponed, or cancelled altogether, just know that you are still on the path to bigger and better things in life.

I realize this may sound annoying coming from a sophomore and I know I don’t understand exactly what you’re going through because I’m not in your place, but I want any seniors out there to know that we are here for you. You might be about to enter the next stage of life, but as someone in high school looking forward to being a senior, I do have some idea of what you’ve lost.

Best of luck in all your future endeavors! There will hopefully be opportunities to make your own celebrations and try to make the best of this situation, no matter how difficult it is. Congratulations- regardless of the situation, you still made it.

Brooke

School Is Taking Over My Mind

Welcome back everyone!

Right now, my mind is consumed with everything school related. If you saw my last post about my study plans for AP tests, you’d already know how stressed I am about AP testing coming up. Beyond the couple weeks of studying still ahead of me, school is consuming a large portion of my thoughts in general. This might seem odd considering we’re all in quarantine, school is online, and it’s almost the end of the academic year, but those are precisely the reasons why my mind is scattered in a million places, most of them somewhat related to school.

Since the end of the school year is nearing, that means I will officially be done with sophomore year and be going into junior year. My joking aspirations about college and talking about plans for the future with my parents and counselor a few times a year will turn into actually touring schools I’m interested in, building a college list, and determining where I actually want to apply come senior year. All the “you have time”s and “you don’t have to think about this yet”s turn into “you should be getting started” and “you should be thinking about this.” I’ll have to start studying for the ACT/SAT (and decide which one I want to take, or if I want to try both) and do all that standardized testing junk. I’ll be taking my hardest course load in school so far, and continuing with my activities.

I’ve always been someone that’s looked forward to going to college and leaving home, but it’s still scary to have to start this process and make big decisions. Not to mention in order to hopefully get into whatever schools I apply to, I have to continue working hard and keeping up everything inside and outside of school that I’m already doing. There’s so many things that go into this process at the end of high school, and it’s crazy to think I’ll be getting started in mere months. I don’t know what colleges I’ll be able to visit and which ones I’ll like, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to discern if I genuinely like a school or not. As you can tell by the nature of these worries, I am an over-thinker and someone who plans ahead, so I have done some preliminary research and list-making, but it’s still based off of very limited knowledge in the grand scheme of things.

Another reason school is occupying so much space in my mind is because I miss it. I miss my teachers, and I had such wonderful teachers this year that I’m disappointed I wasn’t able to actually finish out the year with them and I won’t really get to say an in-person thank you and goodbye. I miss clubs and the business of a school week, and I miss being productive in that school hustle way. It’s weird to think how much time will pass before I’ll return to school, and daunting since when I do, it will be junior year and things will be so different/crazy in that way.

Since it’s nearing the end of the year, that also means finals are coming up! Honestly, my teachers haven’t said anything about finals, so I’m assuming we’re not actually having them. My school district switched our grading system so that our work is graded but our grades can only go up, and can’t drop from what they were pre-quarantine and online school. My grades were in a really good place before all this happened, so that was a pleasant surprise for me- I don’t have to stress about maintaining grades and studying for finals. That being said, things still always tend to get busy before the end of the year, especially with AP testing, so I’m still anticipating a bunch of work coming my way.

And, as I mentioned at the beginning, AP testing is stressful. With the new format of the tests and the fact that it’s up to me to study at home by myself, reviewing a year’s worth of material became so much more daunting. I put off studying for a little bit because of how uncertain everything was with testing, but in the past couple weeks I sprung into study mode, and I’m really hoping it pays off. Big tests always stress me out, and it’s consuming my mind right now since I’m at home and technically can be studying all the time; this makes me feel like I should be studying all the time to put myself in the best position possible before test day. I definitely want to be in the best position and headspace possible on test day, but I also don’t want to stress myself out too much.

Preparing for AP testing is also making me more conscious of all the testing I’ll be doing next year. Last year I took one AP test, and at the beginning of this year I took the PSAT, but other than that and my two APs coming up right now, I haven’t had to deal with standardized testing much. Next year, I will have five APs, taking the PSAT again, taking the SAT/ACT, and possibly taking SAT II Subject Tests at the end of the year if I end up planning to take those at that time. I guess so far I’ve done decently well in my standardized testing endeavors, but they do tend to stress me out and consume my mind while they’re looming- I have to get that stress under control before next year since I’ll have way more tests, and I don’t want my brain to constantly be focused on that.

With finishing up my sophomore year and realizing that I’m halfway done with high school, there’s a lot of reasons for school to be on the brain. Especially with being home in quarantine, I’ve had plenty of time to marinate my thoughts on these topics. That being said, I’m trying my best to reduce stress and stick it out, since summer is just around the corner and will hopefully be a lot more stress-free! Good luck to you all on finishing up your school year and taking AP tests 🙂

Brooke

How I’m Studying for the AP Euro and AP Psych Tests

Hello everyone!

It’s AP season, and with the new test format I feel like everyone is more frantic than ever. I’ve just gotten into my crazy study mode and studying is going to be taking over a lot of my time for the next few weeks, so I figured I would share what I’m doing. I made a post like this not too long ago, but my plans have been modified due to the new test format, identifying my strengths and weaknesses, and the fact that I’m a little late to the game for studying AP Psych since I took the course online months ago and need more review. If you’re interested in learning about my study plan, keep on reading!

AP European History

  • My teacher has been posting review videos each week hitting on some main points and questions that people have been emailing him, so I’m watching all of them and taking organized notes on a Google Doc. I’ve also been reading my notes weekly to see if I have any questions to email my teacher for him to address in these videos.
  • I’m using my review book I bought at the beginning of the school year (The Princeton Review Cracking the AP European History Test), only the review chapters though. I’ve been doing the chapter drills and the multiple choice sections of practice tests as a way to judge my comprehension, but I haven’t done any of the writing practice from the book since there’s no point- even the DBQs are a different format.
  • My teacher modified old AP test DBQ prompts to only have five documents and made up a couple of his own, so I’ve done two of those practices so far and plan to try and do a practice for each of the prompts he’s posted.
  • I’ve watched every College Board YouTube review and taken notes on each one. I haven’t done the guided practice except for the full DBQs, since that’s the only thing actually being tested.

What I’m not doing:

  • AP Classroom assignments. I did a couple at first, but my teacher doesn’t assign them/suggest we do them and none of them are the same as what the format of the test will be (even the DBQs are 7+ documents!) so I don’t think it’s an effective use of my time.
  • Reading my textbook. Although I would do this for each unit test in the class, my notes are already a more effective summary for review at this point.

AP Psychology

  • I’m reading through my review book I got at the beginning of the year (The Princeton Review Cracking the AP Psychology Test) and doing the chapter drills as well as all practice test material! The FRQs are the same format as what will be on the test, and the multiple choice is good to gauge my comprehension since I’m very rusty.
  • I’m watching all the College Board YouTube reviews and taking dedicated notes on each. I’m actually doing most, if not all, of the guided practice for these since I think I could use any review I could get.
  • I’m studying my Barrons AP Psychology flash cards I got at the beginning of the year. I’m also using the “Key Terms” list at the end of each chapter in the Princeton Review book and making my own Quizlets to really hammer in the terms.
  • I’m going through the bank of old FRQs on the College Board’s website and practicing as many as I can.
  • Making a content outline for test day with main concepts/people/vocab, etc. since I don’t have solid notes from the course to use on the exam.

What I’m not doing:

  • I don’t have access to AP Classroom for Psych since I took the course online and I’m signed up under “test-only” through my actual school, so I’m not using it for this class either!
  • Using a textbook- I never had one for the class since I took it online, and at this point my review book is much more helpful anyways.
  • Using most/all of the resources from when I actually took the course. This is what’s making studying for this test so stressful for me- when I took the course online, we focused a lot more on multiple choice and simple vocabulary/concept mastery, so I don’t really have anything to go off of for FRQs.

I hope this helps anyone out studying for AP tests, especially if you’re in these specific AP classes. I wish you all the best in your studying, so good luck and get grinding! We’re all in this together, and hopefully testing goes smoothly even with all the changes.

Brooke

Finishing A High School Yearbook – What You Should Know

Hello everyone!

I am happy to say that as of a couple weeks ago, I along with the rest of my school’s yearbook staff finished off the 2019-2020 yearbook! This was my first year on the yearbook staff- I applied at the end of freshman year because I wanted to try my hand at writing in a more journalistic manner, and the experience was everything I hoped for, plus a lot more. I had no previous yearbook or journalism experience. I applied to be a writer, but I ended up doing a lot of design and the slightest bit of photography as well, so I dabbled in all three of the main areas. If you’re interested in what you can expect in a year of being on staff from brainstorming until submitting the last deadline for print, keep on reading.

Just for easier organization, I’m going to break it down by month and the bulk of what was completed. Keep in mind that every school runs things slightly differently, and depending on what (if any) preparation you do in summer for the school year, your brainstorming and prep time in the beginning of the year may be longer or shorter.

May 2019

  • I found out that my application to be in yearbook for the 2019-2020 school year was approved (!!!)
  • All members received information on summer yearbook camp- we attended the Walsworth 4-day camp at Chapman University and attendance was highly suggested but not mandatory unless you were an editor, so not all new members ended up signing up (I did)

June 2019

  • Turned in money and forms to go to the summer yearbook camp at Chapman, set up carpools and our staff spirit outfits (they have a spirit competition there and there’s theme days)
  • Made sure yearbook was on my schedule for the next school year
  • Went over an agreement of dates/deadlines and understanding what was expected of me as a staff member, signed and turned it in

July 2019

  • Yearbook Camp!!! It was such a fun experience and I got to room with one of my best friends (the person who convinced me to join) and bond with the staff members that I didn’t know. I took the class “Yearbook 1: A Bit of Everything” with my fellow newbies and Walsworth staff taught us the basics of Adobe InDesign (our school’s design program of choice, if you use Walsworth as your publisher I’m pretty sure you have to use InDesign), the format of a copy and captions, and how to take good photos.
  • At camp, we brainstormed ideas for our theme/book title, cover, and main colors/design elements we would be using throughout the book. We ended up keeping the theme and title, but the cover and design elements were changed once the school year started.

August 2019

  • At school orientation, each member had to pick a shift to hand out flyers at our assigned table and remind people to buy their yearbooks. We also just promoted our staff in general, and the purchase of senior tributes.
  • School started, and we did some activities to get to know each other since there were about 8 people who didn’t attend camp. Each editor gave a presentation on something we would need to know (side coverage, captions, how to find an angle for a copy, photography, more InDesign tips, etc.)

September 2019

  • We got our assignments for the first deadline, which was pretty much only fall sports. I had one copy and one design. For reference, D1 was one of our smallest deadlines and our staff was about 25 people, and every non-editor staff member had 2 or 3 assignments. Our book is around 400 pages because my school is fairly big, but the editors handle a lot (the pages with school pictures, senior tributes)
  • We also got mod assignments, and each person had to do two to four mods with a partner on various topics/school activities. They were usually open-ended questions or school events, and one person would get photos while the other got interviews. My partner and I had one on our school’s food fair, one on asking people what their favorite school English book was, and so on
  • Photographers and writers had almost four weeks to get their content for D1 done, then designers had a week to design their spreads using that content. Our editor-in-chief made us design checklists with all the specifics (font size, how many photos to use on a page, how to space everything out) but a lot is up to us as far as layout as long as we follow the checklist guidelines.
  • Once you turn a copy or photos in, the editors and my yearbook advisor would give feedback. We’d make the edits and if the designer had already finished, they would have to adjust accordingly. If not, the edited version would be waiting for the designer to put in
  • Writers were allowed to do interviews during our yearbook class period by pulling people out for a few minutes (we have a system) or by text. Photographers can pull people out for photos for some stuff and getting quotes for captions, but for sports and most events they have to physically be present and taking photos there. Designers do everything on InDesign on a computer at school, or take the school laptops home if they need to.

October 2019

  • We finished our D1 assignments, got them edited, etc.
  • At the end of the month, we submitted all the pages that were part of the first deadline and got our assignments for D2, which was mostly comprised of student life and academics pages

November 2019

  • We got our first official “grade” in the class from D1. Each deadline is 100 points, and that’s usually the only thing we get graded on. Points are taken off if your assignments were partially incomplete/unfinished or late
  • We worked on our D2 assignments, using the same checklists/guidelines as D1, but with higher expectations. I had a copy on our academic decathlon, a copy on our technology classes, and a spread on our special needs sports program for both the copy and design
  • We got our “proofs” back from Walsworth for D1 pages, so any issues with things not translating well on the page (off-color photos, etc.) or mistakes that weren’t caught previously had to be fixed, and sent for final submission/print

December 2019

  • We turned in our D2 assignments at the beginning of the month, got them edited, and they were submitted
  • We got our D3 assignments, which were mainly winter sports. I had two copies and a design.
  • Winter break ate up a good chunk of the month

January 2020

  • The same week as finals week (towards the beginning of the month), D3 assignments were due.
  • We got our D2 proofs back and edited them, then submitted for print
  • We got our D4 assignments (small deadline because it included a bunch of senior tributes stuff and other things the editors were responsible for) and I had two copies

February 2020

  • We submitted our D4 assignments
  • We got D3 proofs back and edited them, submitting for print
  • We got our D5 assignments assigned- everyone had one mod on a club at our school, plus I had two designs and two copies, which were all for spring sports

March 2020

  • We got our D4 proofs back and edited them, submitting them for print
  • We submitted our D5 assignments the last week before our school shut down for coronavirus/quarantine, luckily. That was our last deadline, so the book was completed! However, some sports hadn’t had games yet and we were planning on waiting to get photos for proofs, so those pages had to be reworked. Luckily, my pages weren’t missing any content and I got everything done early.
  • The few leftover pages that had to be scrapped because they were on spring events got fixed up by the editors- one was an emotional letter to seniors about the coronavirus situation, and the other was about what people were doing in quarantine

April 2020 (adjusted because of COVID-19)

  • D5 proofs came in, so the editors and my yearbook advisor had to figure that out
  • We’ve been in quarantine and doing online school, so since the yearbook is done, luckily we haven’t been assigned any work so it’s one less class to worry about

May 2020 (TBA and adjusted because of COVID-19)

  • I think my advisor is planning on giving us a portfolio assignment so we’ll have a portfolio of all the pages we worked on this year
  • Editors for next year will probably be chosen

June 2020 (TBA and adjusted because of COVID-19)

  • Brainstorming for next year’s book
  • Signing up for camp
  • Not much else since we’ll still be online and school ends the second week of June

I hope this gives you an idea of what a year working on the yearbook looks like! There’s definitely a lot more that goes on day-to-day between major deadlines and events, so I’ll post a more detailed guide in the future if you guys are interested. Let me know if any of you guys have questions about yearbook- even if they may not apply to my specific role or school’s yearbook setup, I’ll try my best to answer them.

Brooke

My Updated Study Plans for Online AP Tests – Euro & Psych

Hello everyone!

What with the rescheduling and completely new format of the AP tests for this year to accommodate quarantine and coronavirus conditions, we’ve all had to reevaluate our study plans. For people taking the APs in class, this is frustrating and seems to undermine your year of hard work. For self-studiers, this is a bad thing and a good thing all at once, as there’s less to study but no one to guide you. Today I’m going to be sharing my study plans for the two AP tests/classes I’m taking this year (AP European History and AP Psychology), so keep on reading if you’re interested.

First, I’ll start with AP Euro, the AP class that I actually take at school. Since the test is just composed of a DBQ and nothing else, my teacher has come up with sample DBQ prompts for each week. We don’t really have any other online assignments besides figuring out how we’re going to study for the test, and making sure we keep up with his posted updates about test information/when he ends up grading our practice DBQs. That being said, that means I’m kind of my own to self-study for this test as well. However, we had almost finished all the content for the class, and we already finished through the period that’s being tested a month ago, so I’m thankful for that.

AP EURO STUDY PLAN

  • The aforementioned practice DBQs. My teacher is posting a huge document of prompts/documents and suggesting we do one to two practices a week, particularly focusing on pacing. He’s kind enough to look over our work and give us extra pointers if we ask for them, but they’re optional and not being graded yet (it’s a long story, but my district isn’t allowing any of the online work we do to be graded yet).
  • Watching the AP review sessions that College Board is putting out. I’m not going to watch the ones that cover topics not on the test since for the most part, my class was ahead and already learned about them, but I’ll watch the ones that review content tested. It’s always good to learn from someone new and hear a different voice on the topic, and the teacher in the video might focus on little details or events that mine didn’t.
  • Reading my review book as a cram of information. I already bought a Princeton Review prep book at the beginning of the school year, and I don’t intend to let it go to waste. I’ve used it as a resource for summing up major events in general a couple times throughout the year when cramming for unit tests, and I think that will still make it helpful in this case as well.
  • Rewriting/organizing some of my notes. I take pride in my Euro notes because they’re very detailed, but they’re not the neatest. Since the test is open-note but also on a major time constraint, I don’t want to have to flip through a bunch of messy, tiny notes where words are shoved in every square inch of the paper. I plan on organizing them by unit, and maybe typing them up so they’re easier to read, and highlighting major events or details.

AP Psych is a bit different because I took the class online over summer, so the information’s a bit fuzzy in my head. I’m kind of glad I don’t have to re-learn every single detail, but it’s still difficult because I know the multiple choice would’ve been easier to study for. I’m lucky enough to have a couple friends who are also taking Psych, so I’m hoping to get some study tips or help from them as well.

AP PSYCH STUDY PLAN

  • Watching the College Board AP review sessions. I’ll probably watch all of them, even the ones that are on topics not tested, just because I find psychology interesting and feel like I didn’t learn everything from my online class. My reasoning for doing this is the same as with Euro though, so I won’t explain further.
  • Using my resources. I bought the Barron’s flashcards and a Princeton Review book a few months ago in preparation for self-studying, and just like with Euro, I’m going to make the most of them. I still need to brush up on content, so reading the review book and testing myself with flashcards will still be helpful, even though there’s no multiple choice.
  • Going over FRQs I wrote for the class. Since the FRQ format is still the same, I can look at all the graded FRQs I wrote in my online class over the summer. I know that the two FRQs on the AP test are going to be specific types of questions, so I’ll try and find if any of the questions I did were comparable.
  • Practicing tons of FRQs!! – At this point, that’s really the main thing I should do once I brush up on the actual content of the class. I’ll focus in on the specific types of questions they’re asking and try and find as many sample questions as I can. I’ll probably ask my friends in Psych to look over them if they’re willing.

I hope these study plans help you out if you wanted to know what a fellow student was doing, or if you just wanted to get motivated to start studying now. I know this is a weird change, but hopefully it works out in our favor. I know the shortened test seems to cheapen the value of how hard we’ve worked all year, but at least test days will be shorter and it might be easier to do well on the tests. Above all, we’re all in this together 🙂

P.S. Screw the College Board!

Brooke

My Summer Writing Program Application Process

Hello everyone!

I haven’t discussed this topic on my blog in a while, but I applied for two summer programs. I haven’t heard back from either one yet, but the decisions should be coming back by the end of this month! It’s the first “major” application process I’ve ever had to go through for anything, and I learned a lot from it since I navigated it myself. I’ll definitely do an update once I get my decisions back, but I just wanted to give an overview of the process I went through.

At first, I wasn’t even sure what type of program I wanted to go to. I was looking at a lot of creative writing ones, but they all seemed so competitive, and I was just looking at lots of different types of programs since I knew I wanted the experience in general. However, as I went down the rabbit hole of research on various blogs, forums, and college advice websites, it became clear I was most interested in a writing program. Even though most are super competitive, I wanted to shoot my shot so that if I ended up paying to go to a program, it was going to be worth the money.

I ended up applying to the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop and the Sewanee Young Writers Conference, both prestigious and competitive writing programs. However, I did not only apply to them for prestige- I’ve been obsessed with Kenyon for a while, and I fell in love with Sewanee’s program after reading about it on multiple sites. Both are in such beautiful locations that I know would be great environments for writing, and both schools are strong in creative writing. I did not apply to Iowa Young Writer’s Studio as I figured it was too competitive and I only wanted to apply to two programs.

I was able to narrow it down to these two programs by making tons of lists. First, I made a master list of programs. I then realized I wanted to go to a writing program and made a master list of only writing programs. I started to individually research each program, and made a smaller list based on fit, price, and length/dates. Then after doing even more research and seeing what the applications consisted of, I went with my gut and decided to apply to Sewanee and Kenyon- go big or go home.

The Kenyon application was super simple. I had to write a 300-word essay about a specific moment when words were meaningful to me. I chose a moment from preschool where I would read to my classmates and I felt in control and powerful from my ability to tell stories. The only other requirements were to fill out a basic information form (including a transcript) and get a letter of recommendation from a teacher, so I filled the form out and asked my current English teacher for a recommendation later, which she thankfully wrote super fast! I might share the essay on here if I end up getting in (fingers crossed!).

The Sewanee application was much more complicated. I had to submit an eight to ten page sample of creative writing in my choice of genres (which we had to select) as well as a statement of purpose that was suggested to be between 500-750 words. They gave a list of things to discuss in the statement of purpose so I used that as a guideline and kind of went all over the place with it, but I spent a long time choosing what to send for my sample. I only sent poetry, so I just sent off all the poems I was most proud of. You also had to fill out another standard information form including a transcript (they accept unofficial ones, so I just took a screenshot of my student portal), and get a letter of recommendation, so my teacher used the same one from the Kenyon application.

I submitted both applications in the second week of February, as soon as my teacher finished the recommendation letter. Sewanee has a rolling deadline and starting reviewing applications about a week and a half ago as I’m writing this, and Kenyon’s application was due March 1st but they release decisions in late March. I’m not expecting anything since I know I’m not the most polished or experienced writer and these are both competitive programs, but I would be so blessed and ecstatic to get in and to attend either one. I’m hoping for the best and I’ll update you soon- wish me luck!

Brooke