AP Capstone Update

Glen Ridge High School introduced its newest AP program, a two part course known as AP Capstone, at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year. It is a research-based class designed to develop skills such as analyzing research, formulating arguments, collaborating and presenting. The first year of the course, AP Seminar, is currently offered to sophomores and juniors who will have the option next year to participate in the second half of the course, AP Research. Mr. Hansen was assigned the challenging role of instructor of the first-time course and has spent a lot of time preparing. While many weren’t quite sure what to expect given the course’s broad curriculum, it has quickly become a success with the 22 students who enrolled. “I have been impressed with the work ethic and intellectual curiosity of the students involved,” notes Mr. Hansen, overwhelmed by the range of academic interests shared by the students. He adds, “The course presented itself as one in which you are practicing college and higher education level skills, and while that’s nice to see on paper, it’s been really impressive to see in action.”. Group work, independence, time management, intellectual curiosity, as well as developing research questions and finding reliable research have been put on display.

The course is the first of its kind to be offered at Glen Ridge High School, creating a unique experience that students will likely not find in any other AP class. Unlike other school experiences, this course is highly reliant on student motivation and independence. By the end of December, students will begin the first of many AP tasks that they will focus on through the duration of the school year. They will be presented with daily opportunities for student centered learning, where the teacher actively steps back for almost the remainder of the school year. Students will use the skills they have learned with little to no guidance as they both independently and cooperatively tackle larger tasks. This design aspect makes the course valuable as it can translate to these students’ future educations and everyday lives.

Once again, the experience with forming, writing, and responding is not typically something most students will focus on until college. Also, student independence and the ability to work with one another will be strengthened. “You reach a point where you need to be able to self advocate and to govern your own learning and while that is typical in college it’s not a bad idea to get a start for that in high school,” Mr. Hansen concludes, “Interpersonal academic skills are being practiced at an early age and the experience will hopefully help these skills develop further before the students go to college.”