ACTFL Pre-Conference Work Shop - November, Denver

Kimberly Thomson (Jan 26, 2012)
Italian Teachers from across the country gathered on the "Front Range" to learn about the new College Board expectations for the AP Italian Language and Culture Exam. In this workshop lead by Beth Bartolini-Salimbeni and Bruna
Petrarca Boyle, esteemed Italian language educators and authors, teachers were guided through the course and exam description and the philosophy behind the new design. Teachers were also given advice for course development, where to go to find resources and given suggestions on how to create exam practice materials. The listening and reading sections which measure a students interpretive language skills have remained unchanged from format of the exams administered in 2006 to 2009. However, the writing portion of the exam is now divided into two sections: an interpersonal writing task, in which students will respond to an email maintaining the formal register in their response, and a presentational writing task, in which students will write a persuasive essay based on three stimuli representing differing points of view on a given cultural topic. The speaking tasks consist of an simulated conversation and a two minute oral presentation. In the two minute presentation students are expected to make cultural comparisons. The content of each of these exam tasks is structured around six broad themes: Global Challenges, Science and
Technology, Beauty and Aesthetics, Contemporary Life, Families and Communities and Personal and Public Identities.
Teachers were able to study the College Board rubrics to deepen their understanding of how students will be evaluated. A complete course description along with rubrics and sample exam questions can be found at http://apcentral.collegeboard.com.
The AP course is designed to show how well a student interprets/understands written and spoken Italian and how well they communicate by speaking and writing in interpersonal and presentational contexts. Mrs. Petrarca-Boyle stressed how important it is for our Italian programs to develop activities that mirror these performance tasks while remaining level appropriate. The new design of the AP Exam reflects the College Board's desire to measure a student's "proficiency" in the language; the exam evaluates how a student"functions in the language" and not the student's understanding of "how the language functions". While students must still learn language structures, the workshop focused heavily on the fact that these structures must be given a context and must always be used to convey meaning, at all levels of instruction.  Ms. Bartolini-Salimbeni wrapped up the full day workshop by reviewing the syllabus writing and audit process for teachers desiring to have their courses approved by the College Board and urged teachers to visit the AP Italian Language and Culture Home Page for more resources. This being the first year of the new format and due to the circumstances surrounding the 2 year suspension of the course, teachers have had less than the usual amount of time to adjust their instruction. As a result, Ms. Barolini-Salimbeni stressed the need that all teachers join the Electronic Discussion Group (found at the link above) where ideas, materials and media can be shared. Teachers are strongly encourage to participate in College Board Workshops and Institutes to enhance their curriculum in AP and across all levels.  Resources and ideas on funding participation in such College Board activities will be posted on usspeaksitalian.org in the near future.  Please visit us regularly.