The students that volunteer their time and knowledge on Reach a Student are eligible to receive community service hours. We are looking to expand our roster of academic and athletic mentors, interviewers, and video editors to help inspire and answer school-related questions.
Reach a Student is a website established to give students direct communication access to student mentors in various grade levels. Students will be able to reach out to other students and ask any questions they have regarding student and campus life. The site will also stream videos of students sharing their experiences at Windermere Prep as well as activities around campus.
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In the IB Diploma program, I am taking Psychology at the HL level. This course fully revolves around real-life events, and there is a focus on biological, cognitive, and sociocultural levels of analysis. In addition to learning about these aspects, we need to know and understand many studies - which could be experiments, observations, correlations, and etc. These complex studies are used for short answer questions (SAQ) and Essays. Although a SAQ requires one study and an essay requires three (most of the time), students need to know much more to be fully prepared for an exam. From my experience, here are some of the things that I think are helpful.
If you have ever heard of APUSH (AP US History), you probably heard that it is one of the toughest classes at Windermere Prep. Compared to other schools, WPS offers this course at 9th grade, while other schools offer it at 11th and 12th. I am just going to flat out say that if you aren't willing to work hard and put in the time, then this class is definitely not for you, as the work never stops. Now as a former survivor of APUSH, I know a few things about how this class works, and what it takes to succeed.
The first part of this course is outlines. Every night, you basically summarize a part of a textbook chapter in a specific format, which Mr. Zoslow then checks the next day. Every outline is a total of 3 points, so as long as you complete it, you should get full credit. Of course it depends on how many pages your reading is for that night, but my outlines were around 10 pages, give or take a few pages. You might be stressing out during your first outline, and it might take you a long time, but just know that they get easier as you continue on throughout the year. My advice to you is to use every minute of the day for outlines. Even 5 minutes at the end of another class can get you a few paragraphs outlined. Don't worry about making everything perfect, because honestly Mr. Zoslow just scrolls through it, and doesn't actually read everything word for word.
KBATS are just a bunch of vocab words that you think are necessary to study for the unit exam. The catch is that Mr. Zoslow doesn't give you a vocab list, but you have to come up with the words yourself and then write definitions for them. My suggestion is to either underline or highlight your KBATS while you are outlining so you can go back and know which words you thought were important. Some won't agree with me, but I found it easy to complete my KBATS while I was outlining so that way I didn't have to worry about them later. You will just have to determine what works best for you. Make sure you are only doing definitions for words that are necessary, or you will end up with a couple hundred words for each chapter. Lastly, DO NOT procrastinate these. I guarantee the last thing you want is to have to complete a couple hundred vocab words in one night.
EDQs (essential daily questions) are a necessity in this class if you want to succeed. You get a specific question based off of your reading from the night before, and you have to answer it in the form of an essay. When you come to class the next day, there are usually 3-4 readers depending on time, and you get 10 points for reading your EDQ, even if it is completely wrong. It definitely takes a lot of courage to read in front of your classmates, but just know that your classmates really don't listen to the EDQs. Even though you may think that Mr. Zoslow isn't paying attention, he definitely is, so don't try to slide in some wrong information or information from a different topic. There are three main components that you have to include by the end of the year; thesis, contextualization, and synthesis. You will gradually need to do all three, but the first quarter is just composing a thesis. After you read your EDQ, Mr. Zoslow will ask you to repeat your thesis. Don't worry about not knowing how to write one in the beginning, but just make sure you know what you are talking about. Don't try to make up information that isn't true or accurate, because Mr. Zoslow will ask you about it. You want to make sure that you get your readings done as soon as possible. When you get to the end of the quarter, everyone is in the same boat as you, and then there are too many people and too few days for everyone to read and get their points. At the end of the year for me, there was a huge waiting list everyday for reading your EDQs, and some people emailed 2-3 weeks in advance for a spot to read. You want to complete them every night and not procrastinate doing them, because you will eventually have to turn in an EDQ packet at the end with all of your essays. It is definitely harder to write an essay and remember the information from a month ago, rather than just writing it the night you learned the material.
I'm not gonna lie; the unit exams you will take for APUSH will SEEM very impossible, but they aren't. After your first few tests, you learn what Mr. Zoslow is looking for, and what it takes to get a good grade. When studying for these exams, don't focus too much about the minor details, but make sure you know the overall picture. You have the whole class period to complete the test, so right when you walk in the door, make sure you already have your pens and highlighters in hand. Trust me: every minute counts. There are 55 multiple choice questions, and there is no possible way that you could get all of them right. I would recommend to spend about 10 minutes on the multiple choice because the essay is where you get the most points. When you get to the essay, make sure you do a little 2-3 min outline of what you are going to write, because that alone can get you 5 points. You get a point for everything you get right, but a point off for something wrong, or even more points if it is a really dumb answer, so just right everything that you know. However, if you are unsure of a date or a specific detail, don't write it, because you may get a point taken off for it. Make sure you frame the narrative, and for every person that you introduce, make sure that you describe him/her and not just simply write their name. If you are given documents, you MUST use all documents or else you will get points taken off. Keep reminding yourself that you are in APUSH, so make sure you don't find yourself focusing too much on other countries. Lastly, sleep is the most important thing. If you don't get enough sleep, your brain can't properly function, and you won't be able to remember any of the information.
Grading the Unit Exams
All of the APUSH tests are curved, which means that points are added on to your raw score. Your raw score is the actual grade that Mr. Zoslow got from your exam, but the curve is made based on how everyone else does. If everyone did really good on the test, then the curve is going to be lower, but if everyone did bad, the curve might be higher. There is what is called a floor, which is the lowest possible score someone could get. If you get lower than the floor, then the floor score is the one that shows up in the gradebook. For example, if someone got a raw score of 20, the curve was 40, and the floor was a 65, then they would get a 65 in their grade book. If someone got a raw score of 80, and the curve was 40, then they would get a 99 because that is the highest grade you could get. Just know that your first probably won't be the score that you wanted, but it will get better from there.
Use your friends for resources, because they are going through the same struggles that you are. Collaboration is key in this class, because there is so much information that you can't possibly remember all of it. Use your prep book, and watched jocz production videos. Before tests, look up practice essay questions and write out a brief outline just to practice to ensure you know the information. Take notes during class so that you make sure you are paying attention and can later use them for a review resource.
The AP Exam
At the end of the year, you will take the nationwide APUSH exam. It includes a DBQ, a long essay, multiple choice, and short answer questions. Your grade is given on a scale from 1-5, but don't expect that you are going to get a 5. Remember that you are going against juniors and seniors, and a 5 is really hard to get. I would definitely study a lot for this exam because you want to get at least the passing grade of a 3. Also, at the end of the year there is a US history subject test that is required for some colleges, so I would recommend taking it so that way you don't have to worry about it when you are a junior or senior.
One thing to know about this class is that it never stops, not even during breaks or on weekends. Even when you finish an outline, you always have one for the next day or another assignment you should be doing to get ahead. Despite all of the work that you have to do, it is really hard to do badly in this class, as long as you complete all of the necessary work. Even if you get the floor on every test but complete all of your EDQs, KBATS, and outlines, then you might end up with a B. This class is very independent, and it teaches you how you best learn and how to manage your time better. One thing to steer away from is comparing yourself to other people. Don't panic if someone already had their outline done for tomorrow when you haven't even started. Everybody works at their own pace and in their own way. By the end of the year, you will be thinking and working 10 times faster than you were in the beginning of the year. Just know that at the end of the year, you will finally be able to say, "I survived APUSH", and trust me, it's a great feeling.
What are some tips you have for students that are on the fence about doing IB diploma due to Theory of Knowledge (TOK)?
There should no reason for students to be on the fence because half the week is a study hall and you will still have opportunities to get work done for your other classes and also the course is not hard. There is a a lot of reasons why one should be on the fence about doing diploma and taking TOK should not be one of them. It is also fun to be in the class, the good thing is that instructors can do whatever they want with the material of the class. So I try to choose fun activities and I think that the topics in the class are very interesting.
Could you give a brief summary of the TOK course?
TOK is about growing as a knower and putting together pieces of what you learn in your other IB classes. It is also about synthesizing knowledge.
And for students that are taking TOK, what are some tips for succeeding in the course?
To have an open mind and to be inquisitive.
Also what do you think would be better taking the online course or the actual class? And why?
I think the actual class is better because a big part of the course is discussions. And the online course lacks that. There is a lot of things you could do with the online course and you could still have discussions but the responses online would not be as thoughtful or as instantaneous as our live in class discussions.
I would like to share some tips for tackling AP European History. My first tip to you would be to pay attention in class. Always take effective and efficient notes during Mrs. Hilaman's lectures, as everything she says could be used on any tests. My second tip for you would be to do the formative practices. Mrs. Hilaman gives a lot of practice DBQs (document-based questions), LEQs (long essay questions), and short answer questions. Doing her formative work will help you develop the writing styles that the AP graders want from you at the end of the year, which will help you get the score you want on the exam. In addition, if you listen to her feedback on the formative work, you can use that feedback to get good grades on her assessments. The last tip, and probably the most important, do not over study. I found that many of my peers studied frantically the night before assessments, and they stressed themselves out by trying to cram all the knowledge into their brain. Pay attention in class, and study what you don't know, and if you are having a really difficult time grasping this, it won't help to study more, so just move on. These tips will hopefully help you get a good grade in AP European History with Mrs. Hilaman, and get you a good score on the AP Exam.
With the first test done, I am sure there are some 9th graders considering dropping APUSH (AP US History). From my understanding, the grades were not that good. This is not abnormal, for my AP Human Geography class as well as the classes before me the first test is always the hardest and most students don't do well on it. I for one received a C on my first test and I am sure that this is the same situation for the rest of you. Before my first test, I thought Mr. Zoslow was exaggerating about the longevity of his tests. I thought that the essay questions would be one page at max and there would be more than enough time. Boy was I wrong. I was completely blindsided by my first test, and considering the circumstances I was pretty lucky in receiving a C. Like me most of you asked yourself, how on earth am i going to do well in this class?
The first tip I give to you is participating in class discussion. This is what is going to be on the test. 75% of the test is based on the applications of the information on the outlines which Mr. Zoslow talks about every day in class. So taking notes is a great idea. Class discussion reinforces the points that you studied in the outlines as well, so when you participate in class discussion there are one of two outcomes. Either you get it right and you can say that you know the topic or you don't and Mr. Zoslow will explain the correct answer. In the beginning it is extremely nerve racking as Mr. Zoslow is pretty intimidating. As soon as you overcome this fear, you will be one step closer to an A.
On a test, Mr. Zoslow will put all information learned on it. You must use all sources in order to ensure that you are well prepared for each test. Everything in the textbook, on the outlines, in the class discussion, and on the KBAT is fair game for the test. This may sound like a lot of studying but the effort needed for a good grade is high in an AP class. In terms of the distribution between the various resources, Mr. Zoslow expects you to know the facts from the text book, but most of the points earned on the test are the applications talked about during the class discussion, so I highly recommend taking lengthy class notes.
Finally, when testing you should always outline before you write an essay. Take just 30 seconds to organize your thoughts and it will make a big difference. Mr. Zoslow always makes the analogy of an easter egg hunt. In an easter egg hunt, everything is scattered everywhere and there is no form of organization. In your essay it is essential that your essay is well thought out and organized. If you were talking about subsistence agriculture, don't go and talk about commercial agriculture before you finish subsistence agriculture.
Zoslow's class will take some time to adjust to, so don't get discouraged if you don't do well in the beginning. But in the end, everyone will figure out a formula to success and will do well.
If you are an 8th Grader like me, you probably have a lot of questions about course selection for next year. One of the most difficult decisions I think I will be facing as I enter high school, is whether or not I should challenge myself and take Mr. Zoslow's AP Human Geography class. Over the past week, Reach A Student mentors have been receiving a lot of questions about this class and some students suggested we interview Mr. Zoslow. He has been kind enough to share some of his thoughts and if there is a question you would like him to answer, please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to forward them to Mr. Zoslow for review. I will keep updating this blog post, so be sure to check back often for the latest Q & A.
When you spoke to the 8th graders about your class a few weeks ago, you said that there would be 90 minutes of homework required every day, even on weekends! Students have pointed out that the workload for the same class in other schools in Central Florida, is not as rigorous, do you think this is true and if so, why is there a difference?
I cannot speak for other schools, but these students at WPS in 8th grade can ask former AP students at WPS with regard to whether the rigor prepared them not only for their exam in May but also better prepared them to step into IB.The rigor of AP Human Geography should not be seen only within the context of this one class but also within the context of creating a competitive academic edge for pursuing the most challenging course work through the WPS IB programs.
Another question asked by a student was how were they expected to do 2 hours of extracurricular activities, plus your class homework as well as homework from other rigorous classes?
Each student should choose a level of challenge that is most appropriate for them to pursue, some course selections are less rigorous and should be selected by those who place a higher value on extra curricular activities. WPS provides a curriculum to suit everyone's desired level of rigor. Students highly involved in athletics, robotics, theatre and so on have moved through AP Human Geography with great success because of their desire for rigor both within and outside of the classroom, as well as aided by a strong sense of discipline, organization and commitment. Please reach out to students who have completed AP Human Geography in order to get a peer perspective on the course.
How can 8th graders prepare themselves for your class next year, maybe something over the summer?
Please see letter below.
Is the summer reading the same book that you will be using for your class or is it just a supplementary resource?
Please see same letter below. However, should any student enrolled for AP Human Geography wish to have a text for preview over the Summer they are more than welcome.
Besides the summer reading, do you have any other suggestions that might help students perform better in your class or to be more efficient in their homework?
Read this website's blog for insight from one of the current AP Human Geography students. Discipline, organization, commitment, and a high work rate are beneficial qualities that ease the transition into AP Human Geography. Making the jump from Middle School academics to college level academics is difficult.
How important is note taking in your class and if so, what are some good note taking tips that you can give to your students?
It depends on the student...some students require significant note taking whereas others are better suited to focus on listening and mental processing skills. Also, participating in class discussion is critical to higher level thinking and for students to better integrate themselves with the materials on a richer and more meaningful level.
What are some good ways for students to study for your exams?
Use the course study tools, Textbook, Outlines, Essential Daily Questions, Vocabulary, and after school study sessions, and using these study tools daily to build up the maximum possible knowledge over time for the exams.
Why do you think students should take your class?
This course is not about what I think but about what students think and value...if academic rigor on a college level as a freshman in high school is a valued challenge then wonderful, if not, then that is wonderful as well. "Know thyself..."
To go along with my previous question, what do you think is the core message of your class and what do you stress most for your students?
Again, this class is not about me but teaching to an international standard that will be tested on a Global scale in May...AP Human Geography is about everything there is to know about the world today, to even attempt mastering this takes significant risk taking, hard work, and humility -the understanding that there is much to learn in less than 10 months. These qualities also happen to be or are similar to the IB Learner profile qualities.
Is there anything else you would like students to know?
My door is always open, for those in AP Human Geography, and for those who pursue other paths, every answer will always lead to another question and to that end it will be my pleasure to answer in person any questions concerning any element of the high school experience.
Dear AP Human Geography Students,
I look forward to working with you at WPS as your AP Human Geography teacher. Your suggested Summer Reading to best prepare you for the course is as follows:
Barron's AP Human Geography, 5th Edition (paperback)
Authors: Meredith Marsh, Ph. D., and Peter S. Alogona, Ph. D.
Publisher: Barron's Educational Series, 2014
ISBN-13: 978-1-4380-0282-8 (unique identification number for text)
This text and edition provides you with an initial diagnostic exam, as well as dividing the course into sections with exams to test your understanding and retention of material. Additionally, it breaks down material into simplified units for increased comprehension.
This text cannot guarantee results. However, by reading through the materials your understanding of the course information will be richer, and the transition into your AP Human Geography course will be made more seamless.
Should you or your parent(s) have any questions please do not hesitate to e-mail me. I will have only sporadic access to e-mail over the Summer, and e-mail will be the best manner to communicate with me. My best wishes to you and your family for a happy and healthy Summer!
Justin Lee Zoslow
Social Studies Faculty Residential Dean
Deciding which classes or program to take is certainly a big decision to make when students move from middle school to high school and from underclassmen to upperclassmen. As a senior, I have seen it all: IB, Honors, Standard, AP. Although the information is definitely available for everyone to research, I have found that after sitting for 4+ years as a New Student Ambassador that sometimes the best way to explain the options is to hear about them from someone with personal experience. So, without further ado, here are some tips and points to note for each option.
The majority of electives at Windermere Prep are classified as Standard classes, however some Core classes are also Standard. They are weighted on a 4.0 scale. One of my favorite classes that I have ever taken at WPS was Creative Writing my freshman year. PE is also Standard. Use Standard classes to explore topics that you would not normally expect yourself to study in high school. Sports Medicine, Yearbook, Life Management Skills, Class Piano… the list goes on and on. These classes are extremely enriching and the more you can take, the more you will get out of your high school experience. Test your limits and step outside of your comfort zone. You never know if the Standard class you take during your freshman or sophomore year will turn into a passion of yours later on.
There is a wide array of Honors classes in the high school (most of which are concentrated for 9th and 10th graders as part of the normal course load). These classes are a little more challenging than your Standard options and encompass many Core class options as well. Your freshman and sophomore year nearly ever class has the option of being Standard. It should be noted that Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is weighted as a Standard class even though it is a requirement for the IB Diploma. This will be discussed below.
Although Windermere Prep is known for offering IB classes, its AP program is extremely strong as well. AP classes are on a 5.0 scale. You can sign up for these classes are early as your freshman year, but do not overload yourself with challenging classes as you transition from middle school to high school. I took these classes sophomore year on. From what I recall, we offer AP European History, AP Human Geography, and AP Environmental Science. However, students can take additional AP classes on Florida Virtual School. If you are interested in pursuing additional AP classes, speak to your guidance counselor and see if this is possible. The AP program is definitely a time commitment. There is a good amount of work associated with these classes. This applies to all course options, but make sure you take classes you really love and are interested in. Explore your horizons but make sure that you are doing something you are interested in. This will make your work more enriching and easier to tackle.
The IB Certificate is an option for juniors and seniors in high school. You can either take IB Standard Level (SL) or IB Higher Level (HL) classes. Some IB classes that are offered are Mathematics, English, Spanish, Latin, French, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Film, Art, Music, History, Psychology, and Economics. For foreign languages (Spanish, French, Latin), there is the option to take Ab Initio (from the beginning) courses. This means that during your junior year you can begin to learn a foreign language from the very beginning and complete this class your senior year. IB Certificate students do not have to take all IB classes, but can take Honors, Non-Honors, or AP classes in addition to the Certificates they wish to pursue. This track is still challenging. Many athletes or people who are extremely busy outside of school opt to take Certificate classes.
I am an IB Diploma candidate. The IB Diploma has a series of requirements that are more comprehensive and immersive than the Certificate. Students must take 3 SL classes and 3 HL classes within the IB, take Theory of Knowledge, write and Extended Essay (EE), and complete 150 Community, Action, Service (CAS) hours. Make sure to sign up for IB Diploma classes you are thoroughly interested in and would likely enjoy pursuing in college. This program, along with Certificate classes, is two years long and the classes you choose junior year have to be completed in your senior year.
Although 3 SL and 3 HL classes are offered, I take 2 SL and 4 HL classes. This is very challenging, and I suggest you speak with a guidance counselor before pursuing this option. I am enrolled in IB SL Economics, SLMathematics, HL Chemistry, HL Biology, HL English, and HL Spanish. In the future I hope to attend Medical School with a focus on global health and humanitarian initiatives in developing countries. For this reason, I took two HL science classes, Economics (the Developmental portion of the syllabus is fascinating), Spanish (both for cultural enrichment and because I love Spanish literature), and English. Normally students take one social science, science, math, English, and foreign language with the IB Diploma, and they have the option to take an Art class or double up in one of the pre-requisite disciplines.
The Theory of Knowledge class is an extremely enriching facet of the Diploma. This class asks students to question what they learn and become more engaged in their academic and personal pursuits. I firmly believe that this class was the tipping point for me to truly be able to call myself a scholar. If you take the Diploma, this class will change your life. It also comes with the requirement to write a TOK essay and give a presentation. Organization and open-mindedness is key.
The Extended Essay is essentially a Senior Thesis for IB Diploma students. You can write an EE in any of your IB classes and it is due right after your first semester of senior year. It is a capstone for the IB and truly the time to explore research and immerse yourself in one of your favorite classes. I'll quickly add on here that CAS hours are basically community service hours with the added component that you have to create a project that includes Community, Action, and Service components.
Please feel free to email/message/comment/stop me in the hallway if you have any questions about the information above. Speak to your guidance counselor and teachers to decide which route is best for you. Do what you love and you will completely fall in love with what you do.