Reflection: Student Self-Assessment Human Population Pyramids (3 of 3) - Section 5: EVALUATE 2: AP everything


The College Board describes the design of the Advanced Placement Earth Science course as follows:

[it is] to be the equivalent of a one-semester, introductory college course in environmental science, through which students engage with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world. The course requires that students identify and analyze natural and human-made environmental problems, evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and examine alternative solutions for resolving or preventing them. Environmental Science is interdisciplinary, embracing topics from geology, biology, environmental studies, environmental science, chemistry, and geography.

This description is very similar to this curriculum. The primary difference is that this curriculum emphasizes fewer topics and allows for their exploration in greater depth. A secondary difference is that this course better meets the mathematical abilities of the majority of enrolled students. At my school underdeveloped algebra skills somewhat determine how students explore material. While there are mathematical modeling expectations, there are fewer lessons dedicated to data analysis and data visualization than there would be in a traditional Advanced Placement course.

Even so, students do rigorous work with data anaylysis and data visualization in this course. The Population Unit is one that particularly builds these skills. As such, assessment structures can be aligned with Advanced Placement style questions. 

One great teacher move for this assessment is to explicitly tell the class that these are college-level questions AFTER they have completed them. Of course, this will depend entirely on the personality of a given class. Some years I have students that become highly motivated by the challenge of college questions; this year, however, most of my classes became anxious and defeatist at any mention of college. When I would reveal that students had successfully completed college level questions, many students were incredulous. And then the next time we worked on these types of questions, the "it's too hard excuse" doesn't fly.

  Advanced placements questions as checks for understanding
  Student Self-Assessment: Advanced placements questions as checks for understanding
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Human Population Pyramids (3 of 3)

Unit 4: Populations
Lesson 10 of 16

Objective: Students will be able to 1) make correlations between the shapes of the graphs and the growth patterns of different countries; and 2) apply understanding of population problems to solve questions from the Environmental Science AP exam.

Big Idea: Human population growth statistics can describe the past and predict the future. How might we use visualized data tools called population pyramids to understand the implications of differing rates of human population growth in countries around the world?

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