AP Physics Reading: Day 5 (how to count to 15 on one hand and unprofessional night)

Wednesday, June 6

This new question is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum from my first question. At my fastest on the first question, my last full day on it, I did 84 folders. Today I graded 13 folders. It didn’t help that I came back to my hotel room at lunch to do a computer thing, saw the bed, laid down just for a few minutes, realized I had set my alarm wrong, reset my alarm to go off at 1:20 instead of 12:20, and then proceeded to sleep for over two hours instead of 20 minutes. I missed PM1 session entirely and felt like a complete schmuck. I didn’t come here to nap, although I did dream that I had walked back to the convention center and started grading again, so that was weird.

I also missed a Yoga Fight during the morning break when some dude tried to take over the Break Yoga session because he thought the person running it wasn’t doing it right. I walked up in the aftermath while the leader was still spitting mad about it. We aren’t doing a yoga flow. We’re just stretching out. Moving around a bit after hours of sitting. And coming up to someone else’s event of multiple years and trying to take it over is 100% not cool, dude. There were a few people wondering if he would have done the same thing if the leader were a dude instead of a lady. Whatever. He didn’t participate after that, and we were all able to get back to our amazing stretchy times.

So, this new question. All AP C questions are worth 15 points. At first I kept getting mixed up as to whether having two fingers up meant two, seven, or twelve and having to regrade the same exam multiple times. I’m not alone in this, either. I was talking with another reader a few nights ago who said he used a banana so that if his hand was not touching the banana, it was 3, and if it was touching the banana it was 8. I don’t know what he’ll do when he eats that banana, and every “touch something to mean X” thing I tried failed because forgetting. I eventually settled on using a closed fist for zero, putting up fingers one at a time, and then for 6-10 I would put each finger down in the same order but only halfway down, bending at the second knuckle instead. So with my thumb and pinky up, but the other three fingers half-down, I knew that was 8. Above 10 I started putting fingers back up again, so if I have two fingers up and the other three are half-down, I know that’s 12. It’s made my life much easier. I count the points, move fingers as needed, and then when I’m done I stare at my hand until I decipher how many points it means.

Honestly, grading is like 30% content knowledge 30% figuring out how to count, and 30% shuffling paper. Another 8% is internally screaming “THAT’S NOT HOW THAT WORKS!” at student responses, and the final 2% is hoping that wasn’t your own student’s answer.

One tradition they have here is the Unprofessional/Professional Night, where there’s a half-hour of people being silly and nerdy followed by an hour of a symposium where people present stuff they do in their classroom and share resources and ideas. It’s pretty awesome. After three years I’ve seen the same people do the same things more than once, and I was very happy when this year they specifically asked for some new and fresh stuff. Tonight’s event was pretty funny. Someone made a presentation full of relevant memes. There was a series of “Brutally Honest Letters from ETS” from the big shots people to different (fictional) readers and test takers. A group of readers on one question led a sing-along filk of “Doe, A Deer” about P1Q2 called “Dough, A Lab”. It was  all pretty heinously topical, and I don’t think sharing much of it would make sense to anyone who isn’t here, but trust me, I giggled a lot.

Then there were the things that were funny because they are both true and universal about being a teacher. Students complaining about how bad their teachers are. Students who claim there were things on the exam the teacher didn’t cover and they never learned. Those got a universal laugh and eye-roll. Reading thousands and thousands of terrible responses on the exams and wondering what the reader who gets them is thinking about the answers YOUR students gave. The internal shouting at the answers. Overall, the “unprofessional development” was a good time and completely new this year. It’s fun to laugh at ourselves and commiserate with our people.

The Professional part of the night was really amazing, too. Lots of people had posters up or tri-fold boards or even just a few papers sat out with incredible stuff on them. I got tons of people’s contact information and some great new ideas. There was a guy from New York talking about student projects he does and some contests that could be fun. There was another guy who was talking about new ways of doing practice problems. There was a lady showing a testing system made of scratch off sheets so students get instant feedback on whether they were right or wrong and can keep trying. There’s a thing a guy made that models wave superposition for two waves of a bunch of different kinds with a bunch of different variables.


At the very end, I met up with another grader I’ve known as long as I’ve been here, and we talked teaching C and coaching robotics for about an hour. It was really great to catch up again and get some confirmation and feedback that my struggles are their struggles, my student complaints are their student complaints, and my joys are their joys. Seriously, this is such a great week. Very inspiring and rejuvenating.

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