In an effort to help students make connections with others from different social and cultural backgrounds, students in Lillian Bilello’s senior Advanced Placement (AP) Literature and Composition class had the opportunity to work with their peers from an AP Literature class in Pittsburg High School in Kansas, some 1,330 miles away.
From an educational standpoint, this project allowed students to delve into the realm of modern poetry in order to enhance the analytical skills needed for the AP test. The experience turned out to be much more than just educational.
Immediately after receiving the names of their partners, the William Floyd and Pittsburg high school students sought their counterparts out on social media, connecting on various platforms and being in contact instantaneously. Students in both also classes created private blogs to share with their counterparts in order to discuss and analyze modern poetry.
“In today’s world, the ability to collaborate with others is a vital skill in the workplace,” said Ms. Bilello, an award-winning Nationally Board Certified Teacher at William Floyd High School. “Through this project with Pittsburg High School, I hoped that my students would not only be pushed to think more deeply about literature, but also expand their own perspectives by interacting with students who are from a much different environment and milieu. In both regards, I feel we were successful and hope to develop the collaboration even more next year.”
Pittsburg’s AP Literature teacher Kristy Uttley explained that her intent for this collaboration was “to promote and enhance the study of living poets through monthly blog posts” and to have her students do so through collaborative partnerships with AP students from another region of the country. “I knew they would love the idea of working with seniors from New York, and they absolutely did! What I did not anticipate was the incredible support and encouragement I received from Ms. Bilello through my first year teaching this challenging course. The entire project has been invaluable, and we plan to continue it next year.”
“I thought this experience was great on so many levels,” said Nicole Konopelko, a senior AP Literature student from Pittsburg High School. “Not only did I improve my poetry analysis skills and get acquainted with an amazing poet, but I also became really good friends with my blog buddy. It was so enriching to learn with another person. The project gave me a newfound appreciation for poetry and reading, while preparing me for the AP exam.”
The incorporation of modern technology gave the students new 21st century skills in addition to furthering their knowledge of literature. Students also learned how to manage and keep up with a website and how to create an attractive blog to keep readers interested.
Article by Katie Lindley, William Floyd High School senior