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Eastern Host Seven Advanced Placement Workshops

 Written by Jack Meltzer


ap biology.jpg

 Melissa Dumas (East Hartford High School) and Stacy Savoyski (Danbury High School) analyze soap bubble "survival" as a biological model by counting seconds after the bubbles were blown during the AP Biology Workshop last year.



Willimantic, Conn. - For more than a decade, Eastern Connecticut State University has hosted annual Advanced Placement (AP) workshops each summer in biology and Spanish.  This summer, from July 6-July 10, Eastern will host seven AP workshops.  This summer, additional workshops will include Environmental Science, Calculus, Statistics, and English Literature and Composition. All workshop courses will be held in Eastern's new Science Building.

The AP workshops are a collaborative effort between Eastern, Hartford-based "Project Opening Doors," and the Willimantic-based "Project Access for All." "Project Opening Doors" is a national incentive program focusing on raising math and science Advanced Placement scores.  Both projects are funded by a grant from the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), in partnership with the Connecticut Business Industry Association, which runs the program.  Exxon Mobil provides NMSI funds for its program. 

 "Even though some workshop participants may not be teaching AP courses, they will be better teachers as a result of this experience," said Elizabeth Cowles, professor of biology and coordinator of the collaborative workshops at Eastern.  "The more AP courses added to high school curriculums, the more prepared students will be for college."

Camille Vautor, president of "Project Opening Doors" is very pleased, "The collaboration between Eastern and "Project Opening Doors" represents a unique opportunity for Advanced Placement teachers in the areas of math, science and English.  The paring of university professors with nationally known AP instructors will give participants both the content necessary to teach complex concepts and the perspective of college-level expectations for students.  Also, this healthy exchange of ideas will help university personnel better understand the challenges found by high school teachers on a daily basis."

Teachers from across Connecticut will participate in workshops, meeting colleagues in their field; gaining hands-on experience in a laboratory; and obtaining a better grasp of their specific curriculum.  Each workshop will have one instructor and consultant teaching each core curriculum.

The English Language and Composition workshop is designed for teachers who are new to the AP program, and will focus on the main components of AP language and composition and the strategies used for teaching certain texts.  Leslie Abbatiello, a certified trainer and College Board consultant with Area Cooperative Education Services(ACES) and  Daniel Donaghy, associate professor of English, will teach this workshop.

A related workshop, AP English Literature and Composition, focuses on helping students learn, read, and think more carefully and critically.  Ruben Rodriguez, an English teacher from Austin, TX, will teach this workshop, along with Miriam Chirico, associate professor of English.

Marion Dewane, who teaches AP Chemistry and Environmental Science at a high school in Boise, ID, and Fred Loxsom, chair of Eastern's Sustainable Energy Studies, will teach the AP Environmental Science workshop.  They will focus on many of the social issues regarding energy, hydropower, geothermal, solar, climate issues and pollution. 

Fred Djang, professor of mathematics at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, will teach the AP statistics workshop along with Pete Johnson, associate professor of mathematics.  Key themes to be discussed include exploring, obtaining and understanding data analysis, along with making the connection between sample statistics and population parameters. 

Cowles and Fred Brown, biology teacher at Windsor High School, will instruct the AP biology course.  This workshop will provide a complete overview of AP biology and is geared for biology teachers who have been in the program three years or less.  Topics include ecology, genetics, cell biology, chemistry, botany and physiology.

A synopsis of AP Calculus AB will be the theme for the AP calculus workshop.  This workshop is also geared towards new and inexperienced AP calculus AB teachers.  Participants will learn how to implement the curriculum and how to build a strong AP calculus AB program using supplementary materials.  Eliel Gonzalez, who teaches in East Longmeadow, MA, and Christian Yankov, associate professor of math and computer science, will teach this workshop.

For more information, contact Elizabeth Cowles at (860) 465-4385 or email her at  

CAPTION: Above, left, Melissa Dumas (East Hartford High School) and Stacy Savoyski (Danbury High School) analyze soap bubble "survival" as a biological model by counting seconds after the bubbles were blown during the AP Biology Workshop last year.




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