Challenging & Rewarding – AP Seminar

Monday, November 14, 2022 - By: Dara M, Alexandra ‘25

A world of research presentations awaits Brentwood students on their road towards university. At the glowing start line of that road, for many, is AP Seminar. By researching and analyzing contrasting perspectives, students learn to work independently and collaboratively in research projects. AP Seminar is a Grade 11 level course offered at Brentwood, and it is taken by many 10s who want to build foundational research skills for their future classes.

Students in this class are motivated and strive for excellence. They pull out their thinking hats, ready to start their research with the help of their intellectual curiosity. This natural curiosity leads to passionate research, which, in turn, rewards them with answers - with plenty of evidence to back them up. Students work hard every day to absorb new information and record their thoughts in their inquiry journal.

Mr Stevens and Mr Skardal are the teachers for our two AP Seminar classes; they share their knowledge and guide students in skill building and preparation to conquer the AP performance tests and final exam. Mr Stevens has a EdD in teaching research, and teaches doctorate students in university. Mr Skardal has taught AP Language and AP Literature. Without these exceptional teachers and their trust in the students, AP Seminar would not be the enlightening class that it is.

AP Seminar builds the foundation for the students’ future classes as they learn crucial research, presentation, and critical thinking skills. When first presented with a question, students explore the topic and create a claim. They follow by analyzing texts and finding credible sources to support their claim. They learn to look at the question from different perspectives. Finally they learn to synthesize ideas to collaborate with their peers.

Mr Stevens states, “People in the world are bombarded with information all the time; AP Seminar teaches you to be critical of information.” The student engagement is also what makes the class much more invigorating than a lecture in university. Mr Skardal noted that it is exhilarating to teach students who push themselves to their very best.

AP Seminar is a course like no other. Instead of spending the entire year preparing for the ultimate AP Exam, this well-structured course includes two performance tests that students complete throughout the course of the year, as well as the AP Exam. Students will write their own research report as well as a collaborative presentation.

In October, during “Bring Your Parents to Class Day”, we were able to hear the parents' perspective on our latest topic: “Should we regulate smartphones?” Luke O, Whittall ‘25 commented “Hearing the parents speak enlightened me to understand and appreciate a perspective from someone who has a different age, background, and view of the world.” Our teachers enjoyed watching their students explain their claim to their parents, and show the evidence and reasoning they had behind it.

AP Seminar is very student-based as each of the projects allow us to conduct our own research and develop a unique view on the problem. We create a claim and collaborate with a team to discuss multiple perspectives. For Grade 10s or 11s who take an interest in implementing speaking and writing into a research and analysis-based project, AP Seminar will be the course for you.

Dara M, Alexandra ‘25

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