AP Lang Students Learn Powerful Lesson from Mass Insight Teacher


Julie Alexander from Mass Insight worked with AP students to help prepare them for timed essay writing

Kelly Granatino, Staff Writer

On Tuesday, March 1st, Julie Alexander, the AP English Senior Content Director for Mass Insight Education & Research, Inc., visited Anne Blake and Cathy Hall’s AP Language & Composition classes to discuss the AP exam and strategies to master the synthesis (Q1) and rhetorical analysis (Q2) essays. According to their website, Mass Insight is an organization that “implements customized strategies and builds capacity to advance equity and opportunity in K-12 education.”

Prior to joining Mass Insight, Alexander worked as a teacher as well as a marketing specialist. With this experience, Alexander promised students that “learning abstract ideas will fuel your future,” commenting, “You will use what you learn in this class for the rest of your life.” Alexander’s energy and enthusiasm radiated throughout the classroom and made many future exam takers feel more prepared for the essay portion of the exam. Her expertise was evident as she shared strategies with students in a supportive manner. 

SHS junior Lindsey Hausmann, who will join her classmates taking the AP Language & Composition exam on Tuesday, May 10th, feels more prepared, saying, “I’m excited to use the skills I learned in class on the exam.” Hausmann expressed gratitude for Alexander’s lesson and said she thinks “it should be taught to all AP Lang students across Massachusetts.” Junior Grace Dousa agreed with Hausman’s assessment. Both Dousa and Hausmann explained that after Alexander’s lesson, they felt more confident in themselves and their ability to earn a top score on the exam, which requires students to answer multiple-choice questions and compose three essays in a timed setting. 

During her synthesis essay lesson, Alexander gave each student a prompt with a corresponding packet of sources. Before “getting lost” in the sources, as Alexander described it, she instructed students to plan as much of their writing as possible while using only the writing prompt and their prior knowledge of the essay topic. This was a new strategy to many–especially those students who are familiar with writing Document-Based Question essays (DBQs) for history class. After students brainstormed their knowledge of the essay topic, they were prompted to skim the sources and identify three sources they could use to support their argument. 

Alexander described AP Language & Composition as a class that allows students to find their voice and express it. She asked students to think about their opinions on the topics that are explored in the curriculum. Advising students to make a difference in their communities, she said, “Never let someone else take that voice from you or use that voice against you.”