Get to know the author of our AP® United States Government & Politics textbook. David Wolfford answers our questions about how he maintains his love of teaching AP® Government, his tricks for memorizing student names, and his #1 classroom rule!
What is your most creative online teaching story from the past nine months?
I quickly learned last spring that students in a remote setting appreciate when their teacher’s personality can make it through cyberspace. So, I created a video in my kitchen, clad in an apron, where I explained the “recipe” for the AP® Government argumentative Free-Response Question (FRQ). I put large visible labels on several spice containers, like “argument” and “reasoning,” to represent the parts/elements of the essay. I could sort of predict from the online buzz that more students would complete the assignment, which they ultimately did. So I found such antics practical.
How do you remember all of your students’ names? Any tips or tricks?
My memory for student names is not bad, but I more frequently use last names. That way, you avoid calling the younger sibling the names of their older brother or sister. This year I have eight pairs of twins (16 kids) in a senior class of about 120. The last name approach has never been more useful!
Is there a quote or saying that you live your life by?
“Believe about half of what you see and none of what you hear.” – Ben Franklin
How do you maintain your passion for teaching AP® Government & Politics?
It seems easy to maintain this passion. I am now in my 25th year of teaching, and 19th straight year teaching Government. It never gets old. The relevance of current events keeps me going. New books, films, and other sources just keep coming. I am also a newshound.
What is your #1 classroom rule?
No phones. Period.
Who or what influenced you to become a writer?
During my first semester of graduate school at the University of Kentucky, one of my History professors asked me if I planned to submit my research paper to the state history journal—which I didn’t even know about. His question both stunned and inspired me. The professor did a massive edit job with me, taught me a lot about writing, and it became my first publication. It is amazing how influential such a comment and encouragement can be.
David Wolfford teaches Advanced Placement® U.S. Government and Politics at Mariemont High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has served as an AP® Reader. He has a B.A. in Secondary Education and an M.A. in Constitutional and Legal History, both from the University of Kentucky. He has conducted historical research projects on school desegregation and American political history. David has published in historical journals, such as Ohio Valley History and Kentucky Humanities. He has written on government, politics, and campaigns for national magazines and Cincinnati newspapers. He is a James Madison Fellow, a National Board-certified teacher, and a regular contributor to Social Education. David is editor of By George: Articles from the Ashland Daily Independent (Jesse Stuart Foundation) and editor of Ohio Social Studies Review.
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