Ap language and Composition Syllabus 2012-13 Course Description

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AP Language and Composition Syllabus 2012-13
Course Description: Students in this introductory college level course read and carefully analyze a broad and challenging range of fiction and nonfiction prose selections, deepening their awareness of rhetoric and how language works within many periods of American Literature. Through close reading and frequent writing, students develop their ability to work with language and text with a greater awareness of purpose and strategy, while strengthening their own composing abilities. A main objective of this course is to teach students to write effectively and confidently about a variety of subjects and in a variety of genre. Students will engage in the writing process, producing several drafts for many of the required writing assignments. Both informal and formal writing opportunities will require students to examine literature, current issues, and their world from various perspectives. The informed use of research materials and the ability to synthesize varied sources (to evaluate, use, and cite sources) are an integral in part of this course. Students will use MLA formatting for research and synthesis papers. The intense concentration on language use in the course enhances students’ ability to use grammatical convention appropriately and to develop stylistic maturity in their prose; however, a review of basic grammar and writing skills will be integrated throughout reading and writing instruction as well. In addition students prepare for the AP English Language and Composition Exam and may be granted advanced placement, college credit, or both as a result of satisfactory performance. There will be opportunities to practice in-class timed synthesis questions at least one time every three weeks.
Course Objectives: The purpose of this course, as taken from the most recent copy of The College Board, AP English Course Descriptions, is to enable students to read complex texts with understanding and to write prose of sufficient richness and complexity to communicate effectively with mature readers. The course will follow the requirements listed below.
Course Requirements:

  1. The course teaches and requires students to write in several forms (e.g., narrative, expository, analytical, and argumentative essays) about a variety of subjects (e.g., public policies, popular culture, personal experiences).

  1. The course requires students to write essays that proceed through several stages or drafts, with revision aided by teacher and peers.

  1. The course requires students to write in informal contexts (e.g., imitation exercises, journal keeping, collaborative writing, and in-class responses) designed to help them become increasingly aware of themselves as writers and of the techniques employed by the writers they read.

  1. The course requires expository, analytical, and argumentative writing assignments that are based on readings representing a wide variety of prose styles and genres.

  1. The course requires nonfiction readings (e.g., essays journalism, political writing, science writing, nature writing, autobiographies/biographies, diaries, history, criticism) that are selected to give students opportunities to identify and explain an author’s use of rhetorical strategies and techniques. If fiction and poetry are also assigned, their main purpose should be to help students understand how various effects are achieved by writers’ linguistic and rhetorical choices

  1. The course teaches students to analyze how graphics and visual images both relate to written texts and serve as alternative forms of texts themselves.

  1. The course teaches research skills, and in particular, the ability to evaluate, use, and cite primary and secondary sources. The course assigns projects such as the researched argument paper, which goes beyond the parameters of a traditional research paper by asking students to present an argument of their own that includes the analysis and synthesis of ideas from an array of sources.

  1. The course teaches students how to cite sources using a recognized editorial style (e.g., Modern Language Association.).

  1. The AP teacher provides instruction and feedback on students’ writing assignments, both before and after the students revise their work, that helps the students develop these skills:

    1. A wide ranging vocabulary used appropriately and effectively

    2. A variety of sentence structures, including appropriate use of subordination and coordination

    3. Logical organization, enhanced by specific techniques to increase coherence, such as repetition, transitions, and emphasis

    4. A balance of generalization and specific, illustrative detail

    5. An effective use of rhetoric, including controlling tone, establishing and maintaining voice, and achieving appropriate emphasis through diction and sentence structure

Classroom Textbooks: Cohen, Samuel, ed. 50 Essays: A Portable Anthology, Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004
Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, and Walters, eds. Everything’s an Argument With Readings, Boston; Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007.
Vocabulary Workshop, Level F (Student Handbook) Sadlier-Oxford, 2009

Other Selected novels, plays, and short stories included, but not limited to:
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God
Lee, Robert E., and Jerome Lawrence, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman
Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Wharton, Edith. Ethan Frome

Supplemental Resources for teacher
AP English Language and Composition 2008 Professional Development Workshop Materials Exam Resources and Program Information. New York: The College Board.
Dean, Nancy. Voice Lessons: Classroom Activities to Teach Diction, Detail, Imager, Syntax, and Tone. Gainesville, FL: Maupin House.
Feigert, Ben and Kinkade, John. Instructor’s Notes: Everything’s An Argument. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s
Hacker, Diane. The Bedford Handbook. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
Hogue, D. and L. Lillebridge. Creating Writers. 2005
Murphy, Barbara L. and Rankin, Estelle. 5 Steps To A 5: Writing the AP English Essay. New York: McGraw Hill.

The Onion: America’s Finest News Source. Accessed online at www.theoinion.com/content/

Shea, Renee H., Lawrence Scanlon, and Robin Dissin Aufses. The Language of Composition: Reading. Writing. Rhetoric. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Shea, Renee H. and Scanlon, Lawrence. Teaching Nonfiction in AP English. A guide to Accompany 50 Essays. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
Star Tribune. Accessed online at www.startribune.com/

Course Layout – This is not an exhaustive list of the activities that will be covered. There will be many other informal writing and practice test opportunities built in the terms.

Trimester 1 (12.5 weeks)– Introduction to Critical Reading and the Art of Rhetoric

Weeks 1-3 Introduction and Summer Reading

Summer Readings

Nickeled and Dimed

Of Mice and Men

The Jungle

• Selected essays from 50 Essays: A Portable Anthology

• Autobiographies – Malcolm X, Sherman Alexie, Frederick Douglass

Sample AP passages

• Chapters 1-4 (Everything’s and Argument) and “Structuring of an Argument”– p. 147-70 (Everything’s an Argument)
• Begin by looking at the AP Language and Composition test to explain that the goal of class is to make student able to successfully complete an introductory level college composition course. See the skills necessary to be successful on test will support this understanding. Along with beginning the study of AP, students will uncover elements of what it means to be American Literature (themes of the American Dream, etc.)
Critical Viewing

The American Ruling Class – Documentary/Drama (Kirby)

Students analyze how visual images both relate to written texts and serve as alternative forms of text themselves. Relatable to The Jungle and Of Mice and Men

• Four modes of writing (description, narration, exposition, persuasion)—Students write in each of the four modes in response to their required summer reading texts. Students draft, share drafts with peers and revise.

• Active reading/note taking-annotating

Students keep reading journals and “post –it logs” while they read essays. The student’s reflective writings forms basis for essay preparation.

• Students form portfolios with in-class writing. Students begin to understand the techniques which create successful impromptu essays by reading and drafting several practice essays.

• Rhetorical Terms – Students present definitions and examples to their peers. Students will begin creating a reference glossary on Moodle tool.

Weeks 4-6 American Dream and Identity Construction


Fences by August Wilson

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Critical Thinking

• Students are introduced to how the construction of one’s identity plays an important part in the decision one makes in his or her life, as evidenced by characters in our literature.

Weeks 7-12 Early American Leaders - Puritans


• Selected Readings from 50 Essays: A Portable Anthology

“The Declaration of Independence” (Jefferson)

“Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” (Stanton)

“A Modest Proposal” (Swift)

“Aren’t I a Woman?” (Truth)

• Poetry of Anne Bradstreet

Poetry of Edward Taylor

“Sinner in the Hands of an Angry God” by Jonathan Edwards

• Other readings, “The Crisis” by Thomas Paine, “Virginia House of Burgesses” speech by Patrick Henry

• Selected parts of chapters 5 and 11 of Everything’s an Argument (Focus on Toulmin)


• Beginning to use Toulmin model to write argument.

• Students respond in several in-class essays to the above writers’ style and purpose. Saved for use in portfolio.

• Contemporary Issue Analysis –Students access online database, select three columns from a reputable source, critically read and analyze each column, synthesizing the information in an expository essay. Using MLA format, essay includes parenthetical citations and a works cited page.

• Jefferson and Cady Analysis—Students critically read, form opinion on strength of arguments based on early understanding of ethos, pathos and logos, and write a well constructed essay expressing their view.

• Active reading/note taking--Students keep reading journals and “post–it logs” while they read essays. The student’s reflective writings forms basis for essay preparation.

• Timed practice essay – Students will practice synthesis essays at least once a month using questions from the AP/College board materials.

• The Independent Junior Research Project (IJP) is introduced. It is a 5-7 page research paper written on an American writer and his/her work. The students read 4 major works by their author, as well as biographies and literary criticisms, and then write a research paper with MLA format using one of many angles for the paper. To be done completely independently except for peer revision and editing. Due during Tri 3


Trimester 2 (12 weeks)– The Art of Argumentation

Weeks 1 -6 – Writing for Social Change (Romantics andTranscendentals,)

• Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter

Selected readings from 50 Essays: A Portable Anthology

“ Where I lived, and What Lived For” (Thoreau)

“Television: The Plug-In Drug” (Winn)

“Cars and their Enemies” (Wilson)

“Learning to Read and Write” (Douglass)

“Learning to Read” (Malcom X)

• “Civil Disobedience” (Thoreau)

“On Education” (Emerson)

The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail (Lee and Lawrence)
• Poetry- a variety of poems by Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman


• Students write a descriptive essay characterizing a two-hour window of time. They will be writing with detailed description, much like Crane’s style, noting both their environment as well as their mental state.

• Initially as a focused individual journal and later in groups of four, build an argument on how Crane’s style of writing is effective in relating his view of war to the audience.

• In-class response to Winn’s “Television” essay. What is her argument? Is it true? How is her argument constructed? Defend, challenge or qualify Winn’s contention that T.V. has hurt us.

• Active reading/note taking

Students keep reading journals and “post –it logs” while they read essays. The student’s reflective writings forms basis for essay preparation.

• Using MLA formatting, students write a synthesis essay using several Transcendental essays from class.
• Students write a synthesis essay challenging, defending or qualifying one of the arguments made in an Inconvenient Truth, or similar movie

Wall*E (2008) Students watch excerpts and analyze purpose and effect.


• Students participate in a Socratic seminar discussion, pairing Thoreau’s experiences with Nature with their readings on Winn’s view of television and Wilson’s support of cars.

Weeks 7-9 – How War is Portrayed
The Red Badge of Courage, Crane and poetry by Crane

The Things they Carried by O’Brien (excerpts)
• Students analyze themes in both Crane’s literature and poetry to determine an opinion or belief by Crane.

• Find, explain and show result of using literary devices in poetry and literature

• Students write about findings of identity construction of major characters

Weeks 10-12 – Emerging Feminist Voices

Ethan Frome (Wharton)

“The Other Two” (Wharton)

• Selected readings from 50 essays: A Portable Anthology

“In Search of our Mothers’ Gardens” (Walker)

“Women’s Brains” (Gould)

“Lost in the Kitchen” (Barry)

• In groups of four, students will begin writing a narrative using a specific tone that is secretly written on a folded part of the paper, they will shift papers and the next person must continue on writing in the first writer’s tone. This will continue two more times and the last person will guess what the tone of the piece is. The students will begin to see how tone is used with diction to create the mood of a piece.

• Active reading/note taking -- Students keep reading journals and “post –it logs” while they read essays. The student’s reflective writings forms basis for essay preparation.

• Students will write an essay comparing characters from Chopin and Wharton. How are they alike and how are they different and which one characteristic impacted each character in a major way that helps to determine the character’s outcome. How does the author’s writing affect our beliefs about each character?

• Active reading/note taking-- Students keep reading journals and “post–it logs” while they read essays. The student’s reflective writings forms basis for essay preparation. Student peer editing activity guides in the revising of these essays.

• In-class essay

• Students bring out 1st draft of IJP paper. Work in peer groups for revision on organization.

Trimester 3 (12 weeks) - The American Dream – An argument revisited?
The following works will be studied and a more detailed description will follow later in Tri 2:
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Twain (excerpted)

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (excerpted)

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Weeks 1-3 Using satire to create change


Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Twain)

• p.401-404 (satire and parody) in Everything’s an Argument

• Selected readings from 50 essays: A Portable Anthology

“A Modest Proposal” (Swift)

“Mother Tongue” (Tan)

• Chapter 25: What does your Language say about your Identity? in Everything’s an Argument

• Choosing one article from chapter 25 (EAA) and finding an article from the school’s database on a relevant topic, the student will write a synthesis essay answering the question “What does your language say about your identity?” The student will cite sources properly using MLA format within the text.

• In pairs, students will come up with a current social problem and they will creatively address the issues in a written letter using satire. Students will use peer editing and revision to raise questions about peer work and proceed in the process. Students will also consider the opposing view of their social problem and will write from the alternate side.

• Active reading/note taking-- Students keep reading journals and “post –it logs” while they read essays. The student’s reflective writings forms basis for essay preparation.

• In-class timed writing

• Draft 2 of IJP – peer groups work on grammar/editing revisions.


Huck Finn: Born to Trouble (PBS Shockwaves Series) watch and analyze its purpose and effect.


• Students will continue keeping Moodle Site and will receive specific words/references for Huck Finn . Continued weekly Sadlier exercises and tests.

Weeks 4-11 The Economic Extremes
Reading- weeks 4-5

The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)

• Selected readings from 50 essays: A Portable Anthology

“How It Feels to Be Colored Me” (Hurston)

“Salvation” (Hughes)

• Harlem Renaissance Poems – variety

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

• Using character’s voice, create monologues that “could have happened” based on clues from text, including explanation

Readings –weeks 6-9

The Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck)


• Multiple short writing assignments that practice Steinbeck-techniques and evaluate his style.


• Dorothea Lange’s Collection containing the Conditions of the migrant workers.

Excerpts from Steinbeck (A&E biography)

• Excerpts from Fitzgerald: American Writers (Literary Masters)

• Newsreels from when Grapes of Wrath came out

Further Writing

• Articles and activites from text AP

• challenge, defend or qualify Steinbeck’s argument on immigrant workers in the 1930s—using pictures and articles to refer to in their essay –MLA citations.

• Using short stories and novels, challenge, defend, or qualify the idea that there is an America Dream.

Reading – weeks 10-11

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Weeks 11-12 American Lit LIVE!
Product – Culminating Project
In groups, students will produce a satirical skit, modeled after Saturday Night Live, representing a period of time, author, and/or piece of literature. These skits must include educational material, but presented with an intended style which will be explained for its purpose. These skits will be taped and aired on the Bloomington Educational Channel. The final product is presented in class by each group.

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