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Advanced Placement English Language and Composition

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This Advanced Placement English Language course includes the study of rhetoric in conjunction with exposition, analysis, and argument. In accordance with College Board’s 2008 AP English Course Description, this course teaches “students to read primary and secondary sources carefully, to synthesize material from these texts in their own compositions, and to cite sources using conventions recommended by professional organizations such as Modern Language Association (MLA).” Students analyze both fiction and non-fiction from the seventeenth through the twenty-first centuries.

They write sixteen in-class essays, three out-of-class analysis papers, and three out-of-class persuasive arguments with attribution. Most of the rough drafts on the out-of-class persuasive papers are begun in class, and the students go through at least two rewrites and peer editing before taking the essays home and typing the final copies. Using a class set of Glencoe’s eleventh grade edition of Grammar and Language Workbook, students refresh themselves in the proper use of American Standard English. Visual argumentation is used from 5 Steps to a 5 and from The Bedford Reader. Students are required to put forth many hours of study and preparation since development of reading, writing and vocabulary is both extensive and intensive.


• Homework will be given on a regular basis, and it will consist mainly of reading and studying. • There will be frequent quizzes on assigned reading.
• Students should expect tests over each major unit.
• Students should expect to complete 1-3 outside projects per 9 weeks. • The school issues progress reports every 4 ½ weeks. The first 9 weeks grade is averaged with the second 9 weeks grade in order to compute the final grade. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. The best way to contact me is by email. I will do my best to respond to all emails within 24-48 hours. • Cheating in any way will NOT be tolerated. A grade of 0 will be assigned for any assignment on which a student has cheated. This includes plagiarism. All East Coweta Plagiarism policies apply. See Handbook. • Late Work: We do not accept any late work. Work is late when a student cannot produce it when we call for it. Students will not be allowed to leave class in order to retrieve work from a locker, friend, car, etc. Students will not be allowed to call home to have someone bring in his or her homework. • Makeup Work: Makeup work is the sole responsibility of the student. Students should see me before or after school to receive makeup work.

There will be no class time to discuss makeup work for individual students. IF A STUDENT IS PRESENT THE DAY AN ASSIGNMENT IS MADE, BUT ABSENT WHEN IT IS DUE, THE STUDENT WILL STILL BE REQUIRED TO TURN IN THE ASSIGNMENT ON THE DAY HE RETURNS TO CLASS. IF A STUDENT IS PRESENT THE DAY A TEST IS ANNOUNCED, BUT ABSENT THE DAY BEFORE THE TEST, THE STUDENT WILL STILL BE REQUIRED TO TAKE THE TEST. Makeup tests may differ from the original test and will be required to be made up during a predetermined time set by the teachers. Students are encouraged to email us to get assignments when they are absent. • Grading Policy: All assignments will be graded on a point system. Each assignment will have a point value. In order to determine the grade, simply divide the points earned by the points available. Please consider all returned work as a constant “progress report.” Students may see us before or after school if they have questions regarding their grade. There will be no class time to discuss individual grades.


The first day of school, students turn in their summer writing assignment: Respond to a prompt concerning information learned from The Last of the Mohicans and how it can be related to his/her life. Throughout the year, students will relate author’s purpose or attitude and general themes from each of the novels read and relate them to other readings the class will study, particularly current events and articles from essay texts such as The Bedford Reader.

Every six weeks, students will read a novel outside of class and turn in a novel journal. To foster pro-active reading, students must do the following for each chapter: summary, personal response, quote, significance of quote, open-ended question, and unfamiliar vocabulary.

As students begin analyzing literature and writing arguments, they use several lists of rhetorical strategies, including the modes of discourse. Exposition is also part of analysis and argument. Students must explain the why, how, and “so what” of an analysis. In persuading their audience to take an argument seriously, they must include commentary or explanations to support their claims. Students analyze op-ed pieces from the local newspaper, The Times-Herald in Newnan, Georgia and from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

To facilitate the actual process of analysis and argument, students will collaboratively interact. Two students will come to the front of the room and lead the analysis with teacher guidance. Student volunteers will write the analysis examples on the board as their peers contribute to the class discussion. Then all students copy the notes from the board. After students have completed several of these training sessions, they will begin writing in-class essays and practicing on AP English Language multiple choice samples.

Throughout the semester, there is a continual remediation of problem areas in grammar: subject/verb agreement, pronoun/antecedent agreement, apostrophes, parallel structure, commas, run-ons, fragments, and compound/complex sentences. There is also a heavy emphasis on broadening vocabulary usage.

Each nine weeks, students read novels, plays, essays, editorials, speeches, etc. and either participate in training sessions during class, take in-class essays, practice multiple choice samples and/or discuss the questions that the students answered in The Bedford Reader. The questions from The Bedford Reader focus on the modes of discourse and rhetorical strategies that will assist students in analyzing their arguments. Students answer questions that reflect meaning, strategy, language, and style.

Novels for the First Nine Weeks

The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne) – This assignment also includes the article “Iron Bird: Cal Ripken’s Work Ethic” by Steve Wulf. Students analyze the influence of the Puritan work ethic shaped the baseball star’s professional character.

Any novel by a classic American writer – This assignment is in conjunction with the student’s required research paper.

Students take comprehension quizzes over each of their assigned readings and discuss the philosophies, characters, and author’s purpose behind each week. These discussions are in Socratic seminar format and require students to participate and take notes. Since the themes from the novels are timeless ones, students are encouraged to bring these themes into the modern world for a comparison between past history and current events.

In-Class Essays for the First Nine Weeks

1. Persuade the School Newspaper Faculty Advisor (before writing, students learn about persuasive writing) This paper employs the following prompt: “You have worked on the newspaper since you entered high school. Lately you’ve noticed that several of your articles exploring slightly controversial topics have not appeared in print. After speaking to the editor-in-chief, you both realize that the new faculty advisor is censoring your work and that of others. Write a speech that you could use to address the matter with the advisor. Remember your audience and develop your argument fully with reasons and examples.” Students follow a hierarchy of ideas, lend credence, and enhance their argument with two or three sources. This argument is the springboard for the rest of their argumentation and persuasion papers throughout the year. After students write their persuasive papers, they then annotate in the margins their strategies of argument, including fallacies. In this manner, students are recognizing emotional, ethical and logical appeals that they use with their people every day. This metacognition then sets the tone for the rest of the course when students continue to study and use rhetorical strategies, exposition and argumentation/persuasion.

2. Dave Barry’s essay, “Home Schooling” from The Miami Herald (small group analysis)

3. Frederick Douglass – 1994 AP English Language and Composition analysis

4. Synthesis prompt – “America at 400” in Time

Out-of-Class Essays for the First Nine Weeks

1. Ad Analysis (before writing students learn about analyzing ads)

2. Analysis – “Indian Education” by Sherman Alexie from The Bedford Reader

Non-fiction Essays in The Bedford Reader

At the end of each of the following essays, students answer the questions which focus on modes of discourse and other rhetorical strategies that each author uses. As time permits, students take turns leading class discussion on these questions and answers.

“Champion of the World” by Maya Angelou and “Fish Cheeks” by Amy Tan

“Arm Wrestling with My Father” by Brad Manning and “Shooting Dad” by Sarah Vowell

“On Compassion” by Barbara Lazear Ascher and “Homeless” by Anna Quindlen

Comparison and Contrast
“Neat People vs. Sloppy People” by Suzanne Britt and “Batting Clean-Up and Striking Out” by Dave Berry

Process Analysis
“Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain” by Jessica Mitford and “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” by Horace Miner

Multiple Choice Practice

Students will be given sample tests from 5 Steps to a 5 and sample tests from Applied Practice and College Board’s released exams.

Students will be taught a close reading process to help them answer the different types of questions. Students will use graphs to keep records of their scores. Students then improve their ability to answer certain types of questions (stems), including attribution type questions.

To improve their persuasive arguments, students should include the following in their papers: a dynamic introduction, background information when appropriate, and transitions between sentences and paragraphs. Students must use anecdotes from history, current events, literature, or their own lives. They must also include expository commentary about these anecdotes and examples and have a hierarchy of ideas. The paper builds to the most important point by the close of the essay. The concluding sentence should “wow the reader” and bring the piece to a logical close. Students will avoid words like in conclusion and in summary, etc. Since AP English Language takes the place of freshman composition, students will move beyond the five-paragraph essay.

When students use documentation, they should research at least one of the writer’s sources. Perhaps the secondary source took the primary source’s information out of context. On the other hand, the secondary source may have used the primary source correctly. Students are responsible for correcting an error or validating the documentation of this primary source.


By the second nine weeks, students will feel more comfortable in the analysis and argument process. They will continue to read novels and a play, focusing on critical reading skills and vocabulary development with the novel journals. Students will also gain more experience in writing their in-class essays. As they did in the first nine weeks, students will read short essays such as editorials and focus on attitude, tone, author’s purpose, a particular mode of discourse and other rhetorical strategies that will enable students to better analyze and write persuasive arguments.

Novels for the Second Nine Weeks

Ethan Frome (Edith Wharton) – This assignment also includes “The Ways We Lie” by Stephanie Ericsson from The Bedford Reader. Students must consider how effectively she supports her generalizations, then take the generalizations from the essay and compare them to lies used in the novel.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain) – This assignment also includes “Remembering my Childhood on the Continent of Africa” by David Sedaris in The Bedford Reader. Students will need to determine how seriously Sedaris wants his readers to take him, and then determine how seriously Twain wants his readers to take him.

In-Class Essays for the Second Nine Weeks

1. Richard Rodriquez (1991 AP English Language and Composition analysis).

2. Dickens/Austen compare and contrast (1993 AP English Language and Composition analysis).

3. Lapham’s excerpt from Money and Class in America (1996 AP English and Language and Composition open-ended argument).

Out-of-Class Essays for the Second Nine Weeks

1. Rewrite the “Indian Education” analysis from the first nine weeks. Students rewrite one page of their analysis, unless the grade is 95%.

2. Thoreau’s Walden Pond analysis essay. Students read three of Thoreau’s essays in this collection. After taking copious notes, they choose one of Thoreau’s essays, find a quote, and agree, disagree or qualify. This is an open-ended piece, no research required.

3. “Little Red Riding Hood” emulation. Using Garner’s take-off on political correctness, choose a fairy tale or construct your own and emulate the elements of humor in this parody (reprinted in Reflections on Language, page 430).

Multiple Choice Practice

Students practice on College Board released exams with at least thirty-one questions.

[Students again study the MLA style parenthetical and works cited documentation in The Bedford Reader.]


Students will take a mock AP exam, writing on one analysis piece and one synthesis prompt.

For their first essay, students write on the following College Board English Language and Composition prompt about television and its influence on the presidential elections: “In an essay that synthesizes at least three of the sources for support, take a position that defends, challenges, or qualifies the claim that television has had a positive impact on presidential elections.”

For their second essay, students write on the Coca-Cola letters comparing and contrasting the two arguments (1998 English Language and Composition compare and contrast). The multiple choice is an excerpt (thirty-one questions) from one of the previously released AP English Language exams.



By the third nine weeks, students are ready to rewrite their essays from the exam. Time is spent over the holidays grading and writing helpful comments on grammar, punctuation, analysis, and argument. In-class essays are graded holistically and are marked for grammatical errors. Classes are reminded that this course is a work in progress: students are learning to write, to proofread, and to rewrite. Individual conferences with students are scheduled to target grammar, sentence structure, and exposition, analysis, and argument.

Students participate in Socratic seminars analyzing and arguing about the philosophies and ideas presented by each novelist or essayist. If the novel is fiction, then the students relate the ideas to current events. Students are expected to use their own list of rhetorical strategies culled from lists presented to them and from their own perceptions of an author’s style. At the beginning of the new semester, many students have also become more adept at grammatical structure, although other students must continue to rewrite papers with excessive grammatical and structural problems.

Teachers are required to give AP students a second semester test even though they will have taken the national exam. The second semester exam will be one hundred multiple choice grammar and punctuation questions formatted like the OSAT and SAT. At the end of the third nine weeks, students will review several interactive grammar sites (www.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/quiz_list.htm) and review the last PSAT grammar tests.

Students must also continue to familiarize themselves with MLA attribution, concentrating on both in-text citations (parenthetical) and a works cited page. When writing their arguments, students include anecdotal information on history, current events, literature, and the students’ own personal experience. Students must synthesize their ideas, staying in control of their arguments.

In order for students to improve their paragraph development skills, which will of course improve their arguments, students will bring an editorial to class once a week. During the first twenty minutes, students will agree, disagree, or qualify with the editorial’s thesis, write a one-page anecdote from history, literature, current events, or a personal story, and provide adequate commentary.

Novels for the Third Nine Weeks

1. The Jungle (Upton Sinclair) – “Probing Disease Clusters” by Gina Kolata. Students will make comparisons between the article and the novel about sickness that are linked to environmental causes.

2. Non-fiction book (Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain) – Students must choose three chapters from a non-fiction book. The teacher suggests commentary, biographies, and autobiographies from history or current events. Students must include visuals, using AP American History OPTIC to analyze their pictures when they teach the class and discuss three chapters from their non-fiction pieces. As each student presents, the other class members take copious notes and interact with the presenter. Every student keeps a manila folder of the notes on each presentation; in this way, students are exposed to more anecdotal and expository information that they may use in on open-ended and attribution essays. Through this venue, students are helping each other become informed citizens and writers.

3. The Bedford Reader – non-fiction essays with questions on rhetorical strategies.

Division or Analysis
“Notes from the Hip-Hop Underground” by Shelby Steele and “Our Barbies, Ourselves” by Emily Prager

“The Plot Against People” by Russell Baker and “Ever Et Raw Meat” by Stephen King

Cause and Effect
“Safe-Sex Lies” by Meghan Daum and “Videotape” by Don DeLillo

“The Equality of Inequality” by George F. Will and “The Holocaust” by Bruno Bettelheim

In-Class Essays

1. Rewrite of two essays from the semester exam: One essay is an analysis (the Coca-Cola letters) and one essay is the synthesis argument (television and its influence on presidential elections).

2. Analysis of the excerpt from Martin Luther King’s “Birmingham Jail”

3. Cooperative Learning analysis of the Earl Stuart Toyota ad from the Palm Beach Post

4. Synthesis Argument- Barbara Murphy’s (Second Edition 5 Steps to a 5) prompt: “In an essay that synthesizes at least three of the sources for support, take a position that defends, challenges, or qualifies the claim that the flag should be protected under a constitutional amendment.”

5. Analysis of Chief Seattle’s Oration to Governor Isaac I. Stevens reprinted in Barbara Murphy and Estelle Rankin’s 5 Steps to a 5.

Out-of-Class Essays

1. The pro/con argument with a partner – Topics from Everything’s an Argument and Elements of Argument (a synthesis paper with attribution). One students argues for (pro) and his/her partner argues against (con) the agreed upon topic. After students review chapters 4 thru 12 in Everything’s an Argument with readings, they begin synthesizing and documenting. The final copy will be a six-page, typed essay with in-text documentation and a works cited page. Students must also review their MLA texts.

2. Students choose an assignment from one of the four choices at the end of the Cause and Effect section in Short Takes; seven students reread Rodriguez’s “Desert Religions” under Division and Classification and follow the instructions for essay one while six students choose one of the four topics at the end of the Narration section. Using their own ideas, students will emulate the structure of one of the essays in each section when they write their papers. Students read aloud and evaluate peers while the teacher grades and provides immediate feedback.

Students will also work on more vocabulary development, focusing on words from the Barron’s 1100 Words You Need to Know and on words from the multiple choice practice tests. Students must internalize more vocabulary than the average college-bound students since this course is taking the place of freshman composition. After students find the definitions of their vocabulary from the future multiple choice practice pieces, they will become adept at answering the multiple choice questions. Students will continue to review documentation that targets primary and secondary sources. When writing their arguments, students will employ the modes of discourse such as narration, cause and effect, and definition.


Students are now writing their in-class essays on analysis and open-ended argument in forty minutes and their synthesis essays in fifty minutes. Students will continue with their vocabulary development and their critical readings of passages from novels as well as passages from essays, speeches, biographies, and letters. Students continue practicing mature sentence structure writing more compound, complex, and compound-complex constructions.

Novels and Play

1. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) – After reading this novel of historical fiction, students take a multiple choice reading check test. “Choose a page from this portrayal of the Southern judicial system and racism in 1930’s Alabama and write your own prompt; you may analyze or write an argument.”

2. Alas Babylon (Pat Frank) – Students will answer fifty questions that follow the plot from beginning to end and include questions on imagery, style, and analysis of key sections. Students use their rhetorical strategies sheets to analyze Frank’s characterization of Randy as reluctant hero. Students may also agree, disagree, or qualify with the following prompt: “Frank intended Alas, Babylon to be a satirical piece about the eminence of war and the ultimate resilience of humanity. In doing so he creates a story that, in the words of Thomas Paine, produces panics [that], in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is always short; the mind soon grows through them, and acquires a firmer habit than before.”

3. A Raisin in the Sun (Lorraine Hansberry) – This assignment requires students to analyze each page and find at least one example of racism, bias, or stereotyping of African Americans, and/or ideas on matriarchal families and roles of black women and black men.

AP English Language Texts

The Bedford Reader – Students review the argument section that includes logical fallacies.

Students answer the questions after each essay and engage in class discussion. Those discussions are insightful reviews before students construct their final out-of-class synthesis argument.

“Too Much Pressure” by Colleen Wenke and “Why Don’t We Complain” by William F. Buckley, Jr.

During this last nine weeks, students rewrite two passages of their pro/con argument papers from the third nine weeks. Before the rewrites, students exchange essays and rewrite comments on each other’s papers. The structure, rhetorical devices, exposition, and commentary discussed are expected to be seen in at least one page of their rewrites. Then students begin their research for their last out-of-class argument paper, which is due the last week in April. Students must elaborate on and improve upon a previous in-class argument prompt. Students are responsible for their in-text citations and their works cited page. Students must also argue a local issue, proposing a solution or compromise.

Students’ vocabulary will continue to come from Barron’s 1100 Words You Need to Know. In addition, vocabulary development now includes multiple choice diction culled from College Board released exams as well as from other practice books such as 5 Steps to a 5.

In-class Essays

Rewrite of pro/con argument from the last nine weeks – peer editing

Meena Alexander – 1999 AP English Language and Composition Analysis

Ruskin – 1994 AP English Language and Composition argument/analysis

Artist – 1987 English Language and Composition open-ended argument

Synthesis prompt on religion versus science – This assignment will be peer edited before the students hand in their papers after the required fifty-five minutes of testing. Students have one last assignment to synthesize their own ideas and include primary and secondary sources. The students’ ideas and voice will be in control of the essay.

Out-of-Class Essays

1. Students choose one of the open-ended pieces that they have written and include four sources to support the thesis. Students refer again to the formats on definition and proposal arguments. Before students begin writing, they review chapter eighteen in Everything’s an Argument with readings.

2. Students will rewrite the synthesis prompt on religion versus science and correct errors in rhetorical, grammatical, structural, and MLA documentation.

At the end of the year, students will transition into their AP English Literature and Composition class better prepared for their future college and university experience in critical reading, analysis, exposition, argument, and documentation of primary and secondary sources. My students will exit this course as informed citizens who write with a stronger voice and a batter grasp of standard written English.

Teacher Resource Books

Bromberg, Murray and Melvin Gordon. Barron’s 1100 Words You Need to Know. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. 2000.

College Board Advanced Placement Program. P English Language and Composition: 2005-2006 Professional Development Workshop Materials, Special Focus: Writing Persuasively. The College Board, 2005.

Hacker, Diana. A Writer’s Reference. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003.

Kennedy, X. J. and Dorothy Kennedy. The Bedford Reader. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2003.

Lunsford, Andrea A. Easy Writer. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006.

Lunsford, Andrea A., John J. Ruszkiewicz, and Keith Walters. Everything’s an Argument: with Readings. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004.

Murphy, Barbara L., and Estelle M. Rankin. 5 Steps to a 5. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002.

Penfield, Elizabeth. Short Takes: Model Essays for Composition. New York: Pearson Longman, 2005.

Rottenburg, Annette T., and Donna Haisty Winchell. Elements of Argument: A Text and Reader. Eighth Edition. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006.

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