AP Language and Composition
Christy Kingham - email@example.com - www.christykingham.com
By the end of this course, students will gain “textual power”, becoming more alert to an author’s purpose, the needs of an audience, the demands of the subject and the resources of language: syntax, word choice, and tone. In this introductory college-level course, you will read and carefully analyze a broad and challenging range of selections. This course is designed to prepare and implement the skills needed to succeed in college level courses, on the Advanced Placement exam, and to manage the Common Core English Regents for New York City. The focus of AP Language is understanding, analyzing, discussing, and writing nonfiction prose, connecting fiction prose to rhetoric and argumentation, and using multiple sources to develop and support your own arguments. The class is connected to many strains of ideology in American History and Literature, but the class will explore a myriad of both canonical and contemporary texts that are essential for all learners.
AP Language and Composition Course Objectives By May you will have achieved everything on this list:
Reading, Analysis and Observation
Evaluate and assess arguments in a range of non-fiction
Identify rhetorical patterns and thoughtfully consider their effect
Identify author style, tone, purpose, etc.
Analyze a variety of images (cartoons, photos, paintings, graphics, etc.)
Construct thoughtful/useful annotations
Follow current events/issues
Identify the arguments involved in these issues
See everything as an argument
Analyze sample essays and identify good writing
Write under time constraints
Write in a variety of forms for a variety of audiences
Formulate meaningful arguments
Synthesize a range of perspectives in order to construct original argument
Organize arguments and writing cohesively using transitions
Acknowledge differing points of view
Support arguments with evidence
Properly incorporate quotes, documents and citation
Include a variety of sentence structures
Reflect upon and evaluate your own writing
Move through the steps of the writing process (revise, revise, revise)
Employ a variety of academic vocabulary
Emulate, adopt and employ the writing style of authors studied in class
Convey complicated ideas concisely and gracefully
Adopt a distinctive authorial voice that aids purpose
Course: A.P Language and Composition
Teacher: Christy Kingham
The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria
Total Weeks: 36 weeks
Course Overview: Students in this introductory college-level course read and carefully analyze a broad and challenging range of selections. This course is designed to prepare and implement the skills needed to succeed in college level courses, not only succeed on the Advanced Placement exam, but to also manage the Common Core English Regents for New York City. The focus of AP Language is understanding, analyzing, discussing, and writing nonfiction prose, connecting fiction prose to rhetoric and argumentation, and using multiple sources to develop and support your own arguments. The class is connected to many strains of ideology in American History and Literature, but the class will explore a myriad of both canonical and contemporary texts that are essential for all learners.
Course Goals: By the end of this course, students will gain “textual power”, becoming more alert to an author’s purpose, the needs of an audience, the demands of the subject and the resources of language: syntax, word choice, and tone.
Central Fiction Texts Utilized:
The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
Macbeth, William Shakespeare
Central Non-Fiction Texts Utilized:
The Color of Water, James McBride
The Language of Composition: Reading, Writing Rhetoric (2nd Ed) by Shea, Scanlon, and Aufses
Everything’s an Argument by Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, and Walters
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Diddion
Common Sense by Thomas Paine
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Bossy Pants by Tina Fey
The Republic by Plato (particularly “The Allegory of the Cave”)
“Should Batman Kill the Joker?” White & Arp
On Writing, Stephen King
Bird By Bird, Anne Lamott
“Hip Hop Planet” by James Baldwin
“Superman and Me” by Sherman Alexi
“God’s Judgment on White America” by Malcolm X
“Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King
“Declaration of Sentiments” by Elizabeth Cady Stanton
“What It Means to be Colored” by Zora Neale Hurston
“The Stranger in the Photo is Me” by Donald Murray
“Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan
“A Plague of Tics,” David Sedaris*
“Happy Meals and the Old Spice Guy,” Joanna Weiss
Deford, NPR Audio Orientalism by Edward Said
“Shooting Dad,” Sarah Vowell*
This American Life, Act I-NRA vs. NEA
My Zombie Myself: Why Modern Life Feels Rather
Undead,” Chuck Klosterman
The Course in Units
Unit 1- Introduction to the Course and Rhetorical Awareness. Is everything an argument? (5 Weeks)
The first half of the school year, students will explore expository and argumentative writing topics to build upon the skills that they should have acquired during 9th and 10th grade. They will practice looking for significance in a text or image and analyzing it for argument. They will have weekly writing exercises, vocabulary presentations, image analysis, and discussion protocols to acclimate students to the requirements of the AP Language exam.
Unit 2- Understanding and Developing Argument (5 Weeks) The goal of this particular aspect of the unit is focus on the many voices, people, and ideas related to America. We will move almost chronologically from the early parts of the America to the revolutionary time to the movement by the voices of the “Others”, such as African-Americans, Hispanics, and women. The final assessment based on this unit will culminate with a synthesis essay that asks “What is America”?
Unit 3-Essay as Art- A study of justice. (5 weeks) Students will explore the ideas of power through lenses of race, gender, and language. Students will explore what America means from those who are not of the hegemonic form. We will also integrate visual images and popular culture into the mix in preparation for the AP exam. Students will compare the novel and the non-fiction memoirs’ depictions of the African-American experience. The final assessment will be a compare-contrast essay that formulates an argument about America based on the ideas garnered from multiple authors. After the unit is done, students will look at works of African-American writers to synthesize an argument based on texts that all point to a certain idea. They will also look various other influential texts that are related to this topic; these works stem from the non-fiction work and influenced the novel. They need to consider the African-American experience and its complex connections to the idea of what America is. They need to incorporate their knowledge from the beginning of the year in the first unit with this unit. Through the audiovisual element of Spike Lee’s 1989 film and Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting, students will practice analyzing visual images and incorporate their ideas into their writing. The connection to the visual will aid in their analysis of all types of sources.
Unit Four: A study of Style and Influences (5 Weeks) In preparation for the research-based causal argument, students will review research skills, including identification and evaluation of primary and secondary sources; organization and integration of source material; and documentation and organization of researched argument. The major project of the semester is a research-based causal argument examining the contextual influences (historical, cultural, environmental, etc) on a selected pre-twentieth century essayist and the impact and effects of those influences on his or her style, purpose, and intent in at least one representative essay. The causal argument is different from a traditional research paper because the student must consider and present alternative causes and effects in direct opposition to his or her position. Students are required to synthesize at least five sources into their project. Additionally, students must present an annotated bibliography of the sources that they selected as well as cite the sources that they have used within their argument.
This unit will connect to the texts they have read thus far in our course as well as authors they have selected and researched. The study of genre also connects to this unit. As the weeks progress, students will study the characteristics of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries and approximately 25 representative essays from the time. Each student selects a pre-twentieth century essayist from an established list and is responsible for writing a short, casual paper in the style of the writer, which will receive peer feedback before it is formatively evaluated by the teacher. They will also create a brief presentation to lead a discussion of that particular writer’s work. The study provides students the opportunity to look at the growth of language and ideas. The culmination of this study will lead to a larger research-based causal argument.
Unit 5- (5 Weeks) “Watch your Tone!” In this unit, students will practice developing their own writing style and voice. They will be challenged to refine original arguments, counterarguments, and concession and will refine commentary skills in. They will work to clearly identify tone in author’s writing and improve their own voice/tone in their own writing. Students will consider the role of satire, its arguments, and its purpose.
Unit 5 - Explicit Test Prep (3 weeks)
During the month of April, students will hone their time management skills and prepare for the exam by repeatedly practicing. It is
Unit 6- Narrative Non-Fiction and The College Essay (5 Weeks)
After the test, through a study of narrative non-fiction, students will re-explore the tools writers use to effectively transact with a reader. Students will then transfer these skills to their own narrative non-fiction writing- culminating in the college essay. By considering the college essays as a strong piece of narrative non-fiction, students will have a chance for their honesty, creativity and personal philosophies to emerge in this work and beyond.
The students will receive a plethora of strategies in order to draw from as they encounter very challenging texts. These strategies and techniques are intended to aid and boost students in attacking different types of questions, writing pieces, and responses.
ESSAY WRITING - FALL
The fall semester is intended to address and introduce the structure of arguments and varying styles of argumentative essays. Students will complete three major arguments, each consisting of about 750 to 1,000 words and each one fully described in our textbook, Everything’s an Argument: an argument of proposal, an argument of definition, and an argument of evaluation. The essay will proceed from the proposal stage through formative drafts with feedback from teacher and peers to a final draft. The teacher will return each draft to the student with suggestions for revision. Students will have to complete three essays. In the first they have to create a definition for what America is and synthesize at least five texts that they have read thus far in the semester for the texts read in relation to the topic of America. This argumentative essay will analyze what America is and offer counter-arguments to this claim based on sources the student has found. The second is a self-selected topic for an expository essay topic they want to explore in The Great Gatsby. The final essay will be an analytical essay based on a close-reading of a text from the semester in an expository fashion. Students must use resources to help them cite sources from a recognized editorial style, such as Thesis and Organization (Little, Brown Compact Handbook, 19-26), MLA Text Citation (Little, Brown Compact Handbook, 356-63), MLA Works Cited (Little, Brown Compact Handbook, 363-88, 397), MLA Paper Format (Little, Brown Compact Handbook, 388-96), and Syntax (Sentence Composing for College, 1-96). The essays will always have feedback before and after the student revises to develop skills while also addressing logical organization, coherence, and specific techniques, such as repetition, transitions, and emphasis.
ESSAY WRITING- SPRING
The spring semester intends to deepen students’ writing skills and prepare them for the exam in May. They will complete five essays through a variety of assignments (expository, analytical, and argumentative) by the end of the semester. The first essay will be based on a series of images about various groups in the United States. They will learn how to analyze visual images into arguments. Students will learn OPTIC, a new strategy for analyzing visual arguments, which is fully described in the Teaching Strategies section of the syllabus. In addition, students will learn how to connect these visual images to written texts and enhance their argument and serve as alternative forms of text themselves. They will look at depictions of women, African-Americans, Native Americans, immigrants, and Hispanics through iconography to create an argument connected to overarching idea of the class. The second essay will compare and contrast the idea of freedom in black cultures using short texts. Students will offer counter-arguments and claims to support their ideas. They must connect the ideas to non-fiction texts that will enhance their analysis. The third essay will be a synthesis essay on the African-American experience based on a variety of texts read as the students explore The Bluest Eye. They must create an argument based on the sources and synthesize at least four into an essay much like the AP exam. The fourth essay is a casual argument based on the end of the first semester project. Students will become stronger thinkers, readers, speakers, and the goal of this class, writers as a result of working with all these forms of writing. The final essay is in the style and format of their choosing connected to William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. For all of this writing, students are directed to carefully evaluate, employ, and properly cite primary and secondary sources, using MLA documentation. After the exam is done, students will work on their personal essays for college in preparation for senior year.
ASSERTION JOURNALS AND BLOG ENTRIES
In the first eight weeks of the semester, students will practice close-reading and argumentative writing. They will practice timed writing activities related to topics of What does America mean? They will look at various texts, from various genres and voices, to create a full-definition of this topic. The writing will be based on topics from that particular week. They will keep their thoughts in the journal. Students must select the texts that they are most comfortable with in order to clearly explain the author’s assertions and then defend or challenge it, noting the complexity of the issues and acknowledging objections to the student’s point of view. These short writing exercises will be approximately 300 to 500 words, in order to address key concepts in argumentation, such as counterclaim, author’s choices, and creating a strong, valid argument with relevant evidence. Additionally, they will respond using technology in a blog created particularly for this class. This blog will also include supports, ideas, and resources to help students better access, organize, and synthesize their knowledge. As students become more comfortable with these informal pieces of writing and we review clarity, style, voice, and organization of an argument, students are required to include at least one example of the following syntactical techniques in the journal and blog entries: coordination, subordination, varied sentence beginning, period sentence, and parallelism. As students develop their own style of writing through sentence structure, they will also learn organizational strategies, such as transitional paragraphs, appropriate balance and sequencing of generalization and specific details. Finally, students will develop their skills on independently responding to a text without the assistance of a prompt. They will openly respond to ideas, much like the final task of the AP Language exam and the SAT; however, they will come up with the focus and thesis of their essays through these assertion journals. Throughout the whole experience, the teacher will provide actionable feedback before and after the students revise their work. A central classroom policy is that every piece of writing can be revised for a better grade to prove mastery of particular skills.
Using Tom Boley’s strategy, SOAPStone, included in the College Board workshops, students will analyze prose and visual texts to better engage with the material in a more sophisticated manner. Additionally, strategies, such as CURE, and others, will be introduced in relation to the major canonical fictional texts that we read. The students will look at images and connect their ideas to the written texts that they encounter. They will use the central themes to create an argument that includes counterclaims and supporting evidence for their central claims.
VOCABULARY AND PRESENTATIONS
Students will work on improving their vocabulary skills and practice using unknown terms using context clues, the dictionary, and the internet. The goal is for each one to develop a wide range of vocabulary and use it appropriately. The expectation is that students incorporate these words into their writing effectively to ameliorate their ideas and add sophistication to their writing. Finally, students will present to their classes unknown words that he/she has found in the texts that we explore. Students are expected to present and teach the synonym, antonym, and the proper contextual use of the word in a sentence.
The students will collaborate in a variety of activities designed to better improve their thought process. Discussions will be linked to writing activities that will immediately follow the discussion or the day after the seminar. They will have Socratic seminars, Speed Dating discussions, and small group circles that will have them independently interact with their peers to arrive at big ideas.
STYLE, SYNTAX, AND DICTION
Writing style and word choices are a major component in writing. Students will review and improve their skills with writing styles, such as appositive phrases, participial phrases, and absolute phrases, to improve the quality and sophistication of their writing. Through writing exercises that complete sentence and paragraph imitation, they are expected to highlight these phrases in major compositions. Through instruction and effective feedback, they will be able to recognize and incorporate figures of rhetoric in any piece of writing. We will address the keys of syntax and diction in figuring out their style as well as ways to address schemes and tropes. We will examine a wide range of schemes in context, such as parallelism, antithesis, isocolon, zeugma, anastrophe, paranthesis, ellipsis, asyndeton, polysyndeton, alliteration, anaphora epistrophe, anadiplosis, antimetabole, chiasmus, erotema, hypophora, and epiplexis. Additionally, we will focus in on tropes, such as similes, metaphors, synecdoche, metonymy, antonomasia, personification, anthimeria, litotes, oxymoron, and paradox. Through this procedure and practice students will gain access to finding their voice as a writer, in terms of tone, control, and diction, and from revision, they will develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for their own words.
During the fall semester, students must complete six timed writing essay questions, one of which is on the final exam. Each timed writing assignment will link up to a writing task on the AP Language and Composition exam. The goal is to have students gain confidence and expertise in the high pressure environment of the test. They will practice a synthesis, close-reading, and free-response essays at least twice in a timed atmosphere.
In the spring semester, students complete eight timed essays to develop skills in writing rhetorical analysis essay. Just like the fall, these timed writing activities naturally progress to integrate all the skills that they have garnered throughout the course. Students are working with various aspects of the AP English Language and Composition Exam. They will be able to choose the essay sections of the exam that they are struggling with to practice more and receive additional feedback. Additionally, they can revise and retry this task if they see fit.
Each student will receive a composition notebook to record 12 entries on a variety of topics. They will use this time to free-write, address issues of the day, complete imitation exercises, collaboratively write a response, and reflect upon themes and ideas related to the class. Discussion centers on how writers will use a notebook as a way to catch the bits and pieces of life and experience for their writing projects. As a student work on his/her notebook, we as a class will study the personal reflective essay as a writing form. This process will enable students in the second semester when we actually address Personal Statements for the College Process.
This text analysis strategy serves as a method for students to craft a more thoughtful thesis statement. Developed by Tommy Boley, this writing approach enables students to think about and plan out all the factors that go into a well-developed thesis that will drive their writing.
S-peaker: the individual or collective voice of the text
O-ccasion: the event or catalyst causing the writing of the text to occur
A-udience: the group of readers to whom the piece is directed
P-urpose: the readon behind the text
S-ubject: the general topic and/or main idea
Tone: the attitude of the author
SYNTAX ANALYSIS CHART
A syntax analysis chart is an excellent approach for the evaluation/analysis of style and enables student’s to effectively revise their own writing when considering the syntax of other writers. This strategy entails the students creating a five-column table with the following headings: Sentence Number, First Four Words, Special Features, Verbs, and Number of Words. Using this reflective tool not only assists and supports students examine how style contributes to meaning and purpose, but also helps students identify various writing problems, such as repetitiveness, run-ons, sentence fragments, weak verbs, and lack of syntactic variety. Furthermore, students are made aware of their own developing voice and diction.
ANNOTATE TO ANALYZE THROUGH CLOSE READING
Annotation is the key to making one’s thinking visible, and through close reading, students will learn effective strategies and approaches to processing a text. Students will follow steps, learn to find significance and appropriate evidence, and arrive at conclusions that will aid in working under time constraints. The annotated texts should naturally lead into the argumentative piece. One particular approach will involve students annotating two texts carefully, then in groups students will prepare a “say/does analysis” and identify the underlying intentions of each text.
The OPTIC strategy is highlighted in Walter Pauk’s book, How to Study in College and provides students with key concepts to think about when approaching any kind of visual text. A sample OPTIC lesson would include the following steps:
Students will practice all of these skills in a safe, comfortable environment, and in order to do so, they will work with their peers, strategically partnered and grouped. Through their exploration of ideas, they will be able to clarify, discuss, and engage with a text while receiving and giving valuable feedback that they can use in their own writing. In this course, students should expect to work with other students to practice key components of every strategy. Think-Pair-Share, Socratic seminars, peer-review, and other protocols for independent student work will push the rigor deeper and allow students to interact with each other while also assisting each other in the finesse of their skills.
Students are given a grade in a fashion similar to the final results of the AP Language Exam. Each student is assessed through their mastery of Standards Based Grading, where the skills behind each writing piece are assessed and refined through each assignment. Each graded assignment will receive a grade from 65-100 based on the complexity and overall importance of the objectives of the course. Typically each assignment within each quarter equates to about one-eighth of the total average. The course, however, is cumulative, and the grade that matters most is the cumulative grade. The intention here is to model the college environment.
Students are mostly assessed on major assignments such as out-of-class-essays, timed writings exercises, Socratic seminars, grammar exercises, annotated readings, assertion journals, practice on multiple-choice questions, informal writing, and class participation. Students can revise and improve any piece of writing that is not to the standards of the class in order to practice the skill.
The grade breakdown looks as such, with marking periods/quarters serving as progress reports to check in and discuss with the students in order for them to reflect and assess their progress.
1 – 0% (Off Topic/Missing/Needs Substantial Work – these works demonstrate very little or no success in developing a position, structuring an argument, and understanding the text. They are simplistic in their explanations, have a weak control of writing, and do not allude or cite to even one of the sources).
2 – 65% (Emerging Mastery – these works demonstrate little success in developing a position and hints at a structure, but fails to achieve it. The work substitutes a simpler task by merely summarizing or responding tangentially with unrelated, inaccurate, or inappropriate explanations. The prose of the essay reveals consistent weakness in writing and a lack of control).
3 – 75% (Approaching Mastery – These works inadequately develop a position. The student can analyze, evaluate, and synthesize, but the evidence and explanations are inappropriate, insufficient, or less convincing. The student attempts and approaches the mastery of development, but the link between the argument and evidence is weak. The student may misunderstanding, misrepresent, or oversimplify; in turn, the prose generally conveys the student’s ideas, but may be less consistent in controlling elements of effective writing).
4 – 85% (Mastery – These essays adequately develop a position and synthesize the text(s) through evaluation and analysis that leads to evidence and explanations that are appropriate and sufficient. The language contains lapses in diction or syntax, but generally the prose is clear. The student has clearly demonstrated the skills needed in order to properly analyze the text).
5 – 100% (Exceeding Mastery – These essays effectively develop a position and move beyond mastery by being an exemplar. The effective use of evidence leads to explanations that are appropriate, convincing and logical. They are faithful to the complexity of a task, and the writing meets the criteria through a sophisticated argument, thorough development, and impressive control of language. The prose demonstrates a consistent ability to control a wide range of element of effective writing – and with revision – is flawless).
The following paragraph must be submitted with proposals and drafts of student assignments. Students must sign below the paragraph to indicate that they are aware of this policy:
Plagiarism is using another person’s thoughts and accomplishments without proper
acknowledgement or documentation. It is an unconscionable offense and a serious breach
of the honor code. In keeping with the policy, students will receive a zero for plagiarized work.
Fifth Unit: CASUAL ARGUMENTS AND PERSONAL ESSAYS
The penultimate unit for this year is final look at argumentation and analysis. Students will complete two forms of writing after looking at various models that are exemplars for tone, mood, analysis, anecdotes, and story-telling. The first essay will be a casual argument that builds upon research gathered on an essayist of the student’s choosing. The student will analyze the writer using the style and structures that the writer used in his/her writing. Hence, if it is a satirist, the essays should be in the form of a satire. Following this writing task (and after the AP Exam in May), the students will also complete the first drafts of their personal essay that will follow them to senior year as they prepare for college. They need to take the elements and skills acquired from this class and apply it to their personal statement. They will look at various, previous examples from students of past years to gain inspiration. Additionally, the writer’s notebooks, assertion journals, and their favorite writing pieces will be looked at again to see how much they have accomplished this year.
“Casual Arguments” Chapter 11 in Everything’s an Argument
“That’s Don Fey” by Tina Fey from Bossypants
“Go Carolina” by David Sedaris from Me Talk Pretty One Day
“Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan
“Superman and Me” by Sherman Alexi
“What It Means to be Colored” by Zora Neale Hurston
“The Stranger in the Photo is Me” by Donald Murray
“Accidental Hero” by Zadie Smith
“Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros
“The ‘F Word’” by Firoozeh Dumas
Sixth/Final Unit: A BRAVE NEW WORLD – William Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST
In the final unit of the year, students will prepare for the AP Exam and work through Shakespeare’s play, which alludes to America. They will also look at the intertextual connections to imperialism and ideas from the beginning of the class. Finally, students will write an essay in a style and format they feel most comfortable (either expository, argumentative, or analytical). There will, of course, as in all of the essays for this class, be a drafting process where students receive and give feedback to each other. The teacher will provide feedback before and after the processes to ensure the quality and sophistication of their writing.
The Tempest by William Shakespeare
A Tempest by Aimé Césaire
“Shakespeare’s Sister” by Virginia Woolf