AP English Language and Composition
Chris Sloan, English instructor
Judge Memorial Catholic High School
Salt Lake City, Utah
Reading for the summer of 2013
Books for 2013-14 (in the order we’ll read them)
unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation, Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson (ISBN 978-1-4000-6566-0)
1984, George Orwell
The Curious Researcher, Bruce Ballenger (ISBN 9780205745265 )
Dead Man Walking, Sr. Helen Prejean
The Tempest, Shakespeare
Unlocking Shakespeare's Language, Randall Robinson (teacher has classroom set, no need to purchase)
Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey (any version will do)
Cracking the AP English Language and Composition Exam, Princeton Review, 978-0-375-42888-3 (0-375-42888-7)
by writers such as Jonathan Swift, Richard Rodriguez, Annie Dillard, Aldous Huxley, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, E.O. Wilson, Terry Tempest Williams
Other Media and Resources
The AP English Language course description, College Board
Annenberg Classroom Fact Check Ed web site
Letters to the Next President, National Writing Project and Google
Standing in the Shadows of Motown, Artisian Entertainment
Shattered Glass, Lions Gate Films
An Inconvenient Truth, Paramount
I Have a Dream speech
JFK's Inaugural Address, CBS archival footage
Handbook of Rhetorical Terms, by Robert Harris
Dystopian info from ReadWriteThink.org
21st Century Snake Oil on 60 Minutes
(this is a sample curriculum for the purposes of the AP audit. See my teaching website for current assignments)
week 1 (8/23/2010)
week 2 (8/30)
week 3 (9/7)
week 4 (9/13)
week 5 (9/20)
week 6 (9/27)
week 7 (10/4)
week 8 (10/1 & 10/1 – Fall Break)
week 9 (10/18-10/22)
week 10 (10/25-10/29)
week 11 (11/1-11/4)
week 12 (11/8-11/12)
week 13 (11/15-11/19)
week 14 (11/22-11/24 — only had two days of classes due to snow day 11/24)
week 15 (11/30-12/3)
week 16 (12/6-12/10)
week 17 (12/13-12/17)
week 18 (1/3-1/7)
week 19 (1/10-1/14)
week 20 (1/17-1/21 - no classes on 1/17 or 1/18)
week 21 (1/24-1/28)
week 22 (1/31-2/4)
week 23 (2/7-2/11)
week 24 (2/14-2/18)
week 25 (2/21-2/25)
week 26 (2/28-3/3)
week 27 (3/7-3/10) No school Friday 3/11, teacher workshops
week 28 (3/14-3/18)
week 29 (3/21-3/24)
week 30 (4/4-4/8)
week 31 (4/11-4/14)
week 32 (4/18-4/22)
week 33 (4/25-4/29)
week 34 (5/2-5/5)
week 35 (5/9-5/13)
week 36 (5/16-5/20)
---N.B. what follows is the sequence from previous years, kept in this document for reference---
week 2 (8/31)
week 3 (9/7)
week 4 (9/14)
week 5 (9/21)
week 6 (9/28) (Monday was a diocesan inservice, no classes, and Tues-Thurs I attended Google Teacher Academy)
week 7 (9/29)
week 20 – Semester Two begins
Rubric #1: Adapted 9-point scale rubric for AP English classes at Judge Memorial
AP English Scoring Rubric
Content counts much more than grammar, word choice, or spelling; however, seldom do essays get scores of nine with as few as three or four errors. Mediocre papers fail to identify and analyze subtleties of meaning. Quality papers recognize and respond to the emotional nuances of the topic.
Scores of 9-8 (A, A-)
• These are superior essays.
• They have a clear statement of position, thoughtful support, convincing examples, and stylistic maturity (sentence structure, diction, organization).
• Although there may be a few grammar or spelling errors, the author demonstrates a superior control of language.
Scores of 7-6 (B-, B, B+)
• These are excellent essays.
• However, they have a thesis which lacks the specific and convincing proof of the superior essays.
• The author’s writing style is less mature, and thus has occasional lapses of diction, tone, syntax, or organization.
• Although there may be errors of grammar and spelling, the author demonstrates an adequate control of language.
Scores of 5-4 (C-, C, C+)
• These are mediocre, but adequate, essays.
• The thesis may not be quite clear, the argument not as well-developed, and the organization not especially effective.
• There are some grammar and spelling errors.
These essays will receive a score no higher than 4 if they show any one of the following:
a) oversimplification or overgeneralization of the issues
b) write only in general terms, ignoring fine distractions
c) fail to discuss the issue completely or satisfactorily
d) mismanage the evidence
e) contain insufficient details
f) fail to establish the importance of the writer
g) treat only one aspect of a two-sided issue
h) cite examples but fail to consider the consequences
i) cite stylistic techniques but fail to explain the impact
j) characterize the passage without analyzing the language
Scores of 3-2 (D)
• These are weak essays.
• They lack clear organization and adequate support, the writing style is simplistic, and there are frequent grammar and spelling errors.
Score of 1 (F)
• These are poor essays. Although they may mention the question, they lack clarity, have little or no evidence, and contain consistent grammar and spelling errors. They are badly written, unacceptably brief, or off-topic.
Pay special attention to circled items.
• spell check
• proof read, watch for incorrect usage-there/their/they’re, to/two/too
• give your essay a good title
• put your full name, date class and section number on your essay
• use better examples
• create a better thesis statement
• signpost your arguments using effective topic sentences
• use better verbs
• use more concrete details
• choose words that are lively, concrete, and vivid
• check your sentences to make sure they make sense
• edit your sentences to make them more economical
• create an effective conclusion
• try a different strategy for organization
• try using figurative language or a metaphor as part of your essay
• restrict your focus
• create a critical thesis
• avoid summary
• find better ways to incorporate evidence
• read your evidence more carefully
Critical Analysis Essay Scoring Rubric
I have marked the main areas that need improvement. In general a “4” is an “A,” a “3” is a “B,” and so on.
4 - Clear, sharp, distinct controlling POINT and awareness of task.
Writer is in control and orchestrates development of the topic in
an enlightening way. TOPIC + ATTITUDE = THESIS.
3 - Apparent point. The focus is adequate. Insights may be
superficial and the control is sporadic but present. Writer is
beginning to define the topic.
2 - There is evidence of a topic but NO POINT. No meaningful
definition of topic. Absence of a thesis statement or topic
1 - Minimal evidence of topic; topic is difficult to discern.
4 - STRONG development (shows insight telling details give
important information). Main ideas stand out. The writer makes
connections that reflect his/her thinking.
3 - SUFFICIENT and adequate development. Writer may have
difficulty going from general to specific. The writer superficially
considers ideas. Readers can second-guess the main points;
ideas tend toward the mundane.
2 - INADEQUATE, limited development (lists, repetition, or
sequences). Information limited or unclear; details are cliché.
Topic is not defined in a meaningful way (see Focus above)
1 - Relevant content is absent or confused.
4 - COMPELLING order and structure. The organization enhances,
showcases the central idea (focus). The organization moves the
reader along; details fit. An introduction invites the reader in;
there is a satisfying conclusion . Smooth transitions are present
the reader may not even be conscious of them (subtlety).
3 - Reader can follow what’s being said, but the overall
organization may sometimes be INEFFECTIVE or OBVIOUS.
Introduction and conclusion are present; paper moves along at
a good pace. Transitions may seem easily anticipated (for
example, first, second,). Still, the organization does not get in
the way of the main point.
2 - HAPHAZARD organization The paper may get bogged down in
trivia or speed along haphazardly. Placement of details leaves
the reader confused or impatient.
1 - No clearly identifiable introduction or conclusion. Connections
between ideas are fuzzy; details seem to just fill in space.
Pacing is awkward. Lack of organization obscures or distorts
the main point or purpose.
4 - Writer speaks to the reader in a way that is individual,
expressive and engaging. Words are specific; imagery is
strong; powerful words give the piece energy; vocabulary is
striking but not overdone. Fresh, original expression, honest
writing. The reader senses the person behind the words.
3 - The writer seems sincere but not fully involved in the topic;
pleasant, acceptable, but not compelling. The language may be
quite ordinary, but it does convey a message. The overall
meaning is clear but some words may lack precision. However
the paper MAY have some fine moments. Use of colorful
language may seem overdone to impress the reader rather
than to convey a message. Some clichés and redundancies
may be present.
2 - Images lack details and often depend on the readers
knowledge to fill in. The writing tends to hide rather than reveal
the reader. The writer communicates in a routine manner. Flat
language robs the text of power.
1 - The writer struggles with a limited vocabulary, using vague
language. Only the most general of message comes through.
The writer seems wholly indifferent, uninvolved. The writing is
flat, lifeless. There is no sense of a writer behind the words.
4 - The writer demonstrates a good grasp of grammar,
capitalization, punctuation, spelling, usage, and paragraphing.
Errors are so few and so minor that the reader can skim right
over them. Spelling is generally correct even on the more
difficult words. Grammar and usage contribute to clarity and
style. Punctuation is smooth and guides the reader through the
text. The writer may manipulate conventions, particularly
grammar for stylistic effects.
3 - Errors in writing conventions are not overwhelming. Terminal
punctuation is correct but internal punctuation may be incorrect
or missing. Spelling is correct on common words. Problems in
usage are not severe enough to distract the reader.
2 - Errors begin to impair readability. They tend to be distracting.
Paragraphing is inconsistent. Spelling is generally correct but
sometimes phonetic even in common words. Text may be too
short to reflect real mastery of conventions. Moderate editing is
required to polish the text.
1 - Numerous errors in usage, sentence structure, etc., repeatedly
distract the reader and make the text difficult to read. The reader
must reread for meaning. Punctuation is omitted, haphazard, or
incorrect. Spelling errors are frequent even on common words.
Paragraphing is irregular or absent altogether.
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).
Students write in several forms. Some of the forms come from the sequences in our text, Concise Guide to Writing like autobiography, evaluation, reflection, problem-solution, etc. Students in this class also write varying lengths of research papers, creative writing and multigenre pieces.
Students write about a variety of subjects. Blog posts on youthvoices.net tend to be more about popular culture, the entries in the writer's notebooks tend toward the more personal, and students are also required to try to publish all their final drafts either in the popular press or as entries to writing contests.
2. The course requires students to write essays that proceed through several stages or drafts, with revision aided by teacher and peers.
Here's an example of a sequence where students formed response groups using Google Documents, making at least two other classmates "collaborators" of their document. The teacher is also a collaborator on all drafts written using Google Docs, and the teacher responds to students' drafts online. Below is a summary of the directions from the "Writing Reflection" chapter of Concise Guide to Writing. These directions were placed directly in the students' Google Docs draft by the teacher after the students completed the invention activities. Then the teacher commented on the drafts after one week.
Critical Reading Guide and Revising
Note to responders. Write your comments in a different color than the writers, and a different color than these directions.
Step One. In class on Tuesday, 2/20, we did the "If you are the Writer" activity where you wrote about your essay's intended audience, your purpose, and a problem in the draft that you needed help solving. Then your partner completed #1, "Read for a First Impression."
Step Two.By Friday, 2/23, complete the activities in the Critical Reading Guide on pages 152-154. Have your partner respond to each of these prompts:
Step Three. For Tuesday, 2/26, complete your revision using the activities on pages 154-159.
3. 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.
The basis for informal writing comes from Notebook Know-How, by Aimee Buckner. Imitation exercises take place throughout the year based on the author being studied. Students in this class write every day, most often using their writers' notebooks. However, some of the daily writing takes place on our blogging space at youthvoices.net.
4. The course requires expository, analytical, and argumentative writing assignments that are based on readings representing a wide variety of prose styles and genres.
Upon completion of 1984 by George Orwell, students are given the following assignment:
Choose one of the following books to read. Compare and contrast that author's view of the future with that of Orwell's. Using your critical understanding of contemporary society, in your opinion which author's viewpoint is more relevant today?
Utopia, Sir Thomas More
The Republic, Plato
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
The Time Machine, H.G. Wells
Lord of the Flies, William Golding
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
5. 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.
Write an essay in which you analyze the rhetorical strategies Prejean uses to explain her views of the death penalty in Dead Man Walking. Discuss the effectiveness of her arguments. (After essays are written and assessed using the AP rubric, the class discusses the book. The teacher and students identify these rhetorical techniques.)
In the chapter titled, "Industrial Tourism" in Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey suggests ways the Park Service can be improved. How effective is his argumentation?
6. The course teaches students to analyze how graphics and visual images both relate to written texts and serve as alternative forms of text themselves.
Students in Chris Sloan's AP English Language and Composition collaborate with students around the country in a social networking web site, http://youthvoices.net
At least once a week the writers notebook for this class is written as a blog entry in Youth Voices. The purpose of this work is to introduce students to the concept of educational blogging. Here's one example of the process students were taken through to produce a blog entry using images:
1. Write for 15 minutes on the following: What's going on in my community or the world that concerns me?
2. Now write a focused sentence. A perfectly written, opinionated sentence that re-states your entire freewrite. Freewrite again for 10 minutes starting with your focused sentence.
3. Insert a Creative Commons image or one of your own.
4. Freewrite for a third time, this time with the image in mind. How does the image represent what you are trying to get across in your post?
5. Using Google Reader, add two quotations from other blogs or news items that you have read about this topic.
6. Freewrite a final time with these quotations in mind. How does each quote add to the message in your post?
7. Now copy and paste this final writing into a blog post for today.
7. 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.
8. The course teaches students how to cite sources using a recognized editorial style (e.g., Modern Language Association, The Chicago Manual of Style, etc.).
Research Paper. The resources used to introduce the research paper is based on the SIRS Researcher Pro vs. Con sequence. However other sources are used, including discussions about using online sources (like news aggregators like Google Reader). Teacher also provides definition and examples of plagiarism.
Phase 1. Choose a topic that:
Phase 2. Choose a focus
Phase 3. State a thesis, state three supporting ideas and at least one piece of evidence for each idea
Phase 4: SELECT and READ other documents associated with your topic.
CHOOSE documents that will
• Provide evidence such as facts and statistics, cases, legislation, quotes, or personal examples
• Contain expert opinion that supports your thesis or supporting ideas or opposes your thesis or supporting ideas
• Help you explore your questions about your topic’s issues, problems, controversies
Critically read and analyze sources. Source: Critical Reading strategies from Reading Critically, Writing Well.
Phase 5: Review the sources and re-evaluate thesis. Peer group discussions.
Phase 6: Writing and Citing. Consolidate all of your evidence, thesis, and supporting ideas into a first draft.
Make sure your draft contains the following:
• An introduction that states your thesis.
• A summary of the opposition’s opinion, along with your refutation of that opinion.
• At least one paragraph for each of your supporting ideas, with relevant evidence and explanation of how the supporting idea supports your thesis.
• A summary or direct quote from an author’s opinion
• Proper documentation 1) when quoting or paraphrasing someone else’s opinion and 2) evidence. (Use the SIRS Researcher Tagged List feature to assist in creating your works cited/references/bibliography.)
• A conclusion that summarizes the main points of your research paper and states a recommendation, prediction, or solution to the problem(s) raised in the paper.
Create bibliography using SIRS Researcher Tagged List feature.
Evaluation: Phase 6
Before submitting your paper, review and evaluate it. Ask yourself the following questions:
STAYING ON TASK: Have I referred to my thesis statement in each paragraph?
• When I have restated others’ ideas to support my thesis or argument, have I summarized these ideas in my own words, not theirs?
• Have I given proper credit to my sources?
AVOIDING CARELESS ERROR: Has my paper been proofread? Have I used correct grammar and spelling?