AP English Language and Composition
Course Length: 32 weeks (not including Thanksgiving and Holiday Break). Class work begins Tuesday, August 28, 2018. This means that the first week’s homework is posted that day; in this course homework is always posted Tuesday mornings and due the following Monday evening. Live meetings occur every other THURSDAY afternoon.
Course Length: This course begins Tuesday, August 28th, 2018 (that is the first date homework is posted) and extends through the AP exam in May of 2019.
ESSAYS AND SHORT FICTION THAT I WILL PROVIDE:
“Speech to the Virginia Convention” by Patrick Henry
“The Defense of Freedom and Peace” by Winston Churchill
“Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell
“Rules of the Game” by Amy Tan
“Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut
“’Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” by Harlan Ellison
“Revelation” by Flannery O’Connor
Various examples of visual rhetoric and media, short articles, poetry, and grammar resources.
REQUIRED TEXTS FOR THE STUDENT TO PURCHASE (OR RENT):
One Hundred Great Essays – 5th edition, ed. by Robert DiYanni
The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe (any edition)
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare (any edition)
Animal Farm by George Orwell (any edition)
5 Steps to a 5 AP English Language, 2015 Edition (5 Steps to a 5 on the Advanced Placement Examinations Series) by Barbara Murphy. A more recent edition is fine as well.
SUGGESTED (OPTIONAL) REFERENCE/STYLE: –The Elements of Style by Strunk and White (any edition)
COURSE DESCRIPTION AND GOALS:
This course is College Board certified. That means that my syllabus and curriculum have been rigorously reviewed and certified by the College Board, completing the full AP Course Audit process.
The purpose of this course is to help students write effectively, confidently, and enthusiastically in their academic, professional and personal lives. This course is designed for the proactive student who possesses a love of reading and composition. It will focus on analysis through extensive website discussion as well as individual essay-writing. While the primary goal of this course is to prepare your student to successfully take the AP English Language exam, the material is structured to encourage an ongoing love of language, intellectual discovery, and expression.
Language is one of the most powerful and beautiful tools we have; it is a tool we use every day of our lives. This course focuses on helping students analyze complex elements of language, argument, and composition and employ those same valuable elements in their own writing. The rhetorical, argumentative, and interpretive strategies we use in this course can be applied to everyday life and discussion in a myriad of ways – students will learn to consider nonfiction, fiction, media, and even advertisements in a new and dynamic way! Students will also have the opportunity to submit select written projects to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards under my guidance. In addition to scoring well on the AP Exam, over the past five years my students (including all courses) have won many Silver Keys and Gold Keys in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. This course is organized by concept, strategy, and theme. Each module requires students to acquire and use rich vocabulary, employ standard English grammar, and to understand the importance of diction and syntax in an author’s style. Therefore, students are expected to develop the following through reading, discussion, and writing assignments:
- A wide-ranging vocabulary used appropriately and effectively.
- A variety of sentence lengths and structures.
- Knowledge of the primary rhetorical modes of discourse (expository, descriptive, narrative, and argumentative).
- Logical organization.
- An effective use of rhetoric including controlling tone, establishing and maintaining voice, and achieving appropriate diction and sentence structure.
- For each reading assignment we discuss:
- Theme, thesis, or message
- Tone or attitude
- Classic Aristotelian appeals: Logos, Ethos, Pathos
- Diction and Style
- Use of rhetorical devices, including figurative language, antithesis, parallelism, juxtaposition, any relevant sound devices, and other relevant strategies including symbolism, satire, allegory, structure, etc.
This course seeks to achieve these goals through a study of both nonfiction and fiction:
- We will explore successful diction, syntax, and basic rhetorical devices by studying authors including but not limited to Mark Twain (“Reading the Mississippi River”) and Henry David Thoreau (“Why I Went to the Woods”)
- We will analyze successful arguments, evaluate their ability to create real-world, important change, and learn how to build one ourselves by studying nonfiction pieces by Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Jr., Patrick Henry, George Orwell, and others.
- We will explore and respond to the immense power of creative nonfiction, personal memoir, and narrative by discussing Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff and short fiction by Amy Tan, Kurt Vonnegut, Flannery O’Connor, and Harlan Ellison.
- We will examine the subtleties and social importance of irony, satire, and allegory by examining George Orwell’s Animal Farm and Jonathan Swift’s essay “A Modest Proposal.”
- We will discover the value of Aristotelian rhetorical appeals (Logos, Pathos, and Ethos) in classic, modern, and contemporary texts by studying Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and evaluating examples of visual and multimedia persuasion.
- While we prepare for AP Exam concepts and vocabulary throughout the year, we spend our final 8 weeks completing intensive AP Exam preparation.
LIVE Course Meeting Time: LIVE meetings via the ZOOM Meeting Center will occur every other week on THURSDAYS AT 3PM EST beginning WEEK 2 of class. These meetings will consist of lecture material AND interactive discussion time with fellow students and myself. All course meetings are optional and will be recorded for your listening convenience. Approximately 70% of my students attend live meetings; the rest listen to lectures asynchronously to fit their schedule. Students who are unable to attend live lectures may also participate in group discussion on the course website forum. Flexibility is the goal of this course!
RHETORICAL VOCABULARY: A RHETORICAL AND LITERARY DEVICE GLOSSARY is provided to students in the fall. This glossary contains a comprehensive list of vocabulary that is important to the AP Language Exam. During each module of our course I discuss vocabulary terms and strategies in detail. These range from general strategies such as Aristotelian Appeals to more specific vocabulary terms such as alliteration and asyndeton. I also feature a Vocabulary Prompt of the Week activity that allows students to explore one term “in depth” each week.
ESSAY CRITIQUES: Over the course of this year-long class, students will write in a variety of composition categories (analysis, argumentative, narrative, descriptive, research, etc.) Every essay assignment will include a detailed instructions/prompts page and a brief grading rubric. Rubrics may VARY per assignment. Aspects that may be addressed include but are not limited to:
- Structure and Organization.
- Content and Analysis: This may include the choice of examples/support, the specificity of analysis, the level of general vs. specific detail, and (if relevant) the strength of the argument.
- Diction, Grammar, and Syntax
- All of these concepts are explained, explored, and discussed throughout the year.
WEB FORUM DISCUSSION: This is an ongoing element of class; short discussion questions are posted on our website forum and students discuss (with myself and their peers) thoughtful short-form answers to our course readings. This is an excellent preparation for longer writing assignments and represents a more personal/colloquial writing aspect. It also represents an important interactive social element as students broaden their understanding through peer discussion.
PEER COMMENTS Students are invited to courteously comment on the essays and compositions of their peers after we have completed each major written assignment. We will discuss how to best provide constructive comments! This is an excellent way to earn extra credit. NOTE: While all course essay work will be made public, I will never make final grades for ANY assignment public! Actual point grades will only appear in your Online Gradebook page. Students will NEVER assign final grades to each other.
Midterm Argumentative Research Paper. The Argumentative Research paper requires students to complete COMPREHENSIVE INDEPENDENT RESEARCH into a topic of their own choosing (from a list of general suggested topics, and with research guidelines/suggestions I provide). Suggested topic areas include: 1. Any work or author we have already read this fall OR any historical context/event we have addressed this fall (this is an excellent category to choose if a student desires more structure/guidance).
- Politics and Rhetoric
- Science and Discovery
- Social Issues 5. Culture, Art and Humanities 6. Alternate short fiction option: students who qualify may complete a short fictional composition.
DETAILED GUIDANCE AND INSTRUCTION is provided for this assignment! This project requires students to demonstrate research skills and the ability to evaluate, use, and cite primary and secondary sources. There are MULTIPLE “feedback checkpoints” for this assignment. Over a succession of weeks, students submit: A FORMAL THESIS, AN OUTLINE, A ROUGH DRAFT, and a FINAL DRAFT. I provide detailed instruction and feedback before and after each revision checkpoint that allow students to grow and submit the best final draft possible. This paper is due at the end of our FIRST SEMESTER.
CONNECTION TO AP EXAM: Students read excerpts from our reference manual, 5 Steps to a 5 AP English Language, 2015 Edition (5 Steps to a 5 on the Advanced Placement Examinations Series) by Barbara Murphy. I also provide my own in-depth handouts regarding AP Exam Format and each essay section of the exam. Our primary AP Language Prep “Boot Camp” occurs during part of the spring. The analysis, argumentative, and synthesis essays completed in response to course content are modeled to prepare students for those respective categories on the AP Exam. We focus primarily on UNTIMED ESSAYS in the fall and TIMED ESSAY WORK in the spring semester. The regular quizzes completed in each module are modeled to prepare students for the AP Exam multiple choice section. In addition to regular course curriculum, students complete multiple individual timed essay responses to practice AP prompts from EACH essay category; a variety of short practice AP quizzes; and a minimum of TWO FULL PRACTICE EXAMS.
Weekly assignments may include:
- A LIVE MEETING (every other week) or short recorded lecture.
- Interactive discussion of course texts and concepts in our website forum.
- Handouts and visual aids/presentations.
- Short essays and multiple choice quizzes in preparation for the AP exam in May. These assignments are designed to develop the specific skills your student needs! Written compositions will explore analysis, argumentative, synthesis, and narrative skills.
- Reading assignments ranging from approx. 30-100 pages. Reading assignments may include major course texts AND suggested resources.
- Optional bonus assignments and an in-depth extra credit vocabulary prompt of the week.
- Longer writing assignments, including a mandatory midterm argumentative research paper.
- Homework will be assigned/due weekly on our course website. I will also send out a weekly homework update email to both students AND parents!
- Students will read regular handouts, posts, and activities on the website.
- All homework will be submitted and critiqued via the website. REQUIRED: High speed internet and Microsoft Office (or equivalent word processing capabilities). You must have the ability to read Word Documents and PDFs. Hours of study each week: 8-10 hours, depending on the week and the amount of bonus material the student chooses to cover. This includes required reading, extra credit, group discussion, short essays and multiple choice questions.Instructor Qualifications: I am a graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville with a BA in Communication Arts and a Minor in Philosophy. I have a professional background in media, editing, writing, and advertising. This upcoming school year will be my eighth teaching both AP English Literature and AP English Language (I teach for both Aim Academy and PA Homeschoolers). I also have four years of experience teaching Creative Writing with Aim Academy and many years of experience providing individual student tutoring in areas of writing and mechanics. Over the past five years, my students (including all course and tutoring students) have won many Silver Keys and Gold Keys in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.