LANGUAGE ARTS is not taught in the senior year. SAT Review will be conducted outside the class in SAT "booster sessions" in September. Reading comprehension is a major initiative in this year's AP class -- we recognize that this is an area that needs shoring up as students prepare for college. In addition, the elements of writing taught in a typical freshman composition course are woven into the class as students practice various rhetorical modes. The college essay has been moved to the "Senior Seminar."

Reflection: Our 2010 AP scores were uninspiring, despite the students' reports that they felt prepared for the test. Adding a satire to the class was helpful -- more emphasis on satire and tone needs to be given in the fall semester. Vocabulary blogs were introduced -- and did not work. We will need to work on a steady acquisition and review of vocabulary from August to May. Close reading remains an issue of critical concern and needs to be addressed more thoroughly in the fall. However, the introduction of blogging in the second semester (at the students request) led to major leaps in analysis and more sophisticated analytical writing. Blogs should be introduced from the beginning of the course.

The course is being redesigned to shift more emphasis to critical reading, while support for writing skill development continues throughout the year.

The AP English blog, "Digging Even Deeper," can be accessed here.

AP English Language
2011-2012 Course Overview

“The essay is nothing less than the reflection of all there is: art, personal experience, places, literature, portraiture, politics, science, music, education—and just thought itself in orbit.” – Elizabeth Hardwick

This course aims to develop students’ critical thinking, close reading and interpretation skills, and their written and oral analytical expression. It follows the recommendations for this course set forth in the College Board’s AP English Course Description as determined by the College Board. We will consider the nature of “text” in both written and non-written formats, examining the way content advances a purpose and works on an audience. We will study a wide range of writers’ rhetorical strategies and stylistic choices and consider their impact on the genre of the essay (and excerpts from longer works of non-fiction) as well as masterworks by contemporary world writers in other genres. Students will approach reading texts “college style” and continue to develop their skills with argument and synthesis, as well as extended research.


Summer Reading (choose two): Gladwell, The Tipping Point; Rodriquez, Hunger of Memory; Suskind, A Hope in the Unseen; Fadiman, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down; Eggers, Zeitoun

The Norton Reader (Shorter Tenth Edition)

Selected additonal essays including: Sontag, “On Photography” (excerpt); Baker, "My Children Explain the Big Issues”

Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric

Cracking the AP Language and Composition Exam (2012 edition)

Selected images by Mapplethorpe, Atget, Steiglitz, Strand, Lange, Evans, Arbus, Widener, Sherman, "Wee"

Mahfouz, Palace Walk

Ishiguro, Artist of the Floating World

Dineson, "Babette's Feast"

Brecht, The Good Woman of Setzuan


Generally, a holistic approach to grading, which is used by many AP educators and grades and which tends to reward positive achievement rather than punish errors, is used in the grading of essays. Portfolios of writing are graded as a whole, with emphasis on the revision.

Letter grades follow this scheme:

A: Student stretches him or herself beyond what he or she already knows; student exhibits sustained creative and critical thinking; students follows through with thoroughly convincing evidence; student adheres to the formal conventions of his or her medium of expression; and student displays stylistic and intellectual exuberance.

B: Student pushes her or his thinking beyond the obvious; student backs up her or his assertions with detailed support; student handles the rules and conventions of her or his medium with confidence; and student displays stylistic and intellectual maturity.

C: Student adequately addresses the assignment; student reports or repeats the obvious; student depends upon generalities as support; student inconsistently applies the conventions of his or her medium; and student lacks a clear argument or focus.

D or below: Student addresses the assignment incompletely or inadequately. Students automatically receive an F on an assignment that does not include appropriate documentation when outside resources are used (though they may correct this error and receive a higher grade).

*Note: This is a college-level course. It is assumed that students will undertake this course with that standard in mind. If students do not consistently meet stated expectations for conduct and performance, they will lose the privilege of having the AP designation on their college transcripts. In addition, students must maintain a grade of 85 or higher in this course and must take the AP exam in order to be exempt from a final exam in May.
Q1 Content:

Introduction to the AP English Language and Composition Test

Basic concepts introduced: purpose, audience, structure, style, basic rhetorical modes (illustrations, classification, comparison, analogy), revision, rhetorical fallacies, rhetorical stance (logos, pathos, ethos), use of detail, understanding audience

Introduction to writing workshop and group discussion formats

Q1 Assignments:
Summer Reading Presentation/Response
Vocabulary Quizzes; rhetorical stance quiz
Portfolio 1: Description, Definition, Revision
Practice AP Essays: Rhetorical Analysis
Class Participation

Tentative Schedule:

Week 1: Orientation and Introduction

What does it mean to read critically?

What is the writer's purpose and how does he/she achieve it?

Practice AP: rhetorical analysis essay

Week 2: Summer reading presentations

Practice critical reading

Summer Reading Responses due (one day after presentation)

Week 3: Intro. to Rhetorical analysis

Read introduction to the rhetorical analysis essay (AP book)
Review purpose, audience, style and structure: read and discuss Chief Seattle, “Letter to President Pierce, 1855" (Norton)

Reading college-style: begin Mahfouz, Palace Walk -- first 100 pages

Vocabulary review

Week 4: Example/illustration, use of detail

Discuss Mahfouz, Palace Walk -- first 100 pages (continue reading pp. 100-200)

Vocabulary quiz

Rhetorical analysis essay (in-class) based on Palace Walk

Review basic rhetorical modes (example or illustration, description, definition) in chaps. 10-11 of AP book

Read and discuss: Eighner, "On Dumpster Diving" (Norton), in-class
Workshop: Descriptive Essay

Week 5: Rhetorical Stance
Discuss Mahfouz, Palace Walk, pp. 100-200 (continue reading pp. 200-300)

Description, rhetorical stance, connecting to audience

Review rhetorical stance (“Silva Rhetoricae") -- logos, pathos, ethos

Read and discuss: White, "Once More to the Lake" (in-class)

Vocabulary Review

Week 7: Definition and Structure
Review structure, definition

Discuss Mahfouz, Palace Walk, pp. 300-400 (cont. reading pp. 400-end)

Read and discuss Mairs, "On Being a Cripple" (Norton)

Workshop: Definition essay

Vocabulary Quiz

Rhetorical analysis essay (in-class) based on Palace Walk

Week 8: Portfolio revision
Revision workship

Prepare portfolio 1 for submission (includes revision)

Discuss Mahfouz, Palace Walk (complete)

Vocabulary Review

Q2 Content/Assessments

Argumentative essay

Review rhetorical modes: classification, analysis, comparison and contrast (chapter 10-11 in AP book)

Review rhetorical fallacies (chapter 9 in AP book), rhetorical fallacies quiz

Portfolio II: classification, analogy, comparison and contrast, revision

Read and discuss: Brecht, The Good Woman of Setzuan; Toth, "On Going to the Movies" (classification); Sanders, "On Looking at Women" (analysis); Feiffer, "Superman" (comparison and contrast)

Blogging and commenting

Vocabulary review and quizzes

AP argumentative essays

Q3 Content/Assessments

Media literacy, how to read images

Style analysis

Synthesis essay

Research project

Read and discuss: Ishiguro, The Artist of the Floating World; Sontag, On Photography (excerpt)

Introduction to reading images

[[file/view/How+to+Read+a+Photograph.ppt|How to Read a Photograph.ppt]]

Vocabulary review and quizzes

AP multiple choice practice

First AP practice test completed

Q4 Content/Assessments

Senior Essay and Podcasts

Read and discuss, Dineson, "Babette's Feast"

Blogging and commenting

Vocabulary review and quizzes

AP multiple choice practice

Review for the AP exam: 2nd AP practice test completed

Additional Resources:
SAT Review