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AP Language and Composition Syllabus

Perry High School

Massillon, Ohio

Submitted by Debra Warstler

This AP Audit begins with an overview of course elements and specific discussion of the connections to College Board standards for AP Language and Composition, and then moves to the detailed syllabus that I distributed to students. The syllabus contains course objectives, all reading selections, writing assignments, projects, in-class activities, exam requirements, and assessment details.


This course is designed to teach students the skills needed to rhetorically analyze a variety of prose texts and to compose solid written analyses and arguments. The reading material is almost solely non-fiction: essays, books, speeches, commentaries, editorials, images, and full-length books. The Honors level courses at grades 9 and 10 in our district are primarily fiction based; therefore, students entering junior year have had minimal exposure to non-fiction literature. While I use one memoir and one full-length novel during the year, the rest of the material I use reflects the types of prose typically found on the AP Language and Composition exam.

Students read and annotate two books during the summer identifying how the authors use rhetorical devices in their writing. Students also study a list of rhetorical devices during their summer workboth the definitions and effects on composition. During the first two weeks of school, I teach them to recognize basic rhetorical appeals (Ethos, Pathos, Logos) and text analysis strategies. Students learn to apply the SOAPSTone strategy (Speaker, Occasion, Audience, Purpose, Subject, Tone) when analyzing text selections, and the OPTIC strategy (Overview, Parts, Title, Interrelationships, Conclusion) for visual images.

The course syllabus is designed to maximize class time and provide learning opportunities for every necessary skill outlined by the College Board. Students bring annotated reading assignments to class discussion, and following discussion, students write essays that move through a lengthy writing process. Students take practice Multiple Choice reading tests, and we work as a group to analyze areas of confusion. I am then able to provide direct instruction for skills in vocabulary, grammar, denotation/connotation, and rhetorical elements that are still not clear. Students regularly complete Free Response Questions from previous AP exams and then work together to determine strengths and weaknesses. This process helps me assess areas for additional writing instruction. Additional formal and informal writing assignments (detailed below) give students further opportunities to develop necessary skills.

I handle assessment differently in this class compared to a typical college prep class; very few points are recorded until the end of each grading period. Half of the grade is based on writing, and I have found that waiting to assign grades pushes students to work diligently on every assignment.

*50% of the student grade is based on writing. Rather than assigning a grade to each essay, I assign a holistic score on a portfolio of all work written during each grading period. The portfolio includes all writing: Out of class essays, In-class essays, rhetorical prcis, written responses to reading, and a final reflective letter from the student analyzing and defending his/her writing performance. This grade is based on both process and product. I look for solid growth.

*40% of the student grade is based on objective evaluations: quizzes over reading material, vocabulary quizzes, grammar tests, homework, and presentations.

*10% of the student grade is based on class participation: peer response, discussion, conference readiness, and workshop activities.

Course Alignment to The AP College Board:

Curricular Requirement 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.

During the first semester, students write three multi-draft essays (Outside of Class/OCE): a narrative essay, in which they analyze a time in their lives when they came to know something about themselves, the world, or the people in it; a process essay in which they describe/analyze a process; and a comparison/contrast essay in which they analyze the effectiveness of rhetorical devices used in two political cartoons dealing with the same issue, two print advertisements for similar products, or two commercials for similar products. Each essay follows the annotated reading and discussion of essays representing the genre.

In addition to the Out-of-Class essays, students write 20 timed In-Class Essays (ICE) throughout the year as preparation for the AP test. I pull sample questions from previous AP tests, and I also compose my own topics based on reading selections discussed during class. I begin the year focusing on analysis questions, then move to argument and synthesis. By the end of January, I move back and forth between argument/synthesis and analysis.

Throughout the entire year, students write rhetorical prcis (CEP) over current event opinion essays/commentaries (4 times each quarter). Students have the option of selecting a single commentator for a quarter or a specific topic in the news. Each quarter they select a new focus.

During the second semester, students write two multi-draft essays. The first is a research paper in which the students develop an argument dealing with an aspect of education. This paper stems from the reading, annotation, and discussion of three previously published articles/essays focused on issues in education today. The second is an argumentative essay in response to one of the articles they previously read and analyzed for the Current Event Prcis (CEP) assignments.

The semester exam is an analytical essay over the non-fiction book they selected to read with a partner outside of school and then discussed with others that read the same book for the project. The final exam is an analytical essay over a novel that has been recognized for its literary merit. These two essays are not multi-draft. Students write them before the exam dates so that they have time to carefully edit and proofread their work.

Curricular Requirement 2: The course requires students to write essays that proceed through several drafts, with revision aided by teacher and peers.

Five times throughout the course (3 first semester; 2 second semester), students will revise essays (OCE). When the essays are submitted, I first select one essay, make copies of it for the class, and I lead them through a class revision; students then (working in groups of 4) read two separate essays and respond in writing to a feedback prompt I have prepared. After students review peer feedback, they then have one week to revise before submitting a second draft. At that time, I give written feedback and meet with them in individual conferences to discuss further revision. Students submit final drafts along with final drafts one week later.

Students also revise 1 or 2 Current Event Prcis each semester, selecting one that I have previously assessed; they work with peers to improve wording, sentence structure, and overall rhetorical analysis.

Curricular Requirement 3: The course requires students to write in informal contexts designed to help them become increasingly aware of themselves as writers and of the techniques employed by the writers they read.

Students begin annotating work with the books they read for summer (On Writing by King; The Glass Castle by Walls) and continue the annotation process for everything they read throughout the year. As students read during the summer months, they discuss the material in an online blog site that I established for this class. At the beginning of the year, students use journals to dialogue with partners about Walls workexploring her craft; this replaces a formal assessment over the memoir. I frequently have students use journal response to think through an essay or article that we read in class before starting class discussion.

Curricular Requirement 4: The course requires expository, analytical, and argumentative writing assignments that are based on readings representing a wide variety of prose styles and genres.

After students read, annotate and discuss The Glass Castle (Walls), Salvation (Hughes), Superman and Me (Alexie), and The Serpents of Paradise (Abbey), they write a narrative essay in which they allow the narrative itself to reveal how they came to understand something about themselves, other people, or the world around them.

After students read, annotate, and discuss Dumpster Diving (Einger), Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain (Mitford), and Homers Odyssey (Scott), they write an expository essay in which they explain a process.

After students read, annotate and discuss Fremont High School (Kozol), Of Youth and Age (Bacon), and Rapport Talk and Report Talk (Tannen), they write an analytical essay comparing/contrasting the rhetorical strategies in two print advertisements, two commercial messages, or two political cartoons.

After students read, annotate, and discuss a non-fiction book (see below), they write an essay in which they analyze the authors rhetorical strategies. (Semester exam assignment)

After students read, annotate, and discuss Best In Class (Talbot), From Degrading to De-Grading (Kohn), and I Know Why the Caged Bird Cannot Read (Prose), they select a research paper topic within the area of education. This is an argument essay that includes 5-6 sources as support.

After students read, annotate, and discuss a novel in a Literature Circle setting, they will write an essay in which they ana


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