You are on page 1of 10

AP Language and Composition

Nate Stearns
Room 607

Course Overview

This is a course about writing. And, as Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing.
All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Hemingway is a bit optimistic--writing
actually involves hard work, frustrating distractions, societal contempt, and the constant
feeling that everything you create isn’t worth very much. And then you bleed. But, you do get
a laptop!

On the other hand, writing is one of the best known ways to send forth your thoughts into the
universe, into the future. Writing is a kind of immortality. Your well-rendered ideas and
metaphors could outlive you a thousand-fold and—though it might not be comforting—give
you your best shot at bugging other people for all of eternity.

In the College Board’s description of the AP English Language and Composition class, they
describe the purpose of the course:

An AP course in English Language and Composition engages students in becoming
skilled readers of prose written in a variety of periods, disciplines, and rhetorical
contexts, and in becoming skilled writers who compose for a variety of purposes. Both
their writing and their reading should make students aware of the interactions among
a writer’s purposes, audience expectations, and subjects as well as the way generic
conventions and the resources of language contribute to effectiveness in writing.

Similarly, in this class we will engage a number of varied texts in order to understand and
analyze them, but we will also use those texts as models of our own writing. We will work to
become powerful readers—able not only to understand what a writer is communicating, but
also how the writer manipulates the English language to achieve those effects. Furthermore,
we will take this knowledge and apply it to our own writing. As writers, we will grow. As
people?—well—maybe. We will have opportunities to write for a number of purposes—to
teach, to persuade, to tell a story—and in a number of styles—memoir, editorial, journalistic,
satirical. In the end, we will explore all that words have the power to do.


Core Textbooks : 50 Essays by Samuel Cohen and Everything’s an Argument by Andrea A.

Homework and tardy/absence Policy: . Still. An-online selection of writings will be available at the following address (http://shorewiki. illustrations). Some essays will have grades at different parts of the process to assess how well you navigate the demands of writing. AP Practice: Periodically. editing. and in-class. Blog and Daily Work: 40% One of the major methods of providing you with the space and opportunity to display your analysis of readings is the Grading System: Essays: 40% Essays we write in class involve a multi-step process that goes from pre- writing. Quizzes and tests: 20% Periodically. drafting. accompanying visuals (charts. and publishing. The blogs give us the added ability to share these insights with students within the class and outside of the school community. techniques. Regularly. Some essays will be edited by peers or outside editors (web editors or guest editors). you and your fellow students will engage with readings and explore the issues.Lunsford and John J. timed essay writing geared towards the types of items you’ll see on the AP exam. and purpose behind the writing. We will also be able to use commentary. that is not all we do. Most major writing will be graded one-on-one with the teacher and to some extent expectations and grading standards will be negotiated individually according to the needs and abilities of each student. taking essay questions or multiple choice questions and diving what is being assessed. photos. we will expand the conversation. research. Happy Mondays: Mondays are reserved for reading and discussion of articles from The New Yorker. we’ll practice AP test-specific skills including multiple choice paragraph analysis. hyperlinks. synthetic essays. and RSS readers to broaden the intellectual experience and anticipate the methods the modern marketplace of ideas employs and will employ in the future.wikispaces. Using global collaboration resources such as Global Schoolroom and ePals. Ruszkiewicz A subscription to The New Yorker. we’ll be learning terminology and concepts necessary for writing and will therefore need assessments to make sure you understand them before we begin integrating them into your writing. Each Monday a different student will be charged with selecting and leading a discussion on an article from the magazine. At times we will work backwards.

I subtract 10% off for every day you’re late. . Fall Schedule Note: Any of the major writing we do in class can be used as elements in your Clas Portfolio. knowledge base. During class. Meebo. I restrict all uses of cell phones and MP3 players to out of class time. you get an automatic 0 for the assignment. For larger papers and projects. Technology Expectations Every student will be expected to have their laptops (charged) in class every class period. Students who are tardy more than 15 minutes are considered absent for that class period and if you are absent more than 10 times you may not receive credit for my class.First off. expect to be asked out of class and sent to the front office. and conceptual understandings necessary to be successful on the AP test. I take it very seriously. whathaveyou—I reserve the right to confiscate your computer for the duration of class. you will be asked to maintain an academic blog where much of your in-class work will be entered as well as your longer assignments. Other Behavior Expectations I am not OK with students disrespecting or belittling other students. any time you spend on other sites— Dolphin Olympics. The first time this happens. Besides that. Unit 1: Beginnings Unit Goals • To re-familiarize ourselves with practice public speaking and group discussion skills • To familiarize yourself with the skills being assessed by the AP Language and Composition test • To establish a set of terms and concepts needed to analyze your writing and others’. you’re expected to work only on class work. When you are absent—excused—it’s your responsibility to find out what the homework was (it’s on my website) and get it to me the next school day. your family moved to Borneo yesterday and “forgot” to bring you along). Please keep these devices in your pockets or backpacks. I also reserve the right to confiscate it and make several long distance calls to Fiji. If I see you using one in class. Education has such a potential to be a force fro good in the world and I expect all of us to treat it that way. Similarly. Also.e. If your absence is unexcused. • To analyze the rhetorical strategies and stylistic devices of personal essays • To understand the elements of the writing process • To learn the basics of sentence variety and the writing of anecdotes We’ll start with a roundtable discussion/dissection of the test along with anchor paper and create a class document that will attempt to quantify the skills. I hope for a classroom of mutual respect where I treat you with the dignity and honor you deserve and you do likewise. I don’t take late homework unless the situation is particularly special (i.

We’ll also work backwards on sample synthetic essays from previous AP exams and create . synthesis. outline our arguments. Models: “Defending our Skies against the Elderly” by Diane Dimond Newsweek “Just Walk on By: Black Men and the Public Space” by Brent Staples 50 Essays “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris 50 Essays “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell 50 Essays “Learning to Read and Write” by Frederick Douglass 50 Essays “An ideal of service to our fellow man” by Albert Einstein This I Believe “Be Cool” by Christian McBride This I Believe “How to Become a Writer Or. and shape our writing for specific audiences and purposes. technology. and application. Finally. This will also give us an opportunity to figure out how our class discussions (both small group and large) can contribute to our learning. select the information we need. Personal Essay: Using NPR’s This I believe and the Newsweek’s My Turn essays as a guide. we’ll also learn the process of research in which we search for relevant and credible information. We’ll learn how to use the MLA citation format to indicate where our sources come from and we’ll discuss issues of plagiarism and bias in the modern era. antecedents.Also. connection. we’ll write personal essays that combine the use of narrative with expository writing in order to explain and personalize your view of the world. Along the way. We’ll then apply those tools to short writing selections (from the memoirs we read for summer reading) in order to practice methods of evaluation. sentence types) in order to establish a common set of analytical labels for our writing. and master the strategies necessary to write an AP synthesis essay In this unit. phrases. we’ll review and evaluate our knowledge of the parts of speech and of sentence mechanics (clauses. speculate on the implications. Have You Earned This Cliche? By Lorrie Moore Unit 2: Welcome to (or Fear) the Singularity: Expository Writing in Science and Nature Unit Goals: • Learn and apply methods of research collection and outlining • Learn and apply the How to Make Things Stick rubric for communicating ideas • Learn MLA citation rules • Evaluate the bias of information sources on and offline • Practice the synthesis of information from disparate sources into an essay that both informs and speculates • Learn. we’ll present short passages from our summer memoir readings to showcase our newly learned analytical tools. and science as discussed by contemporary and historical writers. practice. we’ll be exploring issues of nature.

Models: Annie Dillard “Death of a Moth” 50 Essays Henry Waldo Thoreau “Where I lived. ethos • Learn Toulmin’s argumentation model and apply it to sample texts • Learn and apply rhetorical figures in writing • Read and apply Everything’s an Argument chapters 1-4 • Read and apply selection from Thank you for Arguing • Explore sentence structure and parallel constructions in good writing • Learn common rhetorical fallacies used to convince and manipulate • Analyze how visuals are used to persuade and convince In this unit. Part of this will be learning classical rhetorical concepts and reading historical persuasive attempts and part of this will be applying those ideas in our own writing. we’ll engage in the messy process of convincing and persuading people to agree with you. powerful visuals and an understanding of your audience to convince of a . We will also take a look at persuasion works today in both online and offline media. pathos. Persuasive Speech: Give a 3 minute speech on a persuasive topic that uses classical rhetorical methods. to pursue a particular policy. and What I lived for” 50 Essays Oliver Sacks “The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat” “Women’s Brains” by Stephen Jay Gould 50 Essays “Digital Maoism” by Jared Lanier The Edge “Know it All: Can Wikipedia conquer Knowledge” by Stacy Schiff The New Yorker “Reinventing Humanity: The Future of Human-Machine Intelligence” by Ray Kurzweil The Futurist selection from Bill McKibben’s from Enough “The Bird and the Machine” by Loren Eisley Unit 3: Ad-hominem this! Rhetoric in the classical and modern time • Learn and analyze classical models of rhetoric: Logos. or to trust/mistrust someone. How does the explosion of blogs and anonymous commenting mirror classical ideas and how do they change the nature of opinion- making? Also. research. we’ll see how visuals have in the past and now in the present communicate and persuade. Synthetic Science Essay: Write a research-based essay that uses a recent scientific advance (culled from Kurzweill’s AInews service) along with other research to put forth an original argument about the technological advance’s implications on society and culture.our own reading sets with sample questions that revolve around scientific issues.

White “Serving in Florida” by Barbara Ehrenreich . Talking Points Memo.I. Expository/Journalism: Go somewhere you’ve never been that has the potential for something strange to happen and write about what you see and notice there. Model: “How it feels to be colored me” by Zora Neale Hurston “The Death of a Moth” by Virginia Woolf "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby" by Tom Wolfe “Once more to the Lake” by E. Hayakawa “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau “Mercy for Leopold and Loeb” by Clarence Darrow “The Ballot or the Bullet” by Malcolm X “Ain’t I a Woman” by Sojurner Truth “Every Man a King” by Huey Long “Brandenburg Gate Address” by Ronald Reagan A selection of blog posts from across the political spectrum (Daily Kos. Also.Models: “The Declaration of Independence” by Thomas Jefferson “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King “Crito” by Plato “I Know Why the Caged Bird Cannot Read” by Francine Prose “Bilingualism in America: English Should be the Official Language” by S. Instapundit. Your focus will be on capturing the experience and portraying it for the reader. We’ll analyze the writing techniques the authors employ and the strategies they exploit to capture experience but also to shape perceptions of the audience. Captain’s Quarters) Unit 4: I was there! Descriptive Journalism Unit Goals: • Learn how to effectively use specific detail • Learn how to use fictional techniques to infuse expository writing with energy • Learn how to balance narrative and commentary • Analyze the author’s purpose versus the actual effect • Learn how to use imagery and figurative language to capture experience • Learn the strategies necessary for the AP rhetorical analysis essay In this unit we’ll see how various authors capture experiences and then comment on its meaning. we will explore groups such as the New Journalists and other who combined modes of rhetoric for powerful and unexpected effect.B.

and inspire us more often than the use of words alone. • Learn how to use and analyze the effect of humor on argument .com “The Google Masterplan” by Ozan Halici and Jurgen Mäyer "What Barry Says" by Simon Robson Unit 6: Don’t make me laugh—satire and parody. color theory) and analyze how they create effects • Learn the terminology of visual description • Adapt the rhetorical techniques of persuasive argumentation and expository description to visuals • Create a video with the purpose of persuasion and analysis Our culture is moving more and more to a visual culture where images entertain. foreground/background. Degas. Ch. inform. 2 Frames of Mind The Kiss—Rodin/Brancusi: Ch. Eat ‘em Raw!” by John McMurty 2nd Semester Unit 5: Look at this! Visual grammar • Study the elements of visual grammar (rule of thirds. In this unit. words. we’ll learn how visuals follow some rules and principles similar to words but also how visuals differ in quality and effect from words. and sound to put forth a particular proposition and convince us to consider it.“Arms and the man: Saturday Night in West Virginia” by Kathy Dobie “The Silent Season of a Hero” by Gay Talese “Kill ‘Em. Crush ‘em. Compare/Contrast Visual Essay/video: Create a short 2-3 minute video which uses images.2 Frames of Mind Slate Magazine and Magnum Photographs: Photos that Changed the World “Show and Tell” by Scott McCloud excerpt in The Language of Composition “Visual Arguments” Chapter 14 Everything is an Argument “An Introduction to Visual Understanding” Chapter 2 Frames of Mind excerpt from When Images Dream Videos: “The Machine is Us/ing us” by KSU Digtial “Independence Day” by Savetheinternet. Unit Goals: • Learn the techniques and strategies of satire and parody. persuade. Models: Family Peale vs.

J. process. the mixing of genres. patriotism. sounds. Models: . images. In writing. The use of satire. engaging in philosophical discussion. but valid methods of argument as well. Include a mix of philosophical history with recent history and pop culture. selections from adbusters. and ridiculousness to comment on an aspect of society or culture. marshalling popular and personal video selection: “The Yes Men” Unit 7: Define Your Terms: Historical and Philosophical Definition in the hypertext era Unit Goals: • Learn and apply different types of essay organization • Read philosophical essays and understand the purposes and techniques used • Connect personal and historical examples to philosophical ideas • Explore the difference between traditional and hypertext argumentation We will continue our work on the synthetic essay. links. and categorizing ideas. Satire Newspaper selections from “The Daily Show” Jon Stewart “Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish. Models: An Immodest Proposal. Philosophical Definition: Define a common word and explore its meaning in current culture in a hypertext argument which mixes words. Auden selections from The Onion. We’ll analyze these techniques and practice them in a modern satirical essay. exaggeration. Satire and Parody: Write your own satirical essay that uses irony. happiness) by placing them in historical context. Jonathan Swift “Mass Transit Hysteria” P. focusing on how writers attempt to define crucial concepts (love.H. and embedded video. O’Rourke “Lost in the Kitchen” by Dave Barry “Immigration Bill is a Fraud” by Mark Steyn “The Unknown Citizen” by W.” The Simpsons: Episode #7F01. fear. • Analyze word choice in terms of audience and purpose Sober and serious is not the only way to get a point across. and classification. parody and humor are not only breaks from the crushing pressure of modern life. we will focus on organization strategies to shape your writing: cause/effect.

or accuracy. Model: selection from The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud “The Qualities of a Prince” by Niccoló Machiavelli “How You Became You” by Bill Bryson 50 Essays “On Keeping a Notebook” by Joan Didion 50 Essays “Learning to Read” by Malcolm X 50 Essays “Why we Travel” by Pico Iyer from How I learned to Ride the Bicycle by Frances Willard Slate Magazine’s Explainer column “Why Woman Have to Work” Amelia Warren Tyagi selections from Make Magazine and Instructables Final Project Finally. Carter 50 Essays “On Being a Cripple” by Nancy Mairs 50 Essays “Clashing Civilizations” by Edward Said 50 Essays “On Compassion” Barbara Lazear Ascher 50 Essays Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy “The Four Idols” by Francis Bacon selection from “I and Thou” by Martin Buber “Apollonianism and Dionysianism” by Friedrich Nietzsche “Education” by Ralph Waldo Emerson selection from “Labor” by Thomas Carlyle Unit 8: Sausages and Legislature—Process Analysis Unit Goals: • Learn how to break down a process into discrete steps • Learn how to use voice and attitude to infuse energy into expository writing • Learn how to think critically to categorize and order thinking In this unit we learn how to explain not only how things work but to narrate the process. I will have a final exam which will ask you to apply everything you learned in conducting a 20-minute lesson on the reading of your choice. We’ll study how master writers find ways to explain clearly and with style without sacrificing authority. How to do it: Write an essay that explains how to do something in a clear but dynamic way. credibility. I will evaluate you on your .“The Insufficiency of Honesty” by Stephen L.

. guide discussion. and suggest interpretive methods.ability to combine visuals.