AP Language and Composition

The Advanced Placement Language and Composition course has been designed as a college level course and will be evaluated thusly. I assure you that this class will amply prepare you for post-secondary level writing and reading, as well as for the exam which you are all required to take in the spring. However, you must take responsibility for being present in class (physically and mentally), thoughtfully preparing your assignments, and allocating the time necessary to do the work well. If you need extra help on any assignment, please see me before or after school on any day, or set up a time at our mutual convenience.

It goes without saying that assignments are due at the beginning of the class on the due date. As in college, no late assignments will be accepted. If you feel that you have extenuating circumstances, it is your responsibility to speak with me outside of class-time, preferably before the assignment is due.

Course Description:

This course is constructed in accordance with the guidelines described in the AP® English Course Description published by the College Board.

Students in this introductory college-level course read and carefully analyze a variety of texts, primarily nonfiction, and are taught basic elements of rhetoric: writing with a purpose, addressing and appealing to an audience, creating effective text structures, and effecting an appropriate style. Through close reading and frequent writing, students develop their ability to work with language and text with a greater awareness of purpose and strategy, while strengthening their own composing abilities. Course readings feature expository, analytical, personal, and argumentative texts from a variety of authors and historical contexts. Because our students live in a highly visual world, we also study the rhetoric of visual media such as photographs, films, advertisements, comic strips, and videos. Students examine and work with essays, letters, speeches, images, and imaginative literature.

Students complete expository, analytical, and argumentative writing assignments that are based on readings representing a wide variety of prose styles and genres. Students frequently confer about their writing with the teacher and their peers. Most writing is subject to multiple revisions with input from teacher and peers. Students are assisted in developing an awareness of their own composing processes: the way they explore ideas, reconsider strategies, and revise their work. Summer reading and writing are required. Students prepare for the AP English Language and Composition Exam and may be granted advanced placement, college credit, or both as a result of satisfactory performance.

Course reading and writing activities help students gain textual power, making them more alert to an author’s purpose, the needs of an audience, the demands of the subject, and the resources of language: syntax, word choice, and tone. As noted in the College Board’s AP English Course Description, students are expected to read primary and secondary sources carefully, to synthesize material from these texts in their own compositions, and to cite sources using conventions recommended by professional organizations such as the Modern Language Association (MLA). Writing within the course falls into several categories and consists of formal essays and critiques as well as more informal writing opportunities such as journals, collaborative exercises, and brief in-class responses. The critical skills that students learn to appreciate through close and continued analysis of a wide variety of nonfiction texts will serve them in their own writing as they grow increasingly aware of these skills and their pertinent uses.

Course Objectives

The AP Language and Composition course assumes that students already understand and use standard English grammar. The intense concentration on language use in this course will enhance their ability to use grammatical conventions both appropriately and with sophistication as well as to develop stylistic maturity in their prose. Stylistic development is nurtured by emphasizing the following:

  • a wide-ranging vocabulary used appropriately and effectively;
  • a variety of sentence structures, including appropriate use of subordination and coordination;
  • a logical organization, enhanced by specific techniques to increase coherence, such as repetition, transitions, and emphasis;
  • a balance of generalization and specific illustrative detail; and
  • an effective use of rhetoric, including controlling tone, establishing and maintaining voice, and achieving appropriate emphasis through diction and sentence structure.

Upon completing the Language and Composition course, then, students should be able to:

  • Analyze and interpret samples of good writing, identifying and explaining an author’s use of rhetorical strategies and techniques;
  • Apply effective strategies and techniques in their own writing;
  • Create and sustain arguments based on readings, research, and/or personal experience;
  • Demonstrate understanding and mastery of standard written English as well as stylistic maturity in their own writings;
  • Write in a variety of genres and contexts both formal and informal, employing appropriate conventions;
  • Use effective research skills and proper MLA citation;
  • Produce expository and argumentative compositions that introduce a complex central idea and develop it with appropriate, specific evidence, cogent explanation, and clear transitions; and
  • Move effectively through the stages of the writing process, with careful attention to inquiry and research, drafting, revising, editing, and review.

Grading System:

Essays: Most essays are first written as in-class essays and graded as rough drafts. Rough drafts are self-edited and peer-edited before students type the final copies.

Tests: Most tests are based on rhetorical devices and their function in given passages. Some passages are from texts read and studied, but some passages are from new material that students analyze for the first time.

Quizzes: Quizzes are used primarily to check for reading and basic understanding of a text. Quizzes also include vocabulary from the readings, as well as, grammatical and mechanical concepts reviewed in daily tasks as well as from the discussions and/or annotations of syntax from the readings.

Daily: Daily assignments consist of a variety of tasks. Some of these tasks involve individual steps leading to a larger product, such as plans, research, drafts, and edits for an essay. Other daily tasks consist of grammar reviews, vocabulary exercises, annotation of texts, and fluency writing.


Reader’s Response

Advanced Placement Language and Composition is meant to prepare you for the rigors of post-secondary writing. The material that you will be reading is complex and to fully prepare for this class, the exam, and your future endeavors in education, you will practice writing in various formats.

You are expected to create a Reader’s Response for the texts we read (or visual pieces we study).  Each response should be labeled with:

  • The title of the work
  • The author or illustrator’s name
  • The date.

In addition, you should complete the following for each work:

  • Write a précis (brief synopsis no more than1 to 2 paragraphs) of the article.
  • State the tone of the article in one, two, or three words
  • List 5 examples of rhetorical strategies which you find in the article along with the phrase or sentence in which the strategy occurs.  Cite page number in parenthetical documentation.   Examples:
    • Metaphor   Angels wings for wives’ conversations (238)
    • Metaphor   Skillet for aircraft carrier (183)
  • List three discussion questions about the article.  We will begin discussions with student questions.
    • One question which asks for clarification of something within the article (Example:  What exactly did the mother do on that day?)
    • One question which addresses the author’s style (Example: How does the writer’s tyle in this paragraph differ from the other paragraphs in the article?)
    • One question which applies the theme or concept of the article to contemporary society or another area (Example: How do you think this character would react to the 2004 Presidential Election?)
  • Include an interesting, memorable, or provocative quotation from the article and be prepared to read an interesting passage aloud to the class.



Topic of the Week

Students will participate in the online blog by typing coherent, logical, informed, and well-written responses to Topics of the Week. During the week, students also respond to comments from other students. During the course students will improve their writing, discussion, persuasion, and critical-thinking skills. Many college professors in all areas of the curriculum require students to participate in online discussions or blogs. The AP Language Blog requirement will help prepare you for college courses while also improving your writing skills.

Each week, a new Topic of the Week will be posted on the blog. You can find them under the Post Category “Topic of the Week.” Read (and or listen) to the Topic of the Week and respond to it accordingly in the comments. Your initial response should be approximately 250-300 words of well-developed prose. You may also respond to the comments of other students, but remember to maintain civil discourse. You will receive 80 out of 100 points for a well-reasoned comment and  lower grades for lesser effort. You can earn up to an additional 10 points for additional comments that expand on the ideas of others.

Student must respond to the Topic of the Week by 9:00 PM on Friday. Responses to other students must be entered by 9:00 PM on Sunday. Any responses entered after the deadlines will not be considered. Please factor in extra-curricular activity travel schedules when you plan when to post your response.

Paper Format

All written assignments are to be formatted according to MLA rules. The MLA format is posted on our website.

Academic Honesty

Academic honesty is of the utmost importance. Plagiarism will result in the assignment receiving no credit, a notice in their permanent record of the incident, and a citizenship grade of U. Plagiarism is a serious issue and at the university level often leads to permanent expulsion from the institution.

Plagiarism consists of:

  • Copying the work or ideas of anyone else (even with modifications).
  • Copying and using materials from any source (research, internet, etc.) without properly citing that source.
  • Improperly paraphrasing or taking sections from another work and/or using such information out-of-context.

Do not cheat yourself. I am interested in your thoughts and viewpoints, not someone else’s.