•  AP Language and Composition


    “AP Comp” is a rigorous college-level course designed to help you build the skills necessary to be ready to face college level academic challenges.  Of course, it also prepares you for doing well in the AP Language and Composition examination given by The College Board in the spring.  The regular AP Exam consists of a one hour multiple choice test analyzing the argument and writing style of brief passages, and 3 essay exams (a “synthesis” of evidence essay, a rhetorical analysis, and an argument essay) completed in 2 1/4 hours. The course is as demanding as the test is grueling. (note:  The recent Emergency version of the test entailed ONLY the "Rhetorical Analysis Essay.")

                We will focus on the development of 1.your knowledge of the terminology, methods and techniques of “rhetoric” (the art of persuasion) 2.your ability to analyze, understand, and write about how good writers/authors construct arguments 3.your ability to apply what you learn about good persuasive writing to your own development of arguments.  We will work in units centered around key essential questions, delving into controversial topics and issues, seeing what authors, intellectuals, journalists and others have to say about the matter, and develop opinions of your own.  We will read mostly non-fiction texts (essays and articles), excerpts from non-fiction books, and augment our reading with watching documentaries and film.


    Units: (Texts may change or be done in “literature Circle” format with alternate titles)

     Fall Semester (Intro to Rhetorical Analysis--the making of good arguments)

    Unit 1: Intro to Rhetorical Analysis: Don’t Lose your Cookies in AP!

    Unit 2= Politics: Anger of the Oppressed (race and racism)

    Unit 3= Politics: The Personal is Political (other equity and discrimination issues)

    Final Debate Project:  (An application of what we have learned about rhetoric) Group research on a socio-political issue of choice w formal opening and closing statements and debate presentations.

    Spring Semester (Argument and Synthesis Essay Prep)

    Unit 1= Art as Argument: “con-text” and “sub-text” (advertising, diagrams, cartoons/memes, visual art, poetry/song, drama) 

    Unit 2= Science and Technology vs Nature (this unit focus may change or be excluded due to Covid contraints)

    Research paper: (~10 pages) controversial issues persuasive argument (read one book and do research); include visual texts to forward argument.

    IRB/Book Groups: Non-fiction, may be related to projects

    Unit 3: Exam Review/Prep—test taking tips, short answer analysis practice, timed essay practice.

    After the AP Exam

    PR (Personal Reflection/Public Relations: college application prep)

    IRB:  individual book choice, fiction or non-fiction

    AP Assignments:

    Language and Rhetoric:  First semester we will work on developing our academic vocabulary--basic rhetorical terms recognition and terms application that are common to the activities tested in the AP Exam. (The Language of Composition). This will help us gain a shared vocabulary with which to come to a better understanding of the writing style of the author’s we read.  We will discuss and write about our texts using this sometimes new and awkwardly-scholarly vocabulary until it begins to become your own and helps us to better analyze and understand the texts we read. You will then apply your understanding of these rhetorical devices to develop your own persuasive skills and refine your expository and persuasive writing.  Second semester we will delve more into doing practice AP multiple choice type exams and using the terminologyof rhetoric in practice AP essay-exam responses.

    Literature:  We will read a variety of classic American documents, essays, articles, and excerpts from longer non-fiction texts to both examine the structures and devices of good writing to come to a better understanding of how it is crafted and develop our own perspective on key socio-political and controversial issues (some from textbooks, some from contemporary periodicals, some from on-line libraries). How do authors organize their writing and formulate their arguments to fulfill the key purposed of the texts?  We will examine the art of wrtinga about a broad range of purposes for a variety of audiences.

    This year, first semester we will be reading memoirs with a specialized focus on observing the authors’ writing style, especially the ways the authors use “literary devices” of narrative writing together with rhetorical methods of persuasive “argument” in their fiction to go beyond “entertainment” to levy social critique and influence the opinions of their audience. These essays and books are often the basis for lively discussions! 

    You will develop the depth of your rhetorical analysis using the analytic framework of the rhetorical triangle and the S-O-A-P-S (S) conceptual framework.  You will develop your ideas in formal essay structure using the C-ee-CQC body paragraph format. Second semester I plan to have book groups and choice non-fiction IRB but this plan may be amended due to distance learning contraints.

    Ongoing Homework:  You will have numerous variety of assignments associated with the text book, and with reading and analyzing essays, articles and other texts.  While in "distance learning," ALL WORK WILL BE SUBMITTED ON GOOGLE CLASSROOM. You will be doing a lot of writing, both brief responses, and process writing.  For the kind of argumentative writing being asked of you on the AP exam it is important that you become familiar with and engage in the critical dialogue that is prevalent in contemporary society—what are the concerns and issues being discussed by the international media, intellectuals, scientists and scholars of our time? On a regular basis you will have to read and respond to contemporary news-media articles and other texts (I will provided some as class activities to begin, but for homework mostly you will be exploring and selecting topics and articles that appeal to you.)  You will have structured assignments that follow a detailed format (Reader's Responses: A) rhetorical analysis and B) opposing viewpoints). The purpose of these assignments is to move beyond merely understanding the subject matter of the texts to be able to 1.analyze and assess the argument structure and rhetorical methods utilized in the text to persuade the audience and 2. To be able to formulate and argue your own educated opinion on the controversial issues.

    Major Writing and Essays:  You will be writing multiple timed essays (similar to the 3 AP Exam forms), and developing process pieces. First semester, you will build up to writing rhetorical analysis essays of the literature we read.

    -At the end of sub-units you will apply your understanding of the issues brought up by the texts to support your own opinions in "argument" type, timed, persuasive essays.

    -First semester you will write one longer essay on the memoir Black Boy by Richard Wright that combines elements of literary and rhetorical analysis.

    -Related to preparing for the AP “synthesis”-essay, first semester you will bepreparing speaches for a formal oral debate on a contemporary controversial issue

    -Second semester you will write shorter "art as argument" analytic-interpretive essays and a 10 page research paper in addition to practice timed essay writing for the AP Exam. 

    -At the end of the semester, after the AP Exam, you will begin working on your college application "persoal statements."

    Main Texts:  

    Though Tam has copies of the main fiction texts as well as copies of the textbook essay collections, you will find having your own copy might be helpful for annotation purposes.  (Students will be assigned a Main Textbook; we will arrange students pick up date at Tam. However, we may also have you look at and/or print out on-line formats on chapters.) You can make your “annotations” on print outs, post-it notes, or on binder paper depending on the assignment.  You can also photocopy specific chapters or essays to make annotate easier.  There will be some contemporary articles and essay I may have you download and print from your computers for class use. L of C is large, so I’ll tell you when you need them—but please bring the books when requested!!!

    Main Textbook: The Language of Composition (alias “L of C” or "LC) edited by Shea, Scanlon and Aufses 

    Other textbooks: (During Covid Distance learning these may be used in on-line format.) The Writer’s Presence, edited by McQuade and Atwan (5th or 6th editions)

    The Structure of Argument, edited by Rottenberg and Winchell; Elements of Style.

    Fall Memoir (Whole class):  Black Boy  

    Possible Memoir Selections (Book Groups and IRB): The Narrative Life of Fredrick Douglas, Farewell to Manzanar /Night, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Kaffir Boy, A Long Way Gone, The Color of Water; Dreams from my Father, My life on the Road, Woman Warrior, I am Malala, Look me in the Eye: My life with Asperger’s, Do you Dream in Color, Between the world and Me, Orange is the New Black, Tweak, Kasher in the Rye, Second Son, Why be happy When you Could be Normal? Opposite of Fate/Where My Past Begins etc. (some excerpts, book groups, or individually)

    Non Fiction Selections: Independently chosen related to projects  (book groups or individually)

    IRB Selections:  Independent reading books, (TBD: non-fiction or fiction;  book groups or individually)


    Suggested Supplies: (These materials are set up for assuming we will go back to in-person learning. During "Distance Learning" keep all notes and assignments done handwritten in your binder, keep print-out copies of assignments and all draft process of essays. You might find it helpful to print out assignment direction sheets too look at while working.  Save those too!)

    • Computer or Chromebook:  Essential for Distance Learning!  (Please arrange to pick this up from Tam if you have not already done so!)
    • Binder or section of large binder
      • dividers (1. Business, 2. Assignments, 3. Notes, 4. Essays, 5. Language, Reference, and Exams).  You can create dividers with colored paper, or decorated printer paper.
      • lined paper as needed for notes section
    • Utility case or backpack/bag with: (bold are slightly unusual supplies)
      • one pack of highlighters (5)
      • personal stapler, personal 3 hole punch, personal sharpener
      • colored post-it notes (large square required; you might want small types too)
      • black and blue pens, pencils
      • colored pens & pencils