Advanced Placement Language and Composition

Course Overview:

The AP English Language and Composition course is designed to engage students in becoming skilled readers of various genres with emphasis on prose. The text written represents a variety of periods, disciplines, and rhetorical contexts. Students will also be engaged in becoming skilled writers who compose for a variety of purposes. Students will be challenged to not only recognize rhetorical conventions but also be able to use them as well through their own reading and writing.  Students will become aware of the way generic conventions and the resources of language contribute to effectiveness in writing. The AP English Language and Composition course is a college level rhetoric course designed to prepare students for analytical, argumentative and expository writing and to teach students the importance of these modes as a “basis of academic and professional communication as well as the personal and reflective writing that fosters the development of writing facility in any context.” This course is equivalent to the introductory year of college composition work. Student’s efforts will help prepare them to take the College Board Exam in the spring. The texts used and authors read have been selected from a variety of professional sources including but not limited to the College Board list of “Representative Authors.” As this is a college-level course, performance expectations are appropriately high, and the workload is challenging. Students are expected to commit to a minimum of five hours of course work per week outside of class. Often, work involves long-term writing and reading assignments, so effective time management is important.


Personal Philosophy:

Through AP English Language and Composition, Capac students will gain the confidence they need to express themselves with the words they write as well as the words they speak. I want my students to use their education to make changes in their world and the communities they live. After being immersed in various texts, mostly nonfiction, my students will learn how authors use and have used their voices to express themselves. Through immersion of carefully chosen texts that apply to real life, I want my students to find their own voices and to make them powerful. Our yearlong mantra will be: 


As the leaders of tomorrow, we will learn to use our voices, stay agile, alert, and flexible using our newfound knowledge in the pursuit of our goals.


Class Outcomes:


Students will discover voice as it applies to them communicating their unique voice verbally and written.
Students will learn to initiate and sustain discussions of topics.
Students will learn how to use argumentation in debates.
Students will learn to work independently and in small groups analyzing and interpreting samples of good writing, identifying and explaining an author’s use of rhetorical concepts.
Students will learn to research a controversial issue independently and with a partner, produce a documented research paper, and debate with a partner against a group opposing them.
Students will master the writing process using their knowledge for editing their own and other’s works in peer critiques.
Students will gain familiarity with the expectations for the answers on the AP Language and Composition Exam.
Students will learn to produce various types of essays under time constraints.

Teaching Strategies:

The growth of differentiation and brain-based research has given rise to the importance of teachers varying their styles to meet the needs of all students. To this end, students will be exposed to various teaching strategies honed to appeal to various learning styles. A sample of teaching strategies follows.


SOAPS: (speaker, occasion, audience, purpose, subject)

SOAPS is a strategy that will enable students to more effectively analyze and discuss text.
Speaker – identity of the voice within the text
Occasion – time and place
Audience – readers to whom the writer is “speaking”
Purpose – reason for the text
Subject – topic or focus of the text


Specifically-Designed-Academic-Instruction in English (SDAIE)

SDAIE strategies emphasizes Comprehensible Input through the use of the following:
Realia (real objects and materials)
Manipulatives (drawings, posters, brainstorming-clusters, graphs, tables, maps, props,multimedia presentations, storyboards, story maps)
Visuals (study-prints, textbook-illustrations, overhead-projected prints, reproductions of paintings, and documents)
Graphic Organizers (matrices, Venn diagrams, and webs)

DIDLS: (diction, imagery, details, language, syntax)




Close Reading (annotation, dialogue journal, graphic orgranizers)


Socratic Circles (as developed by S. Copeland):This strategy is used to develop question generating and answering with students, integrating both, through the use of the “Socratic Circle” strategy. This strategy enables teachers and students to move beyond simple yes and no answers and flow into the realm of critical analysis and key observations of a given text. “Socratic questioning is a systematic process for examining the ideas, questions, and answers that form the basis of human beliefs” (Copeland, 2005).

Writing Development

Daily writing and proofreading exercises will address potential problem areas in writing (grammar, diction, sentence structure, etc) and will be kept in a journal/log throughout the year for reference and remediation. Mini-lessons dealing with issues of grammar usage, sentence construction, diction, mechanics, style, and structure will be interspersed within the units utilizing our writing textbooks and a variety of worksheets geared toward improving writing.


At least one analytical essay per unit will be required demonstrating knowledge, understanding, and thoughtful inquiry into the topics/themes/literary terms discussed. See unit descriptions and potential composition subjects for each unit for any idea of the types of essays you will be writing. Types of essays students will receive instruction on include: argumentative, classification, compare/contrast, cause/effect, description, exemplification, extended definition, narration, process analysis, and literary analysis. Additionally, students will participate in a variety of other writings including group compositions on theme, character, etc. Group and partner essay writing will emphasize style and cohesiveness of thought, with students studying and utilizing numerous textbooks.


Students are expected to submit rough drafts for each formal essay. Evidence of additional revision and development must be present in each draft. Peer and teacher conferences will be utilized to ensure that students demonstrate an ability to produce essays and written compositions that are clear, with revision, in their intention, well organized, and supported by evidence. Peer conferences will be utilized to analyze and evaluate specific rhetorical aspects of drafts per teacher instruction and feedback. Opportunities for peer editing and discussion will be provided at least once per essay assignment. It is critical that students are able to evaluate their own and others’ writings to develop a mature command of language.


All essays will be peer and/or teacher graded using the AP Writing Rubric and will be critiqued for word choice, varied sentence structure, organization, quality of argument, and the connection of detailed supportive evidence to your overall argument.


Summer Assignments:

Students must be familiar with close reading techniques, rhetorical devices, academic writing styles including the templates used to create it, and a variety of literary genres. The summer assignments will give students the necessary background to hit the ground running come September. Plan your time wisely. You should spend 30 minutes daily working on the assignments. The summer expectations are as follows:


Meet the students from the class and form study groups called LLC.
Sign up for the blog and familiarize yourself with it. The blog provides the electronic versions of the hard copies you received before you left for summer break.
I have provided definitions for the rhetorical devices that simply need to be transferred to note cards. Follow the directions.
I have provided definitions for the vocabulary; however, you must further define them by following the directions.
Read and annotate the assigned selections. Blog on each article as specified in the blog’s instructions.
Study the given Root Words.

What is an LLC?

"A Living-Learning Community is a group of people who share common emotions, values or beliefs, are actively engaged in learning together from each other, and by habituation (LLCs are common when you move to college, hence the “habitation” definition). Such communities have become the template for a cohort-based, interdisciplinary approach to higher education" (Goodyear, P., De Laat, M., and Lally, V.).


"The camaraderie of co-enrollment may help students stay in school longer, but learning communities can offer more: curricular coherence; integrative, high-quality learning; collaborative knowledge-construction; and skills and knowledge relevant to living in a complex, messy, diverse world" (Lardner and Malnarich Evergreen State College).


Vocabulary Component

Students will be introduced to critical vocabulary throughout the year, including root words, powerful words every graduate needs to know, common allusions, rhetorical devices, analytical writing terms, and logical fallacies.


Grading Scale:

90-100 = A
80-89 = B
70-79 = C
60-69 = D
0 – 59 = E



The percentage breakdown for the semester is as follows:

Compositions and Timed Writings                  40%
Class work and Homework                            40%    
Semester Exams (1 each semester)              20%


Composition Guidelines (40%):

Typed, black ink
12-point font
Times New Roman, Palatino Linotype, or Calibri
Standard Margins
Heading with your name, date, and assignment


Class work and Homework (40%):

Check-plus, Check, Check-minus

Since the goal of AP Language and Composition is the improvement of student’s abilities as readers and writers, we will do numerous activities that concentrate on student’s achieving that goal. These assignments are generally much shorter than full compositions and reading assignments. They are, however, no less important. In fact, these assignments provide wonderful opportunities for students to hone their skills.
The checks are a way for me to give the student immediate feedback on a short assignments. Though these assignments do not weigh heavily on your overall grade, they are extremely important in the student’s overall success.
When a student earns a check or a check - , they may revisit the exercise, seek additional help, attempt new strategies, redo the assignment and seek an improved grade!
A check + is worth an A (100%)
A check    is worth a C (75%)
A check – is worth a D (65%)


Semester Exams (20%):

Two semester exams accumulate 20% of your grade


AP Exam

Towards the end of the course (early May) students will have the opportunity to take the AP Language and Composition Exam. This is not a mandatory part of the course, but as the course is designed around the AP standards, tests and essays will also be designed to replicate the

test. Doing well on this exam may give students credit for their college careers.


Academic Integrity

This class is designed as a college level course and, as such, the students are expected to conduct themselves on the level of a college student. Students are expected to engage in honest behavior and respectfulness at all times.


Cheating and Plagiarism

You will be responsible for using MLA format (internal, parenthetical documentation) for all quoted material and borrowed ideas – even if you paraphrase them. If you need such documentation in a paper, then you must also provide a properly formatted list of Works Cited, no matter how short the paper. AP Language students are expected to follow standard procedures for proper documentation as a matter of course. Failure to follow such procedures may result in plagiarism, a cheating offense, guaranteed to earn zero for the assignment and possibly failure of the grading period. To avoid such a mistake, remember to give credit where credit is due. When in doubt, ask for my help.


Absences and Make-up Work:

This class emulates a college classroom as much as possible. To that end, students are responsible for making up any work they missed while absent. Call your study group and get caught up because the course material will keep piling up if not taken care of. Work due on the day that was missed will be due the day the student returns to class, unless there is an extenuating reason preventing it. I will accept late work at 75% of the credit up to one day after it was due and 50% up to two days. After two days, I will no longer accept it. If you are absent on the day of a quiz or test, you must be prepared to take that quiz or test the day you come back to school. If there is no class time to take the quiz or test, you must set up a time with me to make it up. If you do not, the quiz or test will receive a failing grade of zero.


Due dates for long-term assignments will be given in advance. If there is a reason why you will not be in class the day the assignment is due or you are unable to complete the assignment by the due date, you must set up an appointment with me to discuss why and to seek a possible alternative. Long-term paper assignments will be turned in on the day they are due regardless if you are absent or not. If you are absent on a due date, you must arrange for your assignment to be on my desk like everyone else’s assignment. Have a parent drop it off, a friend, or email me a copy. It is your responsibility. Any long-term assignment not turned in on the due date will be considered late. 


I reserve the right to amend these policies and/or syllabus during the course of the year.