AP Language and Composition

2013-2014 Syllabus -- Azurede Ross, Alonso High School

Course Overview

Students in this introductory college-level course read and carefully analyze a broad and challenging range of nonfiction prose selections, deepening their awareness of rhetoric and how language works. Through close reading, students develop their ability to read analytically, considering an author’s purpose, the needs of an audience, the demands of the subject, and the resources of language: syntax, word choice, and tone, to name a few. Through frequent writing, students strengthen their own composing skills, and develop their ability to work with language and text more purposefully.

Course readings feature expository, analytical, personal, and argumentative texts from a variety of authors and cultural/historical contexts. Students examine and work with essays, articles, letters, speeches, and brief fictional excerpts. Students also examine images, analyzing the messages that they convey through their visual elements. The central course textbooks are The Norton Reader and The Language of Composition. For full publication data, see Teacher Resources below.

As this is a college-level course, performance expectations are appropriately high, and the workload is challenging. Students are expected to commit to time for course work each week outside of class, so effective time management is important. Because of the demanding curriculum, students must bring to the course sufficient command of mechanical conventions and an ability to read and discuss prose. Students are also encouraged to confer about their writing one-on-one in appointments with the teacher before or after school. 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.

The course is constructed in accordance with the guidelines described in the AP English Course Description.

Course Policies

Required Materials

  • 3-ring binder (2”)
  • Dividers (6)
  • Post-It notes (standard square size)
  • Loose leaf paper
  • Blue/black pens
  • Pencils
  • Assorted colors of highlighters (at least 4)
  • Dictionary for home use (A dictionary app is acceptable)
  • One novel per quarter (see One Pager Assignment for a complete list of options)

Guidelines for Notebook Organization

In order to ensure organization and facilitate preparedness for class, students are required to keep a notebook for this course. Furthermore, since the notebook is basically an ongoing study guide, keeping it organized and complete is imperative for success in the course and on the actual AP exam. Notebooks will be kept in the form of a binder, allowing easy access to the various sections from which we will be working. The notebook will be averaged into a student’s final nine week’s grade for quarters two and four. It is to be divided (by clearly labeled and easily distinguishable dividers) into the following sections:

  • General Notes and References
  • Literary Terms and Vocabulary
  • Multiple Choice (MC) Test Prep
  • Argument, Analysis, and Synthesis Question Prep
  • Essays and Essay Prompts (organized by essay type)
  • Other Graded Work

The course notebook should be used exclusively for this class. A student’s notebook score is dependent upon the organization, completeness, and overall accuracy of his/her notebook.


  1. Show respect. This means to the teacher, yourself, others, and property. Put downs will not be tolerated. Remember, you have to give respect to get respect!
  2. Be prepared. I expect that students always be prepared for class by completing at-home assignments, bringing the appropriate materials, and coming ready to participate.
  3. Work hard. It’s your grade and your education (and possibly your college credit!), so make the best of it!


First offense – Verbal warning

Second offense – Parent Contact

Third offense – Parent Contact and Interventions

Fourth offense – Referral

(Any combination of these steps may be bypassed, depending upon the severity of the offense.)


All papers should be turned in with the following information in the top right hand corner:

  • Name (first and last name)
  • Date
  • Period
  • Assignment Description


Assignments will generally fall into one of the following categories:

  • Writing: Throughout the course of the year, students will complete in-class timed writings (analytical, argumentative, and synthesis) which will be scored holistically using a College Board or College Board equivalent rubric. Students will also be required to compile arguments for presentation in class discussions/Socratic seminars.
  • Tests/quizzes: Students will take several practice AP multiple choice tests each semester. Any other assessments in the course will match the rigor of the AP exam. Quizzes will be administered periodically to check comprehension and ensure appropriate out-of-class performance. Summer reading will be assessed within the first four weeks of the school year. The December exam is required. Every student enrolled in AP Language and Composition is obligated to take the national AP exam administered in May. An AP-style final exam will also be given at the end of the second semester.
  • Notebook: Refer to the Guidelines for Notebook Organization section for scoring information.
  • Classwork/homework: Individual class and homework assignments will vary, but you will be informed of their point values at the time the work is assigned.
  • Class participation: By showing up for class, a student makes a conscious decision to be fully engaged in class activities. Failure to consistently and significantly participate in class activities such as Socratic Seminars will negatively impact a student’s quarter grade. Class participation grades will also be lowered for failure to adhere to class guidelines or showing disrespect for the teacher or other students.
  • The One-Pager: You will be required to read one novel outside of class each quarter and to complete a “One-Pager” in response to your selected novel. A One-Pager is a single page response to your reading of a novel. It is a way to be creative and experimental. It is a way to respond imaginatively and honestly. The purpose of a One-Pager is to own what you are reading. We all read differently, and learn best when we can create our own visual patterns about a work. A One-Pager connects the verbal and the visual; it connects the book’s thoughts to your thoughts; it connects words and images.

Students will receive a point grade for each assignment. When points are averaged at the end of each quarter, all grade percentages will follow the county grading scale (I round to the nearest whole number):

Grading Scale

90-100 A

80-89 B

70-79 C

60-69 D

0-59 F

Make-up Work Policies

  • Students can make up work missed due to an excused absence. Missed tests/work must be turned in within three (3) days in order to be granted full credit, unless another arrangement is agreed upon and scheduled with the teacher.
  • Unexcused late work will be accepted within one week, and the grade will be lowered one letter grade for each day late. Any late work submitted after four days will receive a 60%.
  • Upon your return to class, it is YOUR responsibility to check the make-up work binder and ask about makeup tests/work, and to turn it in within the allotted time period—I will not track you down for it!
  • Make-up tests and quizzes will be given at the discretion of your teacher and will be decided on an individual basis.

Other Classroom Policies

  • Class begins as you enter the room. If you were absent the day before, first check in the make-up work binder and then check with me for questions or clarifications.
  • You must be in class by the time the bell rings. I will strictly adhere to the school’s designated tardy policy.
  • Cell phones, CD players, IPODs and other electronic devices MAY NEVER BE USED IN CLASS. If you are found using an electronic device during class, it will be confiscated and turned in to the Student Affairs Office.

Course Planner

** The proposed readings and assignments listed below are tentative and may be changed at the teacher's discretion.

Fall Semester

The fall semester is dedicated to developing fluency in rhetorical devices and strategies, the key elements of argumentative writing, and strategies for viewing/interpreting visual images.

Quarter One:

Summer Reading

-The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

Discussion and evaluations of summer reading will focus on how the author’s linguistic and rhetorical choices in these works enable them to convey their central messages, create tone, and impact their audiences.

Notes and Instruction

During the first quarter, intensive instruction will be given on the rhetorical triangle (speaker, audience, subject), the rhetorical appeals (ethos, pathos, and logos), the Toulmin Model for analysis, and effective arguments.

Students will also be given the opportunity to practice the techniques of effective writing, with a specific focus on diction, sentence structure, logical organization, and generalization and detail.

Readings for Analysis

  • “Superman and Me” by Sherman Alexie (The Language of Composition)
  • “I Misled People . . . I Deeply Regret That” by Bill Clinton (Everyday Use)
  • “I Have Sinned . . . The Sorrow I Feel is Genuine” by Bill Clinton (Everyday Use)
  • “Be Scared for Your Kids” by Al Sicherman (Writing With a Thesis)
  • “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King Jr. (Language of Composition)

Visual Analysis

Students will view a number of advertisements in order to determine the way they make an argument/appeal to audiences through visual elements, graphics, and print.

Quarter Two:

Notes and Instruction

During the second quarter, intensive instruction will be given on effective arguments, logic (inductive and deductive reasoning), voice (tone, diction, syntax, detail, imagery), and logical fallacies.

Students will also be given the opportunity to practice the techniques of effective writing, with a specific focus on diction, sentence structure, logical organization, and generalization and detail.

Readings for Analysis and Synthesis

  • Ch. 2: “Close Reading: The Art and Craft of Analysis” (The Language of Composition)
  • "I Have a Dream Speech” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • “The Gettysburg Address” by Abraham Lincoln (The Norton Reader)
  • "Who’s to Say Who Earns Too Much?” by Thomas Sowell (Becoming a Critical Thinker: A User Friendly Manual)
  • “Sowell Column Got it All Wrong” by Thomas M. Goetzl, (Becoming a Critical Thinker: A User Friendly Manual)
  • Multiple Released AP English Language and Composition Exam Prompts

Visual Analysis

Students will view a number of photos, art work, and editorial cartoons, considering the message, tone, and impact of each by analyzing the visual elements.

Spring Semester

Quarter Three:

Notes and Instruction

During the third quarter, intensive instruction will be given on synthesizing sources for argumentation, proper citation, and incorporating quoted material.

Students will also be given the opportunity to practice the techniques of effective writing, with a specific focus on diction, sentence structure, logical organization, and generalization and detail.

Readings for Analysis and Synthesis

  • Ch. 3 Synthesizing Sources (The Language of Composition)
  • "I Know Why the Caged Bird Cannot Read” by Francine Prose (The Language of Composition)
  • “From Education” by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “Best in Class” by Margaret Talbot
  • “School” by Kyoko Mori
  • “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros
  • “The Bird and the Machine” by Loren Eiseley
  • “The Method of Scientific Investigation” by T.H. Huxley
  • “The Reach of Imagination” by Jacob Bronowski
  • “The Future of Happiness” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • “Silence and the Notion of the Commons” by Ursula Franklin
  • “Into the Electronic Millennium” by Sven Birkerts
  • “Sonnet – to Science” (poetry) by Edgar Allan Poe
  • “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” (poetry) by Walt Whitman
  • “Super- Toys Last All Summer Long” (fiction) by Brian Aldiss
  • “The Cosmic Calendar” by Carl Sagan
  • “Food Fight” (cartoon) by Gahan Wilson

Visual Analysis

Students will analyze numerous charts and graphs, assessing and analyzing the data they provide.

Quarter Four:

Readings for Analysis and Synthesis


  • “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift (Language of Composition)
  • Various articles from The Onion and Editorial Cartoons
  • The New Yorker cover of Guernica (The Language of Composition)


  • “On Seeing England for the First Time” by Kincaid (The Language of Composition)
  • “National Prejudices” by Goldsmith (The Language of Composition)
  • “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell (The Language of Composition)
  • “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience” by Thoreau (The Language of Composition)

Notes and Instruction

During the fourth quarter, intensive instruction will be given on the elements of satire. Students will also review course material in preparation for the AP Exam.

Students will view a number of advertisement parodies to analyze how they use visual elements to satirize real advertisements and their messages.

Teacher Resources

Course Texts

O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. Boston: Houghton Mifflin/Seymore Lawrence, 1990.

Peterson, Linda H., and John C. Brereton. The Norton Reader, 11th ed. New York: Norton, 2004.

Shea, Renee H., Lawrence Scanlon, and Robin Dissin Aufses. The Language of Composition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008.

Course Supplements

Dean, Nancy. Voice Lessons: Classroom Activities to Teach Diction, Detail, Imagery, Syntax,

and Tone. Gainesville: Maupin House, 2000.

Diestler, Sherry. Becoming a Critical Thinker: A User Friendly Manual, 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001.

Fink, Inge, and Gabrielle Gautreaux. Reading Life: A Writer’s Reader. Boston: Thompson

Wadsworth, 2005.

Gotham Writers’ Workshop and Alexander Steele, ed. Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide from New York’s Acclaimed Creative Writing School. New York: Bloomsbury, 2003.

Roskelly, Hephzibah, and David A. Jolliffe. Everyday Use: Rhetoric at Work in Reading and

Writing. New York: Pearson Longman, 2005.

Skwire, David. Writing With a Thesis: A Rhetoric and Reader, 6th ed. Fort Worth: Harcourt

Brace, 1994.

Student Acknowledgements


Name (Last, First): ______________________________________________________

Period: ___________

I have read and understand Mrs. Ross’s syllabus. I will honor the guidelines presented for this course.

X Student Signature: ____________________________________________Date: ___________

Parent/Guardian Name (printed):___________________________________

X Parent/Guardian Signature: _____________________________________ Date: ___________

Plagiarism/Integrity Statement

High personal integrity and ethical behavior are expected of all students in this course. All work, in or out of class, should be done in honesty. Do NOT engage in plagiarism—in any form—in this course. Any student caught plagiarizing will receive a zero for the assignment. Furthermore, if he/she is a member of an honor society or association in which character is a standard, his/her sponsor will be notified as well. Please note that plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional and that both instances carry the same penalties. Ignorance is NOT an excuse. If you have a question, ask. Obviously, cheating, in any form, to any degree, will carry the same consequence.

I have read and understand Mrs. Ross's Plagiarism/Integrity Statement. I agree to honor the standard of integrity of this class. Therefore, I will not plagiarize or cheat on any of the work I do for this class.

X Student Signature: ____________________________________________Date: ___________

Parent/Guardian Name (printed):___________________________________

X Parent/Guardian Signature: _____________________________________ Date: ___________

Teacher Contact Information

If you need to contact me for any reason, you can reach me through the following methods (Edsby and e-mail being the best means of communication):