• Mrs. Gaines

    Room 407


    AP English Language and Composition Syllabus                       



    This class is meant to be a “rigorous academic program built on the commitment, passion and hard work of students and educators.” (The College Board, AP English Course Description) As such, students enrolled in this course should be prepared to work hard with the instructor, embracing all aspects of the effort which will be involved in successfully completing the AP exam in May. The AP Course Description goes on to explain, “Preparing for either of the AP Exams in English is a cooperative venture between students and their teachers.” This class will embrace such collaboration throughout the year.

    As for academic objectives, the AP expectations explain that “an AP course in English Language and Composition engages students in becoming skilled readers of prose written in a variety of 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 genre conventions and the resources of language contribute to effectiveness in writing.”

    This is a college-level course examining rhetoric as “the art of finding and analyzing all the choice involving language that a writer, speaker, reader or listener might make in a situation so that the text becomes meaningful, purposeful and effective for readers or listeners in a situation” (David Jolliff). As this is our goal, the students will become more mature and sophisticated readers and writers in a variety of genres.

    Upon completing this class, students will be able to:

    • identify and explain an author’s use of rhetorical strategies and techniques
    • interpret and analyze all forms of writing, with an emphasis in nonfiction writing.
    • create more effective writing by employing strategies and techniques which we will study in class
    • write for a variety of purposes
    • understand how to articulate an analysis of what the student has read
    • analyze the organizational structure, diction, syntax, imagery, and figurative language within their own and others’ writing
    • critique what it means to be a good citizen through an increased awareness of public discourse issues
    • identify and use proper grammar techniques within original writing
    • rank the effectiveness of an argument, acknowledging the nuances and complexities of important issues
    • formulate arguments based on readings, research and personal experiences
    • organize new and original writings which effectively and clearly introduces a complex central idea,

      develops it with evidence drawn from a variety of sources and offers cogent explanations of the

      author’s purpose

    • demonstrate understanding of the conventions of citing primary and secondary sources
    • analyze images as texts
    • defend their own point of view in a cogent and topical piece of writing
    • incorporate referenced documents into a research paper
    • appraise the effectiveness of visuals as a complex message
    • articulate their voice as a writer and understand the complexities of their own style


    This class will do more than simply teach the students to identify content and use certain reading or writing skills; this class will teach students how to think and to communicate their thinking effectively to other people. We will do this through a variety of modes and techniques.



    Students are evaluated on the basis of essays (both in and out of class), exams, quizzes, homework, class work, and class participation (this includes presentations). Because this is a writing intensive course, essays will determine the majority of students’ grades each marking period.  


    Summative Assessments  - 70% Formative Assessments - 30%





    The class will be infused with exercises of timed writing and multiple choice exercises, using prompts and multiple choice passages that have been taken from previous AP exams.  Each unit of study will involve the students working on vocabulary building and journal writing in a number of forms.



    1. Read and annotate George Washington’s Farewell Address.  Compose a precis statement, a personal connection, and analyze a key quote.


    1. Read and annotate “On Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell and “On Punctuation” by Lewis Thomas.  Following the three readings, write an essay synthesizing what was learned from each of the texts about the importance of language.



    • The Other Wes Moore - Wes Moore.  Complete a dialectical journal.




    The first unit will provide the foundations that students will use to analyze texts in order to determine which rhetorical strategies an author uses to get his purpose across to the audience.  The rhetorical triangle, rhetorical appeals, rhetorical devices and their implications for writing will be emphasized.

    Lessons will focus on improving students’ analytical skills, specifically in terms of rhetorical analysis.  They will analyze the methods that authors use to make their purpose clear to the intended audience. The class will be involved in the close reading of texts and the initial lessons will stress the skill of annotating texts effectively.  Students will also be dissecting texts and analyzing their meaning and author’s intent.



    -Barack Obama: “The Audacity of Hope”

    -Abraham Lincoln: “Gettysburg Address”

    -Martin Luther King Jr.: “I Have a Dream”

    -John Fitzgerald Kennedy: Inaugural Address

    -Franklin Delano Roosevelt: First Inaugural Address

    -Malcolm X: “The Ballot or the Bullet”

    -Joan Didion: “Marrying Absurd”

    -Roland Barthes: “Toys”

    -Martin Luther King Jr.: “Birmingham Jail Letter”

    -Plato: “Allegory of the Cave”

    -Elie Wiesel: “The Perils of Indifference”

    -Mary Fisher: 1992 Republican National Convention Address: “A Whisper of AIDS”

    -Francine Prose: “I Know Why the Caged Bird Cannot Read”

    -Ralph Waldo Emerson: excerpt from Education

    -Sherman Alexie: excerpt from Superman and Me

    -Prompts from past AP exams



    -Magazine rhetorical device search.  Students will be assigned 20 rhetorical devices that they are

    responsible for teaching to the rest of the class.  They will search for examples of these devices in

    magazine and newspaper advertisements.  They will use the final product to help their peers to learn the devices.

    -Video: rhetorical devices found in music.  Students will each select a musician or band whose songs they

    will scour in search of their 20 assigned rhetorical devices.  They will then create a video that they

    can use to help the rest of the class to learn those rhetorical devices.  The video will show the

    Lyrics on the screen as the music plays in the background.

    -Rhetorical device quizzes in written format as well as quizzes on the magazine advertisements as well as

    video clips.

    -Classwork assignments that ask students to analyze the rhetorical triangle while identifying the

    components of SOAPS in a text.  They will also identify and explain the effect of the rhetorical

    devices in each of the texts.

    -Journal entries to practice identifying rhetorical devices and analyzing their effect, using short excerpts

    from various texts

    -Timed rhetorical analysis essays as well as ones that are completed at home and put through the writing


    -Timed multiple choice using previous AP exams



    This unit will focus on helping students to analyze arguments and to compose their own arguments.  They will analyze speeches, essays, commercials, advertisements, and other visual arguments. A variety of writing assignments will demand that students form arguments about what they have read. When discussing argument, the students will be allowed to take their own stance or they might also be forced to take the opposing stance to what they believe in order to fully understand the ramifications of argument. We will formally review a variety of forms of argument.



    -Various news articles (both opinion and not)

    -Anna Quindlen: commencement speech at Mount Holyoke

    -Anna Quindlen: A Short Guide to a Happy Life

    -Bertrand Russell: “The Happy Life”

    -Peter Singer: “The Singer Solution to World Poverty”

    -Peter Singer’s TED Talk: “The Why and How of Effective Altruism”

    -Garrett Hardin: “Lifeboat Ethics: The Case against Helping the Poor”

    -Susan Cain’s TED Talk: “The Power of Introverts”

    -Theodore Roosevelt: “The Proper Place for Sports”

    -Peter Berkowitz: “Studying Islam, Strengthening the Nation”

    -Henry David Thoreau: “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”

    -Radiolab: “The Bad Show” - podcast about Fritz Haber

    -Prompts from past AP exams

    -Winter break nonfiction rhetorical analysis/argument assignment text options:

    -Aron Ralston: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

    -Loung Ung: First They Killed My Father

    -Jeannette Walls: The Glass Castle

    -John Bul Dau: God Grew Tired of Us

    -Jon Krakauer: Into Thin Air

    -Josh Sundquist: Just Don’t Fall

    -Peter Singer: The Life You Can Save

    -Barbara Ehrenreich: Nickel and Dimed

    -Susan Cain: Quiet

    -Erin Gruwell: Teach with Your Heart



    -Opposing argument essay

    -Fritz Haber argument essay evaluating the ethics of the Haber process and Zyklon B

    -Journal entries in which students respond to controversial topics and various arguments to practice using

    rhetoric to form their own arguments

    -Timed argument essays as well as ones that are completed at home and put through the writing process

    -Timed multiple choice using previous AP exams



    While visuals will be integrated into every unit of this course, this short unit will help students to learn how to fully analyze visual texts.  They will analyze the arguments of the visuals while analyzing the methods used by the authors and artists to create such arguments.


    Visual texts:

    -Various magazine advertisements to identify the appeals (ethos, logos, pathos)

    -Scott McCloud graphic essay: “Show and Tell”

    -Norman Rockwell painting: Spirit of Education

    -J. Howard Miller poster: We Can Do It!

    -Jeff Parker cartoon: The Great GAPsby Society

    -Lee Teter painting: Reflections

    -Various political cartoons

    -Various television commercials (Daisy commercial - LBJ - counting daisies)

    -Various music videos



    -Music video argument analysis essay

    -Timed multiple choice from previous AP exams


    In this unit, students will be tasked with bringing together various texts to formulate their own arguments.  They will analyze individual texts in order to accomplish this goal. Though there are various thematic options, the goal remains the same: to apply skills learned in the argument and rhetoric units in order to effectively synthesize sources.



    -Virginia Woolf: “Professions for Women”

    -John and Abigail Adams: “Letters”

    -Gretel Ehrlich: “About Men”

    -Paul Theroux: “Being a Man”

    -Stephen Lewis: “AIDS Has a Woman’s Face”

    -Judith Ortiz Cofer: “The Myth of the Latin Woman: I Just Met a Girl Named Maria”

    -Deborah Tannen: “There is No Unmarked Woman”

    -Mark Bauerlein and Sandra Stotsky: “Why Johnny Won’t Read”

    -David Brooks: “Mind Over Muscle”

    -Rebecca Walker: “Putting Down the Gun”

    -Ann Hulbert: “Boy Problems”

    -Judy Brady: “I Want a Wife”

    -Stuff You Should Know: “How Barbie Works”

    -Cathy Guisewite cartoon: Cathy

    -Marge Piercy poem: “Barbie Doll”

    -Prompts from past AP exams



    -Argument/synthesis research paper.  Students will write a proposal for a topic of their own choosing.

    They will research information on the topic and synthesize three to four sources to aid them in writing

    their argument.

    -Gender synthesis essay

    -Timed synthesis essays from previous AP exams

    -Timed multiple choice from previous AP exams



    This unit will expose students to satire.  They will analyze the satirical texts in order to determine the underlying arguments.  Students will understand the purpose of satire as well as a variety of methods used (such as exaggeration, understatement, allegory, etc).  Written texts will be used in addition to video clips.


    -Jonathan Swift: “A Modest Proposal”

    -Robert Harris: “The Purpose and Method of Satire”

    -George Orwell: “Shooting an Elephant”

    -Prompts from previous AP exams:

    -The Onion: Magnasoles

    -Jennifer Price: “The Plastic Pink Flamingo”



    -Original satire

    -Timed essays from previous AP exams

    -Timed multiple choice from previous AP exams



    This unit will focus on having students synthesize the knowledge learned from the course in order to complete a final project and to compose a college essay.  The final project will begin with research that will lead into each student’s composition of a synthesis essay. They will also be responsible for giving a presentation to the class.  Students will also work on composing their college essay utilizing the prompts from the Common App.




    Students will write all formal essays following MLA formatting guidelines.  Formal student assessments include, but are not limited to the essays listed with each of the units.


    Students will also complete a variety of informat assignments throughout the duration of the year:

    -Journal entries - voice lessons, quote analysis, arguments

    -Close reading and annotation assignments

    -Use of student samples from past AP exam prompts in order to deconstruct model paragraphs. This

      dissection will scrutinize the writing for diction, syntax, sentence structure and detail. Following

    the dissection, the students will be responsible for emulating the writing style in an original piece.

    -“Quick writes” which will have the student defend a side of an argument. Students will base this on a

    variety of quotes from the canon of authors we will be studying. The students will identify the

    argument the author is making and they will be responsible for asserting or refuting the argument.

    This will help students acknowledge alternate points of view.

    -Double entry journals shall be required of  some assigned texts. This journal will allow students to respond

    to the texts on a personal and informal level to help form opinion and to aid formal responses to

    texts. Responses will include: thesis or claim, tone or attitude, purpose, audience and occasion,

    evidence or data, appeals:  logos, ethos, pathos, assumptions or warrants, style (how the author

    communicated his message: rhetorical mode, rhetorical devices, diction, and syntax).  Students will

    be required to use MLA in-text citations.

    -The class will bring in vocabulary from the texts we read to increase their language fluency.

    -Students will produce imitations of pieces (such as Judy Brady’s “I Want a Wife”) in order to closely

    analyze the craft behind particular texts.

    -Major writing prompts will go through a variety of revisions based upon peer-conferencing and

    peer-editing sessions.


    -1 English binder with loose leaf OR 1 notebook with a folder to keep papers, pen or pencil


    Student Evaluation:

    Students will be evaluated on tests, quizzes, homework, projects, oral presentations, composition work, classroom participation, as well as the midterm and final


    Class Participation:

    This includes both participation in class activities as well as behavior.  You should be prepared for class daily. Your phone should not be seen or heard unless I have instructed you to use it.  When working in groups, you should participate, but you should also leave time to hear what your group members think. Do Now journals will also be graded at random times to ensure that you are completing your work each day.  They will count as summatives.



    You can expect homework to be assigned each class.  If it is not completed, you will quickly fall behind.


    Late Work:

    If you are late with a summative assignment, you  may turn it in the next class period for a 10 point deduction, but it will not be accepted after that.  Late formative assignments will not be accepted.

    Make-Up Work:

    If you have an excused absence, you can turn in your assignment on the next class period for full credit.  You have the same amount of time to make up your work as the number of days you were absent. If you cut class, you will not be allowed to make up any missed work.  If you are absent the day of a major project or essay, it is expected to be emailed to me by the start of your class period.  


    Field Trips:

    If you are absent due to a field trip or school activity, you are still expected to turn in your assignments on the due date (you can come to me before or after school).  You must come to me before the field trip to get any assignments that you will miss when you are gone so that they may be turned in on the correct due date.


    Academic Integrity Policy:

    Students are expected to avoid all dishonest behavior in relation to academic work.  Such behavior may include (but is not limited to) failing to document borrowed words or ideas from research sources, handing in the work of another, turning in an essay submitted for a different class, or copying during an exam.  Students caught plagiarizing will receive a 0 and parents and administrators.will be contacted.



    It will be taken daily.  If you are late for more than half of the period, it counts as an absence.  No more than 20 absences are allowed per school year, as per your handbook. 12 or more absences per marking period and you will receive no credit.  If you arrive more than 45 minutes into the period, it will count as an absence.


    Classroom Policies:

    -Get to class by sound of the bell.  If you are late, you will sign your name into the detention book and schedule an after school detention with me.  If you fail to attend the detention, you will be written up.


    -Begin your Do Now activity when you get to class.  You don’t need to wait until I ask you to get started as you can expect an activity on the board or on a sheet of paper each day.


    -Keep your cell phone and any other electronic devices silenced and away during class unless I ask you to use them.  Headphones should not be visible. You may not plug in your devices to charge them.


    -Raise your hand before you speak (unless working in a small group).


    -You can use the restroom occasionally, when you really need to.  You will not be allowed to go to the bathroom every day. Please ask me permission.


    -Don’t pack up before the end of class.  Stay in your seat until I dismiss you. If I am still speaking when the bell rings, wait for me to tell you that it is acceptable to leave.


    -Respect yourself, your peers, and all faculty.  There are no stupid questions. I want EVERY student to feel safe to speak his or her mind.  


    Extra Help:

    SAP period on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in room 407.


    *Syllabus may be subject to change