AP English Language and Composition

Advanced Placement English Language and Composition is an advanced placement course that high school students can take in place of the Freshman Composition courses offered at most colleges.  The course focuses on rhetoric and argument, most clearly evinced in nonfiction.

Here are the required books for the AP English Language course for 2014-2015:
•    Turchi, Peter.  Maps of the Imagination:  The Writer as Cartographer.  San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 2007, ISBN-13: 9781595340412 …for summer reading  (listed is the paperback copy – feel free to get the hardback)
•    Lunsford, Andrea A., John J. Ruszkiewicz, and Keith Walters. Everything’s an Argument: with Readings. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010, Fifth Edition, ISBN-10: 0312538618 (make sure that you get the Fifth Edition with Readings)
•    Cohen, Samuel. 50 Essays: A Portable Anthology. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011, Third Edition, ISBN-10: 0312609655  (you must get the Third Edition)
These three required books are due in class on Wednesday, September 2.

Electronic Homework:
For most assignments, students will download their papers to turnitin.com – they may have to set up an account using an email they check often.  Here are the class identification numbers and passwords for the AP English Language:
AP English Language Period 3:  10445012 and Period3
AP English Language Period 6:  10445045 and Period6
For revisions of papers, give Mr. Thornton a hard copy, after you have looked at the turnitin.com site for his edits. 

The Literature Resource Center online database for research can now be accessed by DSA students – the password is denverhttp://infotrac.galegroup.com/itweb/denv71300?db=LitRC

Here is a blog that features a Word-of-the-Day from the New York Times:  http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/category/word-of-the-day/  This website features SAT words:  https://www.number2.com/exams/sat/daily/word/  This website features words for a variety of subjects and tests: http://www.cram.com/tag/sat

Specific standards for college compiled by ACT – the English (pp.4-9) and Writing (pp.30-35) sections are most useful:  College Readiness Standards 

Style and Usage Guide:
Here is an online style guide from Purdue University to check grammar and usage:  http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/

Here is the proposed yearly syllabus for 2015-16: AP English Language Syllabus 2015-16

Literary Terms:
Here is a list of literary terms that students will be defining and learning throughout the year:  Lit Terms AP 2014


Here is the revised syllabus for Spring Semester:  AP English Language Spring Syllabus

Week of February 8, 2016:

Student groups wrote new stories using a different set of SAT vocabulary words.  Each group presented its story, and was told to share the story with each other in the group, and revise it according to these instructions:
•    Include a Periodic sentence
•    Include an Elliptical sentence
•    Use action verbs
•    Eliminate all cases of passive voice
Each student should submit a copy of the original story plus their revision in turnitin.com by February 15.

Students created new stories using the SAT Word List; and they took a quiz on the Swift essay.

Week of February 1, 2016:

Students should finish the Eighner essay “On Dumptster Diving” in 50 Essays:  http://scholarworks.umb.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1539&context=nejpp

For the next few weeks, students should bring in a recording that speaks about how America is viewed, or what the American experience is all about.  They should be able to project the lyrics to the song, along with playing a recording of it – they can email the lyrics to the instructor if necessary.  They must also write a short essay delineating the American values that this song encompasses, and analyze the rhetorical devices and strategies.  This essay should be turned in at the time of the presentation.

Students read the Swift essay from 50 Essays in class:  A-Modest-Proposal  There will be a quiz on this at the start of next week.

Students must write a speech on education reform due Sunday:  Education Reform Proposal

Highlights from Chapter 12 on “Proposals” in Everything’s an Argument were pointed out, before students came up with reform proposals for education, or DSA specifically.  This was done in advance of an exercise to create an education reform proposal later in the week.

Week of January 25, 2016:

Students read the following essay by David Sedaris in class – it can be used as a resource in your education essay due Friday night:  Me Talk Pretty One Day by Sedaris  Students should also read “A Plague of Tics” – Sedaris ‘s A Plague of Tics – by Sedaris in 50 Essays by Monday or Tuesday of next week.  There will be a quiz on it.

Students who missed any quizzes this semester must make these up on Thursday or Friday, January 28-29, to receive credit – quizzes on the Thoreau, Rose, and Alexie essays in 50 Essays.  After this they will be marked “0”.

Students were assigned groups to work on SAT vocabulary words over the next few weeks.  The packets of words are available as a hard copy from the instructor.  Groups will be presenting stories using as many as the words from different sections of the list.  Each group will also be asked to create a video in conjunction with a contest sponsored by the New York Times:  http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/01/14/student-contest-our-third-annual-15-second-vocabulary-video-challenge/  Although students will not be asked to actually submit their video to the Times, if they want to they should know that they must explain a word from the following list:  Vocabulary Contest 2016 WordList

Students completed this exercise in class at the start of the week:  Sentence Combining

Week of January 19, 2016:

Students read Alexie’s “The Joy of Reading and Writing:  Superman and Me” – Superman and Me by Alexie – in 50 Essays.  There will be a quiz on this next week.

Here is an assignment for a synthesis argument essay on education due in one week:  Education Essay 2016

The instructor highlighted some of the essays from Chapter 26 in Everything’s an Argument.  Students are encouraged to closely read the Horowitz, Fish, and Cohen essays, pp. 922-940, which focus on “intellectual diversity.”

Bring both books to class on Thursday and Friday.

Here is a piece that suggests readers become empathetic reading essays:  Acquiring Empathy Through Essays

Students should finish the Mike Rose essay “I Just Wanna Be Average” in 50 Essays by class on Thursday or Friday – there will be a multiple choice quiz on it:  Rose’s “I Just Wanna Be Average”

Week of January 11, 2016:

For Wednesday, January 20, students should write an essay following the guidelines set by the This I Believe organization, as outlined in the posted college curriculum – be personal, positive, tell a story, and keep it under 500 words.  (The manifesto that you wrote was intended as a substitute for the credo mentioned in the curriculum.  You can change your topic from what you focused on in the manifesto.)    Submit this to turnitin.com.

On Wednesday, January 13, students have two short assignments to do – submit these to turnitin.com, as a single assignment, due Friday:

  • Students started reading the Thoreau essay in class.  Summarize the main point of each paragraph in a sentence – the essential sentence from Thoreau, or a sentence of your own crafting.  Eight paragraphs = eight sentences:  Thoreau What I Lived For
  • Look over this college curriculum from the “This I Believe” website:  This I Believe College Curriculum  Find three essays to read at http://thisibelieve.org/ and summarize the main belief of each of these in a paragraph – that’s three paragraphs.


Bring 50 Essays on Wednesday for the Thoreau essay; bring Everything’s an Argument on Thursday of Friday.

Here is the article that was discussed in class:  On Montaigne by Dubrava  Students also read an article by Lewis Lapham on essay writing, about which they took notes regarding his rhetorical strategies – it was called “Figures of Speech” from the November, 2010 issue of Harpers.

Week of January 6, 2016:

Students started reading the Thoreau essay in 50 Essays:  Thoreau What I Lived For

By Sunday, January 10, students must write a manifesto that strongly defends a belief system of theirs.  This must include an overview or introduction that describes the personal reasons for stating these beliefs, followed by at least ten statements defining the tenets of their manifesto.  Submit this to turnitin.com.
Following are several links to websites that detail a variety of manifestos… the first is the real text from the Futurists; the second is an animated version of the same.  The Smashing Magazine entry offers a survey of manifestos.
Here is another version of the Futurist Manifesto, one that offers some details in a more rigid format:  FuturistManifesto2010

Here is the link for the writing contest sponsored by the Atlantic and College Board:  https://www.collegeboard.org/writing-prize


Week of December 14, 2015:

Students read the rest of the Hardin article, posted below – if you were not in class this week, finish reading this on your own.  Here is a postscript that Hardin wrote in 1998, on writing an interdisciplinary essay:  Hardin 1998

Week of December 7, 2015:

Students are reading this Hardin article on the Commons:  Hardin”s Tragedy of the Commons

Week of November 30, 2015:

Students took a multiple choice quiz on the McKibben essay in 50 Essays on Thursday and Friday.  Students who missed this need to get it from the instructor.

In order to have time to grade the final, and because orchestra students will not be in classes during finals week, the final will be administered next week, on Thursday and Friday, December 10 and 11.

Students looked at the highlights of Chapters 18-20 in Everything’s An Argument, focusing on plagiarism, evaluating and documenting sources.  They are encouraged to read these chapters in detail, especially as they finish writing their research papers.

All missing and revised work should be turned into the instructor this week if the student wants to guarantee that it will be graded by the end of the semester.

Students should have a hard copy draft of their research paper in class on Thursday or Friday, for an edit:  Independent Novel Edit 2015

Week of November 16, 2015:

The outline for the novel paper was originally due on Wednesday of this week – students can still get this in on time if it is submitted by Friday to turnitin.com All submissions should be to turnitin.com.  Some details for the development of the thesis are expected in this outline, however you want to format it.

Week of November 9, 2015:

Students began reading essays that cover intellectual property.  (On Thursday and Friday, they read the Caplan and Ian essays in class.)  They will have a synthesis argument essay to write regarding this.  The articles quoted in this assignment follow:  What’s Yours by Ralph Caplan and The Internet Debacle by Janis Ian and Victims From Birth by Wendy McElroy and Ecstasy of Influence by Jonathan Lethem  They read an excerpt from the Lethem article, but are encouraged to read the rest of the article posted here, along with the citations.

Week of November 3, 2015:

There is an essay that examines causality in the end of a friendship due the end of next week, November 13, in turnitin.com – only the essay should be turned in, not the “Uncritical Inference Test” that precedes it:  Cause and Effect Friendship Essay

Students have a Prompt and Overview for their novel paper due on Friday, November 6, in turnitin.com.  They have three research article excerpts due at the end of next week, to be turned in on Thursday or Friday.

Students were asked in class to submit five possible subjects for their novel paper – these were quick, brainstorming ideas.

In class, students looked at this Power Point:  Rhetorical Analysis Gettysburg Example  They then spent 40 minutes using the prompt at the end of this handout, comparing the rhetoric of the Second Inaugural Address of Lincoln to his Gettysburg Address – this was handed in, or shared in email or as a Google doc:  Lincoln Rhetorical Essay

Students started reading King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” looking closely at how it can be analyzed in terms of ethos, logos, and pathos; they should finish it before the next class:  Statement and Response by King in Birmingham

Students discussed the differences between substance and style when it comes to writing – one is more about storytelling, and perhaps logic, whereas the other one is more about image and figuratively communicating a message.  Here is Mark Twain discussing both:  Twain’s Two Views of the River

Week of October 26, 2015:

After studying these LOGICAL FALLACIES in class, students should complete this worksheet, citing the fallacies that pertain – this is due in class on Wednesday, November 4, or Thursday, November 5:  Logic Problems Worksheet

Students did this exercise in class on Wednesday:  Wordiness Exercise

Although the instructor expects some duplication in the definitions and examples for the Literary Terms Handbook – many students have traditionally found online sources to copy and paste – many of this year’s students have submitted others work wholesale.  Some papers are 100% plagiarized.  Because of the proliferation of these copied submissions, Mr. Thornton has decided that if any student has submitted more than 50% of their paper from a single source from DSA, she or he will only receive 50% credit, as long as all definitions and examples are in place. The students whose papers were copied will receive a reduced grade of 75%.    Students can talk to the instructor if they have questions regarding this decision.

Students read the Staples’ essay in 50 Essays in class at the start of the week.

Here is the Description assignment due at the end of the week in turnitin.comDescription and Narration Exercise

Week of October 21, 2015:

Students took quizzes on the White and Momaday essays – see the instructor to make this up.

Submit the literary terms assignment to turnitin.com – if you wrote it by hand, turn in a hard copy to the instructor next week.

Week of October 12, 2015:

Here is the independent novel assignment and schedule:  Independent Novel Assignment

Students should bring 50 Essays to class on Thursday and Friday.  They will read the White essay, “Once More to the Lake,” and the Momaday essay, “The Way to Rainy Mountain.”

Week of October 5, 2015:

By the first class of next week, students should have read “Seeing” by Annie Dillard and “Regarding the Pain of Others” by Susan Sontag in 50 Essays.

For Sunday, October 11, students should write an essay, about one type-written page, explaining a process that they know inside out – it could be a favorite recipe, a technique from their art major, anything that involves steps that require the reader to follow.  An example of this process divided into discernible steps is the following piece by Herman Melville:  Melville on Process from Typee 2011  Submit this essay to turnitin.com.  Only spend one hour on this essay.

Week of September 28, 2015:

Critics and Essayists will meet in their groups on Monday and Tuesday, to prepare their presentations on Thursday and Friday.

Review pages 107-111 in Maps of the Imagination, where the author discusses a scene from one of Alain Robbe-Grillet’s stories.  Authors control the release of information in their books.  Bring a graphic novel, newspaper cartoon, or comic book – some type of book where the story is told in panels – to class on Monday or Tuesday, to work on writing sequence:  students will write out in words what is going on in 4-6 panels of a comic or graphic novel.  This should be turned in to the instructor, with a copy of the comic panels, at the start of class on Wednesday, October 7.

Here are examples of definition as a rhetorical strategy:  Definition Types  Here is an exercise that focuses on correct definitions (not to be turned in):  Definition Application

Students should read “Aria,” the essay by Richard Rodriquez in 50 Essays by Thursday or Friday’s class.  Students should focus on how the author structures the essay, the devices he uses to create tone.

Students read the essay by Mukherjee in 50 Essays, and took a multiple choice quiz on it.  It serves as an example of comparison and contrast in structuring an essay.

Students discussed the importance of crafting their own argument supported by the resources in the AP synthesis argument essay.

Here is the explanation of induction and deduction discussed in class:  Induction and Deduction

Week of September 21, 2015:

Here is the Representative Authors assignment that students will work on during the next six weeks – the instructor will assign authors to each student:  Representative Authors Assignment 2015  On Monday and Tuesday, the Autobiographers and Biographers will meet to plan their presentations.

Students spent forty minutes in class outlining and writing this essay comparing the Woolf and Petrunkevitch pieces:  Woolf and Petrunkevitch Analysis

Students started reading another “moth” essay, this one by Annie Dillard:  Death of A Moth by Dillard  Here’s Dillard’s explanation of her process in writing and editing this essay:  Annie Dillard: How I wrote the Moth Essay  If you haven’t finished reading this last essay, make sure that you do before class on Monday or Tuesday.

Week of September 14, 2015:

Students read Woolf’s essay in 50 Essays:   Woolf’s “The Death of the Moth”; they should read Petrunkevitch’s “The Spider and the Wasp” before class next week.  They will have to compare the two next week in class.

In order to discuss the Woolf and Petrunkevitch essays, students must know what tone in literature is.  This list of tone words might help:  Tone Words

Here is a general rubric for scoring AP essays:  AP General Rubric

Week of September 8, 2015:

Next week, students will review the practice AP test they took in class.  They should bring 50 Essays to class on Thursday and Friday.

Next week students will review guidelines for college essays. Students must write a college essay of 300-500 words, due Tuesday, September 22, in turnitin.com. Your choice of prompt. List the prompt at the start of the essay. Here is a link to some essay questions posted by the University of Chicago on its website: https://collegeadmissions.uchicago.edu/apply/essays/  Another list of 100 essay prompts, from various colleges:  100 College Application Essay Prompts

Here is the literary terms assignment due October 23:  Literary Terms Assignment 2015  Submit this to turnitin.com.

Week of August 31, 2015:

Students finished discussing “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” in 50 Essays on Friday. By next Friday, September 11, students should write an essay in which they discuss the various languages that they use in their lives, focusing on at least three different languages. Use the essay by Gloria Anzaldua as a model. Include definition, analysis, and examples of the languages. Structure the essay along the lines of Anzaldua, using epigraphs at the start of sections, while mixing rhetorical approaches.  Submit this to turnitin.com.

Students took a look at these guidelines on style from Kurt Vonnegut:  Vonnegut on Writing

Next week, students will take an AP English Language practice test.  This will cover at least two periods during the week.  Many of the multiple choice questions use the following stems:  Multiple Choice Stems  Here are some tips on writing the AP essay:  Writing the AP Essay

Here is “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” from Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua, which is also in 50 Essays:  Anzaldua: Wild Tongue  They should finish reading this by Wednesday.  In class on Wednesday, students analyzed on their own this essay regarding its rhetorical approaches – they took notes in preparation for a discussion the next class session.

Here is a handy list of approaches to writing essays:  RHETORICAL CLASSES OF THE ESSAY

Week of August 25, 2015:

Students should try to get books by next week, when the instructor will check whether they have them.  They will be reading an essay from 50 Essays, so they should at least try to bring in that one at the start of the week.

Students should submit their literacy autobiography to turnitin.com by the end of next week, September 4Literacy Autobiography 2015

The class will look over this description of the course next week – students might want to peruse it before then:  AP English Language Course Description 2014

Students will discuss maps and look at parts of Maps of the Imagination in class on Thursday and Friday, so they should bring that book.  A hard copy of this summer assignment is due in class on Monday or Tuesday, August 31 or September 1, when they should also bring the book to classAP Summer Assignment 2015

Students should carefully read the syllabus by class on Wednesday, August 26.  They should examine last year’s website by the weekend, before the instructor erases it.

The following two articles will be discussed in class – one suggests alternative approaches to writing, while the other article distinguishes between rhetoric and style:  Alternative Essay Types 2011 and Rhetoric versus Style

Here is a concise summary of the “entirety of fictional elements”:  Entirety of Fictional Elements