Pennsylvania Homeschoolers

AP* Online Classes

APUSH with Mrs. Hawkins has been one of the most enjoyable and informative classes I've taken, period. I have learned so much about American history, but I was most impressed with how much my writing and thinking skills improved.

AP English Language

On-Line for the 2019-2020 School Year

Teacher: Melissa Dean (formerly Melissa Barnes)


Tuition:  $675 early bird/$700 after July 1

Length of Course:  Friday, August 23, 2019 to Friday, May 16, 2020

Breaks:  The official course schedule will be in the syllabus provided at the beginning of the year but will include breaks for all major U.S. holidays and Thanksgiving, a Winter Break, and a Spring Break.

Course Description:  According to the College Board, “[t]he AP English Language and Composition course aligns to an introductory college-level rhetoric and writing curriculum, which requires students to develop evidence-based analytic and argumentative essays that proceed through several stages or drafts. Students evaluate, synthesize, and cite research to support their arguments.  Throughout the course, students develop a personal style by making appropriate grammatical choices.  Additionally, students read and analyze the rhetorical elements and their effects in non-fiction texts, including graphic images as forms of text, from many disciplines and historical periods.”


This college-level course is intended to prepare students to enter the academic conversation as a discerning reader and a skilled writer.  While students will be prepared to take the AP Language exam in the spring, the ultimate goal of this course is to develop critical reading skills and proficient writing skills with lifelong value across a variety of disciplines and career fields.


Course Objectives:  (from The College Board’s AP English Language and Composition Course Description) 

*Analyze and interpret samples of purposeful writing, identifying and explaining an author’s use of rhetorical strategies.

*Analyze images and other multimodal texts for rhetorical features.

*Use effective rhetorical strategies and techniques when composing.

*Write for a variety of purposes.

*Respond to different writing tasks according to their unique rhetorical and composition demands, and translate that rhetorical assessment into a plan for writing.

*Create and sustain original arguments based on information synthesized from readings, research, and/or personal observation and experience.

*Evaluate and incorporate sources into researched arguments.

*Demonstrate understanding of the conventions of citing primary and secondary sources.

*Gain control over various reading and writing processes, with careful attention to inquiry (research), rhetorical analysis and synthesis of sources, drafting, revising/rereading, editing, and review.

*Converse and write reflectively about personal processes of composition.

*Demonstrate understanding and control of Standard Written English as well as stylistic maturity in their own writing.

*Revise a work to make it suitable for a different audience.


Prerequisites:  While there are no official prerequisites for the course, students who enroll should be able to “read and comprehend college-level texts and apply the conventions of Standard Written English in their writing.”  This course is not intended for students who need remedial work in reading or writing. 

Interactions:  This course is asynchronous, which means there is no live class session that students must attend.  Work will be assigned daily, and students are expected to meet due dates; however, they will be free to complete their work at any time of day as long as they meet assigned deadlines.  Extensions to deadlines will be granted with advance notice or in the case of illness or emergencies.  Students will interact with one another and with the instructor in online discussion forums and groups as well as in occasional online book club meetings.  Students will receive weekly feedback from the instructor on their work as well as detailed feedback on major assignments.  The instructor will provide an individual progress report at the end of each semester.

AP Exam:  Students will take parent-proctored practice AP exams in the second semester and are expected to take the AP English Language and Composition exam at their local high school in May.

Workload:  Approximately 10-12 hours per week 

Technological Requirements:  Students will be given access to a password-protected Canvas website where they will access all of their course materials.  Each student will need full Internet and printer access as well as Microsoft Word.  Students will need to be able to create and view PDF files and may need to utilize Skype or Google Hangouts for book club discussions or group projects.  Google Drive may also be utilized throughout the year, so students should have access to a drive.

Instructor Qualifications: I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BA in English Education. After teaching in a variety of public school settings, I returned to school to pursue an MA in English and Literacy Education from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. I then continued on to earn an Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) degree in Curriculum Development, also from U-M. I am a certified teacher in the State of the Virginia with endorsements in 6-12 English, K-12 Reading, K-12 Gifted Education, and ESL. During the past twenty-five years, I have taught in public schools, an alternative high school, homeschool co-ops, and online. I have also edited and occasionally written for the Virginia Home Educator, a publication of the Home Educator’s Association of Virginia (HEAV), for the past ten years. I currently live in Chesapeake, Virginia with my family.

***This is the tentative book list; minor changes may be made.  A final book list will be emailed to enrolled students in June.***

Required Course Materials:

Summer Reading:  The Elements of Style (Fourth Edition) by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White  ISBN-13: 978-0205309023

The Lively Art of Writing by Lucille Vaughan Payne ISBN-13: 978-0451627124

AP Level nonfiction book of choice


Whole Class Texts:

“They Say, I Say”:  The Moves That Matter, with Readings (Fourth High School Edition) by Graff, Birkenstein, and Durst  ISBN-13: 978-0393643282

(This can be purchased directly from the W.W. Norton website.)

50 Essays: A Portable Anthology (Fifth Edition) by Samuel Cohen  ISBN-13: 978-0312609658

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser ISBN-13: 978-0060891541

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi and Abraham Verghese ISBN-13: 978-0812988406

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson ISBN-13: 978-0312424404 

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg ISBN-13: 978-0812981605

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicolas Carr ISBN-13: 978-0393339758

Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton ISBN-13: 978-0743262170

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson ISBN-13: 978-0812984965

Students will participate in book clubs twice during the year. Each will focus on a specific genre, theme, or topic. For the first semester, students will choose ONE title from the following list of options. Students may want to confer with their classmates before making their selection; however, parents should preview the titles to ensure they contain no content their family finds objectionable.

First Semester Book Club Options: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End; Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers; The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks; Man’s Search for Meaning

AP English Language and Composition Prep Book (suggestions will be made during second semester)


Application:  If you wish to enroll in AP Language and Composition for the 2019-2020 school year, please complete the application in the link below and email it to me at



Click here to open or download an application to this class (Microsoft Word document)

Click here to read class reviews from past participants
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