AP English Language
On-Line for the 2017-2018 School Year
Teacher: Kathryn Walker
Online for 2017-2018
Instructor: Kathryn Walker
Tuition: $650 early bird/$675 after July 1; class size limited to 15 students
Course Overview: This is a college-level course to prepare students for the Advanced Placement Language and Composition exam by engaging in critical reading, writing, and discussion. The stated purpose of the course (from the College Board) is to “emphasize the expository, analytical, and argumentative writing that forms the basis of academic and professional communication.” To accomplish this goal, we learn to read texts closely to determine the author’s purpose and means of conveying his or her message. In addition to literature, we engage in analysis of images and audio recordings to better understand the processes of communication and persuasion. Our goal is to develop skills in describing, explaining, and arguing through examining texts from various time periods and genres and through writing formal and informal responses to them in various modes. We also complete timed essays and practice tests to help prepare students for the AP exam.
Course Units and Texts
*Summer Reading: The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs
Unit I: Exposition, Description, and Narration
In this unit, we examine the tools of exposition, namely, writing that informs, describes, or explains. Our study examines expositional patterns, such as narrative interspersion, recursion, and cause and effect. Readings also include an emphasis on descriptive writing, including traits such as detail, diction, and point of view. Finally, students examine the narrative qualities of works, including character development and theme. Students also master a variety of rhetorical terms, such as repetition, chiasmus, antithesis, hyperbole, and irony. Works studied range from ancient essays to contemporary comedy. Students complete a significant Descriptive Project to showcase their mastery of these skills.
Novel: Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
Expository Works: Aristotle’s “On Rhetoric,” “The Rhetorical Stance” by Wayne C. Booth, “The Pleasures of Eating” by Wendell Berry
Descriptive Works: “A Libido for the Ugly” by H. L. Mencken, “The Knife" by Richard Selzer, “The Ring of Time” by E. B. White
Narrative Works: “Monday” by Mark Helprin, “A Descent in the Dark” by R.R. Reno, “The Music of Erich Zahn” by H.P. Lovecraft, and To Russell, My Brother, Whom I have Slept With by Bill Cosby (voice recording).
Choice of Memoir for Book Club Discussion
Unit II: The Argument
We transition from telling to deliberately arguing here, and to that goal, we study concepts from They Say, I Say to help students craft meaningful arguments. Our work focuses on argumentation through a variety of modes: persuasive essays, audience adaptations, and argument refutations, and satires. Students craft an argumentative research essay giving their perspective on whether college education ought to be liberal or vocational, analyzing the ideas of Newman and contemporary writers as they do so. We also examine current journalism and events for class discussions and response papers.
They Say, I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing by Gerald Graff and Cathy Berkenstein
Readings on Education: Selections from The Idea of a University by John Henry Newman, “History for Dollars” by David Brooks, “The Useless University” by Matthew Milliner¸ and others.
A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift, “Deus Machina” by Neil Postman, “In Plato’s Cave” by Susan Sontag, “Virtues Past and Present,” by Jonathan Last, “The Order of Things” by Malcolm Gladwell, “The Case for Torture” by Michael Levin, and other contemporary articles.
Choice of nonfiction book offering contemporary cultural critique for Book Club Discussion
Unit III: The Art of Speechwriting
In this final unit of the year, we examine the power of persuasion through the spoken work by examining various mediums of speech. We consider the role of the speaker’s voice to persuade, engage, and argue, and we work to use language deliberately to create the effect we want our listeners to experience. Reading and watching speeches allows us to examine how speechwriters work upon human language and consciousness. In one exercise, students analyze a particular speech given by a character in Julius Caesar. As a capstone project, students craft an original speech to demonstrate the various skills they have acquired throughout the year.
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
“Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell
Political Speeches: “I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King, “The Gettysburg Address” by Abraham Lincoln, “Choices and Change” by Barbara Bush, and “The Strenuous Life” by Theodore Roosevelt
Religious Speeches: “The Genuine Article” by Alistair Begg, “The Wounds of Jesus” by C.C. Lovelace, “Self Denial the Test of Religious Earnestness by John Henry Newman, and “Hell” by D.L. Moody
Choice of essay collection or nonfiction work on writing as extra credit option for Book Club Discussion
- Course assignments and interaction take place through a password protected Canvas Course Sites website specific to this course.
- Students interact with their peers and instructor through the discussion board and peer reviews, as well a biweekly class meeting at 1 PM EST on most Mondays. Attending this live discussion is strongly recommended, though recordings will be available for students who are unable to attend.
- I post video mini-lectures about the topics we’re studying during many of the weeks, as well as links to articles, videos, and documents with helpful information.
- I post the next two complete weeks’ worth of assignments at any given time, so students have a clear idea of what work to anticipate, and they can schedule it around their other classes and activities.
- I return graded work promptly with thorough comments using the Comment function in Word.
- Students work with their peers and instructor to revise their work in stages through topic proposals, outlines, drafts, and peer reviews.
- Students learn and apply the principles of Modern Language Association (MLA) citations.
- Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style serves as our text for the technicalities of strong writing, such as focusing word usage and sentence structure, crafting the thesis statement, and developing clear transitions.
- Grades are posted weekly to the website, which students and parents can access at any time.
- I maintain regular communication with parents through weekly email updates.
- I video chat with students personally at their request to work with them through challenging assignments or any areas of need.
Workload: Weekly coursework generally includes instruction through short readings, mini video lectures, or PowerPoint presentations; a 20-100 page reading assignment; a 2-3 page essay or work toward a larger essay; participation in a live discussion or on the class discussion board; and occasional quizzes.
Student Qualifications: Open to students in 10th-12th grade. Students should be competent readers and writers, but don’t let the reading list scare you; we will work together through the difficult texts. Students need Microsoft Word and Internet access.
Class Schedule: August 28, 2017 through the AP Exam on May 16 of 2018.
Instructor Qualifications: This will be my eighth year teaching AP Language and Composition online. Approximately 2/3 of my students have earned 4’s or 5’s on the AP Exam, with 5 being their most common score. A graduate of PHAA, I hold a B.A. in English from Hillsdale College, an M.Ed from Eastern University, and PA Teaching Certification for English 7-12. Previously, I taught English for three years at Valley Forge Military Academy. I have published work in First Things Web Exclusives, Touchstone Magazine, Independent Teacher Magazine, and Veritas Press’s Omnibus curriculum. I would be happy to discuss any questions about this course. Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com
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