AP Class Reviews

English Language taught by Kate Walker

by Students and Parents

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All-time favorite class! posted by Bethany Gardner on June 14 2012 at 15:15:36

Did you feel the course prepared you for the AP exam?

Definitely! During the whole year, we were learning the skills we needed to know: being able to analyze, understand, and evaluate all different types of text and writing maturely, analytically, and persuasively.  Several practice multiple choice tests and timed essays were scattered through the first 3/4 of the year, and the last few weeks of the class were devoted to "AP Boot Camp"--completing a MC test or timed essay almost every day.  We also took a full practice test in one sitting.

By the time the actual test was upon me, I knew what to expect and what I needed to do.  By the end of the year, I was consistently scoring 7-9's on the essays and 5's overall, so atlhough I haven't seen my score yet, I'm confident I did well.

Because the AP English Language and Composition exam is more a test of skills than facts, I learned many things I'll be able to use in other classes and real life:

~ My writing is more mature and clear (or, as the AP book was so found of saying, it has "sophisticated diction and varied syntax")

~ I can analyze ideas and writing far better.

~ I learned how arguments work, so I can evaluate other ideas/opinions far better and correctly defend my own.

 

How many hours of work per day or per week did you generally put into the course?

I believe I averaged about 6-10 hours per week.  It really depened on whether or not we were working on a major project and on how easily that particular paper was coming to me.

 

Are there any particularly favorite assignments that you found especially valuable?

Although I liked them all, I especially enjoyed the narrative project, stream of consciouness essay, and satire.

 

Did the course enhance your interest in the subject?

YES! In previous years, I took writing with the homeschool group at my church.  I came here because I loved writing and was looking for a challenge.  Coming out, I love English even more and know I can do well at it.  I'm looking forward to AP Lit next year, and plan on being an English major or minor (along with other things). 

 

Did you find your communications with other students to be interesting or valuable?

Yes, interactions were most interesting! We did several peer review assignments throughout the year, and later, we started doing discussions via Google+ hangout.  Several of us have also done hangouts to present our speech projects, work on papers, and talk about English and other non-related things.

I wish we all could have met in person!

 

What sort of student would do well in this course? Would you recommend this course to other students (if they are willing to work hard!)?

You would enjoy and excel in this course if you:

~ enjoy reading and analyzing things

~ can write proficiently 

~ already know the foundations of writing (planning, revising, grammar, punctuation, etc.)

~ would like to take your writing and thinking to the next level

 

I would highly recommend this course and Mrs. Walker! Her assignments were interesting and varied, she always answered quickly and graciously, and grading was prompt and helpful.  Her feedback on my writing was a perfect mix of encouragement, corrections, and suggestions--I always knew what I did do well, what I should have improved, and why it should have been done differently.

 

 


An Excellent Class posted by Katie on June 10 2012 at 24:46:40

Mrs. Walker’s English class was both enjoyable and helpful. I usually spent about 6 hours or so per week, depending on how much work we had. Our assignments were very valuable as they helped us to learn how to think critically about different passages and how to write those thoughts effectively. Mrs. Walker’s comments on our work were also very helpful; I was able to pinpoint different weak areas in my writing and work on improving those areas. My favorite assignments were the trimester projects, where we had write a narrative, an argumentative essay, and a speech. Through these assignments, I felt I improved a lot, especially in being able to argue a point well. After the “AP Boot Camp” we did, as well as the entire year’s work, I felt very prepared for the AP exam, and was comfortable with it on the exam day. I would highly recommend this class to anyone looking to improve their writing and rhetorical analysis skills and willing to make an effort to achieve that goal.


AP Language and Composition with Kathryn Walker posted by Addison Merryman on June 08 2012 at 13:30:35

Last year, when I was looking for an AP Language and Composition class to take, I read the course descriptions and the class reviews for all the various sections, just as you are doing now. I really liked the reading list and the organizational focus Mrs. Walker’s class, as well as the style and structure in the way the course description was presented. I decided to give it a shot. Looking back a year later, I’m glad that I did. From the teacher to the course, this class has been an awesome experience. I feel that I’ve become a more analytical reader, a stronger writer, and overall a more confident student.

As a teacher, Mrs. Walker is fantastic. Not only is she engaged and passionate about the subject, but she is also encouraging, helpful, and open to any student. Mrs. Walker is always willing to discuss different books and articles and if a student asks for advice and feedback on a paper, she makes time to help. The papers she grades come back with lots of detailed comments on how to improve them. The care she has for her students and her wish to help them succeed really shows through.

Another great part of Mrs. Walker’s class is the environment. Because of the huge number of essays and short weekly paragraphs that are posted, she actually uses a modified forum board to maximize the ease of use, organization, and the community environment. This class isn’t one where everybody receives the assignments, burrows away for a week to complete them, shows up for a mere blip for submission and then drops back under the radar. Almost everyone in the class gets involved in the community, whether it is through the random message board, the weekly paragraph posts, or the more recently introduced Google+ class discussions. The whole concept of learning together as a group is one of the things that make this class special. It’s a really neat experience to read a book or article and to form your opinions on it, and then to actively discuss it with your classmates. Even Mrs. Walker participates in these discussions to ask us thought-provoking questions about what we’ve read.

You’re probably wondering what this class involves and how strenuous the workload is. Like the environment, the reading and the assignments are another aspect that makes Mrs. Walker’s class awesome. As you might have already noticed, the reading list has a huge assortment of genres, ranging from poetry to novel to persuasive/informative article to comedy. All of these works were selected to give students a taste of many different flavors of composition and literature. The vast variety is part of what makes this class so exciting and fun.

If I had to sum up the entire spectrum of class assignments, I would say that Mrs. Walker’s curriculum focuses on quality more than quantity. Sure, there might be occasionally tough projects and a few lengthy books, but nothing was ever assigned just for the sake of doing. Everything had a purpose. It all taught us something. It all made us stronger, and it all prepared us really well for the AP exam. For example, toward the end of the year, Mrs. Walker assigned us all to an AP Bootcamp program in which we practiced essays and reading comprehension every day for about two-to-three weeks before the exam. It was difficult and wearying at times, but those weeks were some of the best preparation I had. If you are also interested in being well prepared for the SAT critical reading section, this AP Language class will certainly make you stronger.

This class does have its challenges—even though it aims a lot for quality, it’s not completely easy. The amount of time it took me to complete the weekly assignments varied from about 8-12 hours, depending on the week, assignments, and how fast I worked. I took this class with 3-4 other AP level classes this year, and while it was difficult to manage them all, I became a more organized and diligent student as a result.

So what’s the bottom line? Should you take this course or should you shoot for another? If you have a love and curiosity for English and want to learn, Mrs. Walker and her class can do a lot for you. It’s ultimately an awesome experience, and although it requires some hard work and perseverance, it’s completely worth it. And best of all, it prepares you thoroughly for the AP exam in May. Win-win!


Wonderful Class! posted by Allison Graham on June 05 2012 at 17:24:16

Did you feel the course prepared you for the AP exam?

Definitely! In the weeks leading up to the exam, Mrs. Walker led the class in an AP Boot Camp, where we focused exclusively on the exam. My scores on both the multiple choice and essay sections improved significantly during this period, and, by the time the exam came around, I felt confident and prepared. We also prepared for the AP exam throughout the earlier part of the year. The goal of the class, however, stretched far beyond simply taking a test. I think I did well on the exam, but, more importantly, I have become a better writer and reader because of this course.

Are there any particularly favorite assignments that you found especially valuable?

Honestly, there weren't any assignments that I disliked. If I had to pick favourites, I would choose writing a stream of consciousness narrative (an assignment that involved writing in the style of James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man), and reading Alan Paton's moving novel Cry, the Beloved Country.

Did you find your communications with other students to be interesting or valuable?

The class allowed for lots of interaction between students, which I enjoyed. For instance, most weeks involved posting a short essay about the week's readings on the class discussion board. Reading other students' responses allowed me to consider different opinions and perspectives. We also did four peer reviews during the year, which involved reading and commenting on the draft of another student's essay. I found that by editing someone else's essay I noticed ways to improve my essays as well. During the latter part of the year, we had some class discussion on Skype and Google+. Being able to see and talk to my fellow classmates was fun and I enjoyed hearing their ideas.

Would you recommend this course to other students (if they are willing to work hard!)?

Yes! If you enjoy a challenge and are enthusiastic about English, then I highly recommend this course. Your ability to write eloquently and read analytically are bound to flourish.


AP English Language and Composition: An Excellent Class posted by Drew Falabella on June 05 2012 at 01:58:56

Are there any particularly favorite assignments that you found especially valuable?:

Oh, this is a hard one!  I’d have to say that the Narrative project and the Speech project were both equally enjoyable assignments, not only because they were major projects, but also because they allowed me the chance to demonstrate the full extent of my abilities.  I had fun coming up with my story and stance in each case, and that freedom made it far more satisfying to me.

 

What sort of student would do well in this course? Would you recommend this course to other students (if they are willing to work hard!)?:

Any student who likes writing should enjoy and excel in this course!  I would definitely recommend the class to anyone interested in the English Language and Composition Exam as well, because this was more than competent preparation for it.  While only time will tell whether the preparation yielded an equally-competent score, I feel that it was a worthwhile experience regardless of its intended purpose.  :)

 



What are you waiting for? posted by Alexandria on June 04 2012 at 24:53:56

One of the things I appreciated about the course was that the course wasn’t designed to only ‘teach to the test’; rather, it actually helped the students perfect their general writing skills, which in turn, also helped us with the actual exams. So, in retrospect, the class was the only reason I did so well on the exam.

About 10-12 hours a week. The course balanced the workload well: it was challenging, but not overwhelming. 

There’s so many to choose from! Personally, I appreciated the more creative assignments: the narrative works, where one had to choose an old story (i.e. Rapunzel) and retell it in a new manner; the stream of consciousness essays that included tracking down the incessant thoughts one imagines throughout a day, and the Compare and Contrast papers where one had to discern similar qualities between certain paintings. Mrs. Walker created numerous interesting assignments for us to (cheerfully!) complete.

In the latter part of the school year, Mrs. Walker scheduled weekly Google+ chats for students willing to attend. The meet-ups were enlightening and

 mentally stimulating. It was enjoyable to meet other students in a relaxed manner and have open discussions. 

Definitely! If one was to take this class, their writing, analytical, reading, and argumentation skills would increase greatly. 


2010-2011 AP Class with Mrs. Walker posted by Katrin Richter on May 12 2011 at 02:39:40

I think I have learned and grown a lot this year in Mrs. Walker's class as far as writing and analyzing writing.  I have learned to be more discerning in reading and analyzing the rhetorical elements of someone’s writing.  Also, I think I have become better at examining literary techniques, diction, author’s style, etc. 

I have also made improvement in strengthening and refining my own rhetoric, mostly through practice!  Experience writing and using rhetoric has been a crucial part of my development this year.  In addition, it has been good for me to attempt different types of writing I had not tried before, such as stream of consciousness, satire, etc.  I have become more comfortable writing with other styles than the typical five paragraph expository essay.

Of course, the most immediate goal that I strove to achieve this year was to be prepared for the AP exam.  Not only do I feel that I have been adequately prepared, but I think that this preparation has also helped me in other areas.  I have become much more comfortable writing timed essays.  I have to write many times essays each week, for almost all of my school subjects, but they have mostly had time restraints of 60 or 90 minutes.  This year, I have been able to become more comfortable writing at shorter time restraints and more difficult prompts.  I think this will be very helpful to me in the future.  However, this is one area in which I think I could still use improvement.  I would like to continue working on writing more insightful essays in a short amount of time.


Reflecting on a Year of Reflections posted by David Moy on May 11 2011 at 15:22:17

Before the Exam

           What made this course so memorable for me was the great variety of English material we examined –an epic, a Bildungsroman, an apologue, a one-man play, a movie, a satire, speeches, and a wealth of essays– which veritably attracted my interest the whole year with amusing and sobering works. With this large inventory, the course provided the opportunity to study the rhetorical and argumentative strategies famous speeches and great books in depth in a stimulating environment. In breadth of interest and understanding I think I improved the most. The wide gamut of authors, though of course finite, also opened doors for me into new rooms of the world of English language. I became acquainted with Bill Cosby and Virginia Woolf for example, two masters of English who I now thoroughly enjoy.

           With taking in this large assortment of material also came writing a large collection of essays: a letter to the editor, a stream of conscience, a speech... I think I polished off many different styles, and it was the most helpful in understanding the authors techniques by putting myself at their desks, for example writing a satire after reading “A Modest Proposal” and articles from the Onion.

           Rhetoric is the next area in which I matured a lot. It was of much interest to me to learn about the different devices that we could identify in literature throughout the year. Although I still sorely need to review them, I now feel tremendously more at ease with rhetoric than at the beginning of the year, when I hardly even knew its definition. Rhetorical strategies are the only essay section of the coming exam for which I feel completely confident. That trimester was my favorite.

           Argumentation, I assimilated in a somewhat lesser amount. If I improved in writing not under stress, I feel I only improved minutely in timed circumstances. It seems that my essays have properties similar to wine or cheese, while their quality depends to some extent on the ingredients put into them, and that they mature most of all with time. Expanding my thoughts quickly and concisely is definitely what I have to work on.

            Even though my overall comprehension has ameliorated, my multiple choice scores remain disheartening and erratic. My time management and/or strategies seem to have a history of failure on these tests. I doubt this course is to be blamed, though. I suspect the culprit to be my inadequacy in critical reading. On the other hand, I did improve my time management in another way. In my previous online courses, my sleep suffered as I greeted the wee hours of the next day at my computer, pondering semi-consciously on problems and responses. This year I was able to wean myself from this tendency, especially for this course, partly because I had three AP classes, partly because I had German phone sessions on Wednesday evening, and partly because I did have a little motivation to develop healthy habits.

           One danger that has persisted over this year is delimiting the boundary between artistic eloquence and pompous wordiness.  Warned repeatedly by George Orwell, William Strunk, E. B. White, Anthony Weston, and classmates, I find it difficult to measure any progress over the year in this aspect. Of course, this complication is different with each  of my assignments, partly adding to this difficulty. I also gained a much deeper understanding of MLA style citations, a subject that escaped me for a while.

           This is an experience I would love to repeat.

The Exam

           During the exam itself, I sensed an ephemeral, half-hearted presence of some other students who were constantly taking prolonged bathroom breaks. A half an hour before the end, they started leaving. But all these aspects culminated in the most personal and unrepeatable experience I’ve ever had with these standardized tests taken by millions… for the teacher ended the exam with, “The time’s up, David.” I glanced up; it was true, I was the only student left. I was the first student in and the last student out.

           I entered the room cringing to open the test booklet but left with strong optimism. Yes, the exam brought great relief. Everything worked out smoothly: the clock was on my side; the passages were easy to overcome; all three essay questions were relatively cooperative; and I found suitable evidence for the argumentative essay, something I frequently have trouble with. I was able to write at least two pages for each of the questions, a formidable feat (for me at least). But the exam isn’t over, now the next test is to wait for the results.


Reflections posted by Michael on May 10 2011 at 10:33:08

Throughout the year, I’ve noticed that my reading comprehension and writing have improved immensely.  The most significant improvements in my writing have been general coherency, organization, and following up on my points. 

In the beginning of the year, my writing was prone to several grammatical errors and consecutive lengthy sentences.  By taking advice from the critique I received and studying the style of books such as Elements of Style, I was able to vary the length of my sentences and make them much clearer and more direct.  Towards the end of the year, my grammatical errors started to decline, and the average reader was much more likely to understand my essays.

I also learned much about the organization of points and how to follow up on the statements in my thesis.  Through Ms. Walker’s guidance, I made sure that I addressed all of my thesis points in a body paragraph or took the point out of the main thesis.  I used to make too many assumptions that the reader would already know what I was talking about, e.g. government bureaucracy.  Accuracy and specificity in my essay allowed me to address all the points in my thesis and to get a knack of how many points to write about, given the length constraints. 

The most fun I had was the argumentative section of the course.  I enjoyed debating with other students and rebutting discussion board points; it really opened my mind to new ways of thinking and refutation.  Through reading expert analysis online and looking at the rhetoric that writers used, I was able to identify logical flaws in well written essays such as Michael Levin’s Case for Torture.  The rhetorical techniques and tricks that I learned in the first trimester were an ideal transition into the world of argumentation. 

One thing that I wish that I had improved on is recognition and utilization of rhetorical devices.  Though the Kentucky Classics website gave some definitions of the rhetorical devices, I cheated myself by just memorizing the definitions rather than the context of each of the devices.  So I wasn’t able to effectively identify the devices when reading a book or the AP passages.  If I had fully understood the thinking behind the rhetorical devices, my writing and comprehension would have improved dramatically.

Overall, my writing has improved dramatically and my editor (my mom) notices that she has to correct fewer and fewer of my errors.  The chronology of the analysis, argumentative, and speech sections of the trimesters fit together idyllically and helped me transition from one stage to the other very smoothly, and  since each new step relied on the one before it, my success in this course would have been multiplied if I completely understood the rhetorical strategies of the first trimester.                              


AP Language and Composition Reflection Essay posted by Julia Wenger on May 09 2011 at 24:46:50

Julia Wenger

Mrs. Kathryn Walker

AP Language and Composition

4 May 2011

Reflections

            “Wow,” was what I remember thinking when I received my first essay grade from this class—a C. Once I recovered from my general horror and came to terms with the fact that yes, my paper had been that bad, my mood changed from one of fear to excitement. This year’s English class was going to be a challenge, and I was determined to be ready for it. Thankfully, AP Composition remained an attainable challenge, and my grades rapidly returned to my normal level. While creating a challenge out of an English class might seem strange, this class held an exciting test for me (mostly because I am so interested in writing), and I am extremely grateful that I have taken it. AP Composition has greatly improved my ability both as a writer and a reader, and has increased my appreciation of the English language from one of interest to one of studied knowledge. To me my greatest improvements have come in the understanding of the general meaning of rhetoric, using literary analysis skills, and the ability to form a strong argument under time pressure.

            I now have a much better grasp on the definition of rhetoric and how it applies to writing, having progressed from a dismal first essay to essays that more accurately convey the meaning of rhetoric. From analyzing small test passages to deciphering larger works of literature including the works of Dickens, Joyce, Chaucer and others, my knowledge and literary ‘eye’ has been attuned to the use of rhetorical devices. Throughout the year, I have progressed from viewing ‘rhetoric’ (both the explanation and use) with a  shallow, generalized approach to one that has been trained and accustomed to searching for the author’s deeper meaning by examining the literary rhetoric contained in his or her work.

            I have also greatly increased my ability to read and analyze great works of literature. Let it be stated that I am not necessarily an extremely thorough reader—I often read for the general storyline and tend miss the smaller, literary details. That being said, after taking this class my comfort level in tackling large literary analysis papers on Beowulf (understanding poetry previously another shortcoming of mine) and Joyce’s rambling stream of consciousness style has made a vast improvement. It is rewarding to be able to now pick up most famous literary works and dive into them, knowing that my AP Language experience will help me to most completely understand the author’s position or argument.

            The last major improvement in my writing skills has been in the ability to write persuasively, concisely, forcefully, and correctly under time limits. I have always been a fast writer- capable of throwing an idea on paper within an hour; however, this class has taught me the benefit of thinking and forming my argument/writing plan before I blindly start to write. Not only is this a necessary skill for performing well on the AP exam, but it is a valuable life lesson that can be applied to all avenues of communication.

            The techniques that I have learned in this class, whether they be basic rhetorical devices, literary analysis, writing under pressure, reviewing essays, explaining an author’s argument through his rhetoric, or numerous others will be useful for any paper, future class, or even a doctoral thesis. This class has been a very fun experience, expanding my writing comfort zone to encompass argumentative, humorous, and analytic composition as well as speech writing. I have truly enjoyed the assignments, numerous thought-provoking reads, and literary principles that I have learned over the past semester. And I am a much stronger and confident writer because of it.


Year End Reflection posted by Thomas Hetzel on May 09 2011 at 11:59:33

Thomas Hetzel
AP English Composition
5/4/11
        Year End Reflection
When I started out on this class I had no idea what this year was going to be like, but looking back I have learned many things. Of the many skills I’ve acquired, the ones that I think I will be utilizing in the future the most are the implementation of rhetorical terms, the writing of compositions, and the critiquing of essays. I’m looking forward to the AP exam next week and I hope that all that I have learned in the past eight months will help me receive a good score. While the constant writing of essays has sometimes worn on me, my writing skill has dramatically increased.
Perhaps my biggest struggle as a student prior to this year was writing. I remember in the past when it would take me up to thirty minutes to just organize my thoughts into anything that could be comprehensible. Now it takes me the same amount of time to write one or two pages, even if it is sometimes still incomprehensible. Part of this is due to the number of writing assignments we have completed; , while with some of them wereare very difficult, I learned how to face an assignment without trepidation. I know that in college I will need to have the ability to write quality papers, and this class has helped my confidence, as well as my skill in composition. 
Something that I had never previously thought about while writing papers was rhetoric. The rhetorical devices that we learned to implement have opened up a whole new side of composition. Using climactic features, similes, and irony bring the essay to life and add an interesting aspect. Rhetoric is also important because it helps you to diagnose what the audience will best react to. This is especially important if you are covering controversial topics.
Another element of writing that I had never done before this year is the critiquing of other peoples’ work. This was a really important exercise for me. Not only was I able to see other peoples writing styles, but I was also able to hopefully help other people before they turned in their final essay. Critiquing other’’s essays also helps my own writing;, I am now able to better proofread my own compositions.
With the AP exam in less thaen a week, I am ratcheting up my studying in hope of a good score. I know that this year has prepared me exceptionally well for the exam, while also giving me a good base for any writing I do in the future. The instruction in this class was outstanding and while the load was heavy, I know that AP classes require this amount of work.


Reflection posted by Hailey Eby on May 06 2011 at 15:20:01

            AP Language and Composition was possibly the hardest and most rigorous class I have ever taken. Sometimes I grew frustrated with the amount of work I had to do, or that my writing was not turning out the way I wanted it to. However, in the end, the class has paid off. I am a better reader and writer than ever. Through this difficult course, I gained many skills and techniques, as well as improved my reading and writing abilities.

            Despite the fact that I was on a mock trial team, arguing was not one of my strong points. This class has helped me greatly in that department. Another skill I have gained is analyzing literature for rhetorical devices. I was already aware of the typical devices, such as simile and metaphor, but others, such as hyperbole and asyndeton, were foreign to me. With the knowledge of these devices, it was easier for me to comprehend the reading and understand the author’s message.

I learned a couple techniques as well. A major flaw I had with writing was my inability to stay on topic. In this class, I have learned to refer back to my thesis and therefore stay on track. It was also very difficult to have enough time to read quickly and answer the questions. With your advice, this ability has become much easier.

            Finally, my writing and reading has improved greatly. In writing, I do a better job in transitioning between sentences and paragraphs, describing, and my vocabulary has expanded. In reading, my vocabulary and knowledge of rhetorical devices has helped me comprehend better.

            One thing I would like to improve is my creative writing abilities. I believe that this is a realm that I am quite talented at, and I would like to become the best author I can be. To do this, I am enrolling in a class called the One Year Adventure Novel. Hopefully one day, I can become a published author.

            Thank you for having such a rigorous and challenging writing course! I enjoyed it, even through the most difficult parts. I am a better writer now than I was before. Even if I do not earn a five on the AP exam, I have learned a lot.


Warrior Writers posted by Amanda Cobucci on May 06 2011 at 12:49:40

Warrior Writers

 

    When Edward Bulwer-Lytton said that the pen was mightier than the sword, he understood how powerful a weapon the seemingly harmless pen could be. For thousands of years, the written word has proved to be a mighty weapon, creating both war and peace. But, like any weapon, it must be practiced and honed to be used properly. Young and old warriors alike need the continuous exercise of their skills, lest they not be fully prepared for the battles of words that lay ahead. Because there are many different styles of written battles, warriors must practice all the writing styles such as persuasive writing, informative writing, and fictional writing. Unless these skills are practiced, a writer or warrior will never reach his/her deadliest.

 

    During our class time, we covered three distinct writing trimesters, the first of which was fictional writing. While at first glance fictional writing may not seem to be a method for battle, it is, in fact, the most deadly assassin of all forms of writing. Deep meanings and arguments can be cleverly hidden inside what first appears to be a simple children’s story. Another benefit of fictional writing is that readers will approach a seemingly harmless story without their prejudices, while they might already be set against an argumentative paper on the topic. I enjoyed fictional writing for the freedom of imagination that it allows the writer to express himself to the fullest.  One detail that I plan to work on more is the process of creating story lines that cleverly portray a concept without damaging the ideal or story.

 

    Fictional writing may be the assassin of writing, but the undisputed knight of writing is argumentative writing.  While fictional writing uses stealth and secrecy, argumentative writing must be bold and strong to defeat the enemy. Just as a knight in full armor cannot sneak around, neither can an argumentative essay. The writing’s purpose is to present a bold front that demands the reader’s attention. One thing that I must improve upon is the search for flaws in my argument. Just as a knight heading into battle with chinks in his armor is in deadly danger, so is the person who delivers a flawed argument.

 

    A medieval army did not consist merely of knights, or contain only assassins. In order to reach the largest amount of people, both writing styles must be used together to produce the greatest affect. A younger person will wish for the stealth of the assassin style of writing in order to keep them entertained, while others will crave the knightly confrontation. The third trimester of the course covered the strategic decisions that must be made in order to keep both styles of battles in balance and the audience entertained. One way I plan to improve my writing is to spend time crafting speeches that are both entertaining and functional.

 

    While most of the physical warrior arts have been forgotten, the written arts have not been. In order to best defend and attack, a writer must be prepared and skilled. This training may be gained through practice and careful processing of information. If the proper care is not applied, the writer may find himself hopelessly outmatched on the battlefield, and will never meet his full potential.


Reflection posted by Kealani Jensen on May 06 2011 at 05:22:18

My Life as a Teenage Robot

            In my life, I tread many journeys, some on-going, some accomplished, and some just beginning. The life of a teenager usually consists of solid routines and predictable actions; but there are three journeys which deviate from this normal routine. These three roads did not necessarily begin in my teenage years but sometimes earlier in my life. The three journeys shape my perception of communication through reading, writing, and the world of rhetoric.

My journey as a reader began when I was six years old and read Laura Ingalls Wilder books with my mother late into the night. We would stay up every night, devour the books together, and escape into Laura’s world, if only for a few hours. The love of those books transformed into a deep love for reading in general. This year my love grew even more as I explored subject areas previously unknown to me: such as, stream of consciousness, satire, and argumentative speeches. Some new topics did not exactly resonate in my soul like descriptive or fiction narratives would; however, my horizons widened as I discovered different forms of creative expression and thought. So, although I did not always enjoy each new excerpt, book, or essay as I read them, I developed a new understanding of other classes of communication and opened a new door to a multitude of books, essays, and speeches.

My journey as a writer did not begin this year, either. Rather, it began in the second grade when I read an original poem to my elementary school principal. The experience was extremely nerve-racking, but it invaded  my world of princesses, dress up, and play-dates and formed a new idea in my childish brain. This idea grew into enjoyment of creative writing and has helped me develop my skills  this year. My general enjoyment of writing grew throughout the year as I was exposed to different forms of creative expression. I began to create a distinct voice in my writing which was previously absent prior to this year. As I trudged my way through concocting numerous essays, I discovered that I had a voice and I could communicate that through my writing.

My journey through the world of rhetoric did begin this year. Unlike reading and writing, I commenced the rhetorical journey with no prior experience in rhetoric, whatsoever. My inexperience did not hinder me, however, because it aided me in discovering my own outlook on the world and my own way to persuade others. Rhetoric became a tool which I could use to build a unique and sturdy boat to sail my way through the uncharted waters of persuasion. Without this rhetorical education, I would probably easily have sunk and floundered among the great intricacies of rhetoric. But my introduction to rhetoric this year started a firm foundation on which I hope to construct a strong and independent line of thinking.

My journeys through reading, writing, and rhetoric have ultimately aided me and guided me through new concepts, worldly views, and the development of a unique and specific voice in communication. These journeys deviated from my normal routine and the normal routines of teenagers everywhere because I became an individual with a unique perspective on life. My life was no longer robotic; I discovered my voice.


An AP English Language and Composition Journey posted by Kristin Hall on May 05 2011 at 24:05:06

          At age five, I proudly wrote my first story about a lost bunny who finds her way home with the help of friendly frogs, outspoken owls, and other kind critters. Since kindergarten, I have written many stories, and have taken various literature and composition courses to fulfill English credits for school. However, as I entered my junior year last September, I was about to embark on a different writing journey, and enter foreign territory: the writing- and rhetoric-intensive world of AP English Language and Composition. As an eager participant in the world of rhetoric, I progressed as a reader and a writer, and learned about various techniques and rhetorical principles to enhance my papers.       

            I feel that all of the rhetorical terms I learned to incorporate throughout my papers this year benefitted my writing. By incorporating alliteration, apostrophe, anaphora, and other rhetorical devices in my essays, I felt that I was able to heighten my readers'  interest in my pieces. Before taking this class, I would read pieces and listen to speeches that really engaged me, but I could not quiet put my finger on that "extra something" that made that piece of writing so special and intriguing to me. I always liked the repetitious effect authors and speakers would use to begin consecutive sentences. Before taking this class, I never knew that there was actually a name for this technique: anaphora. Once I learned these devices, I found myself sprinkling my papers with various rhetorical terms. I never realized that, just by incorporating a few rhetorical devices, a paper can be more riveting and engaging to read. I learned to balance adequate descriptions with subtle adjectives to make for more polished papers.         

            Throughout this class, I worked on becoming a more active, thoughtful reader. I learned to analyze texts and form my own opinions about authors' essays and novels, and orators' speeches. I benefitted from the in-depth discussion board questions, where I was able to articulate my opinions about different aspects of a novel or essay. I was challenged by the "outside-of-the-box" questions, and by answering the difficult questions, I was able to develop my critical-thinking skills.     

            One of the biggest improvements I think I have made this year is improving my writer's voice. I have learned to write concisely, and say more in fewer words. I have always had the tendency to ramble, and oftentimes I find myself inserting unnecessary adjectives throughout my papers. Excess verbiage in my essays oftentimes distracted readers from discerning my main points. However, throughout this class, I worked on establishing a stronger style by learning to polish my pieces so they were not as verbose. At first, I thought that removing some of the wordiness from my papers would make my essays dull and uninteresting. However, throughout this class, as I worked on refining my writing style, I learned that, once I began eliminating thick verbiage, my papers were actually more profound and engaging. 

            As this school year comes to an end, I reflect on my first week as an AP Language and Composition student. I remember having difficulty understanding Pericles' Funeral Oration, and struggling with Aristotle's On Rhetoric. Overwhelmed, I tried my best to answer the discussion board post, and embellished my post with confusing, flowery language. Analyzing the texts was difficult, and I struggled with contributing logical insight to my papers and discussion board posts. However, I look back at the discussion board posts on the Fire and Brimstone sermon in week 23, and the Strenuous Life in week 27, and am pleased with the improvement of my analysis of texts. Overall, I feel that my writing is more concise and polished, and, compared to the verbose papers I wrote at the beginning of the year, I feel that my recent papers and posts are more refreshing to read. Throughout this year, I feel that I have grown as both a reader and as a writer, and, in the future, I anticipate applying what I have learned here in future writing classes and in college.