English III AP
Calendar of Assignments
The course is organized according to theme. Issues of identity related to the American Dream
were selected as a means of connecting all units of study. As a teacher of AP English
Language and Composition, it is important not to loose sight of the College Board course
description and its emphasis on varied prose styles, genres, time periods, and subjects.
Although the phrase “the American Dream” is a fairly modern term (coined in 1931), ideas
and emotions which the term encapsulates are by no means modern. Early American authors
would seem the predecessors of the concept, and their struggles and priorities bear additional
meaning in light of the modern term. Therefore, this concept of the American Dream is
approached in its more figurative and connotative implications rather than merely in its more
literal association with financial wealth. More specifically, the notion of the American Dream
is viewed as representative of the universal concepts of man’s pursuit of identity and his place
in society. Approaching the curriculum in this manner allows the freedom to employ varied
prose styles, genres and subjects while asking the students to discern “how various effects are
achieved by writers’ linguistic and rhetorical choices” (Course Requirements) and the
possible link between each author’s exigency and the overreaching thematic concept. Also,
the use of reading selections from varied time periods allows one to consider both the
idealistic notions that led to the concept of the American Dream and the modern dichotomy of
hope and cynicism so intrinsically linked to the same concept.
Unit I: Writing Workshop – We will review the standards of formal scholarly
writing and review basic elements in writing and grammar .
Unit II: Poetry Unit – Students are introduced to analysis through a mini unit focusing
on poetry. The teacher models how to analyze poetry while students copy notes
and fill-in TP-CASTT analysis over a variety of poems. Analysis focuses
includes such literary elements as structure, diction, symbol, theme, imagery,
figurative language, and sound devices. Students then take more ownership in
learning by group teaching a poem to the class. Students focus on how literary
elements used in the poem affect meaning (connecting device to meaning).
Unit III: Issues of Identity: Exploration of Self – Students further explore the rhetorical
strategies of the reflective nonfiction essay (especially manipulation of point of
view, selection of details, diction, and narrative structure). In particular,
students compare the effects of authors’ rhetorical choices on the creation of
ethos and voice in a variety of excerpts.
Unit IV: Issues of Identity: Creating the Dream — Students explore man’s place in
society and issues of conformity and alienation in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, in part as an opportunity to
interact with drama and with pre-20th century texts. With The Crucible,
students analyze the historical influences on the literary work during Puritan
times and during McCarthyism times.
Unit V: Issues of Identity: Defining the American Dream – Students analyze 18th,
19th, and 20th century speeches, essays, and letters for their rhetorical
effectiveness, always identifying the key elements or argumentation: persona of
the speaker, exigence, immediate and mediated audience, purpose, logos, ethos,
pathos, organization and form, diction, syntax, imagery, and figurative language.
Unit VI: Issues of Identity: Personalizing the American Dream – Researched
Argumentation: As part of our study of rhetoric, each student chooses a current
controversial issue to research. Each student then completes the following
activities and assessments:
Research and Collection of Sources. Each student chooses six sources with
which to work for the remainder of the unit study. The student must choose a
variety of genres and a variety of viewpoints; in particular, the student is
directed to avoid “cherry-picking.”
Submission of Sources. Each student creates a document (per source) that
serves to analyze and evaluate the source; in particular, the student describes the
argument created by the author or explains the intended effect of the exposition
provided. Student may also complete teacher-modified Graff templates on
selected arguments, requiring them to identify claims, anticipate
counterarguments, and formulate refutations.
Timed Writing: The students are provided the prompt for Question 2 of the
2004 Language and Composition Exam, in which they are directed to present
two opposing views on a current issue and then propose a solution or
compromise. To better help students prepare for the synthesis question on the
revised Language and Composition Exam, students make use of their sources as
they write, attributing sources directly and indirectly.
Argument Essay / Speech. Students create a researched argument essay to
Speech Self-Analysis. In the final stage of the Current Issues Project, students
write a self-analysis of their arguments explaining how their deliberate rhetorical
strategies and appeals effectively convey their position on the issue.
Unit VII: Issues of Identity: Distorting the Dream – Part I – Students read and notate
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Drawing upon nonfiction sources such as
Miller’s “Tragedy and the Common Man” and Aristotle’s Poetics, they compare
classical and contemporary reviews of the tragic hero. They are also asked to
identify and explain the concept of the American Dream as argued by each of
the major characters. Close reading and analysis activities will also direct
students to analyze Miller’s stage directions and use of symbols. Finally,
students will analyze the organization of the drama by explaining the purpose
for the manipulation of time and space in the scenes.
Unit VIII: Issues of Identity: Distorting the Dream – Part II – Students read and notate
The Great Gatsby with a special emphasis on Fitzgerald’s rhetorical choices and
on “connecting device to meaning.”
Unit IX: Issues of Identity: Realizing the Dream –
Reading Focus (19th century):
Students read and notate excerpts from essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson, such as
“Self-Reliance,” “Nature,” and “The American Scholar,” with two goals:
identification of characteristics of American Transcendentalism (especially key
concepts such as individualism and the underlying relationship between man,
nature, and God) and analysis of Emerson’s rhetorical choices in conveying his
Reading Focus (20th century):
Students read and notate selections such as those listed below. Classroom
discussion focuses on the topics in parentheses.
Annie Dillard’s “Living Like Weasels” (rhetorical mode of
comparison/contrast, structure, intended audience, tone, man’s attitude
Lars Eighner’s “On Dumpster Diving” (man’s relationship to the natural
world, the concept of “self-reliance,” rhetorical appeals, irony, tone)