BEDFORD/ST. MARTIN’S 33 Irving Place 212-375-7000 New York, NY 10003 FAX 212-614-1885 Robin Dissin Aufses English Department J.F. Kennedy High School Dear AP* English Language and Composition Teacher, At this busy time of year you are no doubt working, as I am, on a syllabus to submit to the College Board AP audit. You are probably also deciding on a book to use next year. I want to provide some help and reassurance for those of you who are interested in using our book, The Language of Composition. When we began planning and writing The Language of Composition—well before the College Board unveiled its audit plan—we knew we wanted it to be a book that a veteran or novice AP teacher could depend on to create a solid, challenging, and interesting full-year AP English Language and Composition course. The Language of Composition contains college- level reading material and, with it, a wealth of instructional material and suggestions for discussion, close reading, and writing. It is, in fact, a complete curriculum for an AP English Language course, with a clear and accessible structure that you can rely on to create a successful syllabus for your course. Its flexible features, approaches, and diverse readings will help you tailor your syllabus to the unique qualities of your school and students. As you will see in the accompanying material, The Language of Composition fulfills all of the English Language and Composition course requirements as outlined by the College Board. For example, the AP English Language course must teach students to ―write in several forms (e.g., narrative, expository, analytical, and argumentative essays) about a variety of subjects (e.g., public policies, popular culture, personal experiences).‖ Here are two writing assignments that fit the bill. Each is based on one of the book’s Central essays. 1. After reading the first two chapters of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, consider that it was written more than forty years ago. Write an essay explaining whether *AP and Advanced Placement Program are registered trademarks of the College Entrance Examination Board, which was not involved in the publication of and does not endorse this product. we should be optimistic or pessimistic in our attitude toward the preservation of the natural world. As you develop your essay, consider what has changed since Carson’s time in our approach toward the environment. 2. After reading and discussing David Denby’s “High-School Confidential: Notes on Teen Movies,” write an essay answering Denby’s rhetorical questions: “Do genre films reflect reality? Or are they merely a set of conventions that refer to other films?” Use your own experiences and teen movies you have seen as evidence. Another requirement of the audit is that the AP English Language course must teach students to ―analyze how graphics and visual images both relate to written texts and serve as alternative forms of text themselves.‖ Each chapter in The Language of Composition has several visual texts, and each is approached both rhetorically and in relation to other texts. For example, as part of the study of Asher B. Durand’s painting Kindred Spirits, in which Thomas Cole and William Cullen Bryant appear, we suggest that students close read and discuss the painting, then read Bryant’s poem ―Thanatopsis‖ and consider how the painting illustrates Bryant’s words. The newest course requirement is the teaching of research skills, particularly the ―ability to evaluate, use, and cite primary and secondary sources.‖ AP English Language courses must assign projects such as the ―researched argument paper, which goes beyond the parameters of a traditional research paper by asking students to present an argument of their own that includes the analysis and synthesis of ideas from an array of sources.‖ We dedicate one of our three opening chapters to the subject of synthesizing sources, and each chapter of The Language of Composition includes a Conversation section in which students are presented with a collection of sources to read, evaluate and then use to support an argument. The assignment below is typical of how we ask students to research and synthesize sources: 1. Read, study and synthesize the five texts in the Conversation on Television: “Watching TV Makes You Smarter,” “The Argument against TV,” “He Doesn’t Like to Watch,” TV Turnoff Week (detail from a poster), “Is Media Violence Free Speech?” (a debate). Use at least three of those sources, in addition to your own observations and experiences, to write an essay explaining whether you view television as beneficial or detrimental to society. Please take a look at the enclosed table. The first column states the curricular requirements of the AP English Language course. The second column aligns the book’s contents with the audit requirements, explaining how, for example, each chapter’s Grammar as Rhetoric and Style section provides instruction on stylistic issues at the sentence level. The next two columns present at least two assignments, lessons, or suggestions that fulfill each AP English Language and Composition course requirement. As an experienced AP English teacher, I was deeply committed to writing a book that I would use in my own classes. The Language of Composition’s three opening chapters— with clear instructional material on Rhetoric, Close Reading, and Synthesizing Sources—and its ten chapters of readings offer you the chance to create syllabi that will satisfy the requirements of the AP audit. More important, because every year and every class is different, they will be syllabi tailored to your professional requirements and the needs of your special and ever-changing AP course. Very truly yours, Robin Dissin Aufses Using The Language of Composition to Satisfy the AP English Language and Composition Curricular Requirements Below is a list of the AP English Language and Composition curricular requirements, followed by a description of The Language of Composition’s approach to fulfilling that requirement, and then two sample assignments demonstrating the approach—one from Chapter 11, Pop Culture; and one from Chapter 12, Nature. Audit Requirements The Language of Composition’s Chapter 11 Popular Culture Chapter 12 Nature (from AP Central) Approach 1. ―The course teaches and requires Suggestions for Writing that follow the After reading and discussing David Denby’s After reading the first two chapters of Rachel students to write in several forms central and classic essays, as well as at the end ―High-School Confidential: Notes on Teen Carson’s Silent Spring, consider that it was written (e.g., narrative, expository, analytical, of each chapter, call for writing in a range of Movies,‖ write an essay answering Denby’s more than forty years ago. Write an essay and argumentative essays) about a forms, from personal narratives to rhetorical questions: ―Do genre films reflect explaining whether we should be optimistic or variety of subjects (e.g., public interpretative essays to researched arguments reality? Or are they merely a set of pessimistic in our attitude toward the preservation policies, popular culture, personal to reflections. These assignments often conventions that refer to other films?‖ Use of the natural world. As you develop your essay, experience)‖ include specific contexts, such as writing a your own experiences and teen movies you consider what has changed since Carson’s time in letter-to-the-editor regarding an have seen as evidence. our approach toward the environment. environmental problem in a local community. 2. ―The course requires students to Suggestions for Writing include revision Read student writer Emily Fine’s analysis of After reading Daniel Glick’s essay ―GeoSigns: The write essays that proceed through strategies. Student Writing sections include Mark Tansey’s painting The Innocent Eye Test. Big Thaw‖ about climate change, read the Daniel several stages or drafts, with revision examples of more than one draft of the same Answer question #3 by rewriting the essay’s Glick on Writing interview in which he discusses aided by teacher and peers.‖ essay. introduction and conclusion using ―I.‖ revision. Consider the follow-up questions and Work with a partner to discuss how this choose one of Glick’s techniques to try the next change strengthens or weakens the essay. time you write. 3. ―The course requires students to Suggestions for Writing after Central and After reading Danyel Smith’s ―Dreaming in Read Joyce Carol Oates’ ―Against Nature‖ and write in informal contexts (e.g., Classic essays often include journal America,‖ listen to an assortment of music by write at least three journal entries of nature imitation exercises, journal keeping, assignments. Suggestions for Writing at the the artists she mentions. Create a CD of the memories. Compare your memories to the collaborative writing, and in-class end of each chapter include ideas for music and write the liner notes. memories Oates recounts. responses) designed to help them collaborative assignments. Grammar as become increasingly aware of Rhetoric and Style sections include imitation themselves as writers and of the exercises. The Writer on Writing interviews techniques employed by the writers include discussions of the writing process they read.‖ with follow-up questions asking students to reflect upon (and write about) their own processes. 4. ―The course requires expository, Readings range from the 17th to the 21st Expository: After reading and discussing Expository: After reading and discussing the first analytical, and argumentative century and include a wide range of genres Mark Twain’s ―Corn-Pone Opinions,‖ find two chapters of Silent Spring, consider Carson’s writing assignments that are based (e.g., letters, editorials, scientific writing, examples of prose that are ornate and diffuse statement: ―If the Bill of Rights contains no on readings representing a wide satire…) with writing suggestions that ask and examples that are compact and simple. guarantee that a citizen shall be secure against variety of prose styles and genres.‖ students to explain and apply ideas from the Write an essay in which you compare and lethal poisons distributed either by private readings, to analyze the techniques and contrast the effects of the two types of individuals of by public officials, it is surely only strategies of the writers, to critique those language. because our forefathers, despite their considerable techniques and strategies, and to develop a wisdom and foresight, could conceive of no such position on issues raised by the writers or on Analytic: After reading and discussing Brent problem.‖ Write an essay explaining how the the issues themselves. Staples op-ed piece, ―Godzilla vs. the Giant framers of the Constitution might protect the Scissors: Cutting the Antiwar Heart out of a environment if they were writing the Constitution Classic,‖ write an essay in which you discuss today. Staples’ assumption that popular culture can communicate an important message. Analytic: After reading, annotating, and discussing the first three chapters of Emerson’s Argumentative: After reading and discussing ―Nature,‖ reread paragraphs one and two. In an the selection from We Talk, You Listen, by essay consider how Emerson uses comparisons Vine DeLoria Jr., write an argumentative and distinctions to characterize nature and how essay in which you agree or disagree that the the characterization helps him achieve his use of Indian names and images for sports purpose. teams is unacceptable. Argumentative: After reading, annotating, and discussing the first three chapters of Emerson’s ―Nature,‖ consider this statement: ―The production of a work of art throws a light upon the mystery of humanity. A work of art is an abstract or epitome of the world.‖ Write an essay that supports, qualifies or refutes its assertion. Use evidence from your reading, as well as your own knowledge and experience to support your position. 5. ―The course requires nonfiction The readings include classics such as ―Letter Readings in Chapter 11: Readings in Chapter 12 readings (e.g., essays, journalism, from Birmingham Jail,‖ ―Civil David Denby, ―High-School Rachel Carson, From Silent Spring political writing, science writing, Disobedience,‖ ―A Modest Proposal,‖ and Confidential: Notes on Teen Movies‖ Ralph Waldo Emerson, From Nature nature writing, autobiographies/ ―Politics and the English Language.‖ Classic Mark Twain, ―Corn-Pone Opinions‖ Terry Tempest Williams, ―The Clan of the biographies, diaries, history, writers include Thomas Carlyle, Mark Twain, Brent Staples, ―Godzilla vs. the Giant One-Breasted Women‖ criticism) that are selected to give Virginia Woolf, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Scissors: Cutting the Antiwar Heart Out Chief Seattle, ―Message to President Franklin students opportunities to identify More contemporary readings by writers of a Classic‖ Pierce‖ and explain an author’s use of recognized for both their intellectual and Vine DeLoria, ―We Talk, You Listen‖ Wendell Berry, ―An Entrance to the Woods‖ rhetorical strategies and techniques. stylistic excellence, including Rachel Carson, If fiction and poetry are also David Denby, Gay Talese, Steven Pinker, Danyel Smith, ―Dreaming America‖ Wangari Muta Maathai, ―2004 Nobel Peace assigned, their main purpose should Francine Prose, Chinua Achebe, Annie Scott McCloud, From Show and Tell Prize Speech‖ be to help students understand how Dillard, Richard Rodriguez, Amy Tan, (Graphic Essay) Joyce Carol Oates, ―Against Nature,‖ various effects are achieved by Geoffrey Nunberg, Sven Birkerts, Jamaica Teresa Wiltz, ―Popular Culture in the Sarah Orne Jewett, ―A White Heron‖ writers’ linguistic and rhetorical Kincaid, and Wole Soyinka – writers diverse Aftermath of Sept.11 Is a Chorus (Fiction) choices.‖ (Note: The College Board in viewpoint, background, ethnicity, and without a Hook, Movie without an William Wordsworth, ―The Tables Turned‖ does not mandate any particular nationality. Ending‖ (Poetry) authors…) Hans Ostrom, ―Emily Dickinson and All classic and central essays have extensive Elvis Presley in Heaven‖ (Poetry) questions that focus on rhetorical strategies Nikki Giovanni ―Sanctuary: For Harry and techniques. Potter the Movie‖ (Not-Quite-Poetry) Fiction and poetry included with each chapter contribute to the thematic complexity; questions focus on close reading of how the writers’ choices serve purpose, and achieve meaning and effect. 6. ―The course teaches students to Every chapter has at least one visual – After reading the selection from the graphic After ―close reading‖ and discussing Kindred analyze how graphics and visual including photographs, magazine covers, essay Show and Tell, by Scott McCloud, note Spirits, a painting by Asher B. Durand, read images both relate to written texts paintings, sculpture, and visual display of that he begins with a series of panels about a William Cullen Bryant’s poem ―Thanatopsis‖ and and serve as alternative forms of quantitative data. Questions direct students to boy demonstrating how his toy robot turns consider how the painting illustrates Bryant’s texts themselves.‖ an understanding of these texts as visual into an airplane. Though six of the panels words. rhetoric. have no words, the vignette appeals to both pathos and ethos. Discuss how McCloud accomplishes this; consider the words and drawing separately first, and then together. 7. ―The course teaches research Chapter 3 is a guide to the use and integration Read, study and synthesize the five texts in Read, study and synthesize the six texts in skills, and in particular, the ability to of sources in a student’s own argument. Conversation: Focus on Television. Use at Conversation: Focus on Climate Change. Use at evaluate, use, and cite primary and least three of those sources, in addition to least three of the sources to write an essay secondary sources. The course Each chapter includes a Conversation section your own observations and experiences, to explaining whether global warming is a scientific assigns projects such as the that provides students practice in developing write an essay explaining whether you view or political issue. researched argument paper, which a documented essay that presents their own television as beneficial or detrimental to goes beyond the parameters of a viewpoint supported by the analysis and use society. traditional research paper by asking of multiple sources. students to present an argument of their own that includes the analysis In addition, Suggestions for Writing at the and synthesis of ideas from an array end of each chapter can be used as large-scale of courses.‖ synthesis projects drawing upon all of the readings in the chapter. 8. ―The AP teachers provides a) Questions for each reading call attention a) After studying the explanation and a) Read the selection from Rachel Carson’s Silent instruction and feedback on to the choices the writer makes at the word examples of Modifiers in the Grammar as Spring, and then respond to the following students’ writing assignments, both level, specifically as those choices appeal to a Style and Rhetoric section, do exercise 5: look question: Why does Carson call the problem a before and after the students revise specific audience. at examples of authors’ skillful use of ―train of disaster‖ (para. 23)? What is the effect of their work, that help the students modifiers, both single words and phrases. this metaphor? develop these skills: Grammar as Rhetoric and Style specifically Identify the modifier or modifiers in each and addresses using modifiers effectively; using discuss their effect. Write a sentence or a) ―A wide ranging vocabulary used precise, direct, and active verbs; and using passage of your own, emulating the author’s appropriately and effectively… concise diction. technique. b) ―A variety of sentence structures, b) Questions for each reading focus on b) In paragraph 2, of ―A White Heron,‖ b) After studying the explanation and examples of including appropriate use of stylistic issues at the sentence level. Sarah Orne Jewett writes, ―The good woman cumulative, periodic, and inverted sentences in the subordination and coordination… suspected that Sylvia loitered occasionally on Grammar as Rhetoric and Style section, do Grammar as Rhetoric and Style specifically her own account; there never was such a Exercise 5: Read the examples of sentences using addresses different sentence patterns child for straying about out-of-doors since unusual sentence patterns. Choose two or three including short sentences, coordination, the world was made!‖ In terms of the voice, and write your own sentences, using the examples subordination, cumulative and periodic what is the relationship between the two as models. sentences, inversion, and appositives. clauses that make up this sentence? Suggestions for Writing and Grammar as Rhetoric and Style Exercises give students the opportunity to try out different sentence structures in their own work and consider the effect. c) ―Logical organization, enhanced c) Chapter 1 discusses the patterns of c) Read David Denby’s ―Notes on Teen c) Read ―The Clan of One-Breasted Women,‖ by by specific techniques to increase development as rhetorical strategies for Movies,‖ and then respond to the following Terry Tempest Williams. Why does Williams put a coherence, such as repetition, organizing an argument. question: What is Denby’s central argument? section break between paragraphs 29 and 30? Why transitions, and emphasis… What are his secondary arguments? How is there no smooth transition from the Supreme Questions for Discussion, Questions on does he bring them together? Court case to Mormon culture? Rhetoric and Style, and Exploring the Text questions ask students to examine the organization of readings as well as ways the writer achieves a desired purpose and effect through repetition, transitional words and phrases, and devices for emphasis (e.g., anaphora, sentence fragments, analogy). Student Writing sections often ask students to revise the student paper by improving organization and coherence. d) ―a balance of generalization and d) Chapter 3 includes a discussion of d) In ―You Talk, We Listen,‖ Vine Deloria Jr. d) In the selection from Silent Spring, why doesn’t specific illustrative detail… different types of specific detail students can introduces his subject by reviewing the Carson mention her ―contention‖ until she is use in their own writing. stereotyping of minorities in the films of the nearly finished with the piece? Is her argument 1940s and 1950s. How does this lay the inductive or deductive? How do you know? Also, Questions following each of the readings groundwork for his argument? Why is this why does she tell the reader what her guide students as they explore ways writers rhetorical strategy effective? ―contentions‖ aren’t before stating what they are? support generalizations with different types What response from her readers might she of specific detail (such as anecdote, facts, anticipate at this point in their reading? statistics, personal experience) or develop generalizations from concrete detail. e) ―an effective use of rhetoric, e) Chapter 1 presents an overview of rhetoric e) Read Teresa Wiltz’s ―Popular Culture in e) How do Carson’s tone, style, and purpose including controlling tone, and models effective use of rhetoric. Chapter the Aftermath of Sept.11 …‖ The tone of the change in paragraphs 9 and 10 of Silent Spring? establishing and maintaining voice, 2 analyzes style, including tone, in the context essay shifts several times. Find the transition Why do they change? How does Carson’s voice and achieving appropriate emphasis of achieving a specific effect, meaning, and points, and consider why Wiltz might have change from ―A Fable for Tomorrow‖ to ―The through diction and sentence purpose. These chapters as well as shifted the tone at each spot. Obligation to Endure‖? How does the difference structure.‖ Suggestions for Writing throughout the text serve the writer’s rhetorical purpose? include opportunities for students to explore how their own writing might change as the context and audience changes. Throughout the text, questions and writing assignments emphasize the development and importance of tone.
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