Mr. Sabo – Room C322
Conference Period: 5th
Course Description & Classroom Expectations
AP English Language and Composition
AP Language and Composition is a year long course combining literary and rhetorical study with an
emphasis on composition. The important skill areas of oral communication and research will also be
addressed. For the research portion of the course as well as in obtaining posted readings and
viewing posted sample papers, students will surpass by far the district’s required 2.5 hours spent
online. The course is organized into thematic units based on the organizing principle of American
literary and intellectual history, beginning with the Puritan era and progressing into the Modern period.
This means that works will be read and written about based on their thematic relationship to the
particular stage in the development of American thought, not just their date of publication. For each unit
of study, students will read closely a number of texts of different varieties, taking frequent quizzes on
comprehension. They will complete independent vocabulary work and participate in regular in and out
of class writing and discussion activities. The papers students will write will include literary analysis,
rhetorical analysis, argumentative writing, argumentative writing with given sources, and a variety of
expository writing geared toward responding to quotes, questions, cartoons, film clips, etc.
While following the progression of American literature, this course will prepare students to take the
Advanced Placement Language and Composition test in the spring. This test measures a student’s
capacity to read closely and understand English literature from a variety of eras and genre, but primarily
non-fiction, analyze literature in terms of how a writer utilizes rhetorical and literary devices to advance
his/her ideas, understand and formulate original arguments, and write essays that demonstrate an
understanding of the principles of analysis and argumentation. All student essays and peer evaluation
will utilize AP-style holistic assessment based on actual AP rubrics in addition to more analytical rubrics
developed by the teacher. Significant class time will be spent discussing and writing AP and AP style
essays, taking and discussing practice multiple choice exams, analyzing and applying the AP rubric for
composition, and familiarizing ourselves with rhetorical and literary terminology. The entire class is
founded in the principles and course requirements published in the most recent AP English Course
Description, but the amount of time spent on more overt test preparation will increase as the exam
approaches in May.
Units of Study
Weeks 1-2 – The class begins with a brief introduction to the three types of writing to be focused on in
class: argumentative, literary analysis and rhetorical analysis. Students in pairs or individually will
present orally to the class a supported oral argument on an issue of their choice and receive feedback on
its strengths and weaknesses. This activity will culminate in the writing of a pair of argumentative AP
prompts, one for teacher evaluation and one for peer evaluation. The AP holistic rubric is introduced
and used to score the essays. All assessments of student prompts will be done anonymously. For
the entire class, whenever papers are returned, the best student papers will be shown
anonymously in class and posted on the website.
Also during the first two weeks, students are introduced to the ongoing independent vocabulary work
that runs throughout the course in which students will select their own lists of vocabulary words, note
the context sentence, define them and write original sentences with them, then take their own test.
Also during this initial period, students begin their regular “speed writes,” in which they will write for a
short period of time at the beginning of class on a variety of topics and/or in response to quotations,
questions, particular words or phrases or images. Students will work on developing their speed and
fluency as well as practicing the important elements of composition under pressure of time.
Writing Assignments: Speed writes and argumentative prompts. The prompts will be evaluated and
returned with significant comments from the teacher, with the best example shown in class as a model.
The Puritan Era: Weeks 2-7
Major Works: The Crucible by Arthur Miller (a play)
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (a novel)
Students will also read, “A Model of Christian Charity,” a sermon by John Winthrop, a selection from
Of Plymouth Plantation, William Bradford’s journal of the Puritans’ voyage, a selection from Jonathan
Edwards’ sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, selected poems from Anne Bradstreet and
Edward Taylor, Cotton Mather’s account of the witch trial of Martha Carrier, and Nathaniel
Hawthorne’s short story, “Young Goodman Brown.”
Writing Assignments: In addition to speed writes, students will discuss and outline a rhetorical analysis
for Winthrop’s “A Model of Christian Charity” followed up by the providing of a complete rhetorical
analysis essay written by the teacher to be discussed in class and posted on the class website. Students
will receive written feedback on their outlines.
Having read the larger selection from Edwards, students will write a rhetorical analysis essay of a
passage from Edwards’s sermon, written in class and evaluated on an AP rubric. Students will write a
second rhetorical analysis of a more modern passage from a previous year’s AP exam.
The culminating paper or unit paper is a literary analysis of Puritan literature focusing on the
“definition” of a single, important concept to the Puritan mind, discussed throughout the unit, such as
“God” or “The Devil” or “Woman,” which students will “define” through their analysis of one of the
two central texts and three others of their choice. Students will cite all quotations in MLA format and
produce a correctly formatted Works Cited page
In addition to the writing and vocabulary assignments, students will also have their first experiences
with practice AP and AP-style multiple choice tests on passages. Students will take the tests, review the
answers and write reflectively on the questions missed. Students will also use accompanying handouts
to begin amassing their bank of rhetorical terminology.
The Revolutionary Era (Weeks 7-11)
There is no major work of literature for this unit. Among the short readings assigned, students will read
The Declaration of Independence and “Portrait of Washington” from Thomas Jefferson, “Speech to the
Virginia Convention” from Patrick Henry, “Crisis No. 1” and a selection from The Age of Reason by
Thomas Paine, a chapter from The Autobiography, “Sayings of Poor Richard,” “The Whistle,” “The
Way to Wealth,” and “Rules by Which A Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One” by Benjamin
Franklin, “The Farewell Address” by George Washington, student selected passages from an
independent Enlightenment philosopher, and 2-3 contemporary, relevant essays from The Writer’s
Writing Assignments: In addition to speed writes, students will complete an annotated list of quotations
and commentaries on the types of arguments and argumentative appeals in Paine’s “Crisis”.
Students will discuss, write and revise a collaborative small group rhetorical analysis assignment on
Patrick Henry’s “Speech to the Virginia Convention” using the work from Paine and selected points of
argumentation from The Compact Reader as guidelines. These group papers will be evaluated with
reference to these models and to the AP holistic rubric for argumentative writing, with the best papers
shown and discussed in class.
In small groups, students will research and create a one class period lesson plan including a reading, a
quiz and an in-class activity on a selected Enlightenment and pre-Enlightenment philosopher that covers
the biography, major works, resources, and important ideas of that philosopher. Students will use these
lessons to help them pick their independent philosophers for their culminating paper.
The culminating paper for the unit will be a comparison and contrast essay that argues whether or not
the values and ideals of the Enlightenment era have been lost, modified or retained in 21st century
America. In addition to utilizing the 18th century sources given out in class, students will also select and
utilize credible sources from the 21st century to make their arguments.
American Romanticism and Transcendentalism (Weeks 11-15+)
Major Works: Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (a novel)
Selections from Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Students will also read “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau, “Self-Reliance” and “The Over-
Soul” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, selected poetry from Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allan
Poe, “The Imp of the Perverse,” a quasi-essay/story by Poe as well as his “Fall of the House of Usher,”
and two satirical essays, Twain’s “The Damned Human Race” and Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest
Proposal,” collected in The Writer’s Presence.
Writing Assignments: In addition to speed writes (with special emphasis on satire), students will
discuss, write, and revise a collaborative small group rhetorical analysis assignment on “Self-Reliance,”
which will be evaluated as outlined above with the strongest papers shown in class.
After lecture/discussion of principles of satire (reviewing Franklin from previous unit), students will
read the Twain and Swift essays to participate in a small group annotated discussion of the two writers’
satirical techniques, evaluating the effectiveness of each.
The culminating paper for the unit will be an analytical/argumentative essay that argues either that
Twain’s novel is a satire of the principles of Romanticism and/or Transcendentalism (based on readings
and lectures) or is a latter-day example of Romanticism and/or Transcendentalism itself, using Twain
and at least three other Romantic writers. Depending on time, this paper will either be process written or
written in class with a prepared outline as half of the final exam. If time does allow, the composition
portion of the final examination will be either an argumentative essay or a rhetorical analysis based on a
passage from the Conclusion of Thoreau’s Walden or from Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”.
The other 50% of the final examination is an objective test on the rhetorical and literary terminology
learned over the semester, based mostly on matching examples of the terms to the terms themselves.
Students can expect upwards of 60-70 terms to be included.
Realism /Naturalism (Weeks 16-26)
Major Works: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (a novel)
Selections from Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation (nonfiction)
Students will also read selected essays of relevance (as time allows) from The Writer’s Presence and
The Compact Reader as well as an independent British Victorian novel.
Writing Assignments: In addition to Speed Writes (with special emphasis on political cartoons):
Students will write a timed rhetorical analysis of a passage from The Jungle, do a peer evaluation of the
in-class version with specific direction from the teacher, then take the prompt home and revise into a
polished essay to be turned in for evaluation using a modified AP rubric.
Students will write a timed rhetorical or argumentative (depending on class needs) prompt based on a
passage from Fast Food Nation. As above, students will engage in peer evaluation and revision of the
in-class portion into a polished piece for evaluation with a modified AP rubric.
As the third quarter of the class ends in mid-April and the test is typically in early May, it is in the third
quarter that students will begin writing pairs of AP prompts every other week, alternating between
rhetorical analysis and argumentative prompts. Students will choose what they consider the best of each
pair for teacher evaluation and engage in a peer evaluation with the other paper. These prompts will not
be revised but will be evaluated solely on the “first draft” as test conditions dictate. Typically, students
will write 4 pairs of prompts or 8 essays total in this period (as time allows). These experiences are
interspersed with targeted writing instruction and the discussion of other AP prompts and sample papers.
On the alternating weeks, when students are not writing prompts, they will take ¾ length AP and AP-
style multiple choice tests as in the first semester, only in this portion of the class these tests are scored
on a curved scale set by the performance of the students in all sections of the class.
American Modernism (Weeks 27-end of course)
Major Works: Macbeth by William Shakespeare (a play in verse)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (a novel)
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller (a play)
Writing Assignments: In addition to Speed Writes (with a special emphasis on creative writing):
Students will assemble a portfolio of their writing from the year to be turned in prior to the AP test that
will include a separate reflection on each of the major types of writing from the course as well as a
reflection on issues of mechanics and voice. The portfolio will also include grammar and punctuation
corrections from the year’s papers and an overall reflection on the year’s work with a section focused on
goals for improvement (some of the grammar work may be completed first semester). Depending on
time, a reading from the student’s portfolio and an oral quiz on the year’s vocabulary words may serve
as the final exam.
The new synthesis question will be covered in this part of the course. Students will read and discuss a
sample prompt with accompanying sample papers and have the opportunity to write a synthesis prompt
themselves. The evaluation of this prompt will be based on the AP rubric, but scoring will be modified
due to the newness of this material.
The last formal essay of the class, as time allows, will be a comparison and contrast essay of the two
major modern works focusing on a student-selected concept of the American Dream, feminism,
symbolism, or the Modernist vision of tragedy as defined by Shakespeare. Drafts of these essays will be
written in class using an outline prepared in advance and then revised based on peer feedback only.
Grades are given in terms of points only weighted according to the length and difficulty of the
assignments. These percentages vary according to the material for that particular marking period and
how quickly classes are able to move through material. At the end of a marking period, these grades are
totaled and divided by total points to calculate a percentage, which converts to letter grades as follows:
93-100 – A 80-82 – B- 67-69 – D+
90-92 – A- 77-79 – C+ 63-66 - D
87-89 – B+ 73-76 – C 60-62 – D-
83-86 – B 70-72 – C- 0-59 – E
Semester grades are calculated by averaging the two quarter grades (weighted at 40% each) and the final
exam (weighted at 20%). The first semester final will be an essay and objective test weighted equally
the second semester final consists of some combination of the portfolio itself, the reading, the
cumulative vocabulary test, and/or the final essay on modernism.
NOTE ON GRADES: This class represents the highest academic level available for students to take in
English. The level of difficulty is approximately equal to that of a freshman class in college. Student
grade point averages will be “boosted” one third of a grade due to this difficulty. The final drafts of
papers will always be evaluated using the AP scale but will be converted to letter grades/point totals on a
sliding scale that becomes increasingly rigorous as the year progresses. Student grades should
increasingly relate to their achievement on the specific skills of the AP test as the test nears.
There is no extra credit offered in this class.
Each quarter 10% of a student’s grade is based on his/her class participation. Class participation
includes a) frequent positive participation in class discussion; b) classroom citizenship including
attitude, attendance/punctuality and adherence to class rules; c) productive use of class time including
having necessary materials, working exclusively on this class’s work, and avoiding excessive use of hall
passes. Participation is based on teacher observation, and students are free to inquire as to their level of
participation at any time.
Late Work – Late work will not be accepted for full credit in this class. If work is turned in within 2
days of the due date, passing credit only (approx. 60%) can be earned, but the instructor will not provide
any feedback on the late work. There is no exception to this policy.
Makeup Work for Absences – Makeup work will be accepted for excused absences for the entire day
only. Students present at school at all on the day an assignment is due will be expected to turn the
assignment in; otherwise, one day will be given for each day missed to turn in makeup work. For major
assignments given in advance, absence on the due date alone for the entire day means that a student
must turn in the work the day of their return. Of course, no credit will be given for work missed due to
Academic Integrity – Students should be sure they understand what plagiarism is and that they avoid it
at all costs. Students will receive a grade of zero on any plagiarized assignment or quiz on which they
are caught cheating. Consequences also include a follow up conference with parents and administration
as well as notification of the National Honor Society. Use of Cliff’s Notes or Spark’s Notes in lieu of
reading assignments cannot be treated as a direct violation of academic integrity per se; however, this
practice is strongly discouraged and can lead to plagiarism if relied upon for analytical writing.
Students should be aware that all school policies on behavior including offensive language,
inappropriate dress, harassment and violence or intimidation apply in this classroom as well and will be
handled according to the school or district policy.
In addition, students should adhere to the following rules:
1. Students should raise their hands to speak in class and keep hands down when another student is
2. Students who possess cell phones, pagers, handheld video game players, iPods or NP3 players,
should turn them off and put them away for the duration of class. Phones may be left on silent
unless the sound of the vibration is audible. Any device that makes noise or is visible may be
confiscated by the teacher.
3. Students should give the teacher as well as any other student who “has the floor” their undivided
attention. This means listening before raising one’s own hand and refraining from interrupting.
This includes any talking including “sidebar” conversations about the topic at hand.
4. Students may eat or drink in class as long as each student is responsible for their own garbage
and recycling. Cans and bottles may NOT be left in the room for the teacher to deal with. If
garbage or recycling becomes an issue, the eating/drinking privilege will be lost.
5. Students should not take up class time with issues of concern only to themselves. This most
especially includes grades and concerns about class policies as they relate to the particular
student only. These discussions should take place one on one with the teacher outside of class
6. Students will speak in a polite, respectful manner at all times to the teacher as well as their
fellow students. Disrespectful behavior, whether it is taking an aggressive or sarcastic tone,
using inflammatory language (including profanity, racist, sexist or homophobic comments), or
physically intimidating others, will not be tolerated.
7. Students are expected to remain in class for the duration of the class period. If a student
excessively asks to leave, that student’s participation grade will be lowered a letter or more
depending on the extent.
8. Students should pack their backpacks and leave the classroom only when dismissed by the
teacher or the bell. Whether or not the teacher “teaches to the bell,” early packing or lining up at
the door is unacceptable and potentially dangerous. Students who do this will be asked to remain
until all other students have left the classroom.
9. Students are responsible for leaving their desks and, to the best of their ability, the classroom,
clean and neat. Garbage, whether one’s own or just found, should be picked up and thrown in
either a garbage can or recycling bin.