AP English Language and Composition

Mrs. Elizabeth Morris


[email protected]

[email protected]




Course Overview

This course has a dual focus: preparing for the AP English Language and Composition exam and exploring American Literature from the 17th century until the present. In keeping with the College Board’s AP English course description, our focus will be on rhetoric: the art of constructing and presenting arguments in speech or writing. Our reading will include essays, novels, speeches, poems, and personal narratives by a diverse group of American authors who were writing for varied purposes and audiences.  In reading, these non-fiction and poetry texts, our focus will be on identifying both the what and how: both what arguments the authors are making in the texts, and how they use rhetorical strategies effectively to construct these.



Advanced Placement English Language and Composition is the equivalent of an introductory college composition course. While these courses vary across institutions and instructors, the common goal is to give students an opportunity to write about subjects from a variety of disciplines and demonstrate an awareness of purpose and audience. The goal of this class is to help students feel confident in their writing capabilities in any area of curriculum. For the purpose of achieving this goal, students will be exposed to expository, analytical, argumentative, and reflective writing with the understanding that good writing stems from good reading of materials from varying disciplines.

Therefore, upon completion of this course, students will be held accountable for the following skills:

- analyze and interpret writing to identify and explain an author’s use of rhetorical strategies and techniques;

- apply effective techniques and strategies in their own writing

-to achieve purpose;

- formulate and sustain arguments based on readings, research, and/or personal experience;

- write for various purposes;

- produce various types of writing such as clear yet complex expository, analytical and argumentative compositions derived from notable sources;

- cite sources according to MLA guidelines;

- demonstrate a mastery of standard written English;

- demonstrate stylistic maturity in the student’s own writing;

- transition effectively through the stages of the writing process;

- analyze image as text





Textbooks/Materials Used

The Language of Composition: Reading, Writing, Rhetoric. Renee H. Shea. Bedford/St. Martins. 2007.

50 Essays: A Portable Anthology. Samuel Cohen. Bedford/St. Martins. 2006.

Everything’s an Argument. Andrea A. Lunsford. Bedford/St. Martins. 2009.

AP From A to Z: An Analysis Study Guide for Advanced Placement English. Athena Publishing. 2009.

Various other essays, stories, and novels.



1-3” binder, 1-5 subject notebook, loose leaf paper,  literary terms dictionary, AP study prep book, flash drive, note cards, sticky notes, writing utensils, and highlighters.



For this class, you will need a 1-3” binder. Inside, you will need to include dividers that read: graded work, in class work, tests/quizzes, and writings. In order to keep organized, everything that I pass out or hand back should be included in this binder. I will often ask you to pull a worksheet that we have used previously in the trimester for reference.  Binders will be graded twice during each six weeks for 50 points.


Writer’s Notebook

A 1-5 subject notebook is needed for note taking, reflecting on your writing, answering journal prompts, and copying your vocabulary.  I will not accept loose leaf paper. The first 5-10 pages should be saved for a table of contents, which I will introduce to you in the first week of school. Notebooks will be graded twice during each six weeks for 50 points.


Literary Terms Dictionary

Because a lot of our study will be on terminology associated with the AP exam, you will be tested weekly on vocabulary. It is very helpful that you purchase a literary terms dictionary from a local bookstore. You will need to bring these dictionaries once a week in order to aide in your vocabulary study. Some suggestions are as follows:

The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (Oxford Paperback Reference) Chris Baldick. 2009.  (Borders and Amazon)

Literary Terms: A Dictionary. Karl Beckson and Arthur Ganz. 1989. (Amazon and Borders)


AP Study Prep Books

While much of the class is test centered, it is also important that you are studying while you are at home. I will be using the 2008 version of Barron’s AP Language and Composition Study Guide in class, so the following list are some other suggested study guides:

Barron’s AP Language and Composition. George Ehrenheft. 2010.

Cracking the AP Language and Composition Exam: 2010 (2009 also) edition. Princeton Review.  2009 or 2010.

Mastering the AP English Language and Composition 2nd edition. Peterson’s. 2007.







Independent Reading

You will be spending 20 minutes for four days each week reading an independent novel. In addition to reading, you will be filling out daily Cornell notes about your book. I will show you the format in class, but an explanation sheet is attached. During independent reading time, I expect for you to be reading the novel you have chosen for your novel project. If you have finished your novel project book, you may borrow a novel from the library.


Novel Project

Instead of reading novels as a class, I have provided a list of books that you may choose each six weeks to read during your independent reading time. Each six weeks you will choose one of the books on the list. You will be assigned a project to go along with the book. Assignment, due dates, and instructions will be given for each novel at the beginning of each six weeks.

It is your responsibility to research the books and decide which one you feel is appropriate for you. If you do not feel comfortable with certain aspects, as many of the books deal with mature issues, it is up to you to find a book that fits your feelings and beliefs.  By the end of the year, you will need to have read two fictional novels, two non-fiction novels, and two plays for a total of six pieces of literature. Novel projects are worth 100-200 points.



Attached to this syllabus is your first list of vocabulary words. I will provide class time on Fridays/Mondays for you to work on your words. Vocabulary words should include a definition and an example from a book, movie, song, or television show (EX: Simile: a figure of speech comparing two unlike things, often introduced with the words “like,”  “as,” or “than.”  To Kill a Mockingbird: Judge Taylor was asleep on the bench, looking like a sleepy old shark).

Definitions and examples are due on Wednesday for 10 points. I will post my definitions and examples on my website and questions will be answered on Thursday. It is your responsibility to visit my website and research thoroughly if you do not understand something.


Writing Assignments

AP Language and Composition is a class that deals very much with improving students writing. Because of this, we will be spending much time on responding to our readings through writing. Several pieces including a rhetorical analysis, a synthesis essay, and an argument essay will all be taken through the entire writing process. Students will engage in prewriting where they learn to formulate an outline for their writing piece. Students will understand the drafting process by sharing their work with other students as well as the teacher. Once students have a finished product, the piece is assigned a grade.

Timed writings will be given twice every six weeks to ensure that students are able to see their growth as a writer. In this process, students will be given an entire class period to respond to a particular prompt. The teacher will then provide the student feedback and a grade. The student will then conference with the teacher and be given one week to rewrite their essay for a higher grade.





Practice Exams

In order for students to preview and feel comfortable about the AP test they will be taking in May, practice exams will be given during Trimester 1 and Trimester 2. There will also be two practice test days before the exam. I also urge students to come to after school help on Mondays and Wednesdays from2:30-4:00.



Assignments are due at the beginning of the period, and should be turned into the appropriate bin when you come into the class. You may print in my classroom or the library before school. I also accept papers electronically through e-mail as long as I receive it before class starts. If your paper is not printed and ready to turn in when class starts, it will not be accepted. Late work is not accepted in AP English Language and Composition.  When turning in make-up work, please write absent and the date of your absence on the top of your paper and put it in the absent work basket.

100-90         A

89-80             B

79-70             C

69-60       D

59-0        U


Grading is as follows:

Homework: 30


Participation: 10

Projects/Out of Class Writings: 30


Make-Up Work

It is your responsibility to get your make-up work when you return. There will be a three ring binder next to the door containing daily agendas for the day. Agendas will include any notebook entries, handouts, and homework assignments. Once you find out what you are missing, you should visit the make-up work bulletin board. All worksheets that you missed will be waiting for you with your name on them. Consult with a classmate to get any notes or journal entries. Work due the day that you were out should be turned in the day that you return.

You have three days after your return to make up your work. Please put absent and the date of your absence on top of the paper before turning it into the basket on my desk. I will have designated make up days on Monday and Wednesday from 2:30-3:30.


Absences and Tardies

The school’s make-up policy will be followed consistently and strictly regarding absences and tardies. It is extremely important for your success with the course that you are present each day. Do not get stuck in tardy hall!



Food of Drink

I do not allow food or drink other than water in my classroom. Please dispose of snacks and beverages before entering the classroom.






The routine and procedures of this class will be taught and practiced. Therefore, they will be assessed daily using the annotated system. Each day’s participation will be taking if infractions occur. You will receive 10 participation points per day.

Listed below are some behaviors that will result in the loss of participations points.

NP-Not Prepared, HD/S-Head Down, Sleeping, PP- Poor Participation (inappropriate feedback, not in the moment),T- Tardy, TO- Talking out/Blurting out, RF- Referral, sent our of class, FDG- Food, Drink, NFD- Not following directions, HC- Hall conference.



Plagiarism is taking someone else’s thoughts or ideas. Even if you change the words, it is still someone else’s idea. Plagiarism will not be tolerated, resulting in a zero for the assignment.

Cheating is a serious offense that will result in a zero for the assignment or assessment. Cheating in this class is defined as:

  1. Your mouth moving (even if you are finished and aren’t talking about the test)
  2. Your eyes wandering
  3. Copying assignments (quiz, in class work, homework, etc)
  4. Allowing someone else to cheat by letting him or her see your work

**Extreme offenses will result in an immediate referral


Behavior Policy

  1. Wait for an appropriate time to ask for a hall pass. There are four hall passes allowed each trimester. Use them wisely.
  2. Do not move your desk or seat unless it is part of an activity. Do not get up from your desk unless you have permission.
  3. Raise your hand and you will get a chance to be heard.
  4. Use your time to do work for this class only. Do not write notes or do other homework.
  5. Place your name, date, and class period on all work. Work without a name will be put in the no name folder
  6. You are to enter this classroom with responsibility and self control. Be prepared emotionally; raise your hand for help or signal quietly when we are working, no personal grooming, and no cheaters.
  7. No cursing or vulgar/offensive language. Do not hurt anyone physically or verbally. No one will bring food, drinks, straws, toothpicks, etc into my room.


The policy for disrespectful behavior is as follows:

1st Offense: Warning (verbal or non verbal)

2nd Offense: Hallway visit/student conference/behavior log

3rd Offense: Referral/Conference with assistance principal and/or parent







AP Exam

The AP Language and Composition course is designed to prepare students to score well on the AP test they will be taking in May. In order to receive college credit for most colleges, students will need to score a three or higher. I highly recommend that all students take the exam and will help students to achieve that goal. Students who are on free/reduced lunch will pay $57 while students who are not on free/reduced lunch will pay $87.  You may pay this fee up front or there are payment plans that you may choose. Two payment plan options are as follows:


Free and Reduced $57

September 23-$21

November 18-$21

February 24-$21

April 27-$21


Non Free and Reduced $87

September 23-$15

November 18-$15

February 24-$15

April 27-$12



Other payment plans are available. Please talk to me if you have any concerns.



My Promise

It is my goal as a teacher to be as available as possible to my students. I want you to have a great year and grow as writers, students, and young adults. I want to prepare you for your future and help you to feel comfortable with your transition into senior year and college. Please do not hesitate to come to me if you have any concerns because I am always here to help. You can e-mail me whenever you need to or come see me in my classroom after school. While this class will often be difficult and full of learning, I want you to have a great time. I am looking forward to being your teacher!!!!


Year at a Glance

Trimester 1

Major Essay Focus: Rhetorical Analysis

Writing Assignments: Compare and Contrast, Rhetorical Analysis

Major Readings: Novel Project 1&2, Graduation, On Compassion, The Declaration of Independence, Letter from Birmingham Jail, Sinners in the Hands of Angry Gods, Readings from 50 Essays

Skills: Thesis development, rhetorical and figurative devices, tone and irony, style and voice, syntax and diction, visual rhetoric.





Trimester 2

Major Essay Focus: Synthesis

Writing Assignments: Synthesis Essay

Major Readings: Novel Project 3&4, Articles from The Onion, Charts and Graphs, Sample Research Papers, Lost in the Kitchen, Girl Moved to Tears, A Modest Proposal

Skills: Thesis and topic selection, MLA citations, Satire, Argument


Trimester 3

Major Essay Focus: Argument

Writing Assignments: Cause and Effect, Literacy Autobiography, Resume

Major Readings: Ads, Posters, On Being Black, Cars and their Enemies, Television

Skills: Persuasive techniques, logical fallacies, forming arguments and opinions, conclusion development  


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