SYLLABUS: AP English Language and Composition


    Dr. Michael Zan Crowder


    Room 824

    Harnett Central High School


    phone: 919-639-6161 x-824



    Email: mcrowder@harnett.k12.nc.us


    1. Course Description

    An AP course in English Language and Composition engages students in becoming skilled readers of prose written in a variety of rhetorical contexts, and in becoming skilled writers who compose for a variety of purposes. Both their writing and their reading should make students aware of the interactions among a writer’s purposes, audience expectations, and subjects, as well as the way genre conventions and the resources of language contribute to effectiveness in writing.


    1. Course Objective

    The goals of an AP English Language and Composition course are diverse because the college composition course is one of the most varied in the curriculum. Although the college course provides students with opportunities to write about a variety of subjects from a variety of disciplines and to demonstrate an awareness of audience and purpose, the overarching objective in most first-year writing courses is to enable students to write effectively and confidently in their college courses across the curriculum and in their professional and personal lives. Most composition courses emphasize the expository, analytical and argumentative writing that forms the basis of academic and professional communication, as well as the personal and reflective writing that fosters the development of writing facility in any context. In addition, most composition courses teach students that the expository, analytical and argumentative writing they must do in college is based on reading as well as on personal experience and observation. Composition courses, therefore, teach students to read primary and secondary sources carefully, to synthesize material from these texts in their own compositions, and to cite sources using conventions recommended by professional organizations such as the Modern Language Association (MLA), the University of Chicago Press (The Chicago Manual of Style), the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Council of Biology Editors (CBE).


    Upon completing the AP English Language and Composition course, then, students should be able to:

    • analyze and interpret samples of good writing, identifying and explaining an author’s use of rhetorical strategies and techniques;
    • apply effective strategies and techniques in their own writing;
    • create and sustain arguments based on readings, research and/or personal experience;
    • write for a variety of purposes;
    • produce expository, analytical and argumentative compositions that introduce a complex central idea and develop it with appropriate evidence drawn from primary and/or secondary sources, cogent explanations and clear transitions;
    • demonstrate understanding and mastery of standard written English as well as stylistic maturity in their own writings;
    • demonstrate understanding of the conventions of citing primary and secondary sources;
    • move effectively through the stages of the writing process, with careful attention to inquiry and research, drafting, revising, editing and review;
    • write thoughtfully about their own process of composition;
    • revise a work to make it suitable for a different audience;
    • analyze image as text; and
    • evaluate and incorporate reference documents into researched papers.


    Source:  © 2010 The College Board. Visit the College Board on the Web: www.collegeboard.com


    This course is organized primarily by general topics that apply to language and rhetoric.  In each of the units described below, students will focus on figurative language, rhetorical appeals, rhetorical terminology, elements of the Aristotelian triangle, rhetorical situation, and logical fallacies.  Students will be instructed in textual annotation techniques and the use of SOAPStone to sharpen reading skills.  They will continue to develop reading skills by working through complex AP-style multiple choice items based on particular passages.


    Students will study the classical elements of argumentation (exordium, narration, confirmation, refutation, and peroration) by identifying these elements in assigned essays and then by preparing a documented essay (research project) on a topic they choose.  Students will learn to synthesize the sources they have gathered as they compose their arguments; they will also learn to give credit to their sources through APA conventions. 


    Students will learn to examine the explicit, as well as the implicit, messages contained within visual images.  Furthermore, students will begin to interpret visual images as arguments within themselves.


    Through their reading assignments, discussions of denotation and connotation, and explicit study of rhetorical strategies, students will build their academic and technical vocabularies.  Not as much as they will if they take Latin, however.


    • Grades

    In order to pass AP Language and Composition, a student must score 60% or higher for the year.  A progress report will be sent home with each student halfway through each six weeks, and a report card will be sent home at the end of each six weeks.  I encourage parents to register for a PowerSchool account where they may view their student’s grades whenever they choose. 


    In AP Language, as in all HCHS classes, grades will be calculated using the following categories:


    • Summative Assessments---40%
    • Formative Assessments---30%
    • Independent Learning---30%



    Class Grading Policy:                                     AP Essay Grading:     8/26-10/1         10/2-End                                  

    A = 90 – 100                                                                6                      100                  100                             

    B = 80 – 89                                                                  5                      97                    95

    C = 70 – 79     

    D = 60-69                                                                    4.5                   94                    90

    Failing = Below 60                                                       4                      91                    85

                                                                                        3.5                   88                    80


                                                                                        3                      85                    75

                                                                                        2.5                   82                    70

                                                                                        2                      79                    65

                                                                                        1                      76                    60






    Formative assessments:                                                         

    Timed writings (AP Essays)

    Class participation

    Questions on readings from textbooks

    Journal entry assignments

    Multiple choice practice tests

    Socratic seminar


    Summative assessments:


                Novel tests

                Rhetorical terms test

                Timed writings (AP Essays)

                AP multiple choice tests

                Out of class projects

                Research/Debate paper and presentation

    Synthesis project


    Independent practice:


    Vocabulary quizzes

    Reading check quizzes

                Out of class essays

                Homework checks


    1. Style and Rhetoric---the nuts and bolts of analysis:


    The first six weeks are dedicated primarily to developing the reading and writing skills necessary for the depth of writing and analysis required to pass the AP exam in May.  During the first six weeks, students will build a “tool box” of skills they will utilize throughout the semester.  For each of our assigned readings, we will focus on how the author’s rhetorical or stylistic choices convey the purpose of his/her piece.


    • Overview of rhetoric and style (the rhetorical triangle)
    • Poetry and Figurative Language
    • Writing the analysis paragraph
    • Close reading skills
    • Rhetorical terms
    • SOAPSTtone technique of analysis
    • Writing the rhetorical précis
    • from Rhetorical Devices:

    Section Four, 1-15---Popular Rhetorical Devices: Strategy

    Section Four 16-33---Popular Rhetorical Devices: Organization


    Minor Works:  Minor works are generally essays taken from our various texts and sources that have been selected on the basis of their richness and depth.  Frequently these texts will be available online.  For every minor work read, students will do one or more of the following: write a rhetorical précis, answer stylistic/analysis questions, answer AP style multiple choice questions, or write a 200-word journal entry.  Additionally, all articles should be annotated for rhetorical and stylistic devises unless denoted by the teacher.



    1. 18-Week Plan: Probable texts to be studied are listed below, but are subject to change as the year progresses.


    Week 1


    Course Introduction: Heteroglossia

    Conventions of Artistic Writing & Argumentation



    David Foster Wallace’s “This is Water”

    Excerpt from Isaiah Berlin’s “The Hedgehog and the Fox”

    Excerpt from Mikhail Bahktin’s “The Dialogic Imagination”

    Toni Morrison’s “Nobel Prize Lecture, 1993”


    The Rhetorical Situation


    SOAPStone: Foster Wallace, Morrison

    AP Multiple Choice

    AP Argument Essays

    Ethical Decision Making

    Summary and Annotations: Heinrichs

    Anchor Texts

    Jay Heinrichs’ How to Argue with a Cat



    Weeks 2-4

    Figurative Language



    Donne, Milton, Wordsworth, Burns, Baillie, Blake, Tennyson, Hardy, Hopkins, Houseman, Yeats

    The Waste Land and Other Poems by T. S. Eliot

    Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters

    Short Story:

    The Birthday Party


    Rhetorical Devices: Devices 1-15


    Socratic Seminars: Hamlet, This is Water, The Crucible

    Modernist Poetry Writing

    AP Multiple Choice

    AP Argument Essays

    Poetry Presentation

    Reading Exam

    Anchor Texts

    William Shakespeare’s Hamlet

    Arthur Miller’s The Crucible












    Weeks 5-10


    Prose—Fiction, Non-Fiction

    Anchor Texts:

    George Orwell’s 1984,

    Excerpts from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden & Civil Disobedience

    Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried

    Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street


    Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” essay

    Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s “The Solitude of Self”

    Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

    Excerpts from The Federalist Papers

    John Donne’s Meditation 17

    Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal

    Court Cases

    Hazelwood SD v. Kuhlmeier

    Tinker v. Des Moines ICSD

    West Virginia BOE v. Barnette

    Bethel SD #403 v. Fraser


    Socratic Seminars: Court Cases, The Things They Carried, Walden, Mango Street

    AP Synthesis Essays

    AP Multiple Choice

    Reading Exam

    Thoreau AP Questions

    SOAPStone “A Modest Proposal”

    Persuasion Presentation: Urban Legends and Conspiracy Theories


    Rhetorical Devices: Devices 16-33

    Style Book

    The Elements of Style by Strunk and White


    Weeks 11-16


    Extended Research Project This will be the student’s largest paper of the year and will be a synthesis of a substantial number of sources.  Students will workshop their papers in peer groups and will read a number of model essays.


    AP Test Prep: Essay Writing Project

    Students will write two timed in-class essays per week for three(ish) weeks to prepare for the time constraints of the AP Language exam.  The final week of this project consists of editing and improving an essay of the student’s choosing for re-submission.



    Anchor Texts:

    Independent Reading


    Machiavelli’s The Prince

    Malcolm Gladwell’s “Examined Life”


    Research/Synthesis Paper

    Independent Reading Projects

    Advertisement Analysis

    Rhetorical Device Test

    SOAPStone: Gladwell, Machiavelli

    AP Multiple choice

    AP Analysis Essay

    Final Exam



    1. Materials Needed (not provided by the school)
    • A three-ring binder for class notebook
    • Dividers for binder
    • Pens (black or blue ink plus a red pen for correcting), pencils
    • Highlighters
    • Loose-leaf notebook paper


    VII.  Parent Conferences

    I am always glad to meet with parents who have concerns about their student’s progress in my class.  Please contact me via email: crowderzan@harnett.k12.nc.us (preferred) or via telephone: 919-639-6161 x-824 to schedule a time to meet.


    VIII.  Classroom Expectations:


    • Attendance is critical.  Please try to be in class and on time every day.  Tardy to an AP class is a serious problem.
    • Behavior:  I expect everyone to be treated with respect.  Rhetoric is not about “winning”.  It is about “winning over”. 
    • Missing Work:  ANY missing work will be posted in the grade book as “Missing” and calculated as a zero. For any work missing due to excused absences, students will have five days upon return to turn it in for no penalty.  After five days, ten points will be deducted for each day late with a maximum/minimum assigned grade of 50 for late work.  Any work beyond two weeks late will NOT be accepted.  Unexcused missing work is not to be made up.
    • Academic Honesty:  Students will do their own work. Period.  Any student caught or suspected of cheating will receive a zero/cheat for that assignment.  I will call parents upon the very first offense.  Second offense will result in a disciplinary referral.  Blatant plagiarism, downloading essays from the internet and copying another student’s homework or essays are all considered cheating.  Challenge yourself and do it on your own! 
    • Organization:  Organization is the key to success in this class.  All students are required to keep a notebook with tabs as we have many handouts and assignments that need to be referenced throughout the year.  Students will need a 3 ring binder, tabs, paper, black or blue pens, pencils, and highlighters. 
    • Bathroom Passes:  One per week.  20/20.



    1. Assignments and Make up work

    ---When returning to school after an excused absence, it is your responsibility to find out what you missed during your absence and to schedule a make-up (I am generally available after school).

    ---There is no make-up allowed for an unexcused absence.

    ---You will only be given time to make-up assignments for excused absences in accordance with school policy (i.e. one day per day of absence).

    ---All major projects/papers, etc. are due on due date---no exceptions, even for absences.

    ---Absences due to school trips, etc. are not subject to extra make-up time.  Plan ahead.

    ---Students are also responsible for keeping an up-to-date assignment notebook, maintaining pace with the reading, and turning in all assignments on time. 

    ---If you do not understand an assignment, ask for help far enough in advance that you will have time to finish the assignment after getting help. 

    ---If you are having personal difficulties apart from class, talk to me before an assigned due date so that we can make other arrangements. 

    ---Once I have graded and returned an assignment, students may not turn that assignment in for credit. 



    Reiterating Academic Honesty.  Cheating, as defined in the HCHS Official Student Handbook, is a serious offense and subject to disciplinary action. Cheating undermines the validity and legitimacy of the educational process and will not be tolerated.  Students found to be in violation of this policy may receive a zero for the assignment/test and may jeopardize their consideration for, or involvement in organizations such as Student Council, Class Officer positions, National Honor Society, or other similar organizations or positions.

    Cheating is defined to include, but is not limited to:

    1. copying someone else’s work in or out of class and identifying and submitting it as your own
    2. receiving or sending text messages on a cell phone during class time
    3. the use of unauthorized notes, other materials, or assistance during the accomplishment of graded work in or out of class
    4. failing to quote and/or list appropriate citations for material derived from published sources (including the Internet) and identifying and submitting it as your own
    5. any other situation in which the student attempts to or accepts credit for work not his or her own



    1. Format of Papers

    I expect all papers written outside of class to be typed.  Submit the final draft along with all previous drafts stapled to the back.  Please adhere to the following guidelines: 


    • Use white paper and black ink.
    • Use 12-point Times New Roman font.
    • Double-space all text.
    • Use one-inch margins.
    • The paper heading in the top left corner should include the student name, instructor name, class (AP Language and Composition) and date.
    • The page number should be on the bottom center of the page.
    • The title of the paper should be centered, above the text of the paper.
    • All citations in accordance with APA guidelines


    Grammar: Good grammar is essential to your success in all classes throughout your high school career.  It will also serve you beyond high school, in the real world, where you will have to write letters, memos, and other documents.  You will be held especially responsible for correctly applying the grammatical conventions we review in class in all your written work.  Often times I will not label each grammar mistake but will mark an incorrect usage.  The student is responsible for either following up with me at an appropriate time or determining the error themselves.