AP Lang and Comp B


College professors frequently lament the poor writing skills of the students who enter their classrooms, particularly straight out of high school. This course is designed to help you succeed in not only a freshman composition course, but in college altogether. To achieve this goal, students must learn to think critically, read analytically, and communicate with clarity and confidence. A basis of this course will be to learn how to read closely and annotate a variety of formats, genres, and topics. While students may earn college credit if they receive a 3, 4, or 5 on the AP English Language and Composition Exam (depending on their chosen college), the ultimate goal of this course is to prepare students for the rigors of college writing. 

Friday, 5/18

After soliciting feedback from my students on changes for next year, students dove into research for the Current Events Cage Match we’ll be holding on finals day. Homework: make sure you are a.) prepared for the Cage Match debate and b.) have e-mailed your preparatory materials — an informal bib and outline/game plan — to Ms. George before the start of your finals period.

Wednesday, 5/16

AP Test Day! Many students were absent for the test, and the remaining students helped me figure out the ground rules and details for the Current Events Cage Match.

Monday, 5/14

Day 2 of the final — Argumentative essay and a short multiple choice test. After students were finished, we talked through any last questions about the AP test on Wednesday and I introduced the final project: Current Events Cage Match.

Thursday, 5/10

Day 1 of the final — Synthesis and Rhetorical Analysis essays.

Tuesday, 5/8

We talked through all three essay types one more time, and then spent the rest of class discussing and reviewing the multiple choice portion of the AP Exam. We also talked through the final, which will be a 2-day event — Thursday and next Monday.

Friday, 5/4

While I was out today, students wrote and peer-reviewed their practice Rhetorical Analysis essays, and Ms. George led everyone through an activity listing and researching novels that you have read. This activity was intended to help you study for the Argumentative essay.

Wednesday, 5/2

We spent a little more time talking through Synthesis Essays and some strategies for doing well with that portion of the final and the AP Test. Next, we began reviewing Rhetorical Analysis and I handed out a prompt/passage for practice. Homework: please annotate this prompt/passage and outline the essay you will write in class on Friday.

Monday, 4/30

After checking the outlines of the Synthesis prompt students received last week, we talked about how to improve them. Students revised their outlines and then wrote the timed essay for the prompt. Afterwards, they exchanged essays and peer reviewed them using the AP rubric.

Thursday, 4/26

We began our review of the Synthesis essay today with a prompt and sources about Daylight Saving Time. We discussed the timing of the test, annotated and discussed the prompt, and then annotated and discussed the sources. Students worked on detailed outlines in class for the practice essay they will write next week. Homework: finish your annotations and outlines for next class.

Tuesday, 4/24

Only a few students attended today, due to juniors taking ACT and being excused from the rest of the school day. I asked students to create a Synthesis Essay around the issue of student loan interest rates and their scheduled increase this summer. (President Obama is speaking at CU tonight about just this topic, and I listened to a public radio story about it this morning.) For extra credit, students were to compile a list of potential sources (7?) that could be provided alongside a synthesis prompt, considering a variety of perspectives and types of sources and trying to find at least one visual source.

Friday, 4/20

Today was our last day before juniors take the ACT, so we did our last test prep (for this test) of the semester. We went over the ACT English practice tests from Wednesday, and then we reviewed the ACT Reading test, took a couple practice tests, and talked through those.

Wednesday, 4/18

With the ACT coming up for juniors next Tuesday, we need to spend a little more time on test prep. Today we tackled the “English” part of the test, completing a single passage (15 questions) first, then talking about the types of questions and going over the answers, and then taking a full 75 question test during the last half of class.

Monday, 4/16

The first third of class was spent reading each others’ argumentative take-home revisions and scoring the improvements made to the originals. The remaining logical fallacies groups presented during the second third, and after that we watched political ads from a number of Super PACs, looking for fallacies in each one.

Thursday, 4/12

We spent the first part of class peer-reviewing the disagreement vs. dissent take-home essays that were due today. Students then presented their research into logical fallacies and took notes on their classmates’ presentations. At the end of class, I handed back the Mencken and corporate sponsorship take-homes so that students could choose one of the three (including the one due today) to revise. Homework: revise one of those three take-home essays, keeping in mind the revision notes you made and also considering logical fallacies (both in your writing and in the oppositions’ arguments); this is due next class.

Tuesday, 4/10

After collecting the reflections from Friday’s Current Events seminar, we talked through the details for the last six weeks of the semester. After that, students researched logical fallacies in pairs to present to the class. Homework: please complete this argumentative essay on disagreement vs. dissent, which we annotated and discussed briefly in class; it’s due on Thursday.

Friday, 4/6

Today was our seminar on Bully. Incidentally, I read just yesterday that the film had been re-cut and will now be released with a PG-13 rating (more, more, and even more on this). While I was checking the tickets, students looked back over the Dobkins and Winter commentaries to see if any portions of either one didn’t pass a sniff test. Then, we had our seminar — at the end of it, I posted these reflection questions:

  • Imagine you’re 13 again. Would you want to go see this film? Why? What would your parents have said if it were Rated R? PG-13?
  • Imagine you’re the parent of a 13-year-old. What is your perspective now?

After seminar, we talked a little bit more about logical fallacies, reviewing Slippery Slope and briefly introducing False Dilemma, using the examples from the beginning of class. Homework: please complete the reflection questions for class on Tuesday.

Wednesday, 4/4

In place of Friday’s originally-scheduled Current Events discussion of Invisible Children, we are now going to discuss the film Bully, scheduled for release next Friday. In class today, we started by watching the film trailer and discussing details that anyone already had heard about the film. I then provided four links for reading to prepare for the seminar on Friday:

Students read these on the iPads, “annotated” them (using a blank piece of paper) while paying particular attention to the two commentaries that are written much like argumentative essays, found one additional source that added some new information, and wrote out 3-5 small, 2-3 medium, and 1-2 large questions. Homework: finish any of today’s work that you didn’t get done in class; all of the above is your ticket for seminar on Friday.

Monday, 4/2

We spent the first half of class peer reviewing the corporate sponsorship take-home essays. The second half of class we spent talking about this essay, the Invisible Children issue, and the fact that the assembly Wednesday was cancelled. Students then outlined two different positions on the cancellation of this assembly.

Thursday 3/22

We started out class with a timed argumentative essay. I will score these using the 9-1 AP rubric and convert it to a letter grade the same scale as last semester’s final. This will count for a summative grade, about 1/4 the value of the This I Believe essays. If you missed this timed essay, please come and make it up immediately after spring break. Following the timed essay, I talked to the class one last time about AP Registration, which ends at 3:00 tomorrow afternoon. I urged everyone to sign up for the test. Lastly, we talked a little bit about the Invisible Children organization and the Kony 2012 campaign. Skyline will be holding an all-school assembly the Wednesday of the week we return from break on this topic, and I figured this was a good topic for current events that week as well. Homework: please continue to research Invisible Children and Kony 2012, including the links I have provided here, and begin your entrance ticket for the CE discussion; also, please complete this take-home essay on corporate sponsorship of public schools.

Tuesday, 3/20 (8th only)

After reviewing logic from last class and the “proof” that students were able to find for the earth being spherical, we studied our first logical fallacy — Slippery Slope. Students then used iPads to try and find examples of Slippery Slope in the articles for current events last Friday.

Friday, 3/16

The first part of class today was for peer review of the Mencken take-home essay. Afterwards, we held a Current Events Socratic seminar around the Facebook privacy article students read last week. For reflection:

  • Write about your own perspective on the Facebook/Google/privacy issue.
  • If it makes you less likely to use free online services in the future, why? What evidence was convincing for you?
  • If you think this isn’t really a big deal and will continue or increase your use of free online services, why? What evidence was convincing for you?
  • (In either case, make sure you acknowledge the opposition. Why is the other argument not convincing for you?)

Homework: type your reflection responses directly into the same document that was your ticket in the door, due next class.

Wednesday, 3/14 (6th only)

After reviewing logic from last class and the “proof” that students were able to find for the earth being spherical, we studied our first logical fallacy — Slippery Slope. Students then used iPads to try and find examples of Slippery Slope in the articles for current events on Friday. Homework: make sure you have your ticket in the door and your Mencken essays ready for Friday.

Monday, 3/12

Due to various technological problems last class, students continued work on their Facebook Current Events entrance tickets for a bit at the start of class today. Then, we watched a clip from The Colbert Report to introduce a discussion of logic, as well as some examples of logical arguments. Homework: complete your entrance tickets and the Mencken essay, both for Friday.

Thursday, 3/8

Students completed a practice AP multiple choice test for the first hour of today’s class. Afterwards, using the iPads, students read this opinion article on Facebook from The New York Times in preparation for a current events discussion next Friday. Students were asked to write a short paragraph responding to this opinion article in Google Docs — Is this issue new to you, or had you heard it before? If you use Facebook, or Google, or any number of other free online services, what do you think about companies compiling and using your personal data in this way? — and also to try to find 1-2 related articles about Facebook, Google, user data, user privacy, targeting advertising, “free” online services, etc., and link them in their Google doc. (There were some connectivity problems and some issues using Google Docs on the iPads, so not everyone was able to complete this part of the activity.) Homework: please write the essay for the H.L. Mencken prompt (reverse side of the Thomas Paine prompt); this is due next Friday.

Tuesday, 3/6

Students turned in their final drafts of the Paine essay at the start of class. After completing a technology Survey, we reviewed a few more sample essays, talked about the reasons we thought they received the scores that they did, and then I passed out my version of the argumentative rubric. Students then traded their final drafts with a new partner and scored each others’ on a 9-1 AP scale using this rubric.

Thursday, 3/1

We read through a few sample Paine essays and talked about the data and commentary in them (and their specificity) as well as their organization. Then I gave back the graded (not AP-scored) rough drafts from the previous class. Students traded essays for peer review and started working on final drafts. Homework: complete a final draft of the Paine essay for next class.

Tuesday, 2/28

Much of class was taken up by course registration for next year. After returning from the library, we discussed our final sample essays from the Entertainment prompt and students wrote a timed essay from the Thomas Paine prompt they prepared over the weekend.

Friday, 2/24

We continued discussing the sample essays for the Entertainment argumentative prompt today — what made them good or bad and what scores students thought they earned. We also watched a TED Talk that related tangentially to the same prompt. After watching it, students attempted to use the information in the video as data to alternately defend and refute the prompt. At the end of class, I passed out these two argumentative prompts to work on over the weekend. Homework: annotate and t-chart both of these new prompts for next class.

Wednesday, 2/22

After collecting the Current Events reflections, we started class by going over the t-charts students made for the Entertainment prompt — students came up with examples for one point on their t-chart, and we all talked about the importance of specificity in assembling data. Then we spent a chunk of class going through the various course options for next year. I then visited with every student to talk about their registration options and choices while everyone read, scored, and identified good and bad points of two different responses to the entertainment prompt.

Friday, 2/17

Today was the first Current Events seminar discussion of the second semester. After collecting tickets-in-the-door and reviewing the norms, we dove right in. At the end of seminar, I posted the following prompt on the projector:

  • Do you feel it’s okay of a publication like the New York Times to single out a company like Apple? Why or why not? Does Apple have more, less, or the same responsibility as other electronics manufacturers?
  • Will this story affect your purchasing or usage decisions for consumer electronics in the future?

The rest of class was spent going over our next argumentative prompt on entertainment — students annotated and t-charted it. Homework: answer the post-seminar prompt and bring a hard copy to the next class.

Wednesday, 2/15

Students reviewed the peer edits their partners made last class, chose revisions to make, and re-wrote their essays on the ethics of grades for charity. Students also began preparing for the first Current Events discussion of the semester coming up on Friday. They wrote small, medium, and large questions and prepared a t-chart about the story from The New York Times that was for homework, and they received two new stories (paidContent and Ars Technica) to prepare as well. Homework: read and t-chart the two additional stories; bring this ticket to the Current Events seminar on Friday.

Monday, 2/13

Students peer edited each other’s grades-for-charity essay drafts from over the weekend and scored the practice ACT from the keys we made last week. Students also received a story from The New York Times on Apple and electronics manufacturing in China and had time to start them in class. Homework: finish the Times story for next class.

Thursday, 2/9

Students created grading keys for the most recent practice ACT in groups. Then we handed out a new argumentative prompt which students annotated and created t-charts for and began writing in class. Homework: finish this practice essay.

Tuesday, 2/7

Since we lost Friday to the snow day, I collected the revised SOP/PIPA outlines today. We scored the previous ACT reading tests and then after talking about the four different passages on the ACT reading test as well as some test-taking tips, students took an entire reading test straight through. For the last part of class, we introduced a new Argumentative prompt and annotated and listed defend/refute points on a T-Chart together. Homework: write the thesis statement for a defend, refute, or qualify essay for this new prompt.

Wednesday, 2/1

We continued working through the SOPA/PIPA topic for our first stab at Argumentative Essays. Students outline the other two positions they didn’t take on Monday, and then we talked about the organization of the Argumentative Essay (last couple of slides). Students then chose one of their three outlines and revised it in the new format. Homework: complete these revised outlines which I’ll collect next class.

Monday, 1/30

After a quick review of Thursday’s introduction to SOPA, PIPA, and the Argumentative Esssay, we continued with some quick web research for students to increase their knowledge and understanding of this issue. Students filled out a T-chart with pro- and anti-SOPA/PIPA information they found, wrote a thesis statement explaining their own position, identified their own position as defending, refuting, or qualifying an AP test-style statement I shared with them, and then wrote an outline as if they were going to write the resultant essay.

Thursday, 1/27

Most of the class today was spent in peer review of the Douglass Rhetorical Analysis rough drafts that were due today. Students make sure his purpose was addressed in their theses, examined how they organized their essays (choices for body paragraph topics), and spent time with our old friend claim/data/commentary. Afterwards, I introduced the basics of the Argumentative Essay as well as a brief overview of SOPA and PIPA in preparation for an activity next week. Homework: complete final drafts of the Douglass essays for Monday.

Tuesday, 1/24

As one of our last activities of the Rhetorical Analysis portion of the course, we practiced active reading today with a Dr. Seuss story, and then we read and annotated a passage used on a previous AP test. Homework: using our annotations, please write an essay examining the author’s purpose, what rhetorical devices he used, and how effective he was at achieving his purpose.

Friday, 1/20

Students completed the This I Believe project in class today by recording their essays and sharing the final MP3 file through Google Docs.

Wednesday, 1/18

Students completed a number of drafting and revision activities today, including revisiting Known-New Contract and use of Rhetorical Strategies, Devices, and Effectiveness. We also reviewed the details of the rubric and practiced with the recording software. Clean, ready-to-record final drafts are due at the start of class on Friday. Homework: finish up your essay.

Friday, 1/13

Students completed some drafting and peer review activities today to continue progress on the This I Believe essays. After giving some more specific and focused writing prompts, students traded essays to go over Known-New Contract and Rhetorical Devices, both of which were introduced last semester. Homework: get your essay to a point where you have a fairly polished and complete rough draft ready for further revision and peer review next Wednesday.

Wednesday, 1/11

After beginning our ongoing ACT prep this semester, we dove back into This I Believe. Students listened to one more essay — this time, one that a classmate had listened to but they had not. Students commented on this essay in the document where they found the essay, and then we talked about some of the commonalities among all the essays that were listened to. Students then did some quick writes to 5 different brainstorming prompts to begin developing ideas for their essays. The last 20 or so minutes of class was for continued, less-directed brainstorming and development. Homework: Have your belief and at least some of your possible anecdotes nailed down for next class; begin writing these, at least in a very rough form so you can start thinking about how to string them together effectively using rhetorical devices and known-new contract; thinking ahead, you’ll need to have a really solid rough draft by next Wednesday.

Monday, 1/9

Our first of the next several days in the library/Wired lab, we started the This I Believe project by listening to a few more essays — one together as a class, and then three of each students’ own choosing on his or her own, using a Google Docs template to shape and organize responses to each. Students shared these documents with each other and then began commenting on essays they had in common with their classmates. Homework: finish your listening activity, if you didn’t get it done in class, and then find two essays in others’ response documents that overlapped with yours to comment on.

Thursday, 1/5

To start out second semester, we went over the finals. We then launched into our first project, a This I Believe essay. We listened to a couple of essays and discussed the authors’ purposes an use of rhetorical strategies. We also talked briefly about the essays that students will write.

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