Course Syllabus AP English Literature and Composition
Advanced Placement English Literature and Compositionengages students in the practice of reading a variety of texts with the purpose of performing critical, literary analysis. This full year course is composed of three distinct sections, each preparing the student to pass the AP test in the Spring. Be assured, this is not just a test prep course; we will also examine many seminal works of World Literature. One might say that this is a class that focuses on the nuances of literary analysis with a World Literature theme. While our larger goal is to develop analytical readers and cogent writers, there are several specific goals for this course as well:
AP Literature Goals: Write an effective and coherent essay on a literary topic with a limited period of time. Generate independent and analytical discourse during class discussions. Demonstrate perceptive reading through close study of major texts representing various literary genres. Demonstrate in writing a mastery of the broader concepts identified by essential literary terms such as symbol, metaphor, allusion and archetype. Demonstrate in writing an understanding of different literary genres, modes and patterns. Articulate clearly an assessment of the behavior of the characters in various narrative works of literature. Evaluate critically the philosophies, systems of belief, and models for conduct explicitly or implicitly expressed in works of literature. Relate the values and ideas expressed in works of literature to his/her life. Make complex inferences about themes expressed in significant works of literature. Identify the stylistic elements which a writer uses to convey themes in significant works of literature.
Writing Opportunities: The primary objective of the AP English IV course is for each student to be able to write a successful college level essay. Students are encouraged to view writing as a process that involves prewriting, drafting, and revision. Each step is emphasized based upon the criteria for a specific assignment:
In class/timed essays . Timed inclass essays encourage students to work on being able to write a well argued piece in a forty minute timespan in accordance with essay section of the AP Literature Exam. Essays are graded holistically, based upon criteria developed by the College Board. Grades for these essays focus on a student’s ability to answer the essay prompt, write with stylistic maturity, and demonstrate an effective command of the mechanics of writing.
After each essay is returned, students are asked to take the essay home and rewrite a section based upon the skill set the class learning at the time. For example, students may be asked to rewrite the introduction and opening paragraph after reflecting upon the assigned passage in class. On occasion, students are given the opportunity to take the graded inclass essay home, revise it completely, and then resubmit it. In order to prepare for the AP exam, most inclass essays are handwritten. Note, however, that students also receive inclass assignments during the academic year in which they complete the essay in the computer lab, and in which they are given the opportunity to conference with the instructor as they write and receive immediate feedback.
Take home/process essays Students are given various takehome writing opportunities that challenge them to improve their skills in essay writing and creative writing. Since this class is a literature based class, most assignments focus on writing literary analysis, but note that creative writing is addressed to a limited extent. Students are given takehome essays assignments at least two weeks in advance and are given the opportunity to work on parts of the essay in class. For example, students may be directed to write their introductions or conclusions as part of a class lesson. Although students write these essays at home, they submit rough drafts to the instructor by email. At this stage in the writing process, the instructor provides individualized comments to students, based upon what they need to do to improve their essays. Feedback may include suggestions about the development of the essay’s focus, the need for stronger support for arguments, the importance of paying attention to sentence structure, or the significance of paying attention to both mechanics and content. Essays are then graded, according to a teacherdeveloped rubric that focuses on the following points: the strength of focus statement and the writer’s ability to develop the focus throughout the essay, the way the writer uses textual details to support his/her claims, the content of the essay in terms of ideas and insight, the writer’s ability to use a widerange of vocabulary, and the writer’s ability to have control over the mechanics of his/her writing. After essays are graded and returned to students, students may conference with the instructor, revise their essays, and then resubmit.
Other Writing Opportunities: During each semester, students are given the opportunity to complete an independent reading project that challenges the writers to offer to demonstrate their skills in terms of offering an indepth analysis of either a contemporary novel or a Victorian novel. Students are required to engage in discussions on an electronic discussion board as a prewriting activity to help them organize and refine their ideas. As the deadline approaches, students then submit extended openings to the instructor that demonstrate their planned focuses and that indicate the directions of their essays. The instructor reads these introductions and offers feedback that focuses on further developing their ideas.
From this point on, the writing process follows the steps outlined in the previous paragraph.
General Objectives by Quarter: Quarter One:The primary focus of the first weeks in AP English IV focus on an introduction to the various genres of literature and on writing a formal literary analysis essay. We open with an inclass essay on each of the two summer reading works,Lord of the FliesandHeart of Darkness. (Students have discussed these works during the summer on an Electronic Discussion Board.) After writing the essays, students review the essays and compare them to rubrics that follow AP writing guidelines. Eventually, students develop lists of guidelines for strong writing. These guidelines incorporate both AP structure as well as information coming from Strunk and White’sElements of Style. Overall, writing instruction emphasizes writing a focus statement, structuring an essay, supporting one’s main points, integrating quotations into assignments, and using MLA format in citations. Following our discussions of writing, students begin practicing the art of close reading through a review of the summer reading material. Specifically, students take small sections of each novel and begin dissecting, analyzing, and interpreting the works of Golding and Conrad: making arguments about their overall meaning, and building a foundation for the way they will study literature throughout the year. Students also craft a personal narrative as part of an assignment focusing on writing a college essay. The quarter ends with an indepth study of poetry with emphasis on pastoral poetry, carpe diem poetry, and Shakespearean sonnets. Through the study of poetry, students review a variety of literary terms and figures of speech. Each poem is chosen to review a specific literary device, and each poem is partnered with another to begin the practice of comparing and contrasting works. An inclass essay assignment, as well as a takehome essay assignment, serves to emphasize these skills. Students also write their own poems, following the structure of a specific poem such as a sonnet, a villanelle, or an ode. They must also include several examples of literary devices such as allusion, personification, imagery, apostrophe, simile, hyperbole, metaphor, understatement, alliteration, assonance, verbal and situational irony. A second part of this project involves kinesthetic learning: students create posters in which they make personal connections to a piece of poetry. Instruction primarily encourages students to follow TPCASTT Method to analyze poetry.
Types of Assessment Used: InClass Essay onLord of the Flies(Summer Reading) (Teacher Made) InClass Essay onHeart of Darkness(Summer Reading) (Teacher Made) Formal TakeHome Essay onLord of the Flies(Revision of InClass Essay) Essay focuses on Characterization Essay requires students to demonstrate an understanding of what it means to “Answer the Prompt.” Objective Test onLord of the Flies Test includes reading passage modeled after AP Multiple Choice Test Objective Test on Poetry Test includes questions on poetry modeled after AP Multiple Choice Test Formal TakeHome Essay on Poetry ComparisonContrast Essay
InClass Poetry Essay (1999 AP Test) InClass Poetry Essay (2005 AP Test) InClass Prose Essay (Applied Practice) Literature Connections Project Part One Students write original poems following a specific poetic structure. Part Two Students create posters making personal connections to a work on poetry.
Poetry: Primary text: Poetry: An Introduction – Fifth Edition ISBN #9780312450519 “This is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost (parody) “The Lover Not Taken” by Blanche Farley “The Passionate Shepherd to his Mistress” by Christopher Marlow “The Nymph’s Reply” by Sir Walter Raleigh “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell “To the Virgins to Make Much of Time” by Robert Herrick “Naming of Parts” by Henry Reed “War is Kind” by Stephen Crane “The War Prayer” by Mark Twain ( a short story, but we use it to compare and contrast to Reed and Crane) Shakespearean Sonnets “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll (For Grammar Lesson)
Quarter Two:Following our introduction to poetry, students begin reading and studying epic and narrative poetry. They also are introduced to the archetypal hero and the journey of the archetypal hero. Students are asked to look critically at bothBeowulf the “General Prologue” fromThe Canterbury Tales,and several individual tales including “The Knight’s Tale,” “The Miller’s Tale,” “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale,” “The Reeve’s Tale,” “The Pardoner’s Tale,” “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale,” and “The Clerk’s Tale.” Through their studies, they focus on alliteration, assonance, rhyme scheme, tone, iambic pentameter, kennings, imagery, metaphor, forms of irony, characterization, foil, and the conventions of epic poetry. We also begin our first novel study, aside from Summer Reading, with Mary Shelley’sFrankenstein. Prereading activities forFrankensteininclude reading passages from Milton’sParadise Lostand speculating the purpose of the epigraph to Shelley’s work. Students discuss the novel through a Socratic Seminar structure which allows them to engage in authentic discussion and to generate independent and analytical discourse. At the same time, students are working on Independent Reading Novels, from a list of modern works, both British and American. In their final essay on the Independent Reading Novel, students are expected to be able to make an argument about the overall meaning of the work they read and support that argument with appropriate evidence from the text. To assist students with their analysis, the Electronic Discussion Board is often used to facilitate student engagement with classmates outside of class. Throughout this
quarter, students are prompted to consider the following question: How does careful observation of textual details expand our understanding of this work?
Types of Assessment Used: InClass Essay on Prose Passage (2002 AP Test) InClass Essay on Excerpt from “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue” (Teacher Made) FormalBeowulfEssay (Timed Essay in Computer Lab) Formal TakeHome Essay onThe Canterbury Tales Essay requires students to create their own focuses, stemming from a piece of literary criticism Formal TakeHome Essay onFrankenstein Essay requires students to create their own focuses, stemming from a piece of literary criticism InClass Essay Test on Independent Reading Novel Questions modeled after open essay question on the AP exam Formal Take Home Essay on the Independent Reading Novel Essays need to make an argument about the overall meaning of the work. Monster Story Creative writing assignment in which students follow epic conventions to create their own monsters and heroes. Stories are sometimes turned in to a class book.
Texts: Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney The Canterbury Talesby Geoffrey Chaucer Excerpt fromParadise Lostby John Milton Frankensteinby Mary Shelley
NonFiction: Excerpt fromDiscipline and Punishby Foucault “Areopagitica” by John Milton ***In both of the previous reading assignments, students are expected to engage in active reading strategies, specifically through the process of annotation.
Special Assignment: Beowulf,The Musical FrankensteinSocratic Seminar (SometimesThe Canterbury Tales)
Independent Reading Choices: Invisible Manby Ralph Ellison (1988, 1989, 1991, 1994, 1997, 2001, 2004, 2005) A Lesson Before Dyingby Ernest Gaines (1999) Brave New Worldby Aldous Huxley (1989, 2005) A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Manby James Joyce (1986, 1988, 1996, 2004, 2005) Obasanby Joy Kogawa (1994, 1995, 2004, 2005, 2006) Sulaby Toni Morrison (1992, 1997, 2002, 2004) 1984by George Orwell (1987, 1994, 2005) Mrs. Dallowayby Virginia Woolf (1994, 1997, 2005)
***Dates in parentheses indicate year that the text appears as an option for the Open Essay Question on the AP Literature Exam.
Quarter Three:By the third quarter, students turn completely from poetry to drama. We also begin to spiral skills learned in the First and Second Quarters. In addition to continuing our focus on writing a strong literary analysis essay, students now begin an in depth study of Shakespeare. We begin looking at comedy withA Midsummer Night’s Dream, and we consider its connection toThe Canterbury Tales. Then we compare comedy to tragedy as we begin to read and analyzeThe Tragedy of HamletandThe Tragedy of King Lear. Concepts on which we focus include the three forms of irony, the definition of tragedy, the tragic hero, and hubris. Emphasis is also put on preparation for the AP Exam. Simultaneously, students are working on Independent Reading Novels, from a list of primarily Victorian works.
Texts: Primary text – 12 Plays: A Portable Anthology ISBN #9780312402099 A Midsummer Night’s Dreamby William Shakespeare The Tragedy of Hamletby William Shakespeare The Tragedy of King Learby William Shakespeare
Independent Reading Choices: Pride and Prejudiceby Jane Austen (1983, 1988, 1992, 1997) Jane Eyreby Charlotte Bronte (1991, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997) The Mill on the Flossby George Eliot (1990, 1992) Wuthering Heightsby Emily Bronte (1990, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1997) ***Dates in parentheses indicate year that the text appears as an option on the Open Essay Question for the AP Literature Exam.
Types of Assessment Used: InClass Prose Essay (“I Stand Here Ironing”) (Former AP Test) InClass Prose Essay (AP 2002) InClass Prose Essay (AP 2001) Practice AP Multiple Choice Test (Hamlet, Applied Practice) Practice AP Multiple Choice Test (King Lear, Applied Practice) HamletJournal Assignment Informal, Exploratory Writing through Daily Journal Assignments HamletMultiple Choice Test (Teacher Made) Take HomeHamletEssay Take HomeKing LearEssay th InClass Essay Test on Independent Reading Novel (partially 4 quarter) Questions modeled after open essay question on the AP exam th Formal Take Home Essay on the Independent Reading Novel (partially 4 quarter) Essays need to make an argument about the overall meaning of the work.
Quarter Four:In addition to preparing for the AP examination, students finish our unit on tragedy and begin our study of the modern novel, specifically through the study of Achebe’sThings Fall Apart. We also spiral skills learned in the First, Second, and Third Quarters. We review our poetry analysis through our study of Yeats’ “The Second
Coming” and question how an epigraph connects to the overall meaning of a work. We consider whether or notThings Fall Apartfits the definition of tragedy and whether or not the character of Okonkwo is a tragic hero. Students discuss the novel through a Socratic Seminar structure which allows them to engage in authentic discussion and to generate independent and analytical discourse. Finally, we finish the year with a film study ofLittle Big Manin which we draw together the essential questions we have studied throughout the year. Specifically, we reflect upon how societal standards affect our perceptions of good and evil.
Types of Assessment Used: Reflection Essay onThings Fall Apart(SemiFormal Writing, Follows AP Exam) Reflection Essay on “The Second Coming” (SemiFormal Writing, Follows AP Exam) Reflection Essay onLittle Big Man(SemiFormal Writing, Follows AP Exam) Poetry InClass Essay (Teacher Made)
Texts: Things Fall Apartby Chinua Achebe Special Assignment: Things Fall ApartSocratic Seminar