Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition Syllabus for 2015-2016



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Mr. Vickery’s Syllabus

Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition Syllabus for 2015-2016

Course Overview

The 2015-2016 year represents a new year for students who are entering AP English Literature and Composition and continuing to receive educational instruction at University High School. Before moving up to this level of English, it is presumed that incoming seniors for the current academic year for which this syllabus covers began their preparations during their freshmen and sophomore years and furthered that concentration in AP Language and Composition or Honors courses during their junior year, which occurred during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Skills that have been acquired through advanced reading and writing from previous AP course work will be enlarged and sharpened in AP English Literature and Composition. All students will face challenges through assigned reading projects, and they will expand their writing abilities to include textual support gleaned from past and present readings. The intention of this course is to continue teaching students to employ correct grammar and varied sentence construction as well as implementing newly studied and rich vocabulary to produce quality writing and increase writing scores by Advance Placement standards. This level of AP English will expect all AP students to engage the reading material in all facets and work to master the skills necessary to do well on the AP exam. The goals of my course are to read time tested material, discuss it, and write about it with a focused purpose to unlock meaning from the text. It is hoped—even with the rigors of this course firmly in place—that senior AP students will have fun in the course and find it rewarding to examine literature at a depth that they may have never before experienced.
C1—The course includes an intensive study of representative works such as those by authors cited in the AP English Course Description. By the time the student completes English Literature and Composition, he or she will have studied during high school literature from both British and American writers, as well as works written in several genres from the sixteenth century to contemporary times.

Finally, to keep the momentum of previously learned skills in motion—and move them toward acquiring new ones—it is imperative that incoming senior AP students have completed the Summer Readings assigned by the English Department staff at University High School at the end of the 2014-2015 school year. Students should have read two of the following literary works: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith and/or Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, and/or Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, which they will examine early on at the beginning of the new school year and use them as a springboard to review prior knowledge and move toward acquiring new knowledge. These texts will be seized upon to begin the process of reviewing literary devices; to learn about time tested methods of literary analysis; to become aware of literary periods; and, to extract relevant textual support to substantiate assertions about the texts and meanings.


General Expectations and Objectives:

High school AP students will read challenging, college level texts in an assortment of genres (short story, novel, plays, poetry, and essays). The principal objectives for the AP students are: to develop skills in recognizing writers’ use of literary devices (character, imagery, point-of-view, setting, symbolism, etc.), to understand the diversity of syntax (diversity of sentence structures to include an awareness of coordinate, correlative, and subordinate clauses, parallel structure, rhetorical devices, etc.), and to develop organization skills when writing (emphasis, repetition, support, and transition), which are steps aimed at acquiring insight into the establishment of tone and how it contributes to a given work’s thematic intention (what is a literary work’s overall meaning). These points of instruction are meant to form a scaffold in which the AP student will move upward, toward a greater awareness of a writer’s style of writing and develop their own writing style.

By engaging in methodical reading and writing exercises and actively participating in teacher and student constructed discussions, AP students will expand their opportunities to use language effectively and learn new writing techniques and use them to supplement their own writing. It is hoped that their writing will begin to reflect collegiate sophistication.

Another purpose of AP English Literature and Composition is to enable AP students to recognize what has made the published writings of authors and writers distinct and worthy of publication. This is also purposed so AP students will commence understanding why such writings have stood the test of time and how such writings can instruct AP students to replicate this level of writing in their own writing productions by employing the same effective techniques. This will require AP students to learn or reacquaint themselves with various modes of writing—expository, persuasive, and analytical writing—and understand these modes are at work by published writers whom these students class will study. Students will be writing in these modes to become prepared for the AP exam and become effective writers in their future careers.

I, the teacher, will provide myriad opportunities—through in class and out-of-class timed writings, through journal writings, and through formal, extended essays to be written at home—to improve their own writing. The teacher will hold regular, one-on-one meetings with students to discuss their writings, so they can and will use what is discussed in rewriting activities and future writing activities. By the end of 2014-2015 school year, students will have written and received feedback on thirty (possibly more) in-class and out-of-class timed writings and several take home extended essays (approximately one a week for the entire year). These practice writes will be filed in student writing folders and maintained for them to re-examine as a type of study guide for the essay portion of the AP exam. The purpose is to make this a tool for review, so AP students can see what they did and did not do to receive the scores that they will receive. Finally, students will complete independent extended research papers—at least one per semester (two in total). The activities delineated in the following pages of this syllabus will afford numerous opportunities for teacher instruction, pre-writing, writing, editing, revision, and teacher feedback for each of these writing opportunities.

Specific Course Objectives: This course will follow the strategies set forth and stressed by Collegeboard. By the end of this course, students will have gained the knowledge to be able to perform these important skills:


  • To study multi-layered and resonant texts from a wide variety of genres and time periods.

  • To enlarge knowledge of language’s nuances so that literature can be analyzed, interpreted, evaluated, and appreciated on multiple levels.

  • To take possession of any literary work presented and execute a systematic, close reading through highlighting and annotating them

to penetrate the multiple layers of meaning to facilitate

comprehension of literature and language.



  • To learn the modes of analysis in order to engage in and maintain

healthy and perceptive discussions of literature with respect to

stylistic and thematic elements within texts, with emphasis placed

on autobiographical, historical, and social relevance being treated

by a given text.



  • To foster a stylistic maturity by writing in various modes and to enhance both verbal skills and command of language to such a degree that writing will reflect an understanding of grammar and language to produce on command thoughtful and meaningful essays.

  • To learn, to use, and to identify the three basic elements of writing (Logos, Pathos, and Ethos) from which traditional writings—arguments and essays stem.

  • To compose literary assessments of authors’ works through the use of distinguished and well chosen textual substantiation to produce enlightened, investigative observations that will transcend the general and move upward toward a specific, analytical claim about an author’s literary piece.

  • To progress towards a stylistic maturity by writing in various modes through the employment and integration of effective writing

strategies, which will be gleaned from the published works of time

tested authors and writers.



  • To compose literary assessments of authors’ works through the use of distinguished and well chosen textual substantiation to produce enlightened, investigative observations that will transcend the general and move upward toward a specific, analytical claim about an author’s literary piece.

  • To be acquainted with literary backgrounds and theories such as the Hero’s/Heroine’s Journey, the Anti-hero, etc.

  • To develop a strong sense or command of articulation and creation of a vocabulary to become comfortable with and referencing of literary terminology in class discussions and in writing assessments.

  • To encourage and engender scholarly confidence and individual

poise in the creation of free thinking and responsible writing.

Literary Criticism Part I:

The core component of literary analysis rests in the application of the standard theories for analysis of a text. Over the years, hypotheses about a text’s meaning and the number of theories have enlarged and enabled readers of literature and writing to sift through the intricacies of the printed word and guide them through the complexities found in the larger works of words. The theories available for literary studies have evolved into a means to conduct readers through both the reading and analysis process. They also help readers to comprehend such issues as the author’s intent, the motivations of the characters, of the narrators, and, yes, even that of the authors; even issues of setting and plot construction are not immune to the application of the varied critical approaches when analysis of literature begins. What is purposed for readers—in this case students of AP English Literature and Composition—is to learn what defines these critical approaches and determine for themselves which is the more valid to use for analysis of a text. Therefore, it will be paramount that students fully and completely involve themselves at this stage of their education and learn the key tenets that comprise these critical approaches as well as understand that the application of “one” critical theory to a text can be viewed and is often viewed as incomplete. Students—as a group project—will be required to research and present to the class a brief exposition and outline of the following critical approaches:


Reader Response Psychological Naturalism/Realism Feminist

New Historicism Structuralism Post-Structuralism Formalist Post-Colonial Post-Modern New Criticism Pluralist

Contextual Receptive Archetypal/Mythical Marxist
Literary Criticism Part II:

Although the above list of critical approaches is a worthy and sufficient list of analytical hardware for students to become familiar with and employ to examine literature, there is one distinct apparatus in the literary analysis process of which AP students must become familiar: intertextuality. It is this tool—for the lack of a better term—that stresses the need for AP students to read the wide and varying range of literature to be found in this syllabus. Students will need a working knowledge of all literary devices employed by essayists, writers, playwrights, and poets, which will be covered in this course. In making use of this other tool is to bring students to an understanding that this critical piece is a means whereby a text becomes multi-layered and a means in which an experienced writer wraps layer around layer of meaning within a text. AP students will learn what Roger Webster states in his book Studying Literary Theory : An Introduction, which is “If anything the writer is not thought of as the great originator, the creative genius, but rather a synthesizer [my italics]: someone who draws together and orchestrates linguistic raw materials” (99).


Continuing Coaching Activities and Commentary Procedures involving Writing

Listed below are various activities I will implement at myriad stages throughout the school year in order to supply ample instruction, opportunities for writing and rewriting, and commentary on students' practice writings. These activities and adaptations of them shall be repeated throughout the year when necessary to meet the needs of the students. (This is by no means meant to suggest that these embody every strategy that shall be used; they are but only indiscriminate varieties tendered for the syllabus requirements.)


Instruction will emphasize close reading and how to execute annotating both short and long prose, poetry, and drama.

For short and long prose pieces, I will make use of the overhead projector or data projector as a means to transmit graphic organizers and other literary analysis tools onto the movie screen for students to participate in the process of deconstructing the text in question. Short fiction will be the starting point for this type of activity and will continue on into longer works of fiction. Students will receive hard copies of a wide range of graphic organizers that are designed to target specific literary elements such as character, plot, setting, symbol, etc. In the beginning, this will be a teacher guided activity, requiring students to supply the information while the teacher fills in the document to generate class discussion. After the modeling process is concluded and students learn the procedure for this activity, students will receive different graphic organizers and be placed into small groups to cover the same short story to complete a full array of analysis of the given text that is under examination as well as for subsequent short and long fiction. This process will be repeated for future short and long pieces of literature, but the graphic organizers will be rotated within the groups to maximize exposure to this form analytical study. A computer, document scanner, and flash drive will be made available in the classroom for students to scan their final products, and the groups will be required to pull together an agreed upon group product to present to the class.


For poetry, a similar process will be used for its examination. In the beginning, the teacher will use graphic organizers that target poetic elements such as onomatopoeia, hyperbole, simile, metaphor, syntax, irony, etc., to develop a general framework for students to discover for themselves the poem’s meaning. This will be executed to draw out the basics of a given poem. This process will mutate into placing a copy of the poem onto an over head projector or through the data projector where a line by line annotation and highlighting of the work will occur. This will be purposed to locate the voice of the poem; to learn what the tone is; to learn what the poet’s purpose is; and, why is the form of poetry used as opposed to using a short story or longer work of fiction or even another poetic form. In the end, deriving some type of meaning or interpretation with respect to the critical approaches will be one of the more significant goals.
Strategies for strengthening writing to improve the AP level essay

AP students will receive basic grammar and composition instruction. Greater emphasis will be placed on grammar that has greater influence on the composition component. The intent is not to expect students to learn how to identify parts of speech when asked; however, they will receive instruction on grammar involving the identification of sentence structures and lengths to employ in their own writing in addition to types of sentences, verb expansion beyond the commonly used or pat ones, and the most commonly used forms of punctuation to improve writing. There will be a hefty dose of examination of punctuation, especially the commonly used ones. It is planned that grammar and composition analysis and study will begin immediately and wane as the students move through the school year and progress in the practice writing phases. The grammar work will be graded and go into the grade book in the category of writing because it relates to the area.



Procedures to make simple responses to both expository and analytical writing prompts

Students will receive copies of several of the previous year’s AP essay prompts and will be asked to demonstrate how to make the prompt more accessible (this will be an ongoing activity throughout the school year). The teacher will first model the activity by rewriting or rewording the previously used AP essay questions, changing the language with more familiar or comfortable synonyms/antonyms and/or changing the sentence construction, while avoiding changing the intent of the prompt. Next, the teacher will make a list of plausible questions with regards to what the AP essay question is asking the writer to do. Once modeled, students will perform the same tasks individually and in small group discussions. This activity will require students to annotate and highlight the original prompts for clarification. Once the activity has been completed, results will be shared in both Socratic Seminar format to produce the most effect in the short term. Next, the class will move into a large group discussion to maximize the long term effect of the lesson. For homework and in class work, the assignment will be protracted to a practice essay; however, students will select the best of the “modified” or reworded versions of the prompt, while using the annotated and highlighted original as source material, to execute their own practice writing of the prompt. Students will receive group feedback during the initial stage of the activity. Once the practice writing has been completed, students will receive one-on-one individual feedback on the final product. Of course, the Collegeboard grading scale (0-9) will be used and then converted into a numeric grade for the grade book.


Peer group comparison, discussion, and evaluation of sample essays generated by current students and from previously taken and graded essays for the above assignment

Before students can participate in the peer edit process or take part in small and large group discussions about the writing process at the AP level or actively evaluate other students’ writing, they will receive several days of instruction on the AP essay exam using previously released essay exam writings, provided as samples for instruction. Students will learn what a quality AP essay is or looks like; they will examine what AP trained graders of students’ work are looking for at AP level writing; and, they will review what the AP rubrics stress about how the AP essay exams will be graded to gain insight into how to write quality essays to earn top and/or passing scores. After these initial steps are covered in class, students will read several sample essays from previously released AP essay exam writings for student practice and grade them based on the instruction and guidance they will receive from me in the afore-mentioned areas. Next, students will evaluate their peers’ essays written from the revised or rewritten prompts in the lesson mentioned in the above outline. Students will be required to provide written feedback to their peers, explaining why the practice essay that is under review for grading received the AP score from their peer.


The feedback process will not stop at the peer edit phase. The teacher will conduct a final review of all peer edited, practice essays and provide a one-on-one, individual meeting with students discuss their writing. I will continuously review and provide lessons when necessary on standard grammar and composition strategies (weak verb use, diction, poor or incorrect use of punctuation, lack of or inadequate supporting details, failure to address the prompt, problems with evenness or fluidity, etc.) for students to implement in future practice writing assignments and rewrites. At several writing junctures throughout the year, students will be required to execute rewrites on practice essays. These rewrites will be subjected to peer edit review and then teacher review. Students who achieve a solid 8 or higher or 7/8 range (using the AP scale, 0-9, for all assessing) on the first attempt will be exempt from rewrites and grade book grades will be assessed or adjusted accordingly. The goal is to motivate students to take the practice write sessions seriously and reward them when the production, on a first attempt, is of high quality. The plan is to assign between twenty (five per nine weeks and such as the types on the AP English Literature exam) practice writes throughout the school year to prepare for the actual exam. There will be additional fifteen shorter writing assessments (Claim/Data/ Warrant writing assignments and others of various lengths) throughout the school year.
Once students have completed several practice writes, peer edits, and grading, they will extend their practice and training to learn more about structuring an essay and providing detailed support. How? Students will take the several practice essays that they will have written by a certain point in the school year and compare their scored practice essays with those sample exam essay responses that will be used as teaching tools. The purpose is for AP English IV students to take a meaningful look into their own writing and physically make a comparison between their essays and the sample exam essay responses to determine how the approaches and final products of the two are similar or different. My students will be questioned as to how their approaches to the prompt are similar or different than the student who supplied the sample exam response. Differences, similarities, writing style, syntax, diction, evidence of detailed support, tone, etc. will be many of elements that students will look for and compare between the two sets of writings to further their understanding of how to approach the essay prompts and how to produce a quality end product for AP essay graders.
Instruction on how to interpret Collegeboard’s rubrics and use it as a form of instruction for essay exams and feedback for practice essay exams

This particular topic has been alluded to and briefly mentioned in previous outlines in this syllabus; however, it is important to reiterate and elaborate on it. The primary rubric that will be used to generate scores for my students practice writings and essays will reflect Collegeboard’s rubric (0-9). This is the method of scoring actual AP essay exams, and it will be the method used throughout the year in my class on practice writes and formal, extended essays. Students will learn how their writing will be judged through the degree process to which this grading system corresponds. More importantly, students will become familiar with what justifies the appending a score to a piece of writing. Immediately, students will be exposed to the grading scale and how it functions—the first week of class. Moreover, all essays and practice writings in class, no matter the breadth and length of an assigned practice write, will use the rubric guide and score range when assigning a score to the essay—in both peer edit practice sessions and in allocations of scores by me.


Student consultations, technological tools and writing folders that will be used for improving writing.

I will hold periodic consultations with students regarding their essays and writing as much as time permits. During each nine weeks, the plan is to hold at least three official, class long meetings (six per semester) to discuss “individual” issues at the point of writing. The frequency of the meetings will lessen or increase, depending on student success during the practice write phases. Again, the primary target areas that the teacher and students (during peer edit sessions) will focus on will be: answering the writing prompts and not straying from them in responses; detailed textual/inter-textual support; demonstrating command of literary devices as they pertain to meaning of text as well as addressing the writing prompts; adequate or sufficient command of English language skills to produce fluid writing that also reflects sound grammar skills. Rewriting exercises will occur to further help students see where they made their mistakes and make corrections on previous writings.


Additionally, teacher and students will make use of technology to hold meetings—when it cannot occur in the classroom setting—to discuss their writings. Teacher will require students to familiarize themselves with my personal page that University High School provides on its main webpage, so students can acquire important academic information and material. Lastly, the teacher will require students to open an additional free online service known as Remind 101. This service provides the teacher with ability to send quick but important reminders about upcoming assignments to the students’ cell-phones, so they will remain on task with all assignments. These services will allow me to post assignments for students to acquire quickly and do so without delay from home once I have posted the assignments or the reminders. These services will also allow students to communicate with me via a built in e-mail/blog service instead of going through traditional e-mail services or having to wait to communicate during class time. Students can use these systems to submit scanned copies of their rewrites only in order for me to provide feedback. These methods, involving technology, will be used to give specific individual instruction and feedback while also facilitating revisions to be executed in future writing assignments. Students who do not have Internet access at homes can submit hard copies for re-examination and feedback will be given in class.
Lastly, students will maintain a writing folder to keep track of “all” writing samples produced during the school year. The purpose for this is for students to use this as a method to review successfully completed writing assignments to prepare for the final AP exam that is to come. Periodic checks—for a grade—will be made of writing folders to ensure that students are keeping track of “all” writing assignments, especially successfully completed ones for review up to the time of the AP exam.

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