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Jeanne Mayers


AP English III Syllabus




AP English III:  English Language and Composition/Rhetoric in Pre-20th Century and Present Day Texts







Course Description


The Advanced Placement English III Language and Composition Class is intended to help students become skilled readers and interpreters of prose, written in a variety of genres and rhetorical contexts.  The purpose in teaching students to become more expert readers is to translate that into teaching them how to become improved, skillful and more insightful writers.  It is only through reading and analyzing expert prose that students can learn to recognize what great rhetoric is, and in turn, begin to model rhetorical strategies in their own writing.  In order to be skillful writers, students need to become aware of the many purposes for writing, the interactions among a writer’s purpose and audience expectations, along with a variety of subject matter.  Another very important part of this course is the development of research skills that will enable students to evaluate, utilize, synthesize, and cite source materials.


In addition, the AP teacher facilitates and guides the students.  The classroom is viewed as a “community of learners” where the students’ opinions are valued, and everyone is perceived as a participant to an argument.  The majority of the activities and assignments are student-centered and student-driven rather than teacher-centered.   For this reason, students need to maintain a high degree of self-discipline and view their role in the class as one of extreme importance. Participation is a must.


Course Requirements


In order to be eligible for an AP class, students must demonstrate enthusiasm and high work ethic.  They typically have scored an Excellent on the English II End of Course Test, enjoy reading, have high grades in previous English classes, and have been recommended by another teacher, their previous English II teacher, or a member of the administration.  However, the class is not limited to strict entrance guidelines as the AP College Board guidelines state that AP classes should not discriminate or exclude any willing participant. Their Equity and Access Policy strongly encourages educators to make their AP programs accessible and open to all willing and academically prepared students. Therefore, anyone who wishes to take the class will not be denied entrance, but will still be expected to follow the challenging standards and produce appropriate coursework as set by AP/College Board in the class regardless of previous learning behaviors, problems, disabilities, etc. 




Course Philosophy


  1.  Because English III is typically taught as American literature, the English III AP Class will also focus on American writing and thought, specifically the philosophical underpinnings of such literature. 
  2. The course uses both fiction and non- fiction, believing that all works have a rhetorical purpose, though most of the course will be dedicated to non-fiction.  The premise of this is that a true, real-life, non-fiction argument serves as better examples of “textual evidence”  for students to use as proof in their own arguments.
  3. The study of tone, syntax, voice, vocabulary/diction, imagery, and other rhetorical and stylistic devices is organic, and will be learned through the depth and variety of the works studied in the class, as well as through vocabulary quizzes and practice prompts and multiple choice questions from previous AP exams and other practice tests.
  4. Students will be taught and required to write in a variety of forms (both informal and formal), such as narrative, expository, analytical, and argumentative, about a variety of subjects, both past and present, historical, fictional, political, cultural (past and popular), and even personal experiences.
  5. Students will proceed through the writing process, proceeding through several drafts, steps, and revision stages, both aided by the teacher and their peers, again impressing upon the fact that this course is designed to be student driven.  This process will also include additional teacher instruction and feedback on their papers, both before and after revisions, that will help students develop skills such as:  using appropriate and mature vocabulary and word choices, using a variety of sentence structures, forming logical organization, displaying coherence, using effective transitions, using literary devices for emphasis, balancing general and specific ideas, controlling tone, establishing and maintaining voice, etc.
  6. The course requires a multitude of nonfiction readings (essays, journalistic articles, political writing, science writing, nature writing, autobiographies/biographies, diaries, journals, criticisms, historical speeches, etc.) that are selected to give students opportunities to identify and explain an author’s use of rhetorical strategies and techniques – basically, students will learn to identify and recognize how writers form and defend their arguments  -- (Sometimes, fiction and poetry will also be interwoven or assigned, with the sole purpose of teaching students how to understand the various effects that are formed through a writer’s rhetorical and linguistic diction)
  7. Students will also learn to analyze graphics and visual images as forms of text themselves, as well as political cartoons and advertisements.
  8. Students will learn a variety of procedures for annotating rhetorical texts, specifically focusing on Joliffe’s Rhetorical Framework Design, which forces students to explore exigence, audience, purpose, logos, ethos, pathos, tone, organization/structure/form, diction, syntax, imagery, and figurative language within a text.  Through this continual exploration students will begin to recognize the rhetorical structure of arguments.
  9. Students will understand how to defend, challenge, and qualify arguments in a persuasive essay, and how to make the best choices for their arguments…when to defend, when to challenge, and when to qualify. 
  10. Students will learn what it means to synthesize and how to synthesize effectively through their writing/arguments, by understanding and identifying claim, data, and assumptions (both spoken and unspoken) that sources provide.
  11. Students will study and review the most frequently used skills that are utilized in Multiple Choice stems (question types).
  12. In order to practice the particular composition skills needed for success on the AP Language Exam, the skill focus will be as follows:
    1. Analysis of Rhetorical Strategies and Devices (Semester 1)
    2. Documented (Modern Language Association “MLA”) and Undocumented Persuasive/Argumentative Writing that stresses the synthesis of a variety of sources (Semester 1 and 2)
    3. Comparing and Contrasting through Advertising (Semester 2)
    4.  In addition, other skills will be woven throughout and within as needed – such as evaluating and implementing the AP essay scoring guide, current event discussion and quizzes, novel readings and activities, vocabulary quizzes, ACT test prep activities, EOC practice/review, advertising techniques, Socratic seminars and debates, Springboard embedded assessments,  practice AP simulated testing days, research projects, etc.


Major Graded Assignments


  1.  Rhetorical Essay Test:  Students will write at least one timed Formal Rhetorical Essay in Semester 1.  They will write on a topic chosen from a previous AP exam, and they will write on this impromptu topic within a 50 minute class period.  This graded essay will be individual and count as a test grade.  However, students will first be guided through the process of annotating and analyzing rhetorical questions/prompts during previous class lessons and activities.  Students will have discussed several rhetorical essays as examples, annotated them in both whole class and small group discussion, and written several practice essays and responses to rhetorical prompts. They will also have evaluated and practiced scoring their peers’ practice essays and sample essays using the AP scoring guidelines.  After the Formal Rhetorical Essay is graded by the teacher, according to the AP Essay Scoring Guidelines, the teacher will review and discuss, with the class, the common mistakes and issues that students had “as a whole class” with that particular essay and/or the rhetorical essay as a whole. Then, students will be given their individual essays back with more specific comments on their own essays.  The teacher may even allow students to make a list of 3 – 5 areas of concern that they feel their essay has before turning it in for a grade.  This will help the teacher focus on individual student – driven concerns.  
  2. Persuasive Essay Formal Writing Test – Students will write a minimum of at least one timed persuasive essay on a debatable topic from a previous AP exam in both Semester 1 and Semester 2.  The prompt will also include outside sources that students will be asked to integrate into their argument.   Previous to this test, they will have reviewed, analyzed, and discussed several sample persuasive essays, as well as graded several student samples, using the AP Exam Scoring Guide.  In addition, they will write a persuasive essay in class, choosing their own debatable topic, approved by the teacher. They will use at least 4 outside sources to argue their topic.  Outside sources will consist of articles, journals, critical essays, web based sources, literary selections, visuals, advertisements, etc.  For this in class assignment students will be allowed to draft, peer and self-edit as well as correct edits from the teacher before presenting the essay as a final test grade. As part of the editing process, students will also grade their essays according to the AP Exam Scoring Guide, and make any necessary changes before turning in a final draft to the teacher. After this essay is graded and returned, and discussed by teacher, students will take the individual timed formal persuasive essay writing test.
  3. Synthesis Essay Formal Writing Test - Students will write a minimum of at least two timed synthesis essays on a debatable topic from previous AP exams, both during semester 2.  The prompt will also include outside sources that students will be asked to integrate into their argument.   Previous to this test, they will have reviewed, analyzed, and discussed several sample synthesis essays, as well as graded several student samples, using the AP Exam Scoring Guide.  In addition, they will have practiced annotating several sources for synthesis essays as well as practiced several strategies for writing effective synthesis essays.  Students will also have written a synthesis essay in class, choosing from a list of prompts provided by the teacher, and sources, from past AP exams. During this in class assignment students will be allowed to annotate, draft, peer and self-edit as well as correct edits from the teacher before presenting the essay as a final grade. As part of the editing process, students will also grade their essays according to the AP Exam Scoring Guide, and make any necessary changes before turning in a final draft to the teacher. After this essay is graded and returned, and discussed by teacher, students will take the individual timed synthesis essay formal writing test.
  4. Comparison Contrast Essay – Students will write a comparison contrast essay during semester 2 exploring advertising techniques, comparing the techniques of two ads that are advertising the same product in different ways.  They will examine technique, style, balance, argument, font, color scheme, etc. in each of their ads.  They will also use at least 3 outside sources in this essay.  They may choose which ad is the most effective in their opinion or they may choose to present the two ads equally if they feel that both are equally effective.  Students will go through the writing process, completing brainstorming worksheets, peer and self editing, and practice essay scoring based on a rubric provided by the teacher, that is based on the AP Scoring guide.  They will also review and discuss several sample essays from previous students before writing their own.  The final draft of their essay will be a 100 point test grade, though it will be written, edited, and revised in class, and not graded as a timed exam.
  5.  Novel Assessment:  Students will read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain,  and The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald during Semester 1.  In Semester 2 they will read The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison and The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne. They will complete dialectical journals as they read through the novels.  Students will typically have about a month, or 4-5 weeks to complete the reading of the novel, and their journals, independently.  For Invisible Man, student will instead complete Imagery Journals, which helps students see how motifs and images connect and work in a long novel such as this one.  They also learn how to track an image through an entire work of literature, which leads to great discussions about style.  The teacher will assign benchmark due-dates and give small quizzes so that students can be sure that they are on track.  Upon deep discussion of the novel in class, the student will have already read the novel and will/should have a basic understanding of the content.  They will use class time to discuss deeper rhetorical strategies used in the novels, such as tone, figurative language, plot development, conflict, etc. After discussion of the novel on a deeper level, students will be given a rhetorical writing test, with a topic based on the novel.  This will also be timed.
  6. Current Events Quizzes/Tests – Students will be required to read, discuss, and take notes on weekly current events.  These will be presented in several ways throughout the week – students will learn about one historical event every Monday that is teacher driven.  Students will then independently research or read about another current event that is current/modern day – can be local or national – they will write a journal entry on this event and present and discuss their events in groups on Thursdays. Students should take notes on all events discussed in their groups.  Each group will quickly present a summary of the events discussed in their group to the rest of the class, who will also take notes on what is presented. This will be done as a bell work/starter activity.  Students will turn in their journals for both the teacher driven topic and their own individually chosen topics every Thursday for bell work points.  In addition, every 2 weeks students will be given a quiz on the current events discussed that month.
  7. Vocabulary/Word Walls – students will continually add terms to a word wall in the classroom.  These terms will be comprised mostly of literary and rhetorical devices, figurative language, advertising techniques, etc….students will be tested on these words every two weeks with their current event quizzes. The terms will be cumulative and students will be responsible for thwith terms associated with all of the novels that they read – these activities will consist of word analogies, synonym and antonym charts, root words/origins, etc. 
  8. Multiple Choice Practice Tests – Students will review and implement several test taking strategies for multiple choice questions, using samples from old AP exams, as well as from AP Practice Exam text books and other reference materials. Once a week, students will take a practice multiple choice quizzes that will count as bell work activities. At the end of each quarter, students will take a timed practice multiple choice test that will be counted as a test grade.
  9. Semester Portfolios – At the end of each semester (1 and 2) students will turn in a portfolio showcasing all of their writing for that semester.  They will correct and edit their previously graded essays and each portfolio will also include a timed midterm/final writing exam (Semester 1 exam will be rhetorical and Semester 2 exam will be synthesis).  The portfolio will be graded holistically, and it will count as a midterm and/or final exam grade.    


Other Graded Assignments and Course Work


     Students will participate in class discussions, group work, debates, and Socratic seminars to name a few.  They will analyze literature using graphic organizers such as TPCAST, Soapstone, RAFT, notecards, short answer questions on reading assignments, reading quick checks, etc.  In addition they will be graded on annotating practice as well as practice reading and understanding prompts.  Grammar units and practice quizzes will also appear throughout the year as needed.




Course Outline


Unit 1:  The Art of Rhetoric and Analysis


Novel:  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Great Gatsby




Skills Covered: 




--Rhetorical Framework and Diagram (The Rhetorical Triangle, SOAPS, appeals to Ethos, Pathos, and Logos, Conceding and Refuting, Using Images as sources/analyzing Visual texts,  determining and identifying effective and ineffective rhetoric, etc), Rhetorical Terms, Schemes, and Tropes, Joliffe’s Structure, Reading and Annotating an Editorial, a Sermon, a Presidential Speech, a documentary,  etc. as rhetoric, understanding Satire and Satirical Terms, how to do a close reading, understanding and dissecting essay prompts, annotating sample rhetorical essays using a specific AP scoring guide, practicing rhetoric through multiple choice questions, studying and discussing current events, both worldly and local, historic and present-day.




Required Reading will include but not be limited to the following:


Selected Chapters from the text Language of Composition


 “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” – J. Edwards


“Speech to the Virginia Convention”  - P. Henry


Alfred Green’s speech in Philadelphia – April 1861 – during Civil War


Wendell Phillips’ Abolitionist Speech


Fredrick Douglass “Learning how to Read and Write”


Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”


A Collection of Presidential Election Speeches, including JFK, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, Obama, and Romney


Several literary criticisms of Huck Finn


Satirical samples from The Onion


Environmentalists’ Passages from renowned scientist Edward O. Wilson’s book The Future of Life (2002)


Rachel Carson – excerpt from Silent Spring


Jennifer Price’s essay “The Plastic Pink Flamingo:  A Natural History.”            


Sanders’ response to Staying Put:  Making a Home in a Restless World


Richard Louv’s passage from Last Child in the Woods


N. Hawthorne’s “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment”


Emerson’s “American Scholar”


Thoreau’s “On Keeping a Private Journal”


Steve Martin’s “Writing is Easy”


Peter Elbow “Freewriting”


Ben Franklin “Moral Perfection”


Whitman’s “Slang in America”


Anzaldua “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”


Walden video


Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”


Selections from Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare:  Speeches by Antony and Brutus






Unit 2:  The Art of Argumentation/Persuasion


Novel:  The Great Gatsby Continued and The Scarlet Letter


Skills Covered:


Analyzing, evaluating, and shaping arguments, staking claims, different types of claims (claims of fact, claims of value, claims of policy), moving from a claim to a thesis, presenting evidence (relevant, accurate, and sufficient), logical fallacies, personal/first-hand evidence, anecdotes, historical evidence, current events, quantitative evidence, shaping argument, warrants, Toulmin model, analyzing visual texts as argument, evaluating and annotating arguments, understanding/dissecting a persuasive prompt, understanding DCQ (defend, challenge, qualify), answering MC practice test questions.  Students will also view documentaries as text for persuasive argument prompts and touch on satire again through articles and visual texts, such as political cartoons and advertisements.


Required Reading will include but not be limited to the following:


Miller’s The Crucible & Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter


Charlotte Gilman Perkins’ The Yellow Wallpaper


Hemingway’s “A Clean Well-Lighted Place”


Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”


Faulkner’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find”


Booker T. Washington’s speech  “The Atlanta Exposition Address”


Robert Lake’s “An Indian Father’s Plea”


Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue”


George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language”


Vartan Gregorian’s “America Still on Top”


Raymond Schroth’s “Abolish High School Football!”


Jack O’Connell’s “Time to Raise the Bar in High Schools”


David Bouchier “Let’s Hear it for the Cheerleaders!”


Bill Brennen’s “An Inside Look at Political Cartoons”


Nick Thomas’ “New Michigan Graduation Requirements Shortchange Many Students”


Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” (excerpts from)


Article from The Onion “Girl Moved to Tears by Of Mice and Men Cliffnotes”


Milan Kundera’s passage from Testaments Betrayed


Dave Barry “Red, White, and Beer”


Peter Singer’s “The Singer Solution to World Poverty”


Barbara Ehrenreich’s passage from The Worst Years of Our Lives


Daniel J. Boorstin’s excerpt from The Decline of Radicalism


Arthur Schopenhauer’s passage about “The difference between thinking and reading….”


O’Brien’s “On the Rainy River” and The Things They Carried (excerpts from)


Twain’s “Advice to Youth” and “The War Prayer”


Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Ecstasy of War”


Film clip from Writing the War Experience


Nike ad (booty girl)


Documentary Waiting for Superman


Documentary Supersize Me




Unit 3:  Synthesizing Parts into a Whole/Entering the Conversation


Novel:  Invisible Man




Skills Covered:




Using sources to prove, appeal, show, distract, etc., combining/synthesizing sources in a synthesis essay, identifying current issues in society and formulating a position, framing and integrating quotations, citing sources,  combining historical and current sources, making connections between a variety of sources, written and visual, review rhetorical terms, continued test prep practice


Required Reading will include but not be limited to the following:


Categories/Subtopics:  Education and The American High School, Social Media, Economic Issues, Gender and Sports,  Contemporary Societal Issues in America


Francine Prose I Know Why the Caged Bird Cannot Read


Emerson’s Education (excerpt)


James Baldwin A Talk to Teachers


Kyoko Mori’s School


Sherman Alexie Superman and Me


Margaret Talbot Best in Class


Norman Rockwell’s painting The Spirit of Education


Roz Chast’s comic strip What I Learned




Horace Mann’s from Report of the Massachusetts Board of Education


Todd Gitlin The Liberal Arts in an Age of Info-Glut


Leon Botstein Let Teenagers Try Adulthood


Edward Koren’s cartoon  Two Scoreboards


Diane Ravitch Stop the Madness


Eric A. Hanushek et al., tables from U.S.Math Performance in Global Perspective


David Barboza from Shanghai Schools’ Approach Pushes Students to Top of Tests




Farhad Manjoo’ “Do I Really Have to Join Twitter?’


Caroline McCarthy “In Defense of Twitter”


Ellen Lee “Social Sites are Becoming Too Much of a Good Thing”


Ellen McCarthy “Oh, What a Tangled Online Dating Web We Weave”


Lakshmi Chaudhry “Mirror Mirror on the Web”




Arthur Rotstein “Books are Out, iBooks Are In for Students at Arizona High School”


Kevin Delaney “Teaching Tools”


Esther Dyson from What We Believe But We Cannot Prove:  Today’s Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of Certainty”


Steven Johnson Interface Culture:  How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate


David Gelernter “Should Schools Be Wired To The Internet?”


Angel Boligan   El Universal   (cartoon)




Lars Eighner On Dumpster Diving


Eric Schlosser From In the Strawberry Fields


Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt What the Bagel Man Saw


Matthew Crawford The Case for Working with Your Hands


Fareed Zakaria How to Restore the American Dream


Marge Piercy To Be of Use


Jeff Parker’s cartoon The Great GAPsby Society




Judy Brady I Want a Wife


Matthias Mehl  Are Women Really More Talkative Than Men?


Marge Piercy Barbie Doll (poem)


Leonard McCombe’s picture of Marlboro Man


Paul Theroux Being a Man


Gretel Ehrlich About Men


Rebecca Walker Putting Down the Gun


David Brooks Mind Over Muscle


Mark Bauerlein and Sandra Stotsky Why Johnny Won’t Read




Theodore Roosevelt The Proper Place for Sports


William Faulkner An Innocent at Rinkside


Joyce Carol Oats The Cruelest Sport


Malcolm Gladwell Offensive Play – Dogfighting and Football


Rick Reilly Why I Love My Job


John Updike “Ex – Basketball Player”


New York World – photo – The Twelfth Player in Every Football Game




Angus Campbell Has Television Reshaped Politics?”


Roderick Hart “U.S. Presidency and Television”


Louis Menand “Masters of the Matrix:  Kennedy, Nixon, and the Culture of the Image”


Television Ratings for Presidential Debates:  1990 -1996  (chart)


Austin Ranney Channels of Power:  The Impact of Television on American Politics


Ted Koppell Off Camera:  Private Thoughts Made Public




Unit 4:  Project


After viewing, discussing, and analyzing several documentaries (listed below), students will work in groups to create their own documentaries  ( 10 – 12 minutes long) about issues that they feel are serious --- these can be local, worldly, personal, social, political, environmental, etc.  They will be required to research and find several outside sources to synthesize into their documentaries (at least 5 – and one must be a work of art).  Their documentaries must contain music, video clips, photographs, and text. They must also be shown in the documentaries themselves – everyone must have a role. Students will be shown sample documentaries made from previous students in an English III AP class (listed below).  They will present their documentaries to the class as well as upload them to the teacher’s youtube account.  Groups will be peer graded as well as graded by the teacher.  Administration and Faculty Members will be invited to view students’ documentaries.


Besides their videos/documentaries, students will be required to turn in a Works Cited page, in correct MLA format, listing all sources used, including music and photographs.  They will also turn in group evaluation sheets where they document what every group member’s job/role in the group was.


Documentaries shown and evaluated in class as examples:


I Am Trying To Break Your Heart


The King of Kong




The Control Room


God Grew Tired of Us


The N Word




Past Student Documentaries shown as examples:




The Linguistics of Slang


The Plight of the American Education System




Texts Utilized in this Course


Everything’s an Argument                                           Andrea A. Lunsford, John J. Ruszkiewicz, and Keith Walters


The Language of Composition                                   Renee H. Shea, Lawrence Scanlon, and Robin Dissin Aufses


5 Steps to a 5 – 500 AP English                                    Allyson Ambrose


Language Questions to know by test day








The Structure of Argument                                          Annette T. Rottenberg, Donna Haisty Winchell




50 Essays                                                                                             Samuel Cohen




Common Threads:  Core                                                                               Ellen Kuhl Repetto, Jane E. Aaron


Readings by Method and






Cracking the AP English                                                                                 Richard Hartzell, PhD


Language & Composition


Exam 2012-The Princeton Review






Springboard Level 6, 2012                                                             The College Board




The Magic Lens (Language Arts & Grammar)                       Michael Clay Thompson






The New York Times on Facebook








The New York Times Learning Blogs – Questions to write about: (