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Valley Academyof Arts & Sciences

Brian Padgett » AP Language & Composition

AP Language & Composition

AP Language and Composition

2017-2018 Course Overview and Syllabus

Mr. Padgett

Room 218

[email protected]



This AP course in Language and Composition will follow the guidelines stipulated by The College Board and require “expository, analytical, and argumentative writing assignments that are based on readings representing a wide variety of prose styles and genres.” The course will emphasize critical thinking, analysis, and synthesis of ideas presented by authors. Students will be reading full-length non-fiction texts throughout the year through their independent reading. In-class readings will pull from a broad range of non-fiction essays, film clips, excerpts, political cartoons, editorials, speeches, etc. The instructor will provide direct feedback as well as opportunities for peer review and student self-reflection in order to foster the development of the successful use of rhetorical strategies in students’ writing.


The rigor of this course is matching that of an introductory college course and as such, I expect you to conduct yourself in a manner fitting that environment. As a college-level course you can expect to have 1-2 hours of homework nightly, which will largely consist of reading, but may include projects and writing assignments. Discussion of contemporary issues is another hallmark of this course.


Respect for the opinions and the ideas of others are necessary for a productive learning atmosphere.


In addition, I assume that you are capable of maintaining an appropriate work schedule in order to complete assignments in a timely manner. In this course, late work is not accepted. Schoology submissions will not be allowed after the due date. 



Note: Book lists can change, several supplemental essays, speeches, artwork, and other materials will also be used during the course of study.


The following texts, listed alphabetically by author, will be used throughout the year:


  • Fitzgerald, F. Scott. (1995) The Great Gatsby. New York, NY. Scribner.
  • Krakauer, Jon. (1996) Into the Wild. New York, NY. Anchor Books, A Division of Random House.
  • Lundsford, Andrea A., Ruszkiewicz, John J. & Walters, Keith. (2016) Everything’s an Argument. Boston, MA. Bedford/St. Martin’s.
  • Muller, Gilbert H. & Whiting, Melissa E. (2014) Language and Composition: The Art of Voice. Bothwell, WA. McGraw Hill Education.
  • Valdez, Luis. (1992) Zoot Suit and Other Plays. Houston, TX. Arte Publico Press.

Materials (Required):

 Loose-leaf paper

Blue or black pens – N.B. – All in-class timed writings must be completed in pen.

 Post-it notes

 Highlighters

 Binder dedicated to this class

 Pack of 8 tab dividers


Study Aides:

Though not required, you will find these works useful to have at home and in college (many available in electronic form).

  • College-level dictionary
  • College-level thesaurus
  • The Elements of Style, Strunk and White
  • The M.L.A. Handbook (most recent edition)
  • 5 Steps to a 5: AP Language, Barbara Murphy and Estelle Rankin
  • 5 Steps to a 5: Writing the AP English Essay, Barbara Murphy and Estelle Rankin


Course Objectives:

Upon completing AP English Language and Composition you should be able to:


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



Ongoing Yearlong Activities


Outside reading

Students will be given a list of recommended non-fiction books from which to choose a minimum of one per quarter to read outside of class time. In addition to reading the book they will be required to complete a non-fiction book report on each text for quarters one through three. For the fourth quarter outside book report, students will complete a synthesis project that will require them to research a topic from their book and compile a report based on their findings. This research report will require proper MLA formatting, including an accurate works cited page in addition to correct use of in-text citations.


In class texts

Students will read a wide variety of speeches, essays, and excerpts from non-fiction texts. Students will also examine several visual texts, such as political cartoons, advertisements, and music videos. Students will focus on reading these pieces critically, identifying effective use of grammar, style, tone, diction, imagery, syntax and how those elements come together to appropriately address their intended audience and purpose.


Students will work through Rhetorical Grammar exercises throughout the year. Students will focus on how grammar can be used rhetorically to alter purpose and affect audience.



Students will take a literary term diagnostic test at the beginning of the year to determine what rhetorical vocabulary they need to study. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with any terms they do not recognize as we will be using these terms to discuss text throughout the year.

Timed Writes:

Students will participate in a timed write based on an AP exam prompt on a regular basis. Writes may be a rhetorical analysis, argument, creative piece, expository piece, or synthesis of given material, but will align with the current focus of the class and build in concept; each genre will be covered at least once throughout the course of study. Most timed writes will be peer reviewed, self-graded, and evaluated by instructor.


Multiple Choice Practice:

Students will take a baseline sample AP MC test at the start of the school for diagnostic purposes. In addition to direct instruction on multiple choice test taking strategies, students will take multiple MC quizzes throughout the year and will be required to keep track of scores on a chart in order to identify question types that they find challenging and develop a study strategy to address problem question types.


Modes Project:

Semester one, students will complete a project on the seven modes of writing. Part of this project will be a group grade where each group becomes experts in one of the modes and teaches/guides students in that area. The second portion of the project will be an individual grade given to students when they complete their modes project and turn in their seven modes papers.


Following a Columnist Project:

This project takes place at the start of the second semester. It involves research and an in-depth analysis of one well-known columnist. Students will locate columns written by the pundit of their choice and identify and evaluate their stylistic choices.



Students are expected to:

  • Show respect at all times. Rude or inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated.
  • Be in class and in their seat on time.
  • Follow directions the first time they are given.
  • Obtain permission and a hall pass before leaving the room for any reason.
  • Arrive to class with all necessary supplies (e.g. charged iPad, books, notebooks, and paper).
  • Follow all district and school rules set forth in the LAUSD Parent/Student Handbook and the VAAS School Norms Policy
  • Be prepared to participate in their learning process
  • Unless otherwise stated, ALL homework must be typed and submitted in MLA
  • Cell phones are STRICTLY PROHIBITED in this class


Late Work:

No late work will be accepted. In the case of an excused absence, my late policy for A.P. Language students is such: One day grace period for each day absent.  For example, if an assignment is due on Monday and you are absent that day, you are expected to either submit the assignment digitally through Schoology, if applicable, or it is due when you are back in class the following Wednesday. 


If you were present the day an assignment was given, it is due the day you return.


Many, but not all, of the assignments we do are posted on the A.P. Language Schoology page. 



Plagiarism is unacceptable; it will result in a zero for the assignment and be disciplined according to school district policy.



Projects and Exams: 60%

Non-Fiction Book Reports (x4/year) 100 pts/each

Modes Project 100pts Rough Draft/200pts Final Draft

Following a Columnist Project 100pts 

Synthesis (Research Project) 100pts

MC Quizzes (x9/semester): 5%

Timed Writes (x6/semester): 15%

Q1 = 3 Rhetorical Analysis

Q2 = 3 Argument

Q3 = 3 Synthesis

Q4 = 3 Mix-Up

Daily Homework/Unit tests or quizzes/In class participation: 10%

Warm-Ups/Bell work


Presentations: 10%

Modes Presentation

Syntax/Term Presentations

Total: 100%


A grade is based on a 5point AP course scale and is awarded based on the following:

  • 90%-100% = A
  • 80%-89% = B
  • 70-79% = C
  • 60-69% = D
  • 00-59% = F