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Brief Description of Course


AP Language is designed to prepare students to effectively analyze the rhetorical strategies used in the non-fiction, literature, film, art, and advertising found in American culture. As well, students will learn to implement persuasive writing techniques in their own work. Through close textual study of fiction, non-fiction, and other mediums, students will develop a clear focus on an authors considerations regarding audience and purpose, then learn how to apply that same focus in a variety of writing modes specifically those outlined in both the most current edition of the AP English Course Description, as well as those mandated by our states Priority Academic Student Skills requirements. Students will be required to assess how each work and literary movement poses an argument for readers. As a college level course, expectations are appropriately high, the workload is challenging, and students will be required to read and prepare for discussions and complete assignments outside of regular class hours.

Unit Information


Unit Name:

To Kill a Mockingbird: A Study of Rhetorical Devices

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Students will read Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird as a summer reading assignment. Through the study of this novel, students will be introduced to basic rhetorical strategies such as the rhetorical triangle. Non-fiction texts such as Diane Ackerman's "In Praise of Bats," and Annie Dillard's "The Fixed" will also be used to introduce students to analyzing rhetoric.

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
Students will be required to complete a dialectical journal over To Kill a Mockingbird by the second week of school. As well, students will be asked to write short essays over the novel, objectively tested, and required to participate in discussions about the novel. Students will be asked to use their new understanding of rhetoric to evaluate the novel and non-fiction pieces.

Unit Name:

Research Paper: A Proposal for My Community

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Students will be required to evaluate, use, and cite a variety of primary and secondary sources such as electronic databases, web resources and practical documents, to create a proposal to improve their communities. Using the MLA system for documentation as a framework, students will utilize research, composition, rhetorical, and organizational skills to produce a persuasive argument. This essay requires copious research, proper MLA documentation complete with appropriate formatting, in-text citation, and a works cited page. As well, one component of this essay requires students to write using several different sentence structures. This process will be organized with due dates, so students can work through and understand the individual steps that lead to the final product. After the essay has been returned, students will be required to use the teacher's comments to revise the essay for a revision grade.

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
Students will be assessed throughout the composition process by the teacher as well as their peers. Students will receive teacher feedback in regard to their resources, rough drafts, sentence structure, in-text citation, works cited, and final product.

Students will receive assessment and teacher feedback at each step during the process. Once the final product is completed and turned in, students will receive an overall assessment grade for the completed product. Finally, students will receive a revision grade according to their ability to use the teacher's feedback and comments to improve their final drafts.

Unit Name:

The New World: A Study of the First Americans

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Students will analyze rhetorical strategies through comparing stories, films, and non-fiction that portray Native Americans and European settlers positively and negatively. Students will read a non-fiction passage from N. Scott Momaday's Way to Rainy Mountain and view clips from the films The Searchers, The New World, Smoke Signals, and other relevant sources.

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
Using note-taking strategies learned in class, students will be required to analyze the arguments from each source to synthesize them and employ them in an in-class timed writing. Students will be required to evaluate how these sources portray Native Americans and European settlers. How are these cultural groups being portrayed? What is the author/filmmaker trying to say? What persuasive techniques are used to paint these portraits of different cultural groups? And, finally, why are these arguments being made?

Unit Name:

The Puritans: Foundations in American Morality

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Students will explore the foundations of American morality and culture through rhetorical analysis of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, and Jonathan Edward's sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," and supporting critical articles and media.

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
Students will be assessed through objective tests over each work. In addition to these tests, students will also write an essay in which they explore the arguments presented in the novel. Students will be introduced to précis writing to develop their introductory paragraphs. We will also be using close reading and passage analysis to study the rhetorical devices found in the selected passages. With each of these texts, students will be required to analyze what each author is arguing, and how these arguments are connected to the foundations in American Puritanical thought. What persuasive techniques do each of these writers employ? And, why does each writer make his argument?

Unit Name:

Founding Fathers: The Rhetoric of the Revolution

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Students will take a closer look at the people who founded our country by examining the non-fiction writings of Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry's "Speech in the Virginia Convention," and "The Declaration of Independence" – the arguments that began our road toward national independence.

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
Students will examine contemporary examples of propaganda, advertising, and political rhetoric that employ similar rhetorical concepts to those used by the founding fathers. Working in groups, students will teach these examples to the class to further their knowledge of these rhetorical principles. Students can use film, PowerPoint, or a variety of other creative methods to present to the class.

Unit Name:

Romanticism: The Beginnings of American Literature

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Our unit on Romanticism introduces students to one of the first American literary movements with an emphasis on how each author conveys his or her argument through rhetorical strategies found in each literary work. Specifically, we read "The Devil and Tom Walker" by Washington Irving; "Thanatopsis" by William Cullen Bryant; the "Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allen Poe; and Chief Seattle's non-fiction speech "Respect."

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
For this unit, students will practice précis writing as a means to evaluate texts. Using the texts listed above, students will work in a whole class setting and individually to practice précis writing and style analysis techniques to identify and write about the rhetorical devices found in these texts. These strategies gives students tools to link texts to meaning through writing.

Unit Name:

Transcendentalism: The First Hippies

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Students will examine the non-fiction texts of Transcendental authors to develop an understanding of the inherent arguments prevalent in this historic period. Specifically, we will focus on the human rights, individualist, and nature-loving aspects of the movement. We will read: Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Self-Reliance" and "Nature"; Henry David Thoreau's "Walden" and "Civil Disobedience," Mohandas K. Gandhi's "On Civil Disobedience," Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself," and Annie Dillard's "Living Like Weasels."

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
In order to apply these Transcendental ideas to a modern context, students will collect and analyze examples of advertising which connects to audiences through utilizing transcendental ideals. Students will analyze the ways in which these examples utilize rhetorical elements and argumentation to show how advertisers use Transcendental concepts to sell their products or ideologies. Students may use a variety of creative methods to present to the class.

Unit Name:

Realism: A Crisis of Conscience

Content and/or Skills Taught:
In order to examine the rhetoric of the Civil War, students will read non-fiction texts such as Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln's "Second Inaugural Address" and the "Gettysburg Address."

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
For this unit, students will be required to read each of the texts above to examine the rhetoric used during the Civil War. Through class discussion, students will analyze how Realism relates to the Civil War? Students will be asked to discern what arguments are being made by Douglass and Lincoln?
After thorough discussion, students will select one of the texts for an in-class writing in which they will outline the rhetoric, purpose, and audience of the selected text. Students will practice précis writing during this exercise.

Unit Name:

Modernism: It's a Lonely World

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Students will be required to read Modernist novels and poems to determine the rhetorical implications of each. What are Modernists trying to say about the modern world? What responsibility do we have for one another in a modern society? Such examples include F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, and poetry by Robert Frost, T.S. Elliott, Carl Sandburg, and William Carlos Williams.

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
Students will be assessed through objective reading quizzes, class discussions, and short essays for The Grapes of Wrath and The Great Gatsby.

After reading and discussing poems in class, students will select one example of modern poetry for a written analysis. Students will use the précis framework to write the introduction and other techniques to analyze the way in which the poet conveys his or her message to readers. What is the writer/poet trying to say? What conventions and devices does the writer/poet utilize to create meaning?

Unit Name:

The Harlem Renaissance: African-Americans Speak Out

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Through reading the poetry, music, and art of the Harlem Renaissance, students will examine the rhetorical significance of the works. Specifically, we will read Langston Hughes' "I, Too," Claude McKay's "If We Must Die," and Zora Neale Hurston's non-fiction "How it Feels to be Colored." Contemporary non-fiction pieces such as Maya Angelou's "My Name is Margaret," and Brent Staples' "Black Men in Public Space" will be included in this unit. We will also use this unit to take a closer look at Dr. Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream."

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
Through class discussions and writing assignments, students must determine the significance and importance of these works. What arguments are African-Americans trying to say about equality, freedom, and justice? How are these arguments being made? What is the purpose of each work? Which audience is being targeted by the author?

Unit Name:

Feminism: More than Just a Pretty Face

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Through reading Kate Chopin's "Story of an Hour" and Virginia Woolf's non-fiction "Shakespeare's Sister," students will evaluate the arguments being made by women during the early 20th century. Contemporary pieces such as Judy Brady's "I want a Wife," and Susan Sontag's "Beauty" will also be included in this unit.

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
Students will be required to participate in class discussions over each work. After discussion, students will elect one of the works for an in-class writing in which they outline the rhetorical elements found in the work. What is the author trying to say? What rhetorical devices does the writer implement to convey her message?

Unit Name:

The Things They Carried & The Rhetoric of War

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Students will read a variety of texts relating to war. Tim O'Brien's novel The Things They Carried will be read alongside non-fiction essays from Dwight D. Eisenhower, General MacArthur, Margaret Mead, Mary Ewald, and James Boswell.

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
Students will be assessed through objective reading quizzes, class discussions, and short essays over O'Brien's novel. After the reading of all the texts is completed, students will write a free response essay relating to war as it relates to modern American life.

Unit Name:

The Ethics of Science and Medicine

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Students will examine the ethical implications of modern issues involving science and medicine. Through watching the films Sicko and Gattaca, students will evaluate arguments about health care and genetic engineering in contemporary society. What are the filmmakers trying to say? What rhetorical strategies does each utilize? Are these arguments effective? Non-fiction essays from Robert Wright, Eric Cohen, Laurie Zoloth, and Michael J. Sandal will be included in this unit to further student knowledge about these issues. Students will examine the rhetorical pertinence of each.

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
After watching and taking notes over the films and reading and evaluating the essays, students will write an essay in which they formulate an argument about an ethical issue related to modern science or medicine. Students will be required to use the films and essays as resources.

Unit Name:

Vocabulary Study

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Students will be required to learn two sets of vocabulary this year, Latin and Greek roots vocabulary and rhetorical vocabulary. The Latin and Greek roots vocabulary is designed to further students' general vocabularies, which will assist them in preparing for standardized testing and improved reading and writing. The rhetorical vocabulary assists student in getting to know the particular terms important in being prepared to discuss texts using the appropriate rhetorical language.

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
Students will receive new vocabulary terms and assignments at the beginning of every other week. At the end of the week, students will be quizzed over the new terms. Students will be required to use the rhetorical terms as we discuss and write about the texts studied in class.

Textbooks


Websites

Silver Rhetoricae of BYU – a site designed to help students understand rhetoric.
American Rhetoric includes hundreds of rhetorically significant speeches from films, literature and history.
The National Archives – This site gives students access to historical documents to assist them in their research of historical figures and events we will be studying in class.
OWL at Purdue – The Online Writing Lab at Purdue is a fantastic resource to assist students with MLA citation.

Office Hours and Communication


Communication is so important for success in the classroom. Please feel free to meet with me over any of your classroom concerns. I am at school from 7:30 to 3:30 through the school week. You can also meet with me during tutorial, guided study, or by appointment. Information about this course, assignments and important dates can be found online at http://www.rasnic.com/wiki. I can also be reached through email at Jackie.Rasnic@edmondschools.net.

Materials


Grades


Grades will be figured from daily work, quizzes, tests, projects, presentations, and essays. Every week grades are calculated and turned in for eligibility purposes. If your grade is below a 70%, it is your responsibility to meet with me in tutorial or guided study until the grade has been raised. Those students not making any attempt to stay above a 70% will meet with Principal Pittenger to make a plan for improvement.

Grading Scale
A = 90-100
B = 80-89
C = 70-79
D = 60-69
F = Below 60

Assignment Weight Distribution
1st & 2nd Semester
Essays = 25%
Tests, Quizzes & Projects = 25%
Daily Grades & Homework = 25%
Benchmark = 5%
Semester Final = 20%

If you have questions about your grades or feel that your grade does not reflect the quality of the work you turned in, please make time to discuss the matter with me.

Classroom Procedures


We have many procedures in the classroom that help make the class run more smoothly and efficiently. It is important that we all work together to make the room a comfortable, friendly atmosphere to work in.
  1. Class Begins – Be in class on time! When the bell rings, you should be in the room with your materials and ready to work. Otherwise, you are considered tardy. 3 Tardies = 1 Absence. Please check the board when you enter the room to check for daily instructions.
  2. Cell Phones & Electronic Devices – Cell phones, electronic and music playing devices are not to be used during class. If you are found using these devices without permission during class, the device will be taken away and you will automatically be assigned detention. Electronic devices which interfere with instruction will be turned over to the principal's office. At that time, a parent will have to retrieve the item from the office.
  3. Food & Drink – You may have food and drink in the classroom under one condition. KEEP THE ROOM CLEAN! Do not leave bottles, wrappers, crumbs or miscellaneous garbage in my room. When I find garbage in my classroom at the end of the day, ALL CLASSES WILL LOSE FOOD/DRINK PRIVILEGES!
  4. Hall Pass/Leaving the Classroom – ALWAYS SIGN OUT WHEN YOU LEAVE THE ROOM – YOU HAVE FIVE MINUTES. The hall pass is located at the back of the room with a sign-out sheet. If you need to leave the classroom to use the bathroom or otherwise, take the pass, sign out with your name, time and destination, then leave quietly. When you return, put the pass back in its place, and sign back in with the time. Only one student may leave the room at a time. Do not leave during a test or quiz – this will result in a zero. Be wise about choosing when to leave the classroom. Do not interrupt my teaching to ask to leave the room. If you are not responsible enough to use this privilege wisely, there will be consequences. Leaving the room without a pass will result in detention.
  5. Absences – If you are absent, it is your responsibility to make up any missing work. There is a monthly calendar in the room outlining each day's assignment. As well, there is a weekly work rack in the back of the room with daily assignments. And finally, calendars and assignments can be found online at http://www.rasnic.com/wiki. There is no reason for you not to know what you are missing. If you are confused, I will help you get caught up during tutorial or guided study. Do not interrupt my teaching to ask about missing or late work.
  6. Missing/Late Work – This is a Pre-AP class. Expectations are high, and course work is designed to prepare students for AP courses and college. Therefore, turn in assignments when they are due. Late assignments will, at the most, receive half credit. Do not expect credit on assignments more than one week late. Do not expect to make up tests and quizzes after 2 days. As well, students who do not have drafts ready for editing will receive detention. Not having drafts ready for editing affects not only you, but also your peers. Therefore, do not come to class unprepared.

Expectations


I expect great attitudes and great work from every student. I request the following from every one of you.
  1. RESPECT – I believe that when one shows respect and courtesy, it will come back to her/him. You are expected to respect every person in the room, including yourself. Be nice to your classmates, to me, to the room, and to everything in it. Do not interrupt me while I am teaching. Do not interrupt others while they are speaking. Be a good listener. Even if you disagree with someone, be courteous and appropriate.
  2. ATTITUDE – Take a moment to consider the role you play in your own education. How much do you matter when it comes to your own learning? Come to class prepared and willing to learn every day. This means you should have your materials with you and your homework completed. You should be ready to answer questions and actively participate in class discussions. Headphones, phones, CD/MP3 players, games, calculators, and/or cards should not be seen or heard. This is disrespectful and shows a lack of positive attitude.
  3. WORK – This is school. You should be prepared to do great work every day. I expect the very best and I will soon know what you are capable of. I also expect you to use class time wisely to do what you are supposed to be doing. Every essay, every assignment and every test should be your best effort. I believe in you – but more importantly – I hope you believe in you!

Consequences for Inappropriate Behavior


I hope that each of you will always be upstanding and goodhearted. But if you are not, there are consequences for you. Most inappropriate behavior results in detention, either tutorial or before school. Failure to serve your assigned detention will lead to a special meeting with you and an administrator. If behavior problems become a serious situation, we will schedule a meeting for you, a principal, your parents, and me as to figure out what the problem is and how to solve it. Your parents can and will be called by me at any time that I feel you are not working at your full potential or behaving properly in the classroom.


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