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​​​AP English Language & Composition
Instructor: Francesca Morrissey
Age: 15+ and/or with permission of the instructor

Duration: 36 weeks (Aug. 27- June 14), meeting 1x/week for 3 hours, excluding holidays & breaks
Day/Time: by appointment only

Credits: 1.5
Cost: $1650/student (includes $350 worth of books)

Course Description: This course is broken into themed trimesters and is designed to develop critical literacy and to facilitate informed citizenship as specified in the College Board's AP® English Course Description from which this course's goals and objectives are adapted. An AP Syllabus number assigned by the College Board for this class will be provided to students for transcript inclusion on a copy of the syllabus handed out on the first day of class.

The ability to write well is integral to your success in this course. While students will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with the instructor on their individual writing assignments throughout the year, “equal footing” is necessary prior to the start of class. For this reason, students must read On Writing Well by William Zinsser (ISBN#: 978-0-06-089154-1) over the summer. Reading this text is not a passive activity. Students are expected to either 1) keep a dialectic journal in which they record page numbers and specific observations about what they've read or 2) annotate the text directly and extensively by highlighting significant passages and making notes in the margins of the text. This book (and journal, if used) is to be brought to our first class and will be reviewed and assessed by the teacher.

The focus of the first trimester is rhetoric and synthesis. This is taught as we read and deconstruct On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss while also reading and assessing a majority of her source material. This list includes Bram Stoker's Dracula, Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, Susan Sontag's Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors, and a sampling of Greek myths and Grimm's Fairytales.

The second trimester's theme is “The African American Experience.” Readings may include the speeches, essays and/or letters of Sojourner Truth, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Abraham Lincoln, W.E.B. DuBois, Booker T. Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Barack Obama, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, among others.

The third trimester delves into “personal message and meaning” as presented in popular culture. We consider documentaries (“13th,” “Waiting for Superman,” “Class Dismissed,” ”Miss Representation,”), memoir, graphic novels, plays, images and selected poems.

The Student Portfolio
Many classes involve elements of informal writing. As a warm-up to class discussions, students are provided with a famous quote, related to the readings and discussion of the day, for which they are given time to consider and journal. Additionally, students are required to annotate all readings and to make and keep a glossary of terms and unfamiliar vocabulary introduced and used in class and/or found in readings. While students are encouraged to share their writings with the class, they are not required to do so. They are, however, required to share these informal writings at our student-teacher conferences. Independent student-teacher 30 minute conferences, outside of class time, are mandatory and are scheduled on an as-needed basis throughout the year. This is a time to review in-class written work with students, as well as a time to work individually with students on each draft of their short essays. I review, evaluate, and provide feedback in areas where I notice weakness. For some, that may be specific to the strength of a particular position; an ineffective argument; more summary than synthesis; poor word choice and weak vocabulary; lack of variety of sources; too many generalizations and a lack of detail; relying more on the passive than the active voice; trouble with paragraph transitions; relying too heavily on the use of or inappropriately using quotations, etc. These meetings may also include short lessons centered on a specific element of writing: vocabulary, grammar, sentence & paragraph structure, punctuation, style and voice. The purpose of these lessons is to provide students with a greater awareness of how their language and structural choices impact their writing and to encourage them to better evaluate their own work.

Class participation is an integral element of this college-level course. Discussion methods we will employ include Socratic Seminar, Debate, Shared Inquiry and Discussion Group. In the event a student cannot attend regularly scheduled classes due to serious health issues, it is strongly recommended that the student make arrangements with the teacher to Skype or Facetime the class. Students understand that exceeding 12 absences in this course will result in the inability to list the course on a transcript as an “AP” and will disqualify them from receiving a letter or numeric grade. They will be encouraged to continue in the class on an audit basis and will receive a Pass/Fail at the end of the year. A student who chooses to discontinue the course at any point in the year or who does not complete all assigned work will receive a grade of INCOMPLETE.

Grading & Evaluations: Students are evaluated based on the strength of their portfolios which include not just final drafts, but all revisions, as well. Each portfolio assignment is weighted as follows:
text annotations, journal entries, student glossary, in-class writing exercises = 15%
class attendance and participation = 15%
semester essays = 35%
quizzes, SAT essays, short creative writing assignments = 15%
in-class April AP Test = 20%

Summer Reading:
On Writing Well, William Zinsser. ISBN#: 978-0-06-089154-1

Course Texts to be provided by teacher on the first day of class and included in the course fee:
The Language of Composition: Reading, Writing, Rhetoric, 2nd ed. 
Models for Writers: Short Essays for Composition, ed. Rosa & Eschholz. 
Barron's AP Language and Composition, 7th ed. 
Dracula, by Bram Stoker 
Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors, by Susan Sontag. 
On Immunity: An Inoculation, by Eula Biss. 
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates.
The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas. 
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander.
The Battle for Room 314: My Year of Hope and Despair in a New York City High School, Ed Boland. 

The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams (any version)
Brighton Beach Memoirs, Neil Simon (any version)
Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud ISBN#: 978-0-06-097625-5
The Complete Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi ISBN#: 978-0-375-71483-2
Palestine, Joe Sacco ISBN#: 978-1560974321
Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, Guy Delisle ISBN#: 978-1-897299-21-0


Teacher will provide online links to or handouts for assigned letters, articles, speeches, essays & poems.


Documentaries will be watched during class time but will need to be watched independently by any student who misses a class in which a documentary was shown.

Recommended texts, but not required (and not included with the cost of the class):
MLA Handbook, 8th ed. ISBN#: 978-1-60329-262-7
A Handbook to Literature, William Harmon & Hugh Holman, 10th ed. ISBN#: 9-780131-344426

The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr. & E.B. White, 4th ed. ISBN#: 978-0-205-30902-3


To secure enrollment in this course, contact Francesca Morrissey.