AP Language and Composition Readings

Here is a sampling of my Advanced Placement (AP) Language and Composition curricula. I only have students for one semester, so I vary the focus; however, from the moment that they enter my classroom, students read, synthesize, and analyze works from a variety of different time periods and genres.

Per the College Board, I emphasize nonfiction, though I embed poetry and fiction to not only to jazz up the readings but also to show that even fantasy can be truer of human nature than a historical document.

Selected Readings

Unit One

Writer’s Focus: Narration and Argumentation; Rhetorical Triangle

Themes:  History of America from Different Sociohistorical Perspectives

  1. The U.S. Constitution
  2. Common Sense” by Thomas Paine (Abridged)
  3. “That Word Black” by Langston Hughes
  4. “The Word Police” by Michiko Kakutani
  5. “What’s Your Name, Girl” by Maya Angelou
  6. “Tragedy and the Common Man” by Arthur Miller
  7. “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” by Jonathan Edwards
  8. “Good Readers and Writers” by Vladimir Nabokov
  9. “For You, O Democracy” by Walt Whitman
  10. “The Knife” by Richard Selzer
  11. “The Politics of the English Language” by George Orwell
  12. “Education by Poetry” by Robert Frost
  13. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou
  14. “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” by Anzaldua Gloria

Unit Two

Writer’s Focus: Characterization, Syntax/Structure, Style, Tone

Themes:  Romanticism and Transcendentalism

  1. “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe
  2. “Because I could not stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson
  3. “Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving
  4. “Rip Van Winkle” by Washington Irving
  5. “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe
  6. “Philosophy of Composition” by Edgar Allan Poe
  7. “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell
  8. “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau
  9. “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  10. “Reflections on Ghandi” by George Orwell
  11. “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” by Ernest Hemingway
  12. “Save the Whales, Screw the Shrimp” by
  13. “The Land Ethic” by Leopold Aldo
  14. “What Do Students Need to Know About Rhetoric?” by Hepzibah Roskelly
  15. “The Stranger in the Photo Is Me” by Donald M. Murray

Unit Three

Writer’s Focus: Imagery and Diction; Visual Analysis

Themes: Modernism, The American Dream and A New Identity

  1. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot
  2. “Notes on a Native Son” by James Baldwin
  3. “On Self-Respect” by Joan Didion
  4. “Happy Endings” by Margaret Atwood
  5. “The Myth of the Latin Woman:  I Just Met a Girl Named Maria” by Judith Ortiz Coffer
  6. “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris
  7. “What I think and Feel at 25” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  8. Read “The Libido for the Ugly” H.L. Mencken
  9. “The Nature of Liberty” by H.L. Mencken
  10. “Waste” by Wendell Berry
  11. “Getting In” by Malcolm Gladwell
  12. “How to Detect Propaganda” by The Institute for Propaganda Analysis
  13. “The Four Freedoms” by Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Unit Four

Writer’s Focus: Occasion; Context; Purpose; Point-of-View

Themes: Gender

  1. “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath
  2. “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens” by Alive Walker
  3. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  4. Excerpt “A Vindication of the Rights of Women” by Mary Wollstonecraft
  5. “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift
  6. “The Ways We Lie” by Stephanie Ericsson
  7. “Nobel Lecture” by Wangari Maathai
  8. “Allegory of the Cave” by Plato
  9. “Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” by Elizabeth Cady Stanton
  10. “The Vietnam Syndrome” by Christopher Hitchens
  11. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates
  12. “Once More to the Lake” by E.B. White
  13. “Agent Orange” by Christopher Hitchens
  14. “A Few Words About Breasts” by Nora Ephron
  15. “Mind over Muscle” by David Brooks
  16. Malboro Man, Visual Analysis
  17. “Being a Man” by Paul Theroux

Textbooks

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

Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Strunk, William, Jr., and E. B. White. Elements of Style. New York: Longman.

Grammar: Clauses versus Phrases

Focus: Phrases and Clauses

What is a clause?

It is a complete sentence, meaning it has a subject and predicate.

 

What’s the formula for a clause?

Subject + Verb + Object

 

Can you give me an example of a clause?

Grammar Chimp smiles with his eyes. Grammar Chimp is my subject, smiles is my verb, and with his eyes is the object (the receiver of the message).

 

What is a phrase?

It is an incomplete sentence, meaning it has only a predicate.

 

Can you give me an example of a phrase?

Smiles with his eyes. Notice there is no subject, so it is an incomplete sentence.

Using Psychology in Teaching

Teaching has often been described as a “Sink or Swim” environment. Using psychology to manage a classroom is a great way to stay afloat when a sea of doubt pulls you under.

The purpose of education is to further develop the process of inquiry by fostering within each student an innate desire to learn. However, unconsciously teachers may be too far disconnected from their students in their pedagogical leanings.

The role of the teacher is to lead, not with ego, but with wisdom. In turn, it falls upon every teacher to familiarize him- or herself with pedagogical strategies to effectively communicate with students in a manner that promotes co-ownership over learning.

One of the first core principals I learned about teaching is modeling, either through my own examples or student work. Originally, this concept was presented by renowned psychologist Albert Bandura who posited that learning is social. Akin to a mirror, what is seen is what is reflected.

In my class, I demonstrate respect, cooperation, and active listening. If the students do not respect my rules, then I rely on Ivan Pavlov’s theory of operant conditioning. There is a reward for expected behavior (e.g., praise, approval) and a consequence for negative behavior (e.g., detention, parent contact).

Yet these are tools taken from a teacher’s perspective and used to reinforce learning and behavior. They are, in effect, limited in their capacity to motivate. Without student motivation, then growth is not possible neither inside nor outside the classroom.

Referring back to Bandura, who is known for his Bobo doll experiment, he posited the necessity of self-efficacy− a central tenant of my classroom philosophy. It empowers students not only academically but also personally. It fosters growth by allowing students to speak for themselves without fear of reprisal, thus encouraging ownership over their grades and work ethic. In turn, students to have higher amount of self-efficacy, and thus persist longer and try harder to accomplish difficult tasks.

Parallel to John Dewey’s theory of democratization encouraging plurality of voice, within my classroom, I am hyper-cognizant that I am not the only one in it. Students’ voices must be heard and taken into account, which gives them ownership over their learning. It is a two-way process with reflexive roles of the sender and receiver, whom often times share information promoting clarity of understanding and intellectual thought.

My classroom then becomes not only a place to learn, but a place where my students can reach their full potential.

Original Publication Source: Edutopia, Using Psychology in Teaching by Jennifer M. Kenneally

Op-ed: The New FAFSA

I was perusing The Chronicle of Higher Education and found an article relaying the changes that are being implemented this year for FAFSA applications. In “A New Financial-Aid Timeline Could Reshape Admissions. Here’s How Colleges Are Preparing” by Beckie Supiano, she elucidates on the potential impacts the “early FAFSA” may bring from both an institutional perspective and student focus. She concisely states that the particular advantages would be the extra time students and parents have to weigh their financial aid packages and alludes to the disadvantages institutions face by possibly having to revise their policies and timelines for incoming students.There was no main question per say but rather a list of subsidiary questions revolving around the anxiety of instituting new federal policy. Uncertain of the potential ramifications, she asks how it will affect admissions deadlines, financial aid policies, and communications with families. Although limited, her conceptual framework would then be the socioeconomic implications of the new FAFSA.

However, excluded from her narrative is the direct mention of the change:  the new FAFSA will use financial aid information from the past two years and why this move was made. For instance, if there are major financial adjustment (for example, a divorce) then this would affect the estimated award; whereas, previously, the last year was only used. Supiano casually avoids the specific details and ramifications of the FAFSA changes. Instead, she is nebulous and refers to how different universities may or may not respond to the new FAFSA.

This article piqued my interest because of my background as a college advisor for high school students. If FAFSA truly wanted to save money (as the award has not increased relative to college costs, another fact Supiano avoids mentioning), then it should institute a GPA restriction as well as a residency requirement of at least two years. Working with different demographics, I have seen students barely passing high school, who came over from Cuba and who have lived only three months in the States, receive full awards; however, the lower middle-class student with perfect grades often times gets zilch. Another issue: some families circumvent the system by placing only one parent on the IRS tax form with that parent claiming the child(ren). This is a way some middle-class families (who are generally seen as too wealthy by the federal government) get some aid. Families may still try to “work” the system knowing the two-year rule, but nonetheless, this well-known loophole was one of the reasons that FAFSA wanted to redress and again another Supiano oversight.

This political undertone was entirely ignored in the Chronicle’s piece, yet it is essential to the background of FAFSA and its history. As a result, the article primarily falls on the change category, but it should fall under the conflict category as well. It does not, because the author was myopic in her assessment of the changes FAFSA brings and entirely ignored the debate ensconcing it.

The alterations to FAFSA affect higher education in that the advisors and recruiters who are the direct lines will have to alter their “pitches” to elucidate parents on the impact of financial aid. It affects the entire university who may have to reevaluate deadlines, offers of admissions, and revise how financial aid is doled out. It affects the families of these students who do not understand the “true” cost of college but see it as the automatic next step following high school. There will be much discussion about FAFSA included within the larger debate of the price of college, as many answers are unknown and will not be known till the new process is rolled out. Although, the article was balanced, it was too narrow and did not fully delineate the current issues with federal aid from either a student or institutional perspective.