Scaling the AP Language Mountain:
Managing the Paper Load for
Rookie Rhetoricians
Sheryl L. Miller Hosey
Council Rock High School South
Holland, PA
Dr. Stacey L. Aronow
Souderton Area High School
Souderton, PA
Sheryl L. Miller Hosey
19 years of teaching experience
13 years at current high school
4 years teaching AP Language and Composition
Specialization in teaching Shakespeare through
performance, public speaking and theatre
• Traditional schedule in a suburban, upper-class
school with 2,450 students, AP classes average 2530 students each in 4 sections offered
• smillerhosey@crsd.org
Dr. Stacey L. Aronow
• 16 years teaching high school English 9-12
• 5 years teaching AP Language and Composition
• Award-winning journalism instructor
– 14 years as newspaper adviser
• 5 years teaching at the university level (graduate-level
education courses)
• Block schedule in a suburban, middle to upper-middle
class school with 2,200 students, AP classes average
28-30 students each with 8 sections offered
• saronow@soudertonsd.org
Block vs. Traditional Schedules
• Block at Souderton
– Four 90-minute periods on a 4X4 schedule
(teachers teach 3 and change students mid-year)
• Fall semester: September – January
• Spring semester: February – June
• Traditional at Council Rock
– Nine 55-minute periods
(teachers teach 5 with same students all year)
• Fall semester: August – January
• Spring semester: January – June
Quality vs. Quantity
• We believe that it is not about how MUCH
students write; rather, it is about how WELL
they write.
• Ultimately, students benefit more from
learning how to write effectively even if they
turn work in less frequently.
• Our time should be spent on assessing the
students’ best work rather than rushed or
sloppy work.
Tips to Encourage Top-quality
Student Work
• Students email thesis statements to teacher
– Teacher can then provide specific, clear, personal response
– Thesis statement must be approved prior to a pre-set date
• Use of comprehensive, interactive peer edit sheets and
conferencing. See handout for example.
• Essay Reflections
– Prior to submitting final essay, students compose a
reflective piece (approximately 1/2 page) detailing thought
process behind essay development and peer-editing
experience. See handout for example.
Tips to Encourage Effective and
Efficient Assessment of Writing
• In research papers, students highlight citations
(primary and secondary) in two different colors.
• In thesis-driven essays, students highlight thesis
statement, topic sentences, and summative comment
in the conclusion.
• When focus is on specific rhetorical devices, sentence
patterns, etc., have students identify and label them.
• Provide clear, specific instruction sheet/rubric.
• Grade portions of essay prior to completion so that it
can be assessed in stages.
• Students assess each others’ work using the AP rubric;
teacher gives cursory read and grade of 1-9.
Revision List
Students often complain about the inability to
read and understand suggestions for
improvements in their writing.
Therefore, by using a numerical system to
indicate changes needed, teachers can
efficiently provide clear, specific feedback that
is constructive and easy to understand.
See handout for example.
Strategies for the AP Language and
Composition Classroom
The creative writing process can still be useful
and valuable in an AP environment.
1A. To add a bit of poetry, students create one
per season and must use certain teacheridentified devices. Students label them on the
Example of Seasonal Poem Using
Rhetorical Devices
• Please see handout for poem by Jaclyn Sattler
entitled “Fall.”
Strategies for the AP Language and
Composition Classroom
1B. To provide a review and challenge
students to use much of what they have
learned in AP Language, students can write
their own presidential speeches, a creative
and imaginative assignment that is simple to
Strategies: So You’re
Running for President
“So You’re Running for President”
AP Composition - Sentence Pattern Speech (50 Points)
You and your partner have been tasked with the job of writing a speech arguing why you (or your candidate)
should be the next president of the United States. (Be creative, clever, fun, school appropriate – and not
necessarily realistic!)
The Must Haves: A party, a platform, a slogan, a campaign poster (Remember visual rhetoric?)
Focus: Make your platform and slogan clear. Label them.
Content: Use at least two examples each of sentence patterns five, six, and seven. Label each sentence pattern.
Include at least four schemes and four tropes. Label them.
Include three logical fallacies. Label them.
Consider the persuasive appeals of ethos, pathos, and logos. Remember, a strong argument includes a healthy
dose of all three. Include each. Label them.
Organization: The introductory paragraph states clearly your purpose. Support paragraphs illustrate your platform.
The concluding paragraph reiterates previous points, promises, and claims, as well as your slogan.
Style: Feel free to use the formal or informal voice and write in the 1 st or 3rd person. Experiment with tone. It can
be serious, foreboding, humorous, sarcastic, satirical, etc.
Conventions: Edit for correctness, Use MLA formatting, Speech length should be approximately 1 ½ - 2 pages
One representative member of your group should be prepared to deliver your presidential campaign speech to
the class (in other words, the voters,) using his/her best presidential persona. The other member of your group
should be prepared to explain your campaign poster and how you utilized visual rhetoric strategies to create an
effective poster. An election will be held following the campaign speeches.
Strategies: So You’re Running for
President Example
• Please see handout for “Cleaning Up the
Men’s Mess” by Makena Finger and David
Strategies: Six-Word Narratives
2. Six-word narratives provide a change of pace from the
“usual” essay-driven curriculum. Based on the book
Six-Word Memoirs: By Writers Famous & Obscure,
students are given a topic and are asked to express
the essence of that topic by “showing” and “telling”
in six words.
Please see handout for book review.
• Job/work: “It’s a party with PG-13 cast.”
• TV show synopsis: “9 to 5; bored to death.”
• What not to say to parents: “When can I move back
Strategies: Short In-Class Assignments
3. Not every unit/stylistic technique has to
conclude in a three-five page essay. For
• Students are asked to brainstorm a list of
words to define.
• Students then choose three and develop each
into a short analysis (rather than a long
Strategies: Short In-Class Assignments
Extended Definition
How to Write a Definition
AP Composition
Complete the following practice activity on definition. Refer to pages 459 – 461 in Readings for Writers for further
clarification. Do not use a dictionary for this assignment.
Brainstorm a list of 10 words to define.
Choose 3 words from the list and define them in your own words by responding to the prompts below.
Word #1: ____________________________
“General Class”:
“How Word Differs”:
How might you describe the word? Consider the use of description in your response.
How might you provide an example of the word? Consider the use of anecdote and process analysis as possible,
but not the only, methods to offer an example. Remember, an example should be more specific than the
generalization (in this case, the word) it is trying to explain.
How might you use compare/contrast to describe the word?
Strategies: Short In-Class Assignments
Visual Rhetoric
• Visual Rhetoric Practice
– Students each bring in two or three ads from
– In pairs, students determine which two of the ads
most connect and reflect a certain idea.
– They then develop a one-two page analysis essay
that contains a thesis connecting the two ads.
– The teacher has to grade only one-half of the
number of essays!
Strategies: Short In-Class Assignments
Visual Rhetoric
Visual Rhetoric Assignment
AP Composition - Visual Rhetoric Analysis
(Synthesis Essay Practice)
Working with a partner, your assignment is to write a one-two page analysis of two advertisements. Each
member of the group should choose one of the ads he or she brought to class. As a group, develop a
thesis which integrates the analysis of both ads. In the analysis, you must include the following:
an explanation of what you believe to be the advertisers’ strategies in persuading the reader to buy their
an explanation of what the advertisers believe to be important to (or just true about) the reader and how
the ad reflects that belief
Be sure to include any information (such as visual text, verbal text, location, etc.) from the ads that help
you to formulate your response.
The assignment is worth 40 points.
Consider appropriate MLA format and essay structure.
Attach this rubric to the essay.
Be prepared to share your analysis with the rest of the class.
Please turn in two copies of your essay, making sure that all group members’ names are listed as the top of
the first page.
Stacey Aronow, Ed.D, 2008.
Strategies Cont.
4. Games!
• You’ve Been Sentenced
– A board game that can be purchased and adapted for
use in the classroom (McNeill Designs)
• Rhetorical Devices games
– Cards found Within 5 Steps to a 5 (McGraw-Hill)
– Terms Triple Play (Applied Practice)
• Team Rhetoric Review
– See handout for Team Games Tournament
questions and answers.
Five Assignments to Teach Writing
Assignment One
Non-fiction Unit Using an Analysis Essay
• Unit consists of excerpts from Douglass, King,
Lincoln, Malcolm X, Obama, Jefferson, Chief
• Students must create their own AP prompt
and answer it.
Example of Non-fiction Assignment
Nonfiction Analysis Essay Grade Rubric
This writing assignment must include a minimum of two works we have read within this nonfiction unit and be a
standard five-paragraph essay. It should also include an analysis of the use of argumentation, persuasion, and/or
Prompt (20 points)
Introduction (15 points)
– Three sentence minimum 3 points
– A powerful opening sentence that grabs the reader’s attention 2 points
– Thesis sentence that clearly explains your position on the topic (answering the prompt you created) 5 points
– Evidentiary overview, arranged effectively 5 points
Main Points (100 points)
– Topic sentences with clear ideas (sentences also provide transitions) 20 points
– Intelligent, thoughtful development with specific details 40 points
– Relevant, integrated quotes and examples (with citations) 20 points
– Closing sentences that synthesize and re-align on the topic 20 points
Conclusion (15 points)
– Restates thesis in a clear, concise, and powerful manner 5 points
– Provides synthesis and evaluation 10 points
Conventions (25 points) Formal essay conventions are to be followed.
Sheryl Miller Hosey, 2007.
Example of Student Non-fiction Essay
• Please see handout for essay by Joy Wang that
compares the inaugural addresses of
Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Barack
Assignment Two
Creating Short Stories and Skits Using Schemes,
Tropes, and Sentence Patterns
In order to break up the usual routine, students
develop and perform skits using rhetorical
elements that are currently being studied in
Students are often given a list of 8-10 schemes,
tropes, and sentence patterns.
It’s not unusual for students to turn their skits
into ongoing episodes that they portray
throughout the course.
Please see handout for example.
Assignment Three
Synthesis Essay Practice: Tiger Moms
(Based on AP List Serve Ideas)
See handout for the sources that coincide with this assignment.
Prompt #1: Much attention has been given lately to Amy Chua's recently released memoir
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. After having her excerpt published in The Wall Street
Journal, Chua has received fierce criticism, even a couple of death threats, because of
her stance on parenting. In an essay that synthesizes at least three of the sources for
support, evaluate the most important factors that a parent should consider when
trying to achieve the best for his or her child.
Prompt #2: In an essay that synthesizes at least three of the sources for support, evaluate
whether society should or should not have a say in a parent's decision to help his or
her child achieve his/her best.
Your essay will be evaluated on your response to the prompt and the use of sources
to support your position. Standard formal English as well as MLA conventions should
be used.
Sheryl Miller Hosey, 2011.
Synthesis Essay Rubric
(Tiger Moms)
AP Language and Composition
Synthesis Essay/Tiger Moms
Name: _________________________________
Prompt Number: _________________________________
three sentence minimum (3)
powerful opening sentence (2)
thesis sentence/answer to prompt (5)
evidentiary overview (5)
topic sentences (10)
development (20)
quotes and examples from three sources and seamlessly incorporated (20)
show connections between sources (10)
closing sentences (10)
restates thesis (5)
synthesis and evaluation (5)
explain the logic as to how you arrived at the conclusion you did, based on the
information provided in the sources (5)
Attribute both direct and indirect citations
Standard English
Total: _________/125
Synthesis Essay Example
• Please see handout for essay by Martin
Assignment Four
Essay Analysis/Presentations
• One essay analysis spread throughout the
• Teacher grades only four at a time!
Essay Analysis/Presentations
Assignment and Rubric
Essay Analysis (A Souderton AP Language Team Assignment)
One of your weekly assignments will be to analyze an essay written by one of the authors listed at the bottom of this page. Your analysis must be between 2 and 2.5 pages and include the
A paragraph which includes important biographical information and significant literary contributions of your author.
An analysis of the main ideas or themes of the essay and of how the author’s style helps to convey those ideas effectively. You may do any of the following in analyzing your author’s style:
Identify several significant uses of the schemes and tropes and explain how they help the author to effectively convey his or her ideas.
Analyze the author’s use of diction and syntax and explain how they help the author to effectively convey his or her ideas.
Analyze the types of sentences the author uses (functional, grammatical, rhetorical) and explain why he or she uses these types.
Analyze the author’s tone.
You will submit an analysis of a different writer’s work for each essay analysis, and you will present your information to the class two or three times throughout the course of the semester.
You must provide each member of the class a copy of your analysis on the day you present. You may not discuss an essay already presented by another student, and the same essayist’s work
may not be presented more than twice.
Listed below are the writers whose works you may analyze:
18th Century (and earlier)
19th Century
20th Century
George Eliot
James Thurber
Ben Jonson
Walter Pater
Albert Camus
John Milton
Henry David Thoreau
Russell Baker
Joseph Addison
James R. Lowell
Loren Eisley
Jonathan Swift
W.D. Howells
Aldous Huxley
Oliver Goldsmith
Margaret Fuller
E.M. Forster
Charles Lamb
Thomas Carlyle
Annie Dillard
Francis Bacon
Matthew Arnold
George Santayana
John Dryden
Fredrick Douglass
Norman Cousins
John Lock
Washington Irving
E.B. White
Richard Steele
Ralph Waldo Emerson
James Baldwin
Alexander Pope
Edgar Allan Poe
Kurt Vonnegut
Thomas Paine
Herman Melville
Martin Luther King
Thomas Jefferson
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Virginia Woolf
King Solomon
G.K. Chesterton
Gloria Steinem
Lewis Thomas
Nathaniel Benchley
You may not analyze the following: “I Have a Dream” by MLK; “A Modest Proposal” by Swift; “Once More to the Lake” by White; “My Wood” by Forster; “Of Idols” by Bacon.
It is your responsibility to choose an essay, not a short story.
Rob Barbadoro, Nate Wambold, and Stacey Aronow,, 2007.
Essay Analysis/Presentations Example
• Please see handout for essay by Craig Birchall
entitled “Men and Menstruation.”
Assignment Five
• Good Night, and Good Luck
– Please see handout for assignments and essay by
Emily Thompson.
• This I Believe
• Edward R. Murrow’s rhetoric provides
inspiration for both the written and spoken
AP Language Exam Evaluation
• After students have taken the AP Language
exam, this evaluation is an opportunity for
them to reflect on their preparation and
• Please see handout for evaluation form.
Thank You
• The students of Souderton Area High School:
Craig Birchall, Makena Finger, Andrea Gurgick, David
Hartzell, David Kim, Morgan Kratz, Spencer Kulhanjian,
Emily Thompson
• The students of Council Rock High School South:
Jaclyn Sattler, Martin Silberberg, Joy Wang
• Council Rock School District for copying and
shipping materials.
• Souderton Area School District and Council Rock
School District AP Language teachers for their
willingness to share materials.
Closing Comments
• Time to think/pair/share!
• Questions/Answers