AP English Language
On-Line for the 2017-2018 School Year
Teacher: Maya Inspektor
Note: As of March 16, 2017, both sections of this AP Lang class are now full. Please submit a completed application to be placed on the waiting list. It's likely that at least one spot will open up during the course of the summer!
Course description: This highly interactive course is designed to prepare students for the AP English Language and Composition exam in May. Students will learn to understand complicated texts and write with complexity, clarity and polish. Essentially, the goal of an AP English Language and Composition course is for students to develop maturity as readers, writers, and thinkers. To reach this goal, this course will involve extensive reading, writing, and online discussion.
Reading and writing nonfiction lies at the heart of the AP English Language and Composition exam. Students should anticipate reading 40 - 60 pages (mostly engaging nonfiction essays) and writing one essay (or the equivalent) weekly. Students will also participate in interactive discussions of their readings throughout the week, composing responses to discussion questions and commenting on their classmates' responses, and they will generally write a short reply to a "Morning Message" each day.
Students may be happily surprised to discover just how engaging nonfiction writing can be, from Martin Luther King's inspiring "Letter from Birmingham Jail" to Sherman Alexie's humorous account of how Superman helped him learn to read. We will also study image as text, critiquing Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoons and photographs. Students will track down logical fallacies in politicians' speeches (not too hard of an assignment, I'm afraid!) and read satire from Jonathan Swift and others. Nonfiction readings prepare students for readings in every discipline of college study, but that doesn't mean they need to be dry! In addition, students will choose novels, plays, and nonfiction works to study either independently or in interactive book clubs with their classmates throughout the year.
Course writing will cover a wide range of genres. During the year, students will compose journal entries, discussion question responses, argumentative papers and analytic essays. They will also write several personal creative narratives. They engage in the challenging process of composing a researched argument essay that they can submit as an entry into the American Foreign Service Association essay competition. Throughout the year, I will emphasize the writing process, as students move from prewriting to drafting and revisions with the help of extensive critique from both their classmates and from me.
Finally, let's not forget one of our ultimate focuses: throughout the year, but particularly at the end, students will engage in guided test preparation for the AP English Language and Composition exam.
Our readings will center around driving questions such as the following:
1. How does language and literacy change who we are? For example, how did the acquisition of English change Richard Rodriguez's identity? How are we shaped by the books we read?
2. How can we see through the rhetoric that surrounds us? Our reading in The Omnivore's Dilemma, for example, will push students to confront the complexity in a basic choice they face every day: what to eat for dinner. Eschewing easy answers, this book examines the American "food chain" in depth and looks beyond the shiny promises that products use to lure customers.
3. How can we use words to change the world? How do we critically examine the words used by politicians? How to writers craft arguments? What is Henry David Thoreau trying to accomplish in his story of retreat from society? How can we harness the tools of rhetoric to persuade others of our arguments?
I have been very proud by my students' performance in the past. For the past years, over two thirds of my students have earned scores of 4 or 5 on the exam at the end of the year (with 5 as the most common grade). In addition, my students have won more than $25,000 in college scholarships for the Peace Essay Contest entries they completed as part of the class. (This contest has since been replaced with the AFSA essay contest, which my students are entering for the first time this year.)
Who should apply: Students with a love for words, argumentation, and reading who would like to invest time and energy into exploring language more deeply. As this is a college-level writing course, students should come in with the ability to write with polish and read difficult high-level texts, and they should have a solid background involving reading and writing in rich and varied genres. They do not need extensive experience with formal literary analysis or essay writing.
I do not recommend this course for students who are seeking more remedial instruction in reading or writing. While I do provide some grammatical instruction, this course is not appropriate for students who struggle with extensive grammatical errors or who have great difficulty with the writing skills section of the SAT. This is a challenging course designed to take students who have mastered high-school-level work to an even more advanced level. Students who are self-disciplined and internally-motivated tend to excel in this class, while students who have trouble managing their time and the "abstract" demands of an online class may be better served by a more conventional class setting.
Note: this course is open to 10th, 11th and 12th graders. I occasionally admit 9th graders who present exceptional credentials, but I feel that younger students (9th and 10th graders) should only take this class if they are prepared to excel in it, not merely manage its demands-- otherwise, they are better served by waiting until they can have a completely positive class experience.
- The Language of Composition: Reading - Writing - Rhetoric, second edition, by Renee H. Shea, Lawrence Scanlon, and Robin Dissin Aufses (This anthology includes the nonfiction essays that will form the bulk of class reading.)
- The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White (Any edition is acceptable, but be sure you buy a version by Strunk and White rather than one only by Strunk.)
- Hunger of Memory, by Richard Rodriguez
- The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, by Michael Pollan
- Walden, by Henry David Thoreau
- In addition, students will read five AP-level works of fiction or nonfiction of their choice (within certain limits), discussing these works in small groups with classmates.
Registration deadline: Applications will be accepted through August 1st or until the class is full (which usually occurs much sooner, most likely before the end of April).
Tech needs: Students must have full web and printer access (broadband Internet recommended but not required), and they must be able to view and create PDF files.
Hours of study each week: Approximately 10-12 hours. (We don't meet at set class times; rather, you will have assignments due by midnight on most days of the school week. I will also post an instructional message every weekday morning by 8 AM EST; usually this message involves a student response. I do accommodate student travel plans, illnesses, and special events.)
Course meeting times: Students will have assignments due every weekday on our course website. This course has no required live components; work can be completed at any time on the day it is due. I am happy to accommodate students who need to work ahead or who face particularly busy times during their school year.
Course fee: $650 if payment is received before July 1st; $675 after July 1st.
Length of course: Monday, August 28, 2017 to the Friday after the AP English Language exam in the spring (most likely Friday, May 18).
Breaks: There will be no assignments due on any U.S. National Holidays. Students will have one week off for Thanksgiving (Nov. 20 - 26) and two weeks off for Christmas / New Years (Dec. 18 - Jan. 1). In addition, they will have "working breaks" in the fall and the spring semesters, during which time they will have one or two major assignments due but no daily assignments. These "working breaks" will be from October 1 - 14 and March 26 - April 8.
Instructor Qualifications: This is my tenth year teaching online AP English Language. I graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh in 2004, majoring in English nonfiction writing and Psychology. I obtained a Masters of Education in Secondary English from Carlow University, studying homeschooling English programs for my master's thesis. I taught at a private school in Pittsburgh for the past two years and had a wonderful time teaching this online course (as well as online AP English Literature). In addition, I taught creative writing classes at the School of Advanced Jewish Studies in Pittsburgh and served as an SAT tutor for a major test preparation company. I have always loved writing nonfiction and once served as memoir editor of the University of Pittsburgh's undergraduate nonfiction magazine, Collision. My husband and I live near Tel Aviv, Israel, with our young daughter and son. As a past participant in many online AP courses, I'm thrilled to have returned as a teacher!
Section 2: This year, I will accept 35 students into my section of AP English Language. A section teacher-- Ms. Meredith Pochily-- will grade the work for 10 more students, for a total class size of 45 students. The students in Ms. Pochily's section will participate fully in the class as a whole, completing the same assignments, learning from the same general instruction, and interacting with all of their classmates (in my section and in Ms. Pochily's section). Ms. Pochily will be responsible for grading the work from the students in her section and for monitoring their progress.
This year, we will determine admission to the two sections by a simple procedure. I (Mrs. Inspektor) will handle all admissions, and the first 35 students I accept will be automatically admitted into my section. The next 10 students that I accept will be in Ms. Pochily's section, though they will be moved to my section in the order in which they paid for the class, should space open up. If you have a strong preference about either section-- for example, you wish to be accepted directly into Ms. Pochily's section even if there is room in my section, or you ONLY wish to be considered for my section-- please explain this preference at the top of your application. When I accept you, I'll let you know where you stand in terms of admission to one section or the other.
Ms. Pochily is a top former student and AP Lang Teaching Assistant, and I still remember the quality of the responses she wrote on her classmates' work when she was in high school and the dedication she brought to the position of T.A. She graduated summa cum laude from George Washington University, where she majored in International Affairs, concentrating in Global Public Health. (Her students may have an advantage when it comes to AFSA essay contest entries!) She served as a writing tutor in various capacities throughout college, and since graduation has tutored both high school and college students in English and writing with Brainfuse Online. She currently supervises the editorial team for a national center promoting child welfare.
You can contact Ms. Pochily directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, but ALL applications should be sent to my e-mail address: email@example.com.
Details: I am happy to respond to any and all questions about the class. My e-mail is minspektor.pahomeschoolers.com. (Note: my spam filter occasionally diverts e-mails from certain addresses coming to this account. If you don't hear back from me within a few days, please try sending a message to minspektor.gmail.com or contact me via PA Homeschoolers.) You can contact Ms. Pochily at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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