Pennsylvania Homeschoolers

AP* Online Classes

I honestly loved interviewing my grandparents for the November History Interview assignment. They were both so excited to tell me about their childhoods during the Great Depression and WWII, and I literally would have never known so many things about their lives.

AP English Language

On-Line for the 2019-2020 School Year

Teacher: Kathryn Walker


Online for 2019-2020

This class is now FULL. I can take a couple requests for a waiting list if spots open up. 

Instructor: Kathryn Walker

Tuition: $675 early bird/$700 after July 1; class size limited to 15 students

Course Overview: This is a college-level course to prepare students for the Advanced Placement Language and Composition exam by engaging in critical reading, writing, and discussion. The stated purpose of the course (from the College Board) is to “emphasize the expository, analytical, and argumentative writing that forms the basis of academic and professional communication.” To accomplish this goal, we learn to read texts closely to determine the author’s purpose and means of conveying his or her message. In addition to literature, we engage in analysis of images and audio recordings to better understand the processes of communication and persuasion. Our goal is to develop skills in describing, explaining, and arguing through examining texts from various time periods and genres and through writing formal and informal responses to them in various modes. We also complete timed essays and practice tests to help prepare students for the AP exam.

Course Units and Texts 

*Summer Reading: How to Think by Alan Jacobs

Unit I: Exposition, Description, and Narration

In this unit, we examine the tools of exposition, namely, writing that informs, describes, or explains. Our study examines expositional patterns, such as narrative interspersion, recursion, and cause and effect. Readings also include an emphasis on descriptive writing, including traits such as detail, diction, and point of view. Finally, students examine the narrative qualities of works, including character development and theme. Students also master a variety of rhetorical terms, such as repetition, chiasmus, antithesis, hyperbole, and irony. Works studied range from ancient essays to contemporary comedy. Students complete a significant Descriptive Project to showcase their mastery of these skills.

Novel: Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

Expository Works: Aristotle’s “On Rhetoric,” “The Rhetorical Stance” by Wayne C. Booth, “The Pleasures of Eating” by Wendell Berry

Descriptive Works: “A Libido for the Ugly” by H. L. Mencken, “ “The Ring of Time” by E. B. White, “The Knife” by Richard Selzer

Personal/Narrative Works: “Monday” by Mark Helprin, “A Descent in the Dark” by R.R. Reno, Thinking as a Hobby" by William Golding, and  "Hope on a Rose" by Bradley Birzer

Choice of Memoir for Book Club Discussion

Unit II: The Argument

We transition from telling to deliberately arguing here, and to that goal, we study concepts from They Say, I Say to help students craft meaningful arguments. Our work focuses on argumentation through a variety of modes: persuasive essays, audience adaptations, argument refutations, and satires. We also examine advertising and images to ascertain their rhetorical appeals. Students craft an argumentative research essay giving their perspective on a topic related to the nature of higher education. We also examine current journalism and events for class discussions and response papers.

They Say, I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing by Gerald Graff and Cathy Berkenstein

Education Readings: Selections from The Idea of a University by John Henry Newman, “Six Myths about Choosing a College Major" by Jeffrey Selingo," Shop Class as Soulcraft” by Matthew Crawford¸ “The War on Work” by Mike Rowe

A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift, “Deus Machina” by Neil Postman, “Virtues Past and Present,” by Jonathan Last, “The Order of Things” by Malcolm Gladwell, “The Case for Torture” by Michael Levin, “The Eviction Economy” by Matthew Desmond, and other contemporary articles.

Choice of nonfiction book offering contemporary cultural critique for Book Club Discussion

Unit III: The Art of Speechwriting

In this final unit of the year, we examine the power of persuasion through the spoken work by examining various mediums of speech. We consider the role of the speaker’s voice to persuade, engage, and argue, and we work to use language deliberately to create the effect we want our listeners to experience. Reading and watching speeches allows us to examine how speechwriters work upon human language and consciousness. In one exercise, students analyze a particular speech given by a character in Julius Caesar. As a capstone project, students craft an original speech on a topic of their choice to demonstrate the various skills they have acquired throughout the year.

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

“Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell

Political Speeches: “I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King, “The Gettysburg Address” by Abraham Lincoln, “Choices and Change” by Barbara Bush 

Religious Speeches: “The Genuine Article” by Alistair Begg, “The Wounds of Jesus” by C.C. Lovelace, “Self Denial the Test of Religious Earnestness by John Henry Newman, and “Hell” by D.L. Moody

Choice of essay collection or nonfiction work on writing as extra credit option for Book Club Discussion

Technical Details:

Workload: Weekly coursework generally includes instruction through short readings, mini video lectures, or PowerPoint presentations; a 20-100 page reading assignment; a 2-3 page essay or work toward a larger essay; participation in a live discussion or on the class discussion board; and occasional quizzes.

Student Qualifications: Open to students in 10th-12th grade. Students should be competent readers and writers, but don’t let the reading list scare you; we will work together through the difficult texts. Students need Microsoft Word and Internet access.

Class Schedule: September 3, 2019 through the AP exam in May, 2020.

Instructor Qualifications: This will be my tenth year teaching AP Language and Composition online. Approximately 2/3 of my students have earned 4’s or 5’s on the AP Exam, with 5 being their most common score. I have served as an AP reader for the College Board, scoring student essays for the AP Language and Comp exam. A graduate of PHAA, I hold a B.A. in English from Hillsdale College, an M.Ed from Eastern University, and PA Teaching Certification for English 7-12. Previously, I have taught English at Valley Forge Military Academy and at Veritas Academy in Lancaster, PA. I currently live in Lancaster, PA and homeschool my own children. I have published work in First Things’s Web Exclusives, Touchstone Magazine, Independent Teacher Magazine, and Veritas Press’s Omnibus curriculum. I would be happy to discuss any questions about this course. Please feel free to contact me at






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Susan Richman, PA Homeschoolers AP Online Coordinator
105 Richman LN
Kittanning PA 16201-5737
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