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AP English Language

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Online for the 2024-2025 School Year

Teacher: Maya Inspektor

Email: minspektor@gmail.com


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Note: You must fill out an application and be accepted to the class before submitting payment. The 2024-25 application can be found at the following Google Form: https://forms.gle/EfkhgoZYUFi8C8L18 

While you are welcome to fill out the application now, Mrs. Inspektor will only start to process applications on February 15, 2024. After February 15th, you should receive a reply from Mrs. Inspektor within three business days; if you don't, please send her an e-mail at minspektor@gmail.com

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 as well as numerous shorter written responses. 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 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 an essay competition (most likely an entry into the John Locke Essay Competition, which is open to students up to age 18 worldwide). 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.

Note: It can be tempting to take this class along with other literature-based English classes, but I strongly recommend against this. AP English Language demands a great deal of reading and writing, and students usually find themselves overwhelmed if they combine this class with any other formal English class. I would like to see students continue to read high-quality fiction for pleasure outside the class, though, and they will read and discuss three AP-level novels with classmates as part of the class "book club" activities. 

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? We will consider our readings by examining their rhetorical situation, exigence, motivations of the author, biases, strategies, and more. 

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 almost $30,000 in college scholarships for entries into essay contests they have completed as part of the class, and they have also won numerous Scholastic Arts and Writing awards for essays they wrote in class.

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. No background or interest in foreign policy, bilingual education, food science, or living in a hut in the woods is necessary. Students do not need extensive experience with formal literary analysis or essay writing.

I do not recommend this course for students who are seeking 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. (I recommend an SAT score in both the English and writing sections of the SAT of at least 600 as a pre-requisite. You do not need to have taken the SATs to apply, however.) This is a challenging, high-level 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.

Required texts:

  • 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.) Note: The third edition is now available, but we will be sticking with the second edition.  
  • 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
  • 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.

This course has no set meeting times! Instead, students will interact asynchronously by reading daily instructional messages and writing extensive responses to each others' work. Students will have assignments due every weekday, though, so the course is ideal for students who have fairly consistent availability throughout the week. We are happy to accommodate students who need to work ahead, students who live in international time zones, or students who face particularly busy times during their school year. 

Course fee: $850 if payment is received before July 1st; $900 after July 1st.

Length of course: Tuesday, September 3 2024 to Friday, May 16, 2025 (assuming the College Board sticks with the expected exam administration schedule).

Breaks: There will be no assignments due on any U.S. National Holidays. In addition, students will have one week off for fall break, one week off for Thanksgiving break, two weeks off for Christmas / New Years, and one week off for spring break.

 

 

SECTION ASSIGNMENTS AND WHAT THEY MEAN

We firmly believe that the best way to help students improve their writing is by providing thoughtful, personal, and detailed feedback. Thus, we usually spend a half hour or more responding to each student essay and invest heavily in this aspect of the class. We also feel that it's very important for a teacher to get to know the writing style, strengths, and weaknesses of each student. Because of this, Mrs. Inspektor has hired a trusted co-teacher (Ms. Odelia Chan) to write essay feedback for a portion of students in the class. If you are in Ms. Chan's section of the class, she will comment on your essays and monitor your progress. This allows us to accept more students into the class than we could if Mrs. Inspektor were sole teacher. On the 2022 exam, Ms. Chan's students earned an incredible average score of 4.8 / 5 while Mrs. Inspektor's students earned an (also quite impressive) average score of 4.6/5, so you can see that students in Ms. Chan's section are in very good hands.

In all other ways, Mrs. Inspektor is the primary instructor for all students; she plans the syllabus and writes the daily instructional messages, and she is happy to be available to all students (even those in Ms. Chan's section at any time). All of the students interact with each other in one interactive online classroom.  

We determine admissions to the two sections by a simple procedure. Mrs. Inspektor will handle all admissions, and the first (approximately) 30 students she accepts will be automatically admitted into her section. The next (approximately) 15 students will be in Ms. Chan's section, though they will be moved to Mrs. Inspektor's 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. Chan's section even if there is room in Mrs. Inspektor's section, or you ONLY wish to be considered for Mrs. Inspektor's section-- please explain this preference in your application. In your acceptance letter, we'll let you know where you stand in terms of admission to one section or the other.

 

Instructors:

Mrs. Inspektor has been teaching online AP® English for almost two decades and is excited to continue. In the 1990s, she was one of the first student participants in the AP Homeschoolers online courses herself and has fond memories of her own online classes! She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh in 2004, majoring in English Writing and Psychology. She earned a Masters of Education in Secondary English from Carlow University, researching homeschooling English programs for her master's thesis. She taught at a private school for two years and has taught AP English Language and AP English Literature through AP Homeschoolers since 2007. She also enjoys teaching summer classes on writing college application essays (when she's not running marathons, gardening, or renovating her 600-year-old house). An expat since her early 20s, she lived in Israel for 12 years and now lives in the Czech Republic with her daughter, son, and unruly German Shepherd. 

Odelia Chan is the co-teacher for both of Mrs. Inspektor's AP® English classes. This is her third year co-teaching AP® English Literature and her second year co-teaching AP® English Language, though she was teaching assistant for AP® English Language while in college! As co-teacher, Ms. Chan was incredibly prompt about returning essay feedback and focused on helping her students succeed. She is also a published novelist, freelance writer, and private tutor. She graduated summa cum laude from Waldorf University, majoring in Communications. She loves guiding students toward becoming excellent writers.

You can contact Ms. Chan directly at teach@odeliachan.com, but all general inquiries should be sent to Maya Inspektor: minspektor@gmail.com. 

 

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