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textbook, their student handbook, the introductory letter for the course and other sources to create a synthesis paragraph providing information about the AP exam.The Instructor grades the paragraph, paying special attention to citation format and the fluid incorporation of source material, before students embark upon the synthesis essay.Finally, in addition to work on essays, students practice and analyze the multiple-choice portion of the exam. Students enter the web-based classroom several times over the course of each lesson’s two-week time frame, reading posted thematically linked texts and responding to discussion questions along with each other’s comments. Lessons are worth 70% of the final grade, with the process letter accounting for about 20% of the lesson grade.
Although essays are also awarded letter grades, critiques emphasize encouragement and concrete suggestions for ways to improve.
Effort, and improvement over time, are considered in the assignment of a grade, especially as the course progresses.
In addition to practicing essay test-taking techniques, organization and time management, students use a variety of posted readings and discussion questions to explore the interactions among subject, authorial purpose, audience needs, generic conventions, and the resources of the English language.
Exposure to classical rhetoric, including a study of schemes and tropes and the use of the Aristotelian appeals, increases understanding of and access to critical reading and writing skills. The process letter accompanying each lesson is an informal self-assessment of about a page in length, in which students are invited to explain and evaluate their process, from planning through drafting and proofreading/revision. Washington and Others,” and answer questions about each author’s purpose and audience as well as the influence of his background upon the position he takes.
After reading examples of each approach, students first disassemble a previously written essay, using either a formal outline or a blueprint structure to identify main ideas, supporting ideas and details.
Then they write “quick plans” in response to three separate prompts in a practice test, focusing on developing a working thesis and identifying main areas of support within a ten-minute timeframe.
The goal of this lesson is to create focused, arguable, complex and elegant thesis statements that answer all parts of a posed question.
Students look at the successful use of concessions and qualifications in a strong thesis, along with the analysis and revision of several weak thesis statements.
The final writing assignment is a persuasive prompt responding to a passage by Ralph Waldo Emerson (98).
This lesson replicates the essay portion of the AP exam, giving students the opportunity to reflect upon their time management skills, how well they are able to organize their thoughts into “quick plans of attack” before drafting, and generally giving them a sense of what they need to work on in the coming months.