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    English 11 AP: Language and Composition Syllabus (2020-2021)

    Ms. Vasiliauskas (Ms. V.)


    (540) 332-3926

    Class Meeting Time (3B): 11:30-12:15 B Days Tuesday-Friday; Mondays independent

    Class Meeting Time (4B): 12:30-1:15 B Days Tuesday-Friday; Mondays independent

    Office Hours: 2:30-3:00 PM Monday-Friday; by appointment

    Weekly Assignments Posted: Monday at 8:00 AM via Google Classroom

    Weekly Assignments Due: Friday at 5:00 PM via Google Classroom

    Google Classroom Join Code (3B): 7odxogl

    Google Classroom Join Code (4B): ba2ke3h

    The course corresponds with the objectives and expectations outlined in the College Board Course Description. This, notably, includes synthesizing information and analyzing images-as-text. This is a rigorous course that gives students ample opportunities to examine a writer’s purpose in accordance with the writer’s use of rhetorical devices, including tone, diction, audience, organization, appeal, style, and attitude. The course also teaches students how to read and evaluate primary and secondary sources in order to incorporate them into an original composition. All students will be required to document these sources using the guidelines set forth by MLA or APA. This course also requires students to write expository, analytical, and argumentative papers in response to a variety of prose and genres. Students will read and write (formally and informally) in the following rhetorical modes: narration, description, process analysis, example, definition, classification, comparison/contrast, cause/effect, and argument/persuasion. They will learn how to link technique and meaning into well-organized, supported, logical responses to complex texts (primarily nonfiction).  All students will take the AP English Language and Composition exam in the spring. 


    • To read widely and reflect on reading through extensive discussion, writing, and rewriting
    • To write, especially in persuasive, analytical, and expository forms on a variety of subjects
    • To use close reading of parts of a text to analyze and understand the meaning of the whole text 
    • To develop clarity, complexity, self-awareness, flexibility, effectiveness, and confidence in student writing  
    • To develop awareness of the composing process, especially the exploration of ideas, the consideration of writing strategies, and an understanding of the value of revision  
    • To study the English Language, especially differences between oral and written discourse, formal and informal language usage, and historical variations in speech and writing  
    • To develop a comprehensive overview of the major movements of American Literature
    • To prepare for the AP English Language and Composition Exam in May

    Students will…

    • Present, analyze, and evaluate persuasive oral presentations with a focus on rhetorical techniques 
    • Read and analyze major American literary and cultural types, genres, characters, and traditions as well as printed nonfiction texts  
    • Understand the variety and range of written communication forms and strategies while developing their own persuasive and expository writing skills 
    • Access, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and organize information from a variety of sources into a documented paper dealing with a question, problem, or issue  
    • Do extensive work with AP sample response passages and multiple-choice questions and discuss strategies for decoding and encoding AP Prompts 

    Course Texts  

    • Conversations in American Literature Language, Rhetoric, Culture. Bedford, 2015.
    • Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
    • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (plus excerpts from the film)
    • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (plus the film Capote)
    • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
    • 2 student-selected nonfiction books on culture (One of these should be deep, serious, and heavy.  The other should be fun, light, and interesting.)
    • 1 student-selected fiction novel of personal interest

    Please see Ms. V. if you need suggestions for independent books! 

    Instructional Philosophy

    My expectations are clear and simple.  I expect all students to be present, participate, be honest, and do their best in a rigorous and fast-paced course.  If you need help, ask for it.  I’m here to help!


    • Daily planner or organizational system for keeping track of deadlines and meeting times
    • Access to your SCS Google account and its apps for creating and saving work
    • Pens, pencils, and a notebook
    • Folder for organizing materials

    Methods of Learning

    • Group work (for reading, peer editing, etc.)
    • Journals and informal writing assignments
    • Tests
    • AP practice multiple choice and essays
    • In-class and independent reading
    • In-class and independent writing, including timed writing
    • Informal and formal presentations
    • Seminar discussion 

    Contact Information

    • When you need something, communicate with me! The quickest way to reach me is via email.  Please use your SCS email rather than your personal one.  When you email me, make sure that your name is in the message and that the contents are specific and appropriate.  My email address is avasilia@staunton.k12.va.us.   
    • I am available for extra help during scheduled office hours and at any time via email.
    • Please check PowerSchool frequently for information on attendance and grades.

    Homework Policy

    • Expect homework, especially reading. Most of the time, homework will consist of working on essays and projects and reading in order to prepare for class.
    • You always have something to work on. Home is a great place to read, revise, and to seek peer feedback.

    Classroom Behavioral Expectations

    • Be courteous and respectful at all times to yourself, to your classmates, to me, and to the classroom itself.
    • Present yourself professionally and accept responsibility for your actions. Come to class prepared and ready to work, and make up your work when absent.  Complete all assignments to the best of your ability and turn them in on time.  Complete independent assignments independently.
    • Use technology only for academic purposes and only with my permission.
    • Keep gum, food, and drinks other than water out of the classroom. As long as it is not disruptive or distracting to others, you may eat during online learning.
    • Let me teach.  Allow others to learn.
    • Abide by all rules and regulations in the Staunton High School Student Handbook.

    Zoom Behavioral Expectations

    • Be courteous and respectful at all times to yourself, to your classmates, and to me.
    • Be on time. Things happen, but class starts at the scheduled time.  If you come in late, be respectful as you join.
    • Find yourself a quiet place conducive to learning, if you can. I am aware this is not always possible, but do your best.
    • Be prepared. Our online sessions will often be workshop-based, so you need to complete the appropriate assignment in order to get the most out of them.
    • Always keep your video turned on. Since this is the expectation, you will need to dress appropriately and follow the same rules of dress expected when you are in class.
    • Mute your microphone. Only unmute yourself when I direct you to.
    • Participate! When you engage meaningfully, you get more out of class.  Simply showing up is not enough.
    • Chat responsibly. Sessions will be recorded and posted in order to help those who are absent, and all chat conversations appear in the recorded session.  If you send a message in the chat, send it to the whole class.  Make sure the message is school-appropriate.
    • When you are speaking, speak clearly and make eye contact. English is not just about reading and writing; it is also about public speaking.


    Whether we are meeting in-person or online, be in class and be there on time!  I will be taking attendance for online sessions in the same way I do for in-person sessions.  It is your responsibility to contact me concerning missing work if you are absent.  This year, receiving make-up work will be simpler.  All work and materials will be posted to Google Classroom.  Go there first, and ask questions if you need help!

    Plagiarism or Cheating 

    Anyone who knowingly and deliberately cheats or plagiarizes will receive a referral and be sent to the Honor Council.  The grade for the dishonest assignment will be 0%. After conferencing with me about the assignment, students will have 48 hours to complete the assignment for 50%.  If you are concerned about a potential instance of plagiarism, see me or refer to your course materials on citation and plagiarism.  A lack of awareness does not exempt you from this policy.

    Parent Portal and Chromebook Help

    Grades will be posted to PowerSchool on a weekly basis.  Please be diligent and check grades often.  PowerSchool can be accessed here: http://scps.powerschool.com.  If a student or parent is having trouble logging in or forgets his/her/their access codes, please reach out to the assigned guidance counselor.

    Having access to Chromebooks is a necessity for success in both online and in-person learning.  If a student has any issues with a Chromebook, use the following form to report issues: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScisWA1mKzwcDzH9BISdhRAmSxv8W_bVVheBaii8V0E8v89pg/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1&flr=0.  The link to this form is also located in the “Report Technology Issues” section of the “Parents and Students” tab on the SHS website.


    • Class Work: 40% (AP multiple choice and Grammar/Vocabulary/Content Tests)  
    • Major Writing Assignments and Projects (Essays and reading assignments): 50%
    • Homework: 10% (Minor assignments and participation)

    Unexcused Late Work

    Assignments will not be accepted more than three days late and will lose ten percent per day.  Please plan accordingly.

    Grading Scale 

    • A+  = 98-100
    • A    = 93-97
    • A-   = 90-92
    • B+  = 87-89
    • B    = 83-86
    • B-   = 82-80
    • C+  = 77-79
    • C    = 73-76
    • C-   = 72-70
    • D+  = 67-69
    • D    = 63-66
    • D-   = 60-62
    • F  = 59 and below

    Writing assignments will be graded using the AP essay rubric.  The grade conversion chart appears below.

    Weighted Credit:  In order to earn Staunton High School weighted credit, students must take the AP exam.

    Per Staunton High School policy, any student failing an AP class at the mid-point will be dropped from the course.

    AP Score Conversion Chart


    • 6 = 100%
    • 5 = 91%
    • 4 = 82%
    • 3 = 71%
    • 2 = 61%
    • 1 = 50%
    • 0 = 0%

    Multiple Choice

    • 75% to 100% = 100%
    • 51% to 74% = 90%
    • 50% = 80%
    • 25% to 49% = 70%
    • Below 25% = 60% 

    Essay Policy

    • Any formal assignments should be typed.  Because of the unique school situation this year, a digital copy must be submitted on time and in the appropriate place in order to receive credit.  Final drafts must represent your best work. Please follow the individual rubrics in accordance with the AP rubric. 
    • I expect all work to be original.  Avoid plagiarism in your research by evaluating and citing the source (both primary and secondary) of the idea or language, whether directly quoted or paraphrased.  All citations should be in MLA format.  
    • In a normal school situation, all in-class essays would be handwritten and simulate the timed AP exam experience.  In order to maintain a high standard of safety, however, you will type all essays this year. All essays will be graded using the AP essay rubric.  You will also be expected to complete practice essays on your own, and these should be hand-written and timed as well.
    • Multiple essay assignments will require the student to follow the entire writing process, including multiple drafts and peer editing.  Peer editing will be a completely digital process this year.

    Reading Assignments

    The most important requirement for this course is that students read every assignment.  Rhetoric can be subtle and complex and always deserves a close reading. Novels, in particular, require planning and time management.  

    • You will be required to look beyond the most obvious, surface-level structures and observations to the more subtle nuances of the works.  For this, we will consistently approach literature and rhetoric in search of the CIA (i.e., complexities, ironies, and ambiguities) and the rhetorical triangle.  
    • There will be pre-, during, and post-reading focuses for each assignment that will help hone your literary vocabulary, help you master your command of complex syntax, and help keep you organized both conceptually and with reading comprehension.  
    • Expect periodic reading quizzes, most often requiring synthesis of notes and discussion into a written response.  
    • Socratic seminar circles will be our primary vehicle for discussion of the readings.  While there will often be fine differences in the structure and format of the seminars, they will consistently be Socratic in that the students are expected to do the following:
      • Facilitate the discussion process by independently engaging an issue, actively listening to peer responses, and building upon those in their own responses.
      • Come with completed work, which prepares them to focus in the appropriate direction. 
      • To make statements of insights, inferences, and argumentation, to support your stance using direct quotations from the texts, and to offer commentary that serves to connect your points to the overall discussion and the greater significance of the reading.
      • To prepare their own theses and argumentative stances by taking notes from the discussion to incorporate into their own written responses later.

    Writing Assignments

    • Students will take part in and account for the writing process (i.e., brainstorming, prewriting, drafting, revising, editing).  
    • Students will write a series of critical assignments based on various prose, poetry, and dramatic readings.  These papers will explicate discoveries from close reading works in these genres. Each paper will use specific and well-chosen evidence to articulate an argument relative to close textual analysis of rhetorical devices, structure, style, and social/historical values. 
    • Students will write to explain (e.g., expository and analytical essays that draw upon details), to understand (e.g., reaction papers and journals that explicate their own connections to the texts and their degree of comprehension), and to evaluate (e.g., style analysis, argumentation about artistry and its effectiveness, analysis/evaluation of social and cultural elements), to argue (e.g., persuasive essays and research), and to synthesize (e.g., synthesis essay).
    • Students will also respond to AP prompts under timed conditions, during class time only.

    Course Outline

    * All units are subject to teacher revision based on student needs and text availability.

    Unit 1: Argument for Rhetoric (August-October)

    Literary Focus: selected excerpts from Conversations text and Into Thin Air, Into the Wild, and American Romanticism/Transcendentalism

    Writing Focus: occasion, context, purpose, rhetorical triangle, ethos, pathos, logos, PASTA (Purpose, Audience, Subject, Tone, Author’s Bias); metaphors; rhetorical terminology, vocabulary in context; varied sentences

    Essay Focus: Rhetorical Analysis Essay

    Reading and Assessments (subject to teacher additions)

    • Selected poetry 
    • Selected short fiction
    • Hudson River School paintings
    • Selected passages from Conversations text: analyze for PASTA
    • Selected passages from The Onion: analyze for PASTA
    • Released AP Rhetorical Analysis Essays: students will score and fix released essays
    • Legacy of Thoreau excerpts: analyze for PASTA
    • Selected print and media advertisements: analyze for PASTA
    • Excerpts from Walden by Thoreau
    • Excerpts from Into Thin Air by Krakauer
    • Into the Wild by Krakauer
    • Multiple Choice: AP multiple choice: Students will answer selected passages; defend correct answers; and explain their reasoning for the wrong answers. 
    • Rhetorical Analysis: Students will analyze AP prompts; score released AP essays; and develop strategies for improving poor released essays. 
    • Major Writing 1: Mimic a published columnist.  Read 4 columns. Complete PASTA on each.  Comment on the author’s style.  After analyzing the writer’s style, mimic the style as you introduce yourself in at least 400 words.  
    • Major Writing 2:Choose 5 visual advertisements: analyze PASTA; and determine the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of each.  
    • Major Writing 3: Analyze selected work for Tone.  How does the writer create this tone, and what is its effect on the reader?  400+ words 
    • Major Writing 4: Rhetorical Analysis Essay: Students will compare and contrast two selected speeches, focusing on purpose and rhetorical strategies in a 400+ word essay.  
    • Major Writing 5: Into the Wild:Find quotations and complete journal entries with commentary regarding the following: Chris’s attitude toward society, society’s attitude toward Chris, Krakauer’s attitude toward Chris, and Chris’s attitude toward life as it relates to Thoreau.  
    • Writing: Into the Wild:analyze passages for purpose and tone
    • Writing: Legacy of Thoreau (Conversations text): students will analyze selected passages and complete a synthesis essay in the next unit.
    • Writing: Timed Rhetorical Analysis Essays based upon notes taken from Conversations text and selected texts.   

    Unit 2: Making Effective Arguments (October-January)

    Literary Focus: selected excerpts from the Conversations text, selected excerpts from famous speeches (Americanrhetoric.com), and independent culture book

    Writing Focus:Rogerian Method, claims, fallacies, first-hand evidence, second-hand evidence, induction, deduction, Toulmin Model, claim to thesis, vocabulary in context, metaphors, and continued focus with rhetorical terminology

    Essay Focus: Synthesis Essay

    Reading and Assessments (subject to teacher additions)

    • Selected passages from Conversations text and Americanrhetoric.com
    • Selected articles from The Onion
    • Analyze visual texts as arguments
    • Columbus (synthesis) (Conversations text)
    • Thoreau (synthesis) (Conversations text)
    • Movie review
    • Independent culture book
    • Multiple Choice:AP multiple choice: Students will answer selected passages; defend correct answers; and explain their reasoning for the wrong answers. 
    • Synthesis Essay:  Students will analyze AP prompts; score released AP essays; and develop strategies for improving poor released essays. 
    • Major Writing 1:  Open Prompt Essay: Watch a movie of your choice and rate it.  Defend your rating. Analyze a published movie review for that movie.  What criteria does the reviewer use to justify the thumbs up or down?  What fallacies, if any, are used?  What are the claims?  500-700 words.  
    • Major Writing 2: Synthesis Essay: Use the insights collected in the Thoreau unit to write a 400+ word essay
    • Major Writing 3-4: Synthesis Essays: Columbus (Conversations text) and released Synthesis prompts: Students read, analyze, formulate arguments and write the 400+ word Synthesis Essays based upon these sources.    
    • Major Writing 5: Synthesis Essay:  Students create their own Synthesis prompt with sources inspired by their chosen book; exchange and write 400+ word essay
    • Reading on Culture: Student will complete book review questions focusing on tone, theme, claims, and style.

    Unit 3: The Argument for Realism/Naturalism (January-March)

    Literary Focus: In Cold Blood, independent culture book, and Of Mice and Men

    Writing Focus: close reading, tone, diction, style, asking questions, purpose, synthesis, thesis, annotating, MLA essentials, rhetorical terminology, metaphors, and vocabulary in context 

    Essay Focus: Open Prompt Essay

    Reading and Assessments (subject to teacher additions)

    • Analyze visuals as arguments 
    • In Cold Blood by Capote
    • Damned Human Race essay
    • Savages of North America multimedia satire
    • Selected readings from Conversations text
    • Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck
    • Multiple Choice: AP multiple choice: Students will answer selected passages; defend correct answers; and explain their reasoning for the wrong answers.
    • Open Prompt Essay: Students will analyze AP prompts; score released AP essays; develop strategies for improving poor released essays; and generate concrete examples for poor released essays.
    • Major Writing 1: Persuasive Essay:  After reading Twain’s “The Damned Human Race,” argue for or against his proposal using current events.   
    • Major Project 2:  In Cold Blood: Students create a multimedia presentation using the given criteria to analyze Capote’s purpose and claims.
    • Open Prompt Essay Writing: Timed Open Prompt Essays based upon notes taken from Conversations text and Twain’s wisdom.
    • Major Project 4: Create own satire using multimedia that mimics or is inspired by Franklin’s Savages of North America; make a claim.

    Unit 4: The Argument for Disillusionment (April-May)

    Literary Focus: Of Mice and Men and Man’s Search for Meaning

    Writing Focus: close reading, tone, diction, style, asking questions, purpose, selected poetry, visuals as arguments, MLA/APA, rhetorical devices, vocabulary in context, test taking strategies, Essay Focus: Rhetorical Analysis, Synthesis, and Open Prompt Essays

    Reading and Assessments (subject to teacher additions)

    • Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck
    • Man’s Search for Meaning by Frankl
    • AP Test Prep: After evaluating students, students will focus on areas of individual and collective weakness in preparation for the AP exam.
    • Multiple Choice:AP multiple choice: answer selected passages; defend correct answers and the reason for the wrong answers
    • Major Writing 1: Rhetorical Analysis: Man’s Search for Meaning. Students will compare and contrast Frankl’s philosophy with that of a chosen theorist focusing on purpose and rhetorical strategies in a 400+ word essay.
    • Major Writing 2: Synthesis Essay from released prompts
    • Major Writing 3: Open Prompt Essay from released prompts  
    • Lincoln-Douglas Debate Format and mock debates