Lecture notes on English literature

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® AP English Literature and Composition Teacher's Guide Ellen Greenblatt The Bay School San Francisco, California ™ connect to college success www.collegeboard.com ® AP English Literature and Composition Teacher's Guide Ellen Greenblatt The Bay School San Francisco, California The College Board: Connecting Students to College Success The College Board is a not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the association is composed of more than 5,000 schools, colleges, universities, and other educational organizations. Each year, the College Board serves seven million students and their parents, 23,000 high schools, and 3,500 colleges through major programs and services in college admissions, guidance, assessment, financial aid, enrollment, and teaching and learning. Among its best-known programs are the SAT®, the PSAT/NMSQT®, and the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®). The College Board is committed to the principles of excellence and equity, and that commitment is embodied in all of its programs, services, activities, and concerns. For further information, visit www.collegeboard.com. © 2007 The College Board. All rights reserved. College Board, Advanced Placement Program, AP, AP Central, AP Vertical Teams, Pre-AP, SAT, and the acorn logo are registered trademarks of the College Board. AP Potential and connect to college success are trademarks owned by the College Board. PSAT/ NMSQT is a registered trademark of the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation. All other products and services may be trademarks of their respective owners. Visit the College Board on the Web: www.collegeboard.com. i ii iContents Welcome Letter from the College Board ............................................................. v Equity and Access ....................................................................................................vii ® Participating in the AP Course Audit ...............................................................xi Preface ..........................................................................................................................xii Chapter 1. About AP English Literature and Composition ..................................... 1 Overview: Past, Present, Future ............................................................................................. 1 Course Description Essentials ................................................................................................ 2 Key Concepts and Skills ........................................................................................................... 4 Chapter 2. Advice for AP English Literature and Composition Teachers .............. 7 Frequently Asked Questions and Answers ........................................................................... 7 AP Teachers and Their Colleagues ........................................................................................ 9 Parents and AP English Literature and Composition .......................................................... 9 Getting Started: There’s No Need to Reinvent the Wheel ................................................. 10 Teaching Strategies and Suggestions ................................................................................. 11 Adding New Texts to AP English Literature and Composition ........................................ 14 Student Evaluation ................................................................................................................. 15 Additional Resources ............................................................................................................. 15 Strategies for AP Teachers of English .................................................................................. 16 Making Do Isn’t Good Enough.............................................................................................. 19 Making the Summer Count—All Year Long ....................................................................... 21 Chapter 3. Course Organization ............................................................................... 31 Syllabus Development ............................................................................................................ 31 Sample Syllabus 1 ................................................................................................................... 34 Sample Syllabus 2 ................................................................................................................... 46 Sample Syllabus 3 ................................................................................................................... 62 Sample Syllabus 4 .................................................................................................................. 73 Chapter 4. The AP Exam in English Literature and Composition .......................86 Exam Format ........................................................................................................................... 86 Preparing Students ................................................................................................................. 87 iiiContents Administering the Exam ....................................................................................................... 88 Scoring the Exams ................................................................................................................. 88 Using the AP Instructional Planning Report ....................................................................... 88 What to Do After the Exam ................................................................................................... 88 Chapter 5. Resources for Teachers ...........................................................................90 How to Address Limited Resources ..................................................................................... 90 Resources ................................................................................................................................ 91 Professional Development ..................................................................................................... 96 ivWelcome Letter from the College Board Dear AP® Teacher: Whether you are a new AP teacher, using this AP Teacher’s Guide to assist in developing a syllabus for the first AP course you will ever teach, or an experienced AP teacher simply wanting to compare the teaching strategies you use with those employed by other expert AP teachers, we are confident you will find this resource valuable. We urge you to make good use of the ideas, advice, classroom strategies, and sample syllabi contained in this Teacher’s Guide. You deserve tremendous credit for all that you do to fortify students for college success. The nurturing environment in which you help your students master a college-level curriculum—a much better atmosphere for one’s first exposure to college-level expectations than the often large classes in which many first-year college courses are taught—seems to translate directly into lasting benefits as students head off to college. An array of research studies, from the classic 1999 U.S. Department of Education study Answers in the Tool Box to new research from the University of Texas and the University of California, demonstrate that when students enter high school with equivalent academic abilities and socioeconomic status, those who develop the content knowledge to demonstrate college-level mastery of an AP Exam (a grade of 3 or higher) have much higher rates of college completion and have higher grades in college. The 2005 National Center for Educational Accountability (NCEA) study shows that students who take AP have much higher college graduation rates than students with the same academic abilities who do not have that valuable AP experience in high school. Furthermore, a Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS, formerly known as the Third International Mathematics and Science Study) found that even AP Calculus students who score a 1 on the AP Exam are significantly outperforming other advanced mathematics students in the United States, and they compare favorably to students from the top-performing nations in an international assessment of mathematics achievement. (Visit AP Central® at apcentral.collegeboard.com for details about these and other AP-related studies.) For these reasons, the AP teacher plays a significant role in a student’s academic journey. Your AP classroom may be the only taste of college rigor your students will have before they enter higher education. It is important to note that such benefits cannot be demonstrated among AP courses that are AP courses in name only, rather than in quality of content. For AP courses to meaningfully prepare students for college success, courses must meet standards that enable students to replicate the content of the comparable college class. Using this AP Teacher’s Guide is one of the keys to ensuring that your AP course is as good as (or even better than) the course the student would otherwise be taking in college. While the AP Program does not mandate the use of any one syllabus or textbook and emphasizes that AP teachers should be granted the creativity and flexibility to develop their own curriculum, it is beneficial for AP teachers to compare their syllabi not just to the course outline in the official AP Course Description and in chapter 3 of this guide, but also to the syllabi presented on AP Central, to ensure that each course labeled AP meets the standards of a college-level course. Visit AP Central® at apcentral.collegeboard.com for details about the AP Course Audit, course-specific Curricular Requirements, and how to submit your syllabus for AP Course Audit authorization. As the Advanced Placement Program® continues to experience tremendous growth in the twenty-first century, it is heartening to see that in every U.S. state and the District of Columbia, a growing proportion of high school graduates have earned at least one grade of 3 or higher on an AP Exam. In some states, more vWelcome Letter than 20 percent of graduating seniors have accomplished this goal. The incredible efforts of AP teachers are paying off, producing ever greater numbers of college-bound seniors who are prepared to succeed in college. Please accept my admiration and congratulations for all that you are doing and achieving. Sincerely, Marcia Wilbur Director, Curriculum and Content Development Advanced Placement Program viEquity and Access In the following section, the College Board describes its commitment to achieving equity in the AP Program. Why are equitable preparation and inclusion important? Currently, 40 percent of students entering four-year colleges and universities and 63 percent of students at two-year institutions require some remedial education. This is a significant concern because a student is 1 less likely to obtain a bachelor’s degree if he or she has taken one or more remedial courses. Nationwide, secondary school educators are increasingly committed not just to helping students complete high school but also to helping them develop the habits of mind necessary for managing the rigors of college. As Educational Leadership reported in 2004: The dramatic changes taking place in the U.S. economy jeopardize the economic future of students who leave high school without the problem-solving and communication skills essential to success in postsecondary education and in the growing number of high-paying jobs in the economy. To back away from education reforms that help all students master these skills is to give up on the 2 commitment to equal opportunity for all. Numerous research studies have shown that engaging a student in a rigorous high school curriculum such as is found in AP courses is one of the best ways that educators can help that student persist and complete 3 a bachelor’s degree. However, while 57 percent of the class of 2004 in U.S. public high schools enrolled in higher education in fall 2004, only 13 percent had been boosted with a successful AP experience in high 4 school. Although AP courses are not the only examples of rigorous curricula, there is still a significant gap between students with college aspirations and students with adequate high school preparation to fulfill those aspirations. 5 Strong correlations exist between AP success and college success. Educators attest that this is partly because AP enables students to receive a taste of college while still in an environment that provides more support and resources for students than do typical college courses. Effective AP teachers work closely with their students, giving them the opportunity to reason, analyze, and understand for themselves. As a result, AP students frequently find themselves developing new confidence in their academic abilities and discovering their previously unknown capacities for college studies and academic success. 1. Andrea Venezia, Michael W. Kirst, and Anthony L. Antonio, Betraying the College Dream: How Disconnected K–12 and Postsecondary Education Systems Undermine Student Aspirations (Palo Alto, Calif.: The Bridge Project, 2003), 8. 2. Frank Levy and Richard J. Murnane, “Education and the Changing Job Market.” Educational Leadership 62 (2) (October 2004): 83. 3. In addition to studies from University of California–Berkeley and the National Center for Educational Accountability (2005), see the classic study on the subject of rigor and college persistence: Clifford Adelman, Answers in the Tool Box: Academic Intensity, Attendance Patterns, and Bachelor’s Degree Attainment (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, 1999). 4. Advanced Placement Report to the Nation (New York: College Board, 2005). 5. Wayne Camara, “College Persistence, Graduation, and Remediation,” College Board Research Notes (RN-19) (New York: College Board, 2003). viiEquity and Access Which students should be encouraged to register for AP courses? Any student willing and ready to do the work should be considered for an AP course. The College Board actively endorses the principles set forth in the following Equity Policy Statement and encourages schools to support this policy. The College Board and the Advanced Placement Program encourage teachers, AP Coordinators, and school administrators to make equitable access a guiding principle for their AP programs. The College Board is committed to the principle that all students deserve an opportunity to participate in rigorous and academically challenging courses and programs. All students who are willing to accept the challenge of a rigorous academic curriculum should be considered for admission to AP courses. The Board encourages the elimination of barriers that restrict access to AP courses for students from ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in the AP Program. Schools should make every effort to ensure that their AP classes reflect the diversity of their student population. The fundamental objective that schools should strive to accomplish is to create a stimulating AP program that academically challenges students and has the same ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic demographics as the overall student population in the school. African American and Native American students are severely underrepresented in AP classrooms nationwide; Latino student participation has increased tremendously, but in many AP courses Latino students remain underrepresented. To prevent a willing, motivated student from having the opportunity to engage in AP courses is to deny that student the possibility of a better future. Knowing what we know about the impact a rigorous curriculum can have on a student’s future, it is not enough for us simply to leave it to motivated students to seek out these courses. Instead, we must reach out to students and encourage them to take on this challenge. With this in mind, there are two factors to consider when counseling a student regarding an AP opportunity: 1. Student motivation Many potentially successful AP students would never enroll if the decision were left to their own initiative. They may not have peers who value rigorous academics, or they may have had prior academic experiences that damaged their confidence or belief in their college potential. They may simply lack an understanding of the benefits that such courses can offer them. Accordingly, it is essential that we not gauge a student’s motivation to take AP until that student has had the opportunity to understand the advantages—not just the challenges—of such course work. Educators committed to equity provide all students in a school with an understanding of the benefits of rigorous curricula. Such educators conduct student assemblies and/or presentations to parents that clearly describe the advantages of taking an AP course and outline the work expected of students. Perhaps most important, they have one-on-one conversations with the students in which advantages and expectations are placed side by side. These educators realize that many students, lacking confidence in their abilities, will be listening for any indication that they should not take an AP course. Accordingly, such educators, while frankly describing the amount of homework to be anticipated, also offer words of encouragement and support, assuring the students that if they are willing to do the work, they are wanted in the course. The College Board has created a free online tool, AP Potential™, to help educators reach out to students who previously might not have been considered for participation in an AP course. Drawing upon data based on correlations between student performance on specific sections of the PSAT/NMSQT® and viiiEquity and Access performance on specific AP Exams, AP Potential generates rosters of students at your school who have a strong likelihood of success in a particular AP course. Schools nationwide have successfully enrolled many more students in AP than ever before by using these rosters to help students (and their parents) see themselves as having potential to succeed in college-level studies. For more information, visit http:// appotential.collegeboard.com. Actively recruiting students for AP and sustaining enrollment can also be enhanced by offering incentives for both students and teachers. While the College Board does not formally endorse any one incentive for boosting AP participation, we encourage school administrators to develop policies that will best serve an overarching goal to expand participation and improve performance in AP courses. When such incentives are implemented, educators should ensure that quality verification measures such as the AP Exam are embedded in the program so that courses are rigorous enough to merit the added benefits. Many schools offer the following incentives for students who enroll in AP: • Extra weighting of AP course grades when determining class rank • Full or partial payment of AP Exam fees • On-site exam administration Additionally, some schools offer the following incentives for teachers to reward them for their efforts to include and support traditionally underserved students: • Extra preparation periods • Reduced class size • Reduced duty periods • Additional classroom funds • Extra salary 2. Student preparation Because AP courses should be the equivalent of courses taught in colleges and universities, it is important that a student be prepared for such rigor. The types of preparation a student should have before entering an AP course vary from course to course and are described in the official AP Course Description book for each subject (available as a free download at apcentral.collegeboard.com). Unfortunately, many schools have developed a set of gatekeeping or screening requirements that go far beyond what is appropriate to ensure that an individual student has had sufficient preparation to succeed in an AP course. Schools should make every effort to eliminate the gatekeeping process for AP enrollment. Because research has not been able to establish meaningful correlations between gatekeeping devices and actual success on an AP Exam, the College Board strongly discourages the use of the following factors as thresholds or requirements for admission to an AP course: • Grade point average • Grade in a required prerequisite course • Recommendation from a teacher ixEquity and Access • Recommendation from a teacher • AP teacher’s discretion • Standardized test scores • Course-specific entrance exam or essay Additionally, schools should be wary of the following concerns regarding the misuse of AP: • Creating “Pre-AP courses” to establish a limited, exclusive track for access to AP • Rushing to install AP courses without simultaneously implementing a plan to prepare students and teachers in lower grades for the rigor of the program How can I ensure that I am not watering down the quality of my course as I admit more students? Students in AP courses should take the AP Exam, which provides an external verification of the extent to which college-level mastery of an AP course is taking place. While it is likely that the percentage of students who receive a grade of 3 or higher may dip as more students take the exam, that is not an indication that the quality of a course is being watered down. Instead of looking at percentages, educators should be looking at raw numbers, since each number represents an individual student. If the raw number of students receiving a grade of 3 or higher on the AP Exam is not decreasing as more students take the exam, there is no indication that the quality of learning in your course has decreased as more students have enrolled. What are schools doing to expand access and improve AP performance? Districts and schools seeing the greatest success in improving both participation and performance in AP have implemented a multipronged approach to growing an AP program. These schools offer AP as capstone courses, providing professional development for AP teachers and additional incentives and support for the teachers and students participating at this top level of the curriculum. The high standards of the AP courses are used as anchors that influence the 6–12 curriculum from the “top down.” Simultaneously, these educators are investing in the training of teachers in the pre-AP years and are building a vertically articulated, sequential curriculum from middle school to high school that culminates in AP courses—a broad pipeline that prepares students step-by-step for the rigors of AP so that they will have a fair shot at success in an AP course once they reach that stage. An effective and demanding AP program necessitates cooperation and communication between high schools and middle schools. Effective teaming among members of all educational levels ensures rigorous standards for students across years and provides them with the skills needed to succeed in AP. For more information about Pre-AP professional ® development, including workshops designed to facilitate the creation of AP Vertical Teams of middle ® school and high school teachers, visit AP Central. Advanced Placement Program The College Board x® Participating in the AP Course Audit Overview The AP Course Audit is a collaborative effort among secondary schools, colleges and universities, and the College Board. For their part, schools deliver college-level instruction to students and complete and return AP Course Audit materials. Colleges and universities work with the College Board to define elements common to college courses in each AP subject, help develop materials to support AP teaching, and receive a roster of schools and their authorized AP courses. The College Board fosters dialogue about the AP Course Audit requirements and recommendations, and reviews syllabi. Starting in the 2007-08 academic year, all schools wishing to label a course “AP” on student transcripts, course listings, or any school publications must complete and return the subject-specific AP Course Audit form, along with the course syllabus, for all sections of their AP courses. Approximately two months after submitting AP Course Audit materials, schools will receive a legal agreement authorizing the use of the “AP” trademark on qualifying courses. Colleges and universities will receive a roster of schools listing the courses authorized to use the “AP” trademark at each school. Purpose College Board member schools at both the secondary and college levels requested an annual AP Course Audit in order to provide teachers and administrators with clear guidelines on curricular and resource requirements that must be in place for AP courses and to help colleges and universities better interpret secondary school courses marked “AP” on students’ transcripts. The AP Course Audit form identifies common, essential elements of effective college courses, including subject matter and classroom resources such as college-level textbooks and laboratory equipment. Schools and individual teachers will continue to develop their own curricula for AP courses they offer—the AP Course Audit will simply ask them to indicate inclusion of these elements in their AP syllabi or describe how their courses nonetheless deliver college-level course content. AP Exam performance is not factored into the AP Course Audit. A program that audited only those schools with seemingly unsatisfactory exam performance might cause some schools to limit access to AP courses and exams. In addition, because AP Exams are taken and exam grades reported after college admissions decisions are already made, AP course participation has become a relevant factor in the college admissions process. On the AP Course Audit form, teachers and administrators attest that their course includes elements commonly taught in effective college courses. Colleges and universities reviewing students’ transcripts can thus be reasonably assured that courses labeled “AP” provide an appropriate level and range of college-level course content, along with the classroom resources to best deliver that content. For more information You should discuss the AP Course Audit with your department head and principal. For more information, including a timeline, frequently asked questions, and downloadable AP Course Audit forms, visit apcentral. collegeboard.com/courseaudit. xiPreface We Advanced Placement Program (AP) English teachers revel in reading complex literature, mulling it over, and talking about it with friends, colleagues, and students. And since the College Board’s AP English Literature and Composition Course Description explains that “an AP English course in Literature and Composition should engage students in the careful reading and critical analysis of imaginative literature,” the match between teachers and the course seems made in heaven. Sometimes, however, our students do not, initially at least, share our enthusiasm for reading widely, for delving deeply, for critical analysis, for supporting assertions with appropriate evidence, or for moving from observation to mature interpretation. This Teacher’s Guide offers concrete ideas and suggestions for the interaction between teachers’ enthusiasms and passions and the creation and implementation of a rich course that will engage students’ interest. Although this guide is designed for teachers new to AP English Literature and Composition, seasoned colleagues who are curious about how professionals all over the country are teaching their courses may find it useful as well. After all, even the most experienced teachers begin each year as “new” teachers with a fresh crop of students before them. Information about the AP English Literature and Composition Exam offered each May appears in chapter 4 of this guide, but this is not a test-preparation book. Instead, it focuses primarily on ideas for fashioning a deep and wide-ranging college- or university-level course, one that reflects the genres of imaginative literature over the last four centuries even as it bears the imprint of each individual teacher who embarks on the adventure of teaching this rigorous and exciting class. Students and teachers who together undertake the challenge of an AP course feel an enormous sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. According to the College Board, “the AP Program regularly conducts research studies to assess whether AP students perform as well as, or better than, their non-AP peers in higher-level college courses. A recent study that analyzed college grades of more than 72,000 college students at 20 different colleges from the fall of 1996 to the summer of 2001 illustrated that: • Students who receive AP Exam grades of 3, 4, or 5, and bypass introductory courses, perform in upper-level classes as well as or better than those students who first complete the introductory course. • Students who receive grades of 3, 4, or 5 on most AP Exams are more likely to receive an A or a B in a higher-level class than their non-AP peers.” This study can be accessed by clicking on the “Higher Education” tab on AP Central, then selecting “AP Research.” In other words, AP courses prepare our students for success in postsecondary education. This guide will be helpful in designing your first or revised AP English Literature and Composition course, but you’ll need to access many other resources as well (see chapter 5). Your most important resource is AP Central (apcentral.collegeboard.com), a College Board–sponsored Web site that provides, among other things, current information, sample syllabi, capsule reviews of texts you might use, and the xiiPreface free-response questions from past exams. Registration at AP Central is free and allows you to participate as both a contributor and reader in its electronic discussion group (EDG). By joining the AP English EDG, you can connect with colleagues throughout the nation and the world. Welcome to the start of a new phase of your teaching career Ellen Greenblatt The Bay School San Francisco, California Ellen Greenblatt Ellen Greenblatt, a consultant for the College Board and ETS, is a veteran teacher and accomplished author. She has received numerous awards, including a National Fellowship for Independent Study in the Humanities from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her writing projects include creating educational materials for television documentaries and for literature teachers. xiiiChapter 1 About AP English Literature and Composition Overview: Past, Present, Future The English language is an extraordinarily malleable and adaptive creation, uniquely able to absorb words from around the globe and the neologisms that keep it timely. It forms some of humanity’s greatest literary productions but sturdily serves the rudimentary speaker. The near impossibility of fixing in stone this protean body reaffirms that as teachers we draw on a wonderful resource (see The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary, Simon Winchester’s delightful history of the Oxford English Dictionary). If change characterizes the English language—just as innovation powers its literature—changes in English teaching may seem equally inevitable. The last few decades have witnessed sweeping trends: phonics versus whole language; expressive versus critical skills; writing from models and as process; “words on the page” or reader response; and debates over “theory in the classroom,” “cultural literacy,” and “the canon.” Add shifting student populations, government requirements, parental demands, and budget cuts, and the English instructor may feel compelled to behave like the comic hero of Stephen Leacock’s story who jumped onto his horse and rode madly off in all directions. Are there core subject-area practices and skills every student must master? The AP English Literature and Composition Exam assumes that, while there are core skills (attentive reading and analytical writing), there need be no core curriculum. Although the richness of writing in English, over time and across cultures, allows an infinite number of selections and combinations in the choice of works for your class, it is useful to refer to the past for approaches to literature that have been considered crucial. The following is a brief survey, using Shakespeare as an example, of how critical approaches evolve and shift over time. • For much of the nineteenth century, the teaching of literature, when it happened at all, occurred within the study of rhetoric. (Declamation of Shakespeare) • The “new nationalisms” in Europe and the Americas and advances in linguistic study led to a view of literature as the expression of peoples and cultures. (Shakespeare the national poet) • In a related development, historical and antiquarian in its impulse, scholarship focused on authors’ sources and influences. (Shakespeare the chronicler) • A sense of literature as a unique authorial expression was accompanied by a validation of critical “taste” and a Deweyan valuation of personal response. (Cult of the Bard) • The seemingly more objective “new” criticism was reinforced by demands for measurable educational results in the postwar period. (Ironic tensions in the sonnets) 1 1Chapter 1 • In reaction to textual isolationism, texts were placed into greater literary or symbolic patterns. (Shakespeare the mythologizer) • This line was extended by “theory” with texts viewed in a (sometimes inverted) relationship to other linguistic, psychological, social, and historical systems. (Rereading Shakespeare) • A recent stage turns the lens onto literary study itself. (Why Shakespeare? Whose Shakespeare?) Just as the language itself has acquired enormous tensile strength over time, literature teaching today is enriched by this overlayering of questions and approaches. Close, attentive, and appreciative reading is at the base of all we do, expressed through discussion and debate, performance, and especially through critical writing. But “close” does not mean “myopic.” The reintroduction of rhetoric into the classroom prompts us to relate texts to their intended audiences, then and now, and to consider concretely how the text makes its mark. As a new audience, our reader reactions are both valid and open for investigation. We are invited to similarly speculate on the biographical, historical, and social elements that bring authors into being and give texts their distinctive shapes. The study of works from many cultures and countries raises questions about the place of literature in forming identity and community, and exposes students to the multiplicity of English usage. Students should be encouraged to place their readings into an active nexus of interrelationship. And last, we need to raise in the classroom the most important literary question of all: How is literature a part of our lives? Given the time and format limitations of the AP English Literature and Composition Exam, not all aspects of student understanding will be assessed. “Context,” for example, cannot be hastily supplied in an exam situation. Understanding of literary history and generic range cannot be directly examined given the enormous variations in AP classrooms, but these considerations and more will have shaped the nuanced text-reading abilities, and the clear critical writing, of a student who is well prepared for the exam—and beyond. —Heather Murray Associate Professor of English University of Toronto Course Description Essentials The heart of the Advanced Placement Program (AP) is in the thousands of classrooms across the United States and the world where teachers like you meet students with a wide range of skills and nurture them to the level of excellence that the AP English Literature and Composition course demands. In the best of situations, AP teachers share ideas and strategies with colleagues who teach younger grades and develop an integrated curriculum that offers many students, including those who had not thought it an option, the possibility of taking AP English Literature and Composition. But even with such a multiyear preparatory strategy (see Pre-AP professional development initiatives like AP Vertical Teams in chapter 5), the AP teacher faces a challenging task. Knowing a Few Works Well The AP English Literature and Composition Course Description, available for download free of charge through AP Central, stipulates that students in a strong AP English Literature and Composition curriculum should read “works from several genres and periods—from the sixteenth century to the twentieth century—but, more importantly, they should get to know a few works well.” In the words of the Course Description, “reading in AP courses should be both wide and deep.” 2About AP English Literature and Composition The importance of getting to know a few works well cannot be overstated. Galloping through a novel a week, reading 10 plays in a quarter, or reading one poem by each of 25 poets serves students considerably less well than inviting them to immerse themselves in a few novels, plays, or poets, and then, with the critical insights and tools they have gained, turn to other works and authors. Getting the right balance can be tricky, however, especially for teachers just beginning to teach AP courses. How many books is enough? Rumors fly about teachers who assign eight books over the summer, testing students when school begins on each with a combination of quotation identifications and essay questions. Teachers new to the AP Program can’t help wondering, “Should I do that? How can I possibly deal with all those papers?” Is reading more the best way to lead students to productive close reading that, again quoting the Course Description, “involves the following elements: the experience of literature, the interpretation of literature, the evaluation of literature”? And what about writing? How much is enough? Can students write imaginatively as well as analytically and critically? Teachers, new and experienced, wonder if students can still have a worthwhile learning experience when their writing is not read and assessed. You will see, just from the sample syllabi in chapter 3, that successful approaches to teaching AP English Literature and Composition take many forms. Though the AP English Literature and Composition Course Description neither prescribes nor recommends particular texts, it does stipulate that students should read works that can bear close examination and re-examination. In addition, while different AP English Literature and Composition courses might have different emphases or themes, a yearlong AP English course should normally include poetry, prose, and drama and should range from the sixteenth century to the present. The AP English Literature Development Committee Who, however, sets the policies that govern AP courses? Many teachers are unaware of how the AP English Literature and Composition Exam and Course Description come into being each year. The AP English Literature Development Committee, despite its name, discusses course policy in addition to writing the exams. The committee comprises six members from throughout the nation: three representing high schools and three representing colleges or universities, a balance that is crucial to maintaining both the integrity of the course and its teachability. If you were a fly on the wall during one of the committee meetings, you would hear intense, intellectually rigorous discussions on pedagogy and on what should be the appropriate literary focus—in a time when we admire and value the works of the past even as we recognize the importance and pleasures of expanding the canon. Committee decisions and up-to-date information on course changes are posted on the AP English Literature course pages on AP Central. Goals The goal of the AP English Literature and Composition course is to encourage students to read, write, and discuss works critically and with energy and imagination. As they become familiar with the different literary approaches, students can develop and mold their own styles that reflect personal values and preferences. If students’ knowledge and love of literature grows, you can leave them thinking, feeling, and inspired to read more. The members of the AP English Literature Development Committee, like all teachers, want students to be engaged by the reading and writing tasks they present, but an individual teacher’s course does not exist in a vacuum. In other words, students take other English courses before they reach us, and they arrive with different levels of preparation. By the end of the course, however, most if not all students in the class should feel prepared to take the AP Exam. Their performance on the three-hour AP Exam is assessed by people who know nothing about their personal struggles, their progress, or their course load. In addition, colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada monitor the progress of students who 3Chapter 1 “pass” the exam with a grade of 3, 4, or 5. Postsecondary institutions set their own policies for assigning credit and placement; the College Board does not award credit. (For more information on how colleges and universities assign credit, see the AP Research page in the Higher Education section of AP Central.) This guide will provide effective teaching strategies, advice for developing a course syllabus, and a comprehensive list of classroom resources. Additionally, it will clarify the demands of the AP English Literature and Composition Exam as well as offer preparation strategies to sharpen students’ critical reading, interpretation, and writing skills. If we teach a rich, varied, and interesting curriculum and require writing that demands interpretation and evaluation, the exam (with a bit of practice to ensure that students are test-wise) will take care of itself. As an authentic and valid assessment of how well students read and write analytically and critically, the AP English Literature and Composition Exam measures the valuable skills that you will be teaching. Students will benefit from the journey on which you lead them. Key Concepts and Skills By the end of the AP English Literature and Composition course, students should be able to approach a poem, a prose work, and a play and—proceeding beyond visceral and emotional reactions—respond to it analytically and critically, both orally and in writing. These well-developed responses will, at their best, use literary terms and key concepts to illuminate insights rather than simply to show students’ familiarity with them. Form Follows Function The Course Description does not enumerate a list of terms that students should know. Instead, it emphasizes that students should “read deliberately and thoroughly, taking time to understand a work’s complexity, to absorb its richness of meaning, and to analyze how that meaning is embodied in literary form.” In other words, students should understand that form follows function, that how authors write is inextricably linked to what they are writing about. Here is where students’ familiarity with literary terminology can open the texts and help them to describe, analyze, and interpret what they are confronting. Style Analysis As a starting point in their examination of any work of prose or poetry, students should be able to identify speaker, audience, situation, and setting. The following are questions with which you might begin a class discussion. • In whose voice are we hearing the words? • To whom is the speaker speaking? • Where (in time, place, social context, class) is the speaker as he or she is speaking? As students identify or begin to identify those elements, they can begin to examine the style of the piece. For example: • What is the level of diction? • Does the author depend upon particular details to achieve his or her effect? • On what allusions might the piece depend? • What kind of syntax does the author use? 4About AP English Literature and Composition • Does the syntax vary? If so, what is the effect of that variety? • What is the effect of any repetition in the piece? • And, perhaps most difficult for students, what is the author’s attitude toward what he or she is writing about? In other words, what is the tone of the piece? Recognizing Literary Terms Of course students must learn, if they have not already in previous courses, the meanings of literary terms. If teachers use them naturally in discussion, so will students, and, instead of being a “museum of terms” that students might visit only on the occasion of a quiz, the literary vocabulary will function to expand students’ analytical ability. Once students learn, for example, the concepts of paradox or archetype, or once they understand that enjambment generally does not occur by accident but serves a purpose in poetry, their analyses inevitably deepen. Mentioning critical terms without appearing to prescribe a list is a delicate proposition in a guide like this. Some teachers will inevitably try to glean the secret code, finding the implicit list. There is no set list, but students should become aware that literary terms are wonderfully useful. Certainly students should become familiar with the uses of irony (dramatic, verbal, in situations), hyperbole, and understatement. Recognizing allusions requires knowledge about mythology and the Bible as well as about history and culture. How can students discuss poetry without an understanding of meter and scansion, imagery, and the various poetic forms? Knowing what a foil is helps to illuminate discussions of fiction and drama, while being able to recognize stream of consciousness or a soliloquy raises interesting questions about how authors represent the interior lives of their characters. Diction Developing vocabulary is as important as learning literary terms. Although it may be difficult to find the time for formal vocabulary study, holding students accountable for the meanings of words in the works they are reading is crucial. In reading poetry, especially, students often find themselves struggling because they have neglected to look up the meanings of words that they don’t know. One technique that works well for poetry is to stipulate that students must look up any word they don’t know, then allow them to use their notes and definitions during a pop quiz. One or two unannounced assessments makes clear to students how important something as basic as knowing the meaning of words is to interpretation. Knowing Narrative Voice Students should certainly become familiar with point of view, which some contemporary critics expand to include the subject position of both writer and reader. The notion of subject position is an interesting one for students since, to their delight, they discover that they, like characters, have a subject position that stems from characteristics such as their gender, class, age, religion. When they think, then, about a narrative point of view, they begin to realize not only what might inform a “first person” point of view but that even an “objective” or “omniscient” narrator carries some sort of authorial baggage—and that, of course, inevitably leads to a discussion of the social and cultural contexts from which a work springs. Although teachers of AP English Literature in the twenty-first century continue to demand that students read texts closely and carefully, they rarely prescribe students’ learning about an author’s or work’s background. Today, cultural criticism coexists with and complements the formalism of textual analysis that characterized literary studies in previous generations. 5

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