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AP American Literature,Mrs. C. Basich
The American Tapestry*Mrs. J. BeschSouth Elgin High School

*tapestry (def.)1. A heavy cloth woven with rich, often variegated designs or scenes...
2. Something felt to resemble a richly and complexly designed cloth: e.g. the tapestry of world history.

This course fulfills the junior year American Literature requirement of School District U-46 and prepares students for the Advanced Placement English Language and Composition exam. It is also aligned with Illinois State Learning Standards.

AP English Language and Composition Exam

The Advanced Placement English Language and Composition Exam is an optional three-hour exam consisting of two parts: a multiple-choice section and a free-response essay section of three essays. The multiple-choice section is comprised of approximately fifty questions based on (usually) nonfiction reading selections. The free-response section requires students to analyze the rhetoric of differing prose styles and then compose essays (generally argumentative or analytical in nature) based on the selections. The synthesis essay requires students to compose a coherent essay synthesized from a variety of materials on the same subject. Teachers have been trained in AP workshops, and the teachers of English use the AP Language and Composition Writing/Analysis Guide in preparing units and lessons for their students.

The American Tapestry will focus on four strands of American thought, individual yet inseparable as its people. Like a tapestry, the three strands are ultimately woven together “into a richly and complexly designed cloth” that comprises American society today, with an abundant enough supply of thread to reach indefinitely into the future. Also like a tapestry, the traditional canon of American literature is enriched by a thick strand of rhetoric (writing and critical thinking). As in college rhetoric classes, a heavy emphasis will be placed on close reading of nonfiction and a myriad of writing experiences, both formal and informal. Throughout the year, specific and cumulative lessons will focus on preparing students to take the Advanced Placement Exam in May. However, the American canon will not be compromised; rather, it will be taught through four thematic divisions, each unit arranged in chronological order, to reflect the sequential unfolding of American thought and literature. The conceit of a tapestry applies here as well: students will find the strands to be ultimately inextricable and overlapping: the whole cloth of an expansive American Tapestry.

“A reader is a person who picks up signals and enters a world in language under the guidance of an earlier entry made by a writer.”
William Stafford
Texts*
The Bedford Reader
Current Issues and Enduring Questions
Various American fiction and poetry

*These focal pieces will be complemented and extended frequently by thematically parallel nonfiction--most taken from current newspapers or magazines--to enrich learning and promote an ongoing culture of reading.

“A writer is a person who enters into sustained relations with the language for experiment and experience not available in any other way.”
William Stafford

"How can I know what I think about a subject until I've written about it?"
William Stafford

Because language, thought and writing are inextricable, emphasis will be placed on this connection and ways to access thought most effectively. Often, students will be asked to write a short reaction before discussing a topic or a selection of literature. Sometimes, students will be asked to plan an essay answer without actually writing the essay: emphasis on prewriting and process. Mini lessons in grammar and usage will be taught as needed; however, "The AP Language and Composition course assumes that students already understand and use standard English grammar. The intense concentration on language use in this...
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