Civil Disobedience – What is the relationship between The Citizen and The State?

As we continue to examine the question of “what is the relationship between the citizen and the state” this week we will do so informed by your reading of Henry David Thoreau’s famous text ‘Civil Disobedience’.



After analysis of the text and discussion of the topic in Socratic seminar, you will have a choice again this week of three potential projects to complete analyzing and addressing the topic of civil disobedience. As you work on this project remember that you must cite at least three reliable sources, with one of them being Thoreau’s essays.




Project Option 1:  Exposition – Visual Infographic20130626-ghandi-civil-disobedience

Following is a list of individuals who were responsible for leading important civil disobedience (and nonviolent resistance) movements throughout world history.

1. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—clergyman and civil rights activist
2. Alice Paul—American suffragist
3. Nelson Mandela— Anti-apartheid activist and former president of South Africa
4. Mohandas Gandhi—Leader of the Indian independence movement
5. Leymah Gbowee—Liberian peace activist

For each person, answer the following questions:
• Describe the background of the law or governmental policy in question. What was the individual and his or her allies protesting?
• In what specific acts of civil disobedience did they engage?
• How did the government and/or the public respond to their actions?
• Were the goals of movement achieved?
• What role did civil disobedience play in helping them to achieve their goals? Did their actions work against them in any way?

You infographic must have at least three sources cited, and must use a minimum of 10 images. Remember, PiktoChart is a great website that easily allows you to create infographics.



Project Option 2: Compare and Contrast – Written Statement

Compare and contrast Thoreau’s “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience” with Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, focusing on their purpose, tone, figurative language and their definition of a ‘just law’.

Your response must be 1500 words, written in MLA format.



Project Option 3: Argumentation – Debatecbde8e01070568d58d7e0316db4b41ed

In a debate with another student, defend, challenge or qualify your response to the question ” How effective has modern civil disobedience in causing positive change in the world in the last thirty years?” The examples you reference in your argument must be from 1986 to the present, and you should also consider the following questions as you prepare: What sacrifices would one need to make to commit an act of passive resistance? What could some of the negative consequences of the action be? In what ways does a person who commits civil disobedience alienate him/herself from society?

Your debate should follow the format for academic debate outlined below, and can be performed in class Friday. Additionally, you may record your debate with this student and submit the video to me by Friday night. If you would like to form teams of three for each side of this debate, please let me know and that can be arranged.

Click here to view the standard debate outline you will need to follow.

AP Language and Composition Spring 2017

Colonialism – What is the relationship between the citizen and the State?

As you read and analyzed Jamacia Kincaid’s article this week, “On seeing England for the first time”, you explored the idea of the relationship between the citizen and the State within the system of Colonialism. You guys did a wonderful job analyzing the context of the speech in Socratic Seminar this week, and you began to explore how Kincaid made her feels as a citizen clear through her rhetoric.

You will work this week on engaging with our Essential Question for this unit through a choice of three different assignments. Please see the attachment below for the assignment sheet. You will have the option to choose a visual project, a written project, or a video/audio project. Additionally, you have the option of engaging with this essential question in the form of an informational/expository response, a compare and contrast response, or an argumentative response.

Remember, you must use two reliable sources and cite them in MLA format in whichever option you choose.

Click here to access your Colonialism assignment sheet.

AP Language and Composition Spring 2017

Rhetorical Analysis: Politics – What is the relationship between the citizen and the State?

From ‘The Language of Composition:Reading, Writing, Rhetoric”: 

“Politics, the process by which groups make decisions, play part in all human interactions. When we study history, the social science, religion or business, we learn about politics; whenever we read the newspaper or watch the news on television [or online], we see politics in action; and when we discuss issues with our classmates and friends or involve ourselves in our community, we engage in politics […] Thus one could argue that politics is the cause of all social change.

Democratic governments, such as the one under which we live, exercise power through the will of the people. With that power comes the responsibility, even the responsibility to dissent if necessary. So what is the nature of patriotism in democracy? Is it loyalty to the government of loyalty to the ideals of the nation? How is American patriotism colored by the fact that our country was born out of a revolution? […]

Educated citizen – the root word of the word politics is the Greek word for citizen – must know about the politics of the world as well as the politics of their own country. “


As we begin our first unit over Rhetorical Analysis, we will be examining a series of speeches, letters, articles by, and about, politicians and the political systems that surround us and our relationship with them.

Each Tuesday you will be analyzing and writing on a previous AP Language and Composition Free Response question that relates to this topic. Each Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we will be conducting Socratic Seminar, projects and class discussion over extended readings that address the same topics.

democracy2Please see the list below for the texts you will need to analyze and engage with over the course of this unit, while we ponder and examine the question “What is the relationship between citizens and The State?”. These texts provide us a selection of “interrelationships amount citizens, their states, and the world” and well as “voices delivering sardonic criticism and lofty idealism; you will encounter the immediacy of personal reflections on the nature and experience of war” and you will read contemporary pieces by our current national leaders.

  1. Jamaica Kincaid, On Seeing England for the First Time
  2. Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience
  3. Virginia Woolf, Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid
  4. Chris Hedges, The Destruction of Culture
  5. Laura Blumenfield, The Apology: Letters from a Terrorist
  6. Sarah Vowell, The Partly Cloudy Patriot
  7. Marjane Satrapi, The Veil
  8. Barack Obama, Final Address to the Nation January 10th, 2017
  9. Donald Trump, Inaugural Address to the Nation, January 22, 2017



AP Language and Composition Spring 2017

Conducting A Visual Analysis of Rhetoric

In the article we read from Ann Hodgeman, she takes a satirical look at the use of advertising used to persuade people to purchase particular brands of dog food. Read the post below, or/and view the powerpoint for an explanation on how to analyze visual rhetoric.  Then follow the bolded instructions at the bottom for your assignment.

Click here for the powerpoint over the Visual Analysis of Rhetoric


We come across many images on a daily basis, but we rarely stop to think about what those images mean or about how they persuade us. Yet, images have power, which is why we need to understand how to analyze them. When you’re analyzing an image to understand the message it portrays, this is called visual rhetoric. Visual rhetoric is a means of communication that uses images to create meaning or to make an argument.

The first thing to consider when breaking down, or analyzing, an image is the rhetorical situation: the audience, context, andpurpose. Each of these elements is essential in order to understand the message an image portrays. It is important to remember that you can analyze all different types of images, including advertisements, Public Service Announcements (PSAs), websites, paintings, photographs, and more. Here, we will look at an advertisement:


The audience consists of who is being targeted by the author, designer, or creator. In the above image, it appears that the audience is men. How do we know this? Not only is the person running in the background a man, but the color of the watch and the size of the watch face indicate that the watch is likely a man’s watch. Of course, women could indirectly be an audience, too, since they might want to buy this watch for someone or wear it themselves. In addition, the audience might be male athletes or outdoor enthusiasts. If you pay close attention to the watch features, it includes North, South, East, and West orientations; it is digital with various modes that likely include a stopwatch, and it has a light for when it is dark. All of these features are likely to appeal to outdoors types, athletes, or both.


The context includes any background information that will help you understand and analyze an image. In the above image, the most important context is that the watch is a Pro Trek watch. If you did some research, you would find out that Pro Trek watches are part of Casio, an electronics manufacturing company. Knowing that Casio is an electronics company, we might assume that they value functionality over aesthetics; therefore, this might be the reason why the above watch is not very decorative or complex, but is still the focal point of the image. This is because Casio wants to feature the watch’s functionality.


Purpose refers to the overall goal for creating an image. With advertisements, that goal is fairly easy to understand. Advertisements are almost always made to sell items. In our example image, the purpose is to sell the Pro Trek watch.

There are many other strategies to consider when breaking down an image. It’s always important to consider the rhetorical situation first, since that will help you interpret the purpose of the other strategies the designer uses. Then, you can begin to interpret the other persuasive techniques that influence the overall message of the image, including the tone, arrangement, text, typography, and color.


In literature, tone refers to the author’s attitude toward the subject. So, with regard to images, tone can also refer to the photographer/artist’s/designer’s perspective on the issue. In our image above, the tone is a bit hard to interpret. However, the fact that the watch is focused and up close while the background image of a person is blurred gives us a clue: it seems that the designer is portraying that the wearer of the watch is not that important. The watch is what’s significant. Perhaps the message is that anyone can wear these watches. Whether or not this is an effective approach to selling the watch is up for debate!


Arrangement refers to the placement of images, graphics, and text in an image. There are two key elements of arrangement—location and scale. Location refers to where a text or image is placed, whereas scale refers to the relative size of the visual components.


Typically, our eyes scan an image, text, and/or webpage from left to right and from top to bottom. The designer of this advertisement has placed the Pro Trek logo and the image of the watch to the right side of the page—top and bottom, respectively. If the designer wanted our eyes to go to the logo first, he or she probably should have placed the logo at the top left corner so our eyes would catch that logo first. However, because the size of the watch is so large, it is obvious that the focus is the watch. This brings us to the term scale.


As discussed, image of the watch is both large and focused (compared to the blurred image of the man). Thus, the scale of the watch (its size in relation to everything else on the page), along with the sharp focus, indicates that the designer wants to viewer to focus on the watch, ensuring that viewers can see all the neat features this watch has to offer, while not getting distracted by other text or images.



Text is another important element to analyze, assuming an image includes text. If it does, the text is obviously there for a purpose. Now, the only text on this advertisement is the company logo. This is obviously there for the purpose of showing viewers what type of watch it is so they can find it online or in a store. However, it is possible that this image could have been more effective if it included a catch phrase like those we often see in print ads or in commercials (think of Skittles’ “Taste the Rainbow” or Subway’s “Eat Fresh” slogans). If you see an image with text, consider the connotations of the words, the possible underlying assumptions of the phrase, and the effect the words are meant to have on the audience.


Typography refers to the font size and font type choices that are made in a visual composition.

Font Size

Notice that the font size of Pro Trek is actually smaller than the time indicated on the watch! This seems to actually reduce the importance of the company as compared to the importance of the watch itself. Do you think this is an effective visual strategy to persuade the audience to buy a Pro Trek watch?

Font Type

The font type we see with the words Pro Trek is strong, bolded, and in ALL CAPS. Since this advertisement is for a men’s athletic watch, the STRONG, SERIOUS FONT TYPE is probably more effective than a silly or playful font type.


Color choices can really affect your audience, too. Colors can have different meanings (connotations) that implicitly portray a message. Colors can also enhance or detract from an image’s readability depending on the level of contrast used.



Notice that this advertisement has red hues in the background and orange/yellow hues in the background and on the watch. The orange/yellow hues from the background tie in nicely with this same color in the watch, creating a sense of coherence that makes the design feel professional and therefore convincing. The red hues could connote warmth, raising the heart beat, getting the blood pumping, which all symbolize that the watch is effective for athletes.


You also should think about practical concerns with color, such as whether or not the text color is contrasted well enough with the background so that it is readable.


Ultimately, the image we have just broken down has both effective and ineffective rhetorical effects (persuasive effects). For instance, the absence of a catchy phrase might detract from its persuasiveness, or the blurred image of the man might indirectly signal that the company cares more about the watch than who its users are. On the other hand, though, the absence of text might send the message that the watch is so amazing it speaks for itself. The blurred image might simply reflect the movement of a man running, further emphasizing that this man is using the watch for athletic purposes. These decisions about the effectiveness of each strategy really depend on your individual analysis of the image. This is how you will make an argument about its effectiveness. While the above terminology will be helpful for analysis, regardless of the terminology, the most important thing to remember is this: visuals portray meaning, just as language does. If you take the time to understand the strategies used in images to create meaning, then you will become a stronger critical thinker, understanding how images are persuading you on a daily basis.


I would like you to analyze the visual rhetoric being used in the ads provided to you in class (color versions are posted below). Post a detailed analysis of the rhetorical devices being used in the advertisement and whether or not you think it uses these to effectively or ineffectively achieve its purpose in the comments below. You analysis should cover all the elements discuss in this post for visual rhetoric, and should be at minimum of one 6 sentences – though a well done analysis may be longer.

You must also comment on two classmates’ posts, engaging them in discussion of the analysis they conducted.


AP Language and Composition Spring 2017

SOAPSTone Plus – A Review

We’re jumping right into rhetorical analysis this semester, and therefore you will need to briefly review the arch methods analysis using SOAPSTone Plus that we covered last semester. Below you will find a review and an example from Mary Rowlandson’s Captivity Narrative that we read together last semester.

Arch Method

Arch Method Rowlandson




You can also click here to review an in-depth powerpoint over the SOAPSTone Plus analysis method.

Please let me know if you have any questions or issues over this review!



AP Language and Composition Spring 2017

Welcome Back AP Kids! Syllabus and 1st Day Paperwork

Students and parents – please click the links below for both the syllabus for this class (which details what materials you will need and the grading policy) as well as the Media Release form. Both of these will be due on Monday, January 11th, 2015.

Please use the next few days to familiarize yourself with the website, and to register for my Remind 101 text alerts on class assignments, tests and quizzes. You can find the registration information in your syllabus or at the bottom of the webpage! I’m excited to have a great year with you all! Please

AP Language and Composition Syllabus

Media and Social Media Release

If you have trouble navigating the website, please see the ‘About’ section at the top of the page for more information!


AP Language and Composition Spring 2017

Preparing for the AP Exam: Q3, The Argumentative Essay

We’ve reached the last essay in our preparation for the exam in May – rejoice! Q3, or the Argumentative Essay, is similar in form to Q1, The Synthesis Essay. You will be required to take a position on a topic – either defend, qualify or challenge – and support your argument with evidence. However, unlike the Synthesis Essay, College Board will not be giving you a packet of 8 sources to pull your information from. You must come to this essay with enough personal experience, observations from current events and real-world situations and knowledge of readings/texts, that you can cite reliable evidence off the top of your head.

For those of you that do not feel comfortable with current events or the scope of your literary background, you may want to spend some time between now and May reading, reading, reading. 

Before we dive into how to write the Argumentative Essay, watch the short video below that will help to explain the essay a bit more.

Click here to watch the video.

Now that you’ve watched the video, let’s look at the 2007 prompt:q3

Notice the prompt is much shorter than the Synthesis Essay, though it follows the same basic format: pick a position, and argue that position.

For the Argumentative Essay we are going to use the ‘PRO’ method of pre-writing and brainstorm. This will ensure that you are writing a well-balanced argument, and that you use the required types of evidence.pro1



If you were to do this for the 2007 prompt it would look something like this:


You may use personal pronouns in this essay, however, you must be careful to maintain a mature authorial voice. If you’re not sure you can do this, I would try not to use the personal pronoun ‘I’ too often.

As you can see, the depth and maturity of your writing will depend on the PRO evidence you can provide – mature personal experiences, in-depth knowledge of relevant texts, and astute and applicable observations of the world around you. If you do not feel comfortable with aspects of your ability to ‘go PRO’ for this paper, please see me for suggested readings and activities you can do on your own to improve your chances of scoring a 3 or higher on the exam.

AP Language and Composition Spring 2016

Synthesis Reading – Materialism in American Culture

As we prepare for the Q1 Synthesis Essay this is a great chance to continue broadening your exposure to literature and texts that will build your base knowledge. Remember, much of your success on the AP Exam for Language depends not just on your writing ability, but the maturity of your writing. This in turn is influenced by the depth and scope of your understanding of the plethora of topics they could assign for you to respond to on the exam.

We will be conducting in-depth readings of eight different sources (all on a similar theme) and you will be able to conduct a Socratic Seminar on these topics as well as engage with the texts in the form of essays and project.

Our second reading topic is ‘Materialism in American Culture’.

Click here for the reading over ‘Materialism in American Culture’.


You guys did a fantastic job with this seminar. Here are the notes on what you discussed!

AP Language and Composition Spring 2016

Synthesis Reading – Exporting American Culture

As we prepare for the Q1 Synthesis Essay this is a great chance to continue broadening your exposure to literature and texts that will build your base knowledge. Remember, much of your success on the AP Exam for Language depends not just on your writing ability, but the maturity of your writing. This in turn is influenced by the depth and scope of your understanding of the plethora of topics they could assign for you to respond to on the exam.

We will be conducting in-depth readings of eight different sources (all on a similar theme) and you will be able to conduct a Socratic Seminar on these topics as well as engage with the texts in the form of essays and project.

Our final reading will be over ‘Exporting American Culture’.

Click here for the reading on Exporting American Culture

AP Language and Composition Spring 2016

Synthesis Reading – Language in American Politics

As we prepare for the Q1 Synthesis Essay this is a great chance to continue broadening your exposure to literature and texts that will build your base knowledge. Remember, much of your success on the AP Exam for Language depends not just on your writing ability, but the maturity of your writing. This in turn is influenced by the depth and scope of your understanding of the plethora of topics they could assign for you to respond to on the exam.

We will be conducting in-depth readings of eight different sources (all on a similar theme) and you will be able to conduct a Socratic Seminar on these topics as well as engage with the texts in the form of essays and project.

Our first reading topic is ‘Language in American Politics’.

Readings for Language in American Politics


Ideas you guys brought up in your Socratic Seminar!

AP Language and Composition Spring 2016