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.

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

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pro4

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

pro2007

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 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

pro2pro3

pro4

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

pro2007

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’.

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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

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Ideas you guys brought up in your Socratic Seminar!

AP Language and Composition Spring 2016

A Modest Proposal

“A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public”, is a satirical essay written and published anonymously by Jonathan Swift in 1729. Swift suggests that the impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies. This satirical hyperbole mocks heartless attitudes towards the poor, as well as Irish policy in general.
This is a fantastic piece of literature to examine for rhetorical analysis, as many of you may have a satirical piece on the AP Exam. It is important to be able to identify when an author is using satire – you miss the point entirely if you think the author is being serious!

We will be reading and analyzing this text using the SOAPSTone Plus method – but we will also be conducting an in-depth Socratic seminar of the work. Please be sure to prepare a series of evaluative, literal and interpretive questions to pose to the class over Swift’s work.

 

Click here to read the text of Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal’.

Click here to listen to the audio of Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal’.

AP Language and Composition Spring 2016

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:

Audience

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.

Context

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

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.

Tone

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

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.

Location

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.

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.

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Text

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

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

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.

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Connotation

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.

Readability

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 find an example of visual rhetoric being used in advertising or PSAs. Select and image and post the direct link to it in the comments section below, with an 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. 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 and the rhetoric used in the ad they have found. 

AP Language and Composition Spring 2016

Practicing for the AP Multiple Choice

Each Monday we will be practicing the multiple choice portion of the AP Language and Composition exam – this is much harder than multiple choice tests you have taken in the past, and to ensure that you feel comfortable and confident in May you need to practice practice practice!

There are a few things you can definitely expect of the multiple choice questions on the AP Exam:

  1. The passages you will have to read will be much harder than excerpts and passages you may have been exposed to in the past. Remember, AP Language is essentially a college level course and as such the level of difficultly in the passages will reflect this.
  2. The questions will be asked using complex syntax and diction, and you may have to reread the questions a few times to fully understand exactly what you’re being asked.
  3. There will often be more than one right answer, and your job will be to determine the ‘best right answer’.
  4. The test is written with the assumption that you are well read and versed in a variety of texts and topics, and will require you to make ‘text connections’. Go ahead and start broadening what you read and are exposed to each day in preparation… you don’t want to sit down and take the test, only to find that you don’t understand half the references needed.

That being said, there are a few things you can do to make this section easier:

  1. Scan the questions quickly first to determine what types of information you should be paying attention to… look at the key words and phrases in the questions to determine if you should focus on the purpose, rhetorical devices used, vocabulary, syntax, or a mix of these. Don’t spend a lot of time on this – just a quick run through to give your reading of the passage a little more direction.
  2. WRITE ON YOUR TEST. If the passages are not already broken up into smaller sections or paragraphs, do so and then write a few phrases in the margins summarizing the author’s point. If you see a particularly complex sentence while you’re reading, go ahead and take the time to quickly summarize it for later, as you won’t want to devote even more time to revisiting and rereading it.
  3. Use process of elimination. There will be answer choices that can be easily eliminated, answer choices that can be eliminated after careful consideration, and then you will be left with the final three or two. Determine which answer is the ‘best right answer’ – pay attention to the specific wording of the answer choice and question. Are one of the answer choices more detailed than the other? Paying close attention to the question, answers and text will be required to choose the ‘right’ answer.
  4. Make sure you revisit the text, especially if the question tells you which line numbers you should reference. If the question says ‘In lines 5-12’, then go back and reread lines 5-12!

 

We will continue to practice these questions throughout the semester, so don’t worry if you score poorly to begin with. Below you will find a packet containing more helpful hints and tips, as well as the scoring guide for the AP exam.

Click here for helpful tips and tricks for the multiple choice questions.

Click here for the first set of practice questions.

AP Language and Composition Spring 2016

Aristotle’s Five Canons of Rhetoric

In addition to considering the types of stylistic and rhetorical devices an orator uses, considering their tone, audience, subject and purpose, you should also begin analyzing speeches and orators for their use of Aristotle’s Five Canons of Rhetoric.

The Five Canons will add another layer of depth to your analysis, and will provide you a more holistic understanding of the text and orator in question. Think of the canons as another layer to your SOAPSTone, not as a separate step. The audience, purpose, and occasion will all impact the effectiveness of how the orator utilizes the five canons.

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Click here to re-watch the short video over the five canons that we took notes over in class.

You will need to complete not only a SOAPSTone Plus analysis over the four speeches from class (Lou Gherig’s Farewell Address, Einstein’s Letter to Young Phyllis, President George W Bush’s 9/11 Address and King George VI’s 1939 Speech) but also analyze these speeches for their use of the five canons. Please view the videos below to analyze these speeches and their orators. You will present your group analysis on Friday, January 7th.

Click here to re-watch Lou Gherig’s Farewell Speech.

Click here to listen to King George VI’s Speech.

Click here to watch a re-enactment of King George VI’s speech from the move ‘The King’s Speech’.

Click here to watch President George W Bush’s address to the nation on September 11th, 2001.

AP Language and Composition Spring 2016

Our Textbook – The Language of Composition, Rhetorical Analysis Readings

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This semester I will be pulling the majority of your readings from the text ‘The Language of Composition’. Because we do not have a class set of these books, I will be providing you with copies of the pages we will be using. Chapter one of the text covers Rhetorical Analysis, and can be accessed below:

Click here to access chapter one of our text.

Please feel free to read and print these pages as you wish.

 

Additionally, I have taken the readings from chapter 1 and condensed them into a short packet, for those of you that do not want to print all 20+ pages from the text.

Click here to access the shortened version that contain just the texts for chapter one, An Introduction to Rhetorical Analysis

Be sure to refer to chapter 1 of this text as we work through the first unit over Rhetorical Analysis – and please let me know if you have any issues accessing the texts throughout the semester!

AP Language and Composition Spring 2016