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Workforce Development & Continuing Education

A P Summer Institute: English Literature and Composition

AP English Lit Syllabus and Schedule

AP teachers will

  • Learn how to organize the course effectively;
  • Develop useful strategies for teaching fiction, poetry, and drama;
  • Learn how to assess student performance more effectively;
  • Be able to show students how to approach the AP exam with confidence;
  • Learn how AP essays are scored.
  • Develop or enhance the AP Lit Syllabus.


Jago, Shea, Scanlon, Aufses, ed. Literature & Composition.
Boston: Bedford St. Martin’s, 20011.

AP English Literature and Composition Handbook. Published by the College Board,

Copied Material: Released AP Literature exam samples.


  • Read/ review texts listed for daily analysis.
  • Participate in group activities.
  • Design and submit a new or revised AP Literature Syllabus for your class.


TuesdayWho are our students and how do we prepare them?

AM: Introduction

  • Taking the test: individual writing and self evaluation (AP Exam)
  • Scoring written responses
  • Class profiles: how to determine class needs
  • Syllabi: assembling a challenging list of readings
  • Group activity: developing a syllabus according to class profile
  • (AP Central: using resources on line

PM: Developing a Course Structure

  • Choosing textbooks and special readings
  • Creating a format for the class: reading, responding, writing
  • Preparing multiple choice question from readings: teacher’s questions, students’ questions, “Jeopardy’ style engagement of the class, question bank for each reading
  • Read “One of These Days” ( Marquez, 61 -62)*
  • Group activity: create 5 AP style multiple choice questions based on the reading to share with the group; develop at least one writing assignment based on the reading.

* Page references are to Literature and Composition.

Prepare for Tuesday:  Be prepared to discuss how you have taught or plan to teach a specific novel.  Begin thinking about how you might make changes to your current AP Lit syllabus.  If you have not taught the course before, download a syllabus from Apcentral to use as a model for your own syllabus.

Wednesday:  What is fiction?  How is a story structured?

AM: Presenting Fiction

  • How would we teach this novel?
  • What obstacles might the reader encounter?
  • Process: assigned as summer reading?  Blocked assignments during the term?               A. Reading guides (how to prepare and use guides

            B. Quizzes (multiple choice)
C. Short writing assignments (journals, reader response essays)
D. Structure (context, characterization, point of view, imagery, theme)
E. The AP style essay: understanding the topic, shaping the essay, time issues)

  • Group Activity: Sharing of recommendations of novels and methods of teaching--best practices

PM: The Confident Student Reader/ Writer

  • 2013 sample student essays focusing on fiction: how to prepare students
  • The writing process: inspiration, free writing, planning developing drafts, editing
  • Ways of assessing student writing: holistic method, analytical, peer response, other?
  • Gaining confidence and speed (20 minutes for each essay)
  • Group Activity: Sharing of ways of organizing the class and the in-class writing time
  • Read “A Rose for Emily” (pp. 657 - 653)           

             A. How would you teach this story?
B. Which structural elements would you emphasize?
C.  Create a brief writing assignment and an AP style topic for a 20 minute task

  • Group Activity: Share results; offer suggestions

For Thursday:  Review the poems listed on tomorrow’s agenda. Continue working on your syllabus.

Thursday:  How does a poem mean?  (Ciardi)

AM: Presenting Poetry: “Introduction to Poetry” (Collins 10)
“Tell all the truth but tell it slant”  (Dickinson 2)

Analyzing poetry according to poetic elements:

              “The Red Wheelbarrow” (28
“Mother to Son”  (306)
“Marks”  (315)
“Mending Wall” (1269) 
“Jazzonia” (1300)

Understanding poetic structures:
The sonnet, “My mistress‘s eyes are nothing like the sun” (Shakespeare 1415)
The ode, “Ode on a Grecian Urn” (Keats 1102)
The elegy, “On My First Son” (Johnson 297)
Free verse, “Manahatta” (Whitman 1289)

Group Activities:  Develop strategies for presenting the poems to students; devise writing assignments to assess students’ understanding the poems.


Recalibrating: scoring sample essays on poetry from the 2011 AP exam
Assessing student needs and recommending strategies to improve writing

Thematic arrangements:  Making connections, seeing differences

            Paired poems: “My Papa’s Waltz” (Roethke 307), “Those Winter Sundays”
(Hayden 3080);   “Love Is Not All” (Millay 675), “My Ugly Love”
(Neruda 685)
Thematic units: poetry, fiction and drama   (Group activity)

For Friday: Be prepared to discuss a play that you have taught or plan to teach.Continue editing your syllabus.

Friday: Understanding and writing about drama/ best practices

AM: Presenting the Play
Classical Form

Elements of Drama:  history and structure
A. Greek tradition
B.  Shakespearean tradition
C. Modern drama
How to teach a play

  • Block by scenes
  • Perform in class with assigned roles
  • Discussion questions
  • Writing assignments

Group Activity: (Each student will present on either A or B.)
A. Select a Shakespearean play that you have taught or plan to teach. Discuss strategies in presentation or assessment that worked for you and that you would like to share with others.

B. Select a modern drama that you have taught or plan to teach.  Discuss with the group why you choose the play and describe one lesson that you have given or plan to give--focus on strategies and describe student responses to the lesson.

Recalibrating: scoring 2011 student responses on the open question ; discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of specific responses: How would you help the students who did not do well on the question?

Best Practices:

  • Individual presentations of learning units or teaching strategies developed from past classroom experience.
  • Sharing of revised syllabi.

Instructor Bio:

A P Instructor for Literature is Patricia Maida

Instructor Patricia Maida

Instructor Biography: Dr. Patricia Maida is a Professor of English at the University of the District of Columbia.  She comes to Advanced Placement English as a former high school English teacher and as a college writing coordinator. For several years she has scored AP Literature and Language essays for ETS and will be scoring them again this year.  She will bring her insights about the test to participants at the APSI.  As a College Board endorsed consultant, she has been leading institutes for over ten years and is looking forward to working with teachers and sharing expertise. Her methods are interactive.  She says, “Each time I am engaged in an institute, I am impressed by the creativity and insights of the participating teachers. I learn from them as they do from me.”

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