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Critiques explain successes and delineate problems needing further work.
Discussions, worth 30% of the final grade, are evaluated based upon the depth, insight and thoughtfulness of each posted comment.
Students are expected to respond to one another as well as to the readings, so that the virtual classroom may generate a rich, complex and interesting exchange of ideas.
Students look at the successful use of concessions and qualifications in a strong thesis, along with the analysis and revision of several weak thesis statements.
The final writing assignment is a persuasive prompt responding to a passage by Ralph Waldo Emerson (98).
Exposure to classical rhetoric, including a study of schemes and tropes and the use of the Aristotelian appeals, increases understanding of and access to critical reading and writing skills. The process letter accompanying each lesson is an informal self-assessment of about a page in length, in which students are invited to explain and evaluate their process, from planning through drafting and proofreading/revision. Washington and Others,” and answer questions about each author’s purpose and audience as well as the influence of his background upon the position he takes.
Most lessons focus on an examination of past AP testing prompts, responses and scoring guides, and composition of persuasive arguments and rhetorical analyses similar to those found on the exam and in college classrooms. Using this guide, they analyze rubrics and model student essays as well as writing their own essays in response to specific prompts. They discuss what worked best for them in the planning stage, how they budgeted their time, what rhetorical and stylistic elements worked best within their essays, and what they would do differently for a better result. Students are required to post at least three thoughtful, substantive comments of at least half to three quarters of a page for each discussion.
Guidance in the evaluation, use and proper citation of both written and visual sources prepares students to write a synthesis essay and a researched argument. Online class discussions are often based upon posted readings covering a variety of rhetorical genres, from such writers as Annie Dillard, W. Students often use rubrics to score their own AP practice essays, in addition to comparing their work to the high- and middle-scoring essays included in their Discussions are roughly the equivalent of homework in a school-based AP English class. At times discussion takes the form of a writing exercise designed to increase skills in a certain area, such as citation, thesis revision, and analysis of visual texts.
Finally, in addition to work on essays, students practice and analyze the multiple-choice portion of the exam. Students enter the web-based classroom several times over the course of each lesson’s two-week time frame, reading posted thematically linked texts and responding to discussion questions along with each other’s comments. Discussion is also the place for workshops of student writing, and conversations about process, test-taking strategies, current events, and favorite writers Lessons are worth 70% of the final grade, with the process letter accounting for about 20% of the lesson grade.
For example, in one discussion students read Booker T. Each final essay is given a score of between 1 and 9 based as closely as possible upon a given rubric, so that students may get a sense of how they are likely to do on the exam.
Although essays are also awarded letter grades, critiques emphasize encouragement and concrete suggestions for ways to improve.