How to Outsmart the AP Language Multiple Choice Distractors

“Foils bought my house.” A friend whose husband writes standardized social studies tests said that line to me over lunch one day. Between expensive mouthfuls, she explained that anyone who is really good at writing THE foil answer choice can write his or her own ticket. Apparently, they are VERY…
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AP English Language multiple choice

5 Tips for AP Language Multiple Choice Prep

AP English Language multiple choice test prep can be miserable, but you can spread out the misery or even eliminate it. Because I am a nerd, I actually LIKE getting students ready for the multiple choice section of the AP exam. The clean-cut nature of time management and test-taking strategies…
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When it is time to leave teaching?

I have a ceramic sign hanging in my home office, and it reads, “Leap and the net will appear.” My mom gave it to me when I left my second school. I had already leapt, and she wanted to assure me that a net was down there because I wasn’t…
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rhetorical analysis in AP English Language

Why Start with Rhetorical Analysis?

Whether school is on a traditional year-long schedule, a 4×4 block, or a modified block with A days and B days, there is a case to be made for starting with rhetorical analysis. Reason #1: Rhetorical analysis is the foundation of everything we do in AP Lang. On Day 1…
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How to Spiral Rhetorical Analysis

What is spiraling? The concept of spiraling clicked for me when I was a curriculum specialist. (For three years, I came off the front lines and served as Secondary Writing Curriculum Specialist for a large district in North Carolina. I served the ELA teachers at 47 middle and high schools…
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4 Ways to Improve Evidence in Rhetorical Analysis

 Call it a concrete detail, evidence, or proof. What defends a debatable idea is REAL, TRUE, FACTUAL, and APART from debate. If the topic sentence defends the thesis, and the concrete detail is strong, commentary will be (almost) a breeze. If the concrete detail is weak, irrelevant, general, or loosely…
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formulaic writing templates

Formulaic Writing: The Beauty and The Dangers

Mrs. Stewart, my high school AP Lit teacher, passed recently, and I grieved. That woman taught me formulaic writing; she reined in my verbosity (though some of you might disagree) and got me to calm down and get to the point. She did it with a formula, THE five-paragraph essay.…
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How to get UNSTUCK in Rhetorical Analysis

You’ve been there: Your student mopes up to your desk for a rhetorical analysis writing conference, and the graphic organizer section for commentary is blank. Blankety blank blank. Nuthin’. The student is frustrated. You’re frustrated. You can’t steer a ship that’s not moving, right? Here’s the deal: Students get stuck…
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3 Engaging Ways to Introduce Tone Analysis

Tone is my favorite thing to teach in the whole rhetorical analysis process. Because tone carries meaning, it’s the end-all, be-all. Miss the tone, miss the meaning. I spend two to three block class periods right at the beginning of first semester helping high school students wrap their heads around…
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pencil on paper

The Why and How of a Baseline Writing Assignment

Why get a baseline? What should they write for the baseline? The mode in which students write will be dictated by the goal of the assignment. Here are some examples of the thinking that might go into prompt creation or selection: Goal 1: Introduction If the goal of the baseline…
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man on tightrope teaching Donald Trump's rhetoric

The Tightrope of Teaching Donald Trump’s Rhetoric

The first time I read the transcript of his July 3 2020 address at Mount Rushmore, I was struck by Donald Trump’s rhetoric, specifically his ignorance of the history of that region. On my second reading, though, I decided that it was sugar coating or white washing, not ignorance. On…
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