English Literature and Composition (New Teachers)

Course Description

This course will focus on the knowledge and skills high school students need to succeed on the AP Literature and Composition Exam. Applying the idea that backward design of curriculum is a logical, effective approach to planning an AP Literature course, we will begin with a close examination of recent AP Literature Exams. We will analyze the multiple choice and essay portions of several recent exams to determine what skills students will need to bring to the exam to do well on it.

The course will be organized to address the genres and question types the students can expect to see on the multiple choice and free-response essay portions of the exam: interpreting and analyzing poetry; interpreting and analyzing prose passages from short stories, novels, plays, and literary nonfiction; and writing a literary argument that supports a claim in response to an essay prompt about a central idea or theme addressed in a text chosen by the student. We will discuss the types and variety of texts that form a viable curriculum for an AP Literature course and will focus on ways to help students compose strong literary arguments that demonstrate their skills in interpreting and analyzing literary texts.

We will also discuss ways to address the five literary elements in “the big six ideas/understandings in AP English Literature”: character, setting, structure, narration, and figurative language. We’ll focus on how to help students effectively embed discussions of these elements in their free-response analytic essay responses to free-response questions 1 and 2 and in their literary argument responding to free-response question 3.

Participants will have opportunities to work with texts they want to teach, creating discussion questions, lesson plans, and assessments that have both multiple choice and essay questions aligned to the AP Literature Exam. We will also read and discuss several short stories and poems, as well as one short play, to practice the kind of close reading and analysis required on the exam. We will devote a portion of each day to scoring anchor essays on the three free-response questions, using the AP Literature 6-point analytic rubric to assess the essays.

Maridella Carter, Consultant

After completing a Ph.D. in American Literature at the University of Texas-Austin, Maridella began a long career teaching English at the high school and college levels. In 2005, she became an AP English Literature consultant and has facilitated AP Lit workshops and Summer Institutes in Iowa; Arkansas; Nebraska; Missouri; Kansas; Chicago, Illinois; and Oxford, Mississippi. Her special interest is late nineteenth-century, twentieth, and twenty-first century American literature. She has presented at national AP and NCTE conferences, and her article, “Beyond the Dream, the Journey: American Novels That Track the Path from Slavery to Freedom,” was published in the March 2017 issue of the English Journal

For 31 years, Maridella taught composition and literature courses at grades 10-12 in a suburban public school district in the Kansas City area, and she also taught part-time at the Metropolitan Community Colleges in Kansas City and at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. From 2005-2021, she served as the 9-12 English coordinator for the school district in which she taught high school English, AP Language and AP Literature, and college 100-level composition and 200-level literature courses. She has also been an AP Literature Exam grader since 2003.