Thursday, March 3, 2016

AP English Language and Composition Summer Work 2015

AP English Language and Composition                                      
 Summer 2015                                                                                                                                           Mr. Konkoly
This course studies non-fiction writing and the art of persuasion. The summer work provides initial practice and some shared material on which we can build.
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
You will have to buy and share the books or get them through the library.
Julius Caesar also can be read at

1. Write a personal essay about the meaning and definition of family. Use your own experiences or the experiences of people you know. Feel free to include any knowledge you have from history, current events, or popular culture. You do not have to give a final or exhaustive definition of family. Your essay might define some component of family or explore particular issues about family.
A personal essay is a form of writing in which an author explores and shares the meaning of experience and relates this experience to ideas. Although personal, the essay need not focus on the author. The subject and purpose could be anything.  The author’s presence is apparent through the reflection on the subject and the way details and stories are presented.
Your typed, double-spaced essay should be 750-1000 words. It should be a polished essay, not a first draft, but it is alright if you still have misgivings about some aspect of it.  Include an informative and engaging title.

2. Read Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell.

Consider the following passages from Gladwell’s book:
“The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.”
“We have, as human beings, a storytelling problem. We’re a bit too quick to come up with explanations for things we don’t really have an explanation for.”
“Insight is not a lightbulb that goes off inside our heads. It is a flickering candle that can easily be snuffed out.”
Write an essay in which you explain at least one of the above claims made by Gladwell, present his reasoning and evidence, and take your own stand on the issues that he raises. You might agree with him and provide further support. You might disagree and present your arguments that challenge his views. You also might partially agree and disagree. You may address all three passages, but you should focus on one.
Your typed, double-spaced essay should be 750-1000 words. Include a title and heading.

3. Read The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.
The Boys in the Boat is non-fiction, but it reads like a novel, focusing on the story of Joe Rantz and the University of Washington crew team. The narrative is complemented by historical knowledge about the 1930s and scientific knowledge about the physics of rowing and boat design and the physiology of rowing. You can imagine that Brown must have done historical and scientific research.
Select one specific part of the book in which Brown presents historical knowledge or science. Write an essay in which you analyze how Brown presents that material and what it contributes to both the narrative and the themes of the book.  In other words, why do you think Brown added that research to the story he is telling and how does he incorporate it?
Your typed, double-spaced essay should be 750-1000 words. Include a title and heading.

4. Read Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. Write a eulogy for Brutus, Cassius, or Portia. Study the eulogies for Caesar by Brutus and Antony as examples.  As the person delivering the eulogy, identify who is speaking (a specific character or type of person from the play) and to whom you are speaking. Also think about the emotional effect you want to have on your audience. You also need to pay attention to the topics you will address, how you will organize the eulogy, and your tone and word choices.
Your typed, double-spaced eulogy should be 300-500 words.

Deadlines and Submission Guidelines
1. The essay response to either Blink or The Boys in the Boat is due by July 24.
2. The other of those two essays is due by August 28.
3. The personal essay and the eulogy are due by September 1.

 Please submit all work to  Always save copies of your work for yourself!

The class ID is 10116857; the enrollment password is konkoly.

Feel free to email me ( with questions after you first try consulting a classmate.  I will check email periodically, so you might not get an immediate reply.  Don’t save your questions for the last minute!
Assessment and Grading

The personal essay should have a clear subject, use specific details, include moments of reflection, and have an engaging and engaged voice. You will receive full credit for an essay that meets these criteria and a final grade will be given after you complete more work on the essay in the fall. Essays that are sloppy in their writing or organization and not proofread are not acceptable and will not receive summer credit. The summer version counts as homework/coursework and the final version counts as an essay grade.
The eulogy should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. You should effectively move an audience to believe your depiction of the character and to feel particular emotions. The language you use should be appropriate for the circumstances and audience. Eulogies that are not at least 300 words or that do not show an accurate understanding of the character and play will not receive full credit. The eulogy counts in the homework/coursework portion of the grade.

The essays in response to the two books will be evaluated as follows and the grades count as an essay grade for the first term:

Presents and develops a coherent and thoughtful perspective in response to the prompt.

Shows an accurate and insightful understanding of the book.  

Provides relevant and sufficient details to support your claims.

Explains supporting details in relation to the overall development of your essay.

Use of language (sentence clarity and variety; precise and appropriate vocabulary)

Demonstrates mastery of Standard English conventions, including citations.

Typewritten, double-spaced and 750-1000 words; on time.

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