Nathan Odell

Pacing Guide - Opening Chapters of Advanced Language & Literature

Blog Post created by Nathan Odell on Sep 6, 2016

Pacing Guide for Opening Chapters of Advanced Language and Literature

John Golden


Some teachers may choose to work through all four opening chapters with students consecutively and in the order as presented, or teachers may return to sections of the chapters throughout the year as needs arise with students. Both approaches are described below and include a rough approximation of the number of 50-minute class periods each section might take; times, of course, will vary greatly by student population, depth of coverage and other factors.


CHAPTER ONE: READING THE WORLD (6 class periods). The true value of this chapter is in its introductory nature. If a teacher does not choose to do this chapter early on in the school year, there is probably little to be gained in returning to it later, with the exception of ensuring students have a working knowledge of the analytical process.


  1. Thinking about Literacy and Thinking about English Class (2 class periods): The goals of these sections are to give students a clear definition of how the word “literacy” is used in the 21st century and how students have multiple literacies that they use and practice in and out of school.


  1. Thinking about Analysis and Thinking about Context (2 class periods): Too often we use academic terms like “analyze” without really defining them for students. These sections try to demystify the concept of analysis by showing how students use the skill regularly in their lives and other academic disciplines, as well as to identify the important role that “context” plays when we try to make sense of something.


  1. Culminating Activity (2 class periods): This activity gives students an opportunity to practice their analytical skills with three texts in three different modes: poetry, nonfiction argument, and a graphic novel. The information students provide here could act as a valuable formative assessment early on in the school year.



CHAPTER TWO: THINKING ABOUT LITERATURE (8-10 class periods). This chapter provides an overview of the ways that we look at literature. A teacher may choose to do the introductory sections and then return to the subsequent sections once the class is in the midst of a piece of literature.


  1. 1.      Analyzing Literature and Theme in Literature (2 class periods):  These two sections introduce students to why and how we read literature in general, with a specific focus on helping students think abstractly and be able to understand what we mean by “theme.”


  1. 2.      Literary Elements and Analyzing Literary Elements and Theme (2-3 class periods): These sections will act as a review for most students about the most important literary elements they will be looking at when analyzing literary texts throughout the rest of this book: point of view, characterization, plot and conflict, setting, and symbol with examples and key questions for each. The time a teacher may need for this section will vary depending on student familiarity with these terms. This section also includes a model analysis for the short story “Popular Mechanics,” and provides students with an opportunity to practice their own analyses with an excerpt from a novel and piece of drama. These analyses would be valuable formative assessment material at the beginning of the year.


  1. 3.      Language and Style and Analyzing Style and Theme (2-3 class periods): Unlike the literary elements in the previous section, many students will not have had as much experience with thinking about the author’s craft: diction, syntax, figurative language, and imagery. Not only are there model analyses in this section, but also a chance for students to give teachers a sense of where students are in terms of their current abilities to analyze style and theme. This could be a section that a teacher skips in the opening part of the year and returns to when the class is engaging in its first close reading activity.


  1. 4.      Culminating Activity (2 class periods): There are three prompts in this activity, each of which is modeled closely on the AP Literature exam: a close reading of a poem, an analysis of short story, and a type of “open” essay question about theme. This activity would give teachers tremendous insight into their students’ current abilities to analyze literature.




CHAPTER THREE: THINKING ABOUT RHETORIC AND ARGUMENT (8-12 class periods). Of the opening chapters presented so far, this one has the potential to be the most challenging for students. In much of their school careers, they have been analyzing literature through characterization, setting, theme, and so on, but many students have not yet had a lot of examine argument and rhetoric. Therefore, unlike chapter two, this one will likely be less review for students and will present more brand-new content and skills. Some teachers might choose to skip this entire chapter until they are further into their year and are presenting students with their first rhetorical analysis task. Additionally, teachers might do portions of this chapter at the beginning of the year, and return to specific sections, such as “Using Evidence” when they notice certain skill deficiencies later in the year.


  1. Changing Minds, Changing the World and Effective Argumentative Claims (2 class periods): The first section sets up the idea that argument – and the results that can occur – matter greatly to the world, and the second section helps students to identify what is something that is “arguable” or not, an essential starting place for argumentation.


  1. The Rhetorical Situation of an Argument (1 class period): This is an essential and short section for students to be able to understand the ways that audience, speaker, and subject influence the text of an argument.


  1. Rhetorical Appeals and Using Evidence (2-4 class periods): Whether analyzing someone else’s argument or writing their own, students have to gain a clear understanding of ethos, logos, pathos, and the types of evidence that can be used, such as facts, personal experience, data, and others. Depending on students’ background with these terms, a teacher might need to take additional time to practice further identifying and using these appeals.


  1. Counterarguments and Pitfalls and Vulnerabilities (1-2 class periods): These sections are getting deeper and deeper into the complexities of an argument, and teachers will have to determine the level they want to take their students at what point in the year. Some students are simply not cognitively ready to add each of these pieces to their analysis of an argument until later in the year.


  1. Language and Style (1-2 class periods): We know that it’s not enough to analyze what an argument says without looking at how it is said, so language and style are essential, but difficult, pieces for students to examine in an argument. Terms such as “allusion,” “parallel structure” and “rhetorical questions” might be quite unfamiliar to many students, though many examples of the effect of each are presented in the section.


  1. Culminating Activity (1 class period): The prompt, modeled after the AP Language exam and the SAT essay, asks students to analyze the rhetorical appeals in an essay and to evaluate its overall effectiveness. The information, especially if completed early in the year, will provide a teacher with invaluable information on students’ current abilities with rhetorical analysis, a skill new to most students at this grade level.



CHAPTER FOUR: THINKING ABOUT SYNTHESIS (8-10 class periods): Of all of the four opening chapters, this is undoubtedly the most challenging and new for most students at this grade level, and yet, it is an essential one for students preparing themselves for the AP Language course, and they will be expected to be able to synthesize multiple texts many times throughout Advanced Language & Literature. Some teachers might choose to do this entire chapter later in the year when they ask students to write their first synthesis essay.


  1. Working with a Single Source (1 class period): This is a baby step for understanding the nature and purpose of synthesis.


  1. Working with Multiple Sources and Entering the Conversation (5-7 class periods): These two sections need to go together and will take a significant amount of time working through the multiple sources related to the topic of high school sports. The sections take students all the way to the drafting of their own synthesis essay on the topic, with a lot of scaffolding and support.


  1. Culminating Activity (2 class periods): Modeled after the AP Language synthesis prompt, this activity asks students to read five texts and draw their own conclusion on the ethics of eating meat. The results of this activity will give teachers a clear idea of students’ abilities with synthesis and help teachers to determine additional instructional steps they might need to take to support their students.