AP English Literature & Composition

Course Overview

Harper-Lee---makes-you-think.jpgIn AP English Literature and Composition, you will explore the craftsmanship and significance of remarkable literature that has endured through the ages. From William Shakespeare's King Lear to Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, you will reflect on themes that resonate today, just as they did in decades and centuries past.  Drawing on the
highly regarded Perrine's text, you'll investigate how literary elements such as diction, figurative language, syntax, and tone contribute to meaning in literature. Engaging the literary skills and knowledge you've acquired in prior English classes, you'll advance beyond merely identifying writing techniques—in AP Literature you will move from summary, solidly into analysis, as you assert and support how writers use tools to reveal universal insights.
  • You've read a lot, and you have a firm foundation in the mechanics of essay writing. With two-to-three years of high school-level writing instruction and practice under your belt, you're comfortable with the conventions of the five-paragraph essay, and you have a clear understanding of its component parts. With this as your starting point, you'll fine-tune the structure and elegance of your writing. Composition instruction, detailed instructor feedback, and regular editing opportunities will help you enhance and solidify your writing skills. You have mastered grammar conventions—with maybe just a little reminding —so you'll work on nuances in grammar patterns and sentence structures, adding a greater degree of skillfulness to your compositions.  
  • MLA form will be taught and applied from day one, so you will become a pro at formatting, parenthetical citation, and works cited construction.  Essays and short responses to literature will be uploaded to class discussion forums, so you and your classmates will have a meaningful audience (beyond just the instructor) to share, compare, and reply to, as you consider other ideas and methods. Peer feedback will offer friendly, helpful, and encouraging observations, and your instructor will provide extensive, individual feedback.
  • In Blue Tent Online English classes, you will converse with home schooled juniors and seniors from all over the country, engaging in active, ongoing dialogue on text-based discussion forums. Participation in weekly forums is at the core of Blue Tent classes, with students discussing their opinions about the weekly reading. A Socratic approach to sharing both ideas and writing offers you the opportunity to assert and defend views, as well as the opportunity to observe and develop new writing strategies—through shared insights and class modeling.  While there will be a wide variety of views served up and debated each week, the tenor of discussion forums is uniformly encouraging. Forums are a safe place to stretch and explore, as students build a foundation of mutual respect and enjoyment, and as the class grows together.
  • AP English Lit provides a college-level foundation for analysis and writing, as well as instruction and practice for the AP exam. Assignments that reflect what you will see in May will be interwoven throughout the year, with many "real" AP essays (along with AP Scorers' commentary) scrutinized and discussed.  The class will respond to meaningful timed prompts regularly in the second semester and, as the year draws to a close, will ramp up extended practice to mimic exam conditions.  While critical reading and multiple choice strategies will be practiced throughout the year, in the month before the AP exam you will embark on a comprehensive review of the year's reading, and you will practice taking full—real—released exams. There will be ample opportunity for exam practice, and many optional opportunities—so that you can zero in on the areas of greatest need or benefit. This review process will prepare you well to take on the AP Lit exam with confidence.
While the AP exam is an important part of the year, "there is no frigate like a book." I hope you will join AP Lit for the journey. Embark with a group of students who will become your friends. Deepen your insights, as you share a mutual interest and enthusiasm for literature.
Course Goals

  • To read works from a variety of genres, including novels, short stories, plays, poetry, and essays
  • To study literature written from 1600 to the present, primarily by British and American writers and poets
  • To briefly examine the biographical background of writers, as well as historical context
  • To critically analyze imaginative literature through close reading 
  • To discover how writers reveal meaning through a broad array of literary tools and techniques, including diction, imagery, syntax, figurative language, and tone 
  • To write literary analysis essays that focus on meaning in a central argument, supported by apt and sufficient evidence and examples from the original text
  • To engage in pre-writing thesis development, with revisions and fine-tuning prior to essay drafting
  • To craft compelling thesis statements with precision and originality
  • To move beyond competent essays, striving for complexity and elegance
  • To refine writing skillfulness through a process of brief pre-writing submissions (for instructor feedback), careful application of course instruction, editing to refine, and revising in response to detailed instructor feedback
  • To correctly and consistently apply the (newly revised in 2016—8th edition) conventions of MLA, including page-formatting, in-text citation, and works cited source constructions
  • To engage in active dialogue with classmates, responding to class writing as models for consideration, and offering meaningful support

Student Resources

Perrine's Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense, 8th Edition, Arp and Johnson
The Art of Styling Sentences, 5th Edition, Ann Longknife and K.D. Sullivan
Vocabulary for the College-Bound Student, Harold Levine
Barron's AP English Literature and Composition, 6th Edition, George Ehrenhaft, 
EasyBib EDU: Free subscription to citation tools.

Summer Reading (any unabridged edition): 
Novels and plays read during the school year (any unabridged editions; library books and ebooks are fine): Homeschoolers are readers!  Students who have read one or more of the class selections may either re-read or choose a worthy alternate in collaboration with the instructor.

Representative Course Activities

  • Reading and analyzing novels, plays, short stories, and poetry
  • Annotating and note-taking, as you reflect on assigned reading
  • Writing and revising analytical essays (with detailed, individual feedback from the instructor)
  • Completing instructional/diagnostic close reading quizzes tied to course novels/poetry and patterned after the AP exam and the Literature Subject Test (SAT 2).
  • Independently working on weekly vocabulary assignments; taking periodic quizzes 
  • Participating actively in weekly online discussion forums
  • Offering encouraging and meaningful feedback to the essays of your classmates
  • Practicing timed writing; responding to prompts drawn from past AP exams
  • Collaborating with classmates on group assignments 
  • Optional participation in occasional text-based chats during the year (transcripts will be available to those who opt out or who cannot attend in real-time)

 Summer Assignment

Summer reading: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

Summer writing: A 2-3-page essay responding to a prompt adapted from a recent AP Literature exam.
 Instructions will be sent to you over the summer. You and your classmates will upload your essays on the first day of class, and that will be the starting point for our year-long conversation! Don't worry about writing the "perfect" paper. Everyone will begin the year with an *A* on the summer assignment!  

njoy your reading and plan to write a paper that is meaningful to you. 

Online Format

This is an asynchronous course. There are no live or recorded lectures. The class is highly interactive, with students and the teacher utilizing a variety of tools—including discussion forums—for interaction and instruction. Because there is no single time the class "meets" during the week, you have the flexibility to complete your AP English coursework around your own busy high school schedule.  Assignments are set up on a Monday-Sunday framework, with due dates typically on Fridays and Sundays. You will access the website regularly (most students check in daily), and interact with your classmates in a give-and-take manner, according to your own school/family schedule. While there is no "live" component, interaction is frequent and friendly. Discussion forums are a core component to this class. Peer-to-peer dialogue and debate are what make the class engaging and enjoyable! 

moodlepowered.jpgAll Blue Tent classes are hosted on Moodle, a learning management system that is popular among online educators and universities. You will complete assignments directly on the password-protected website that your instructor has created just for your class.  You will upload your writing assignments as Microsoft Word documents and receive feedback from the instructor in pdf form.  Some of your handwritten assignments will be scanned or photographed—cellphone photos work just fine!—
and uploaded. The course website is password protected and accessible only to enrolled students.

You don't need to be a techie to take this online class.  All you need is a computer with an up-to-date browser and any version of Microsoft Word. All compositions will be uploaded as Word documents. Whether you have taken an online class before or not, you'll expand your cyber skills—and your instructor will help you every step of the way. The class website will open a week early and will remain open several weeks after the class concludes.  There will be a short, easy practice assignment designed to help you become familiar with the various parts of the Moodle website. You have the option of completing this before class begins or during the first week of class. 
Course Tuition, Size, and Schedule

AP Literature is open to home-schooled juniors and seniors who are 16 years of age or older. Tuition for 2017-2018 will be $675 for the year, and the course will be capped at 15 students.
 AP English Literature will begin on Monday, August 21, 2017 and conclude with the AP English Literature exam on Wednesday, May 9, 2018. The website will open one week early and will remain open for a few weeks after the AP exam for optional discussion, debriefing, and downloading of student records. There will be a one week fall break, a two week Christmas break, and a one week spring break. 

The Instructor

Want to learn more about the AP English instructor? 
  • Meet the instructor here: Brigid Thompson.
  • Read about recent AP English exam results for Blue Tent Online students and see what parents and students have to say about Brigid's classes here: Results & Feedback.


Students and parents often wonder: AP Literature or AP Language?  And if both, in what order?  While AP English Language and Composition is most commonly taken by juniors and AP English Literature and Composition is most commonly taken by seniors, there is no "right" order.  They are very different classes with distinct objectives. The College Board does not mandate or recommend that students take them in a particular sequence. You might find it helpful to read over the College Board course descriptions. 

Students can expect to spend an average of 10 hours per week on Blue Tent AP English coursework.
Please contact Brigid Thompson if you have questions about the class. If writing level is a question, forward a representative writing sample for prompt, candid feedback.

Blue Tent Online AP English courses comply with the AP Course Audit process
and have been authorized by the College Board.