The sophistication point on the essay rubrics often meets with much weeping and gnashing of teeth. Students want to know how to write it. Teachers want to know how to teach it. Readers want to know how to reward it. Consultants and trainers want to know how to advise it. 


There is no silver bullet for the sophistication point, but it certainly can be taught. 


It begins with complexity—of a text or an argument or both—and extends to ideas beyond the text or argument itself to become universal. It requires consistency in the reasoning and the writing. It expects precision in the language and style. In other words, there are a lot of factors. 


This session explores some of the common characteristics and then offers a place to start with students, strategies to begin attacking this idea from the beginning, and even a little history on how we got here and why it matters.  


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Dr. Brandon Abdon has 20 plus years in education including 12 years as a high school English teacher, eight as a professor of English and Education, and eight as a curriculum developer and instructional coach. He also has more than 10 years of experience as a consultant and formerly worked as the lead director for the international Advanced Placement® program at the College Board. A fellow of the National Writing Project, Brandon believes in the power of writing daily in the classroom. He also knows that all students have a path to literacy when engaged and challenged suitably. He is the senior author of two textbooks: AP® Language and Composition (2020) and AP® Literature and Composition  (2021) coursebooks, both by AMSCO®. He is also a collaborator on a number of projects to support English teachers and their classrooms, including the Mosaic Slow-Conference project and The Garden of English. He holds advanced degrees in both English and Education—including a Doctorate in English —and certification as both a teacher and an administrator. During his full-time work in high school classrooms, he was recognized with the National Council of Teachers of English “High School Teacher of Excellence” award in 2010. He has taught courses at the University of Kentucky and Georgia State University, teaching courses including English Composition 1, Introduction to Literature, Literature for Teachers, Composition for Teachers, and others. He likes to read and play sports, but does both of them slowly and only one of them well. He has been married to his brilliant wife, Angela, since 2008 and has two sons, Hilton and Dorian.