It's almost the end of the school year! With the exam behind you and your students, take a moment in class to reflect on this past year (while giving them a final lesson in AP® Lang). The work on this reflection will start by studying, evaluating, and analyzing words and phrases that mainstream media says define our cultural and historical contexts in 2021–2022. Students will consider words denotatively and connotatively; they will consider the trends that define our cultural and historical context; and they will make an observation (a universal truth) about how people interact with this context, and account for why patterns and trends likely change.


After evaluating the “situation” surrounding the words and phrases, students will situate themselves into this context by considering connection, or lack of connection, to these terms that define our time before deciding on their own word on which to focus for the upcoming year.


This lesson is meant to hone students’ understanding of the methods of development, specifically definition, strategic rhetorical choices, denotation versus connotation, as well as the influence of the rhetorical situation that surrounds a work (or, in this case, a word or phrase) is presented. Use this lesson now, at the end of the academic school year, or in December at the end of the calendar year!  


Essential Knowledge

RHS-1.A: The rhetorical situation of a text collectively refers to the exigence, purpose, audience, context, and message.


REO-1.G: Methods of development are common approaches writers frequently use to develop and organize the reasoning of their arguments. A method of development provides an audience with the means to trace a writer’s reasoning in an argument.


REO-1.J: When developing ideas through narration, writers offer details about real-life experiences and offer reflections and insights on the significance of those experiences.


REO-1.L: When developing ideas through a definition or description, writers relate the characteristics, features, or sensory details of an object or idea, sometimes using examples or illustrations.


STL-1.B: Descriptive words, such as adjectives and adverbs, not only qualify or modify the things they describe but also convey a perspective toward those things.


Have students collaborate to come up with their own words of the year by downloading the activity below!



Lauren Peterson (Master of Arts, Education) has been teaching AP® English Language and Composition in a number of states for more than ten years, most recently at Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, where she is also the schoolwide literacy leader. Before this position, Lauren served as a curriculum and instructional coach in Duval County, Florida. Lauren worked for College Board on a pilot curriculum designed to both remediate common AP® English Language challenges and also prepare students for Microsoft Office Specialist Certification. As an independent consultant for the National Math and Science Initiative, Lauren has written diverse curricula used by students across the country as well as training materials for beginning and experienced AP® English Language teachers. Lauren served as an AP® English Language Reader and continues to work as an AP® English Language trainer for new and experienced teachers.