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The Road by Cormac McCarthy


Students read The Road by Cormac McCarthy and discuss and analyze the literary merit of the work in multiple stages (e.g. a quiz, student-run Q&A, group discussion, presentations, in-class essay). Special focus is given to the students' analysis of the work via the literary elements (i.e. theme, setting, etc.) that appear in essay questions on the AP exam. 

Learning Objectives

The purpose of this projects is to help students:

  • Analyze a work of literature according to the literary elements used on the AP exam

  • Become familiar with a piece of literature they can later refer to in essay questions on the AP exam

  • Understand and be able to discuss the meaning of "literary merit"

  • Choose and locate a passage in a work of literature to support her analysis

Materials & Technology
  • Handout 1: Discuss Questions

  • Handout 2: AP Rubric for Grading Essays

  • Handout 3: Open-Ended Essay Prompts

  • Presentation software (e.g. Powerpoint, Google Slides)

  • Projector

  • Notecards



Students read the novel over Christmas Break and are given Handout 1 as a reading guide

Day 1:

Students take a quiz on the major plot, characters, and events in the novel.

Students are given a notecard on which they write any burning question they want answered about the text.

Day 2:

Students come to the front of the class and choose a notecard with a question on it and read it aloud to the class. The class discusses possible responses and uses passages from the novel to support their analysis.

Day 3:

Students are paired together and assigned one of the topics from the reading guide Handout1. Students prepare a 5 minute presentation to the class providing an analysis of the topic along with a passage that illustrates their analysis. They guide their classmates in a brief discussion. For homework, students must email their passage to the instructor, so she can compile them into a slideshow to accompany students' presentations.

In anticipation of the in-class essay on Day 6, students review the notes regarding skills and techniques for successful Open-Ended Essay response, reinforcing lessons and practice from the previous semester.

Days 4-5:

Groups are given 10 minutes to meet briefly to review their presentation, and then each group is given 5 minutes to present.

Students are given Handout 2: the AP rubric for grading open-ended essays. Students review this rubric and will use it to score their own essay.

Day 6:

Students are given an open-ended essay question (Handout 3) that has appeared on previous AP exams and must write a response to the question using The Road. They are timed by the instructor as they will be on the AP exam. Students submit their essay, and the instructor makes a copy of it. Students take home a copy and the rubric to review and score their own essay. Later in the week, students confer one-on-one with the instructor to review the essay and defend their score as aligned to the rubric. The instructor and student agree on a final grade and areas for growth.


The following activities are graded:

  1. Quiz (Day 1)

  2. Presentations (Days 4-5)

  3. Open-ended Response (Day 6)

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