Reflection: Student Feedback Rhetorical Analysis of a Letter: Theodore Roosevelt Day 1 - Section 3: Class Discussion


This took a little longer than expected for students to read (I stopped after 10 minutes to alert them of the time so they are aware of how long it takes to read, then gave them a few more minutes to finish), and they spent around fifteen or twenty minutes talking in pairs because they were working to make sense out of the piece, so I wanted to give them that time to learn from each other on ways to work through a complex text by looking at individual passages of interest to build main ideas and recognize rhetorical function.  It was interesting, once we began the whole group sharing, that the students tended to really put themselves in the shoes of the son as we talked about the text, imagining that they had received this from their own parent, and therefore imagining the son to be rather annoyed by the letter.  For example, when he writes, “I do not know that the risk is balanced by the reward.  However, I have told the Rector that as you feel so strongly about it, I think that the chance of your damaging yourself in body is outweighed by the possibility of bitterness of spirit if you could not play.  Understand me, I should think mighty little of you if you permitted chagrin to make you bitter on some point where it was evidently right for you to suffer the chagrin.  But in this case I am uncertain, and I shall give you the benefit of the doubt” they said this would bother them because it sounds demeaning, that he is psychoanalyzing too heavily, and the only reason he will let his son play is because he’s afraid of depression—like he’s trying to use this as a tool for manipulation.  Additionally, the beginning “understand me” sounds scolding.   We also talked about how the second section, where Roosevelt starts talking about Rome as an analogy, could work well in an argument about the role of sports for the public, but probably sounded very much like a lecture to his son (we talked about a child’s radar for lectures, and how they glaze over when they sense one coming from an adult).  This turned into a good opportunity to review biases, and how we as readers come in with our own set of circumstances we apply to the context of a reading such as this.  Within the context of preparing for a standardized test, we talked about how it is important to recognize those and try to put them aside, since the questions on the multiple choice section (and in fact, the expectation on the rhetorical analysis writing portion) regarding use of rhetoric tend to be looking for students to recognize what the author IS doing with language and assume the author is doing it well, and not so much whether it works for them as a reader (or their perceptions of how it might not work for the intended audience).

  Recognizing Biases
  Student Feedback: Recognizing Biases
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Rhetorical Analysis of a Letter: Theodore Roosevelt Day 1

Unit 13: Exam Preparation and Review
Lesson 3 of 6

Objective: SWBAT to evaluate the rhetorical value of a personal letter of historical merit.

Big Idea: Even personal letters may be highly edited and utilize rhetorical strategies.

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Roosevelt, Sports, English / Language Arts, rhetorical device, rhetorical analysis, AP, peer review
  60 minutes
teddy roosevelt football quote
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