Constructing a Rhetorical Situation
Lesson 3 of 13
Objective: SWBAT recognize and construct the rhetorical situation around topics according to audience
Since I started the allusion discussion with the Dylan Thomas reference last week, I thought I'd start the new week by scaffolding their understanding of that concept with a cartoon. Allusions are something they are familiar with, but only in the context of a text. Also, it is not something they study in-depth--in tenth grade I always have to re-define it for the students. Since allusion can be a very valuable rhetorical tool, and is also the life blood of many visual arguments such as New Yorker cartoons (an AP requirement is the study of visual texts), this is an opportunity to scaffold the concept in a new context. I have an ELMO, so will use this to show cartoon to the class on the Smartboard.
I will also ask students about the argument the cartoonist is making, and how the text and drawing creates that argument, introducing analysis of visual texts that we will do later in the week.
In this section students will be asked to move beyond text analysis and apply their knowledge of rhetoric to new situations that have yet to be written. They have come in to class with the construction of a rhetorical situation based on an issue of their choosing that they imagine delivering to two different audiences (they didn't write the actual speech, but considered the situation and how they would make their appeals). Today they will work in groups to share and discuss the rhetorical strategies in order to build their understanding of the rhetorical concepts, and also to understand the importance of considering the situation for creating persuasive texts.
Besides sharing and listening, group members will be asked to play "Devil's Advocate," to push each other to think deeply about their ideas. Additionally, asking students to listen in this manner introduces the skill of recognizing flaws in a text and where a text leaves thing uncertain, which is the additional grade 11-12 skill in the Reading Standard for Informational Text.
As with previous group work, I will explain a specific protocol for students to follow in order to stay on task and focused--I think this will be of particular importance today, since some students may be talking about issues they are quite interested in. Also, I will place students in groups of three or four students so they are not with all of their closest acquaintances (who may already be familiar with the issue).
One student will be chosen to go first and another will be the time keeper. The presenter will explain their rhetorical situations from their homework and how they could try to appeal to each audience, taking no more than three minutes to do so.
Once they are done presenting, the other group members will be instructed to give feedback, including playing "Devil's Advocate"--to challenge the assertions of the speaker. This instruction is meant to encourage group members to listen carefully and consider the assertions more critically and deeply--being asked to be critical forces them to think differently. Additionally, each member must challenge the speaker at least once, so all members participate in this part of the learning experience (if this wasn't AP, I may have students write down their challenges first, but I think these students should be able to do it without that step).
This process will repeat until all members have shared. After they are done, I will ask them to choose one situation that they will share with the entire class and explain as an exemplary of rhetorical situation and appeals. This step gives students a chance to jointly construct the rhetorical situation, applying the conclusions they made in their discussion.
Writing to Persuade
After the groups have shared and selected a situation to share, I want them to work together to write the opening paragraph of a speech to one of the audiences of their selected situation, which they will present to the class as part of the sharing section. This activity is designed to go beyond the planning stage to application of strategies, seeing how the ideas about appeals can work in writing. Besides practicing writing an argument to a particular audience, the students also have a low-impact presentation experience.
For this activity, the groups are given the following instructions:
As a group, write the opening paragraph of the speech you would present to one of the two audiences identified for the topic. The text should establish credibility as well as utilize other rhetorical appeals.
You will read this to the class and explain your reasoning in how the language would effectively appeal to the selected audience.
I will circulate and help them construct these as needed. I suspect that this phase will be more challenging than the discussion was--writing always is.
By sharing and explaining what they think is an exemplar and reading their text, I have the opportunity to assess their understanding and deepen their knowledge through authentic discussions of their own examples. I anticipate that we will not get through all of the groups today, which is okay. The sharing is a way for me to teach these concepts with their own work, so we will probably spend a lot of time on the first couple, and less on the last ones (too much tends to be counterproductive). This activity will also work as a model for how deeply they should consider the situation when constructing an argument.
The procedures are rather simple here--each group shares one situation, including appeals and their opening paragraph. After sharing the rest of the class will be invited into the conversation, suggesting other ways to appeal to the audience, discussing the nature of the situation, etc. I will listen carefully and ask questions to deepen their discussion, playing the role of Devil's advocate that they played earlier, and using their situations as learning opportunities.