Lesson: Beth Brown -- Searching for Commonalities: Rhetorical Devices in American and Chinese Persuasion

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Lesson Objective

High School/Language Arts: This lesson is intended to follow an analysis of Patrick Henry’s “Speech to the Virginia Convention,” a required text in the American literature curriculum. As students begin to understand the impetus for rebellion as well as the persuasive devices used by colonial leaders, they should draw parallels between the colonists’ dissatisfaction with King George III of Britain in 1775 and the Chinese people’s dissatisfaction with Queen Victoria of Britain in 1839. Students should begin to draw connections between the values and styles of their colonial ancestors and those of the Chinese people, thus resulting in an understanding of some basic similarities of various cultures despite geographical distance. Finally, students will be afforded an additional opportunity to analyze a persuasive text.

Lesson Plan

Global Competencies

  • INVESTIGATE THE WORLD: Use a variety of domestic and international sources, media, and languages to identify and weigh relevant evidence to address globally significant researchable questions
  • RECOGNIZE PERPECTIVES: Examine perspectives of other people, groups, or schools of thought within and about texts and media from around the world, and identify the influence on those perspectives

 

Common Core Standards

  • RI.11-12.3—Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.
  • RI.11-12.5—Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear convincing, and engaging.
  • RI.11-12.6—Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness, or beauty of the text.

 

Key Questions

  • How does Lin Zexu’s letter to Queen Victoria demonstrate the values of his government’s leadership?
  • How does Zexu’s letter compare and contrast with Patrick Henry’s “Speech to the Virginia Convention?”
  • Which persuasive text is the most effective? Support your opinion with textual evidence.

 

Learning Objectives

  • SWBAT closely evaluate the rhetorical strategies of a complex text by analyzing a letter from Lin Zexu to Queen Victoria (1839).

 

Learning Activities

Activity #1--15 minutes

In their first read of the text, students should read to answer the following question, annotating the text where appropriate:

  • What is Zexu’s primary purpose in writing this letter? Cite specific passages in which Henry makes his intentions clear.

After finishing their first read, the teacher will chart the students’ findings.

 

Activity #2--15 minutes

During their second read of the text, students should read to answer the following question, annotating the text where appropriate:

  • What are the main points of Zexu’s argument? Cite specific passages to support your answer.

After finishing their second read, students should discuss with their learning partners the main points of the argument, defending their selection of textual evidence. Groups will then report to the class, and the teacher will chart the students’ findings.

 

Activity #3--15 minutes

During their final read, students should read to answer the following question, annotating the text where approriate:

  • What rhetorical devices does Zexu employ in his argument? What purpose do they seem to serve in the letter?

After finishing their final read, students should discuss with their learning partners the rhetorical devices used in the argument. Groups will then report to the class, and the teacher will chart the students’ findings.

 

Activity #4--15 minutes

Upon reviewing the charted responses, students should, with their learning partners, complete a Venn diagram, noting the similarities and differences between Patrick Henry’s “Speech to the Virginia Convention” and Lin Zexu’s letter to Queen Victoria. Students should particularly consider what complaint(s) each man was presenting as well as the rhetorical devices employed by each. This activity will be followed by a brief whole-class discussion of the students’ findings.

 

Activity #5--Homework

To conclude the lesson, the students will independently respond in writing to the following prompt:

  • In one to two paragraphs, explain which persuasive text is the most effective. Support your opinion with textual evidence.

 

Formative Assessment

During students’ individual responses to the sequenced reads, the teacher will monitor, offering individualized instruction when needed. The teacher will also circulate during partner and small-group discussions, prompting as needed. Finally, the teacher will direct students, as needed, to specific passages in the text if the charted responses are not sufficient.

 

Resources

  • Patrick Henry’s “Speech to the Virginia Convention”
  • Excerpts from Lin Zexu’s letter to Queen Victoria, 1839

 

Bibliography

Teng, Ssu-yu and John Fairbank. China’s Response to the West: A Documentary Survey, 1839-1923. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University press, 1954. Reprinted in Mark A Kishlansky, ed., Sources of World History, vol. 2. New York: HarperCollins, 1995. 266-269.

 

Wirt, William. Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry . (Philadelphia) 1836, as reproduced in The World's Great Speeches, Lewis Copeland and Lawrence W. Lamm, eds., (New York) 1973.

 

Lesson Resources

Patrick Henry's Speech.TEXT.doc   Reading Passage
33
Excerpts from Lin Zexu's letter.TEXT.doc   Reading Passage
40

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