Give Me Understanding of Charged Words, or Give Me More Practice

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SWBAT analyze how Patrick Henry unfolds his argument for war through a look at his use of charged diction.

Big Idea

To what do the famous words, "Give me liberty, or give me death" refer? Why would someone make such a charged claim?

Introduction: It's Homecoming Week, and It's Class Color Day!

3 minutes

As students enter the room, I greet them at the door with the directions for the Argumentative Research Paper they will be writing. It's the kickoff of Homecoming Week, and over the weekend, my door was decorated for the spirit week Door Decs contest, part of the greeting at the door is to assure students that, yes, this is still their classroom, even if it looks like a theater proscenium. Today it "Class Color Day!" Students wear the color they were assigned, Grade 10/Sophomores are in yellow. We'll talk about how hard or easy it is to find something yellow to wear in a community whose main rivals' colors are Red and Gold. As with all Daily Holiday/Introduction activities, the idea here is to focus on creating a sense of sharing and community in the classroom, and get them speaking about their thoughts and ideas in the context of a classroom (SL.9-10.6). 

Give Me Homework Answers!

25 minutes

In pairs or trios students review/"Think-Pair-Share" the Understanding Patrick Henry Exploration Chart from the weekend; we address the items one-at-a-time. This chart particularly addresses how Henry uses the rhetorical devices we are studying to unfold his ideas in an order to convince the people of Virginia to take up arms against England, connecting each via the recurring motif of "chains and slavery" (RI.9-10.3); as a seminal U.S. historical documents, the "Speech in the Virginia Convention" address the concept of freedom/self-determination that has been established in Franklin and Jefferson's "Declaration of Independence" (RI.9-10.9) and is being reinforced both in Patrick Henry's speech and in the students independent analysis of the piece. I am there to guide their understanding, but it is up to them to uncover the significance of the writing. 

Students will be utilizing the same rhetorical techniques in their upcoming persuasive paper (see unit: "Persuasive Writing: Research and Rhetorical Skills") to create a sense of cohesion and emphasize their ideas (L.9-10.1a/W.9-10.1c). In order to demonstrate understanding, students are invited to give their examples on the board, providing line number and initials, and to explain their examples when called upon. As an example, I list the final line, "Give me liberty, or give me death!" before they come to the board, and explain it first after volunteers to come up wane, as both parallel and an antithesis.  

I note to students that these "Understanding" activities are important, as they form the bulk of the review guide for this unit. We will go through them in depth once again before the test, but their notes in pairs discussions are equally important. 

And, Give Me Directions for the Paper!

20 minutes

As students are drawing upon the literature of The Enlightenment to model the rhetorical techniques students will be using in their argumentative research paper (see unit: "Persuasive Writing: Research and Rhetorical Skills"), we take time to transition to a review of the paper prompt and directions for the first step

As a mini-lecture, to provide insight and allow time for students to ask clarifying questions, I go though/explain the directions to the students, stopping along the way (at each paragraph/line break) to check for questions/understanding/eye contact/breathing. At the end, I open the floor for any questions they have; if there are no questions, I will share tips and tactics previous students have used to succeed on this paper: look in the online databases we have access to, have extra index cards to trade for favors, etc. At this point, students are still working out how to introduce their claim (W.9-10.1a), and develop their writing by planning for their argument (W.9-10.5). The structure students see on these directions will establish the relationships between their evidence and points clearly, as well as addressing counter-claims.  

The bottom of these directions has some topic options for the students asked to "refocus" who have not completed there topic selection.

I point out the back of these directions is a cover sheet that they will complete to turn in as they develop their work and with their final paper

Two Minute Warning: Homework and Final Thoughts

2 minutes

For homework, students are directed:

1. to obtain fifteen blank index cards for our next class.

"Why 15?"

"Because: nine for information, three for your sources, one for your name and title, and two for when you inevitably mess one up or someone begs you to borrow one.


"I know how Sophomores work."

2. to review the "Understanding" worksheets they have so far in order to prepare for the inevitable test on this unit. 

3. to have finalized topics by the start of our next class.