Crafting Our Speeches (Day 2 of 2)

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SWBAT analyze a seminal U.S. speech for its structure, purpose and effectiveness by interacting with Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream Speech."

Big Idea

It's time to dip into history and look at a speech that has maintained its importance across time.


10 minutes

We will start class with our ten minutes of silent reading time.

Speech Review: Listening to "I Have A Dream"

20 minutes

For our final day of speech analysis before my students are analyzing their peers' speeches, I think it's important to spend some time with one of our seminal U.S. texts (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.9) and one of the truly gifted orators of the 20th century--Martin Luther King Junior.

I will start by handing out a language features of oratory sheet. We will quickly review what each device might sound like. I will ask them to use this sheet as a listening guide. As they listen to MLK's speech, I will ask them to make tally marks next to each aspect of rhetoric, language or other devices that they hear. I am purposefully having them just listen and tally for the first part of this activity because I want them to take note of what these devices (especially ethos, pathos and logos sound like) before they do some traditional analysis of the printed speech. 

My goal with this activity is two fold. I want them to evaluate what is generally accepted as a well-crafted speech (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.3). I also want them to use this as a model text as they begin to craft their own speeches. I'm going to require that they use at least two of the language features in their final speeches.

Speech Review: Reading and Analyzing "I Have A Dream"

20 minutes

After we listen to the speech, I will hand out a printed copy so that students can review the language and structure through a close reading of the text (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.3).

As they read, I will ask them to look over their tally-marks and comment on two language features that Martin Luther King Jr. utilized in his speech. I will ask them to write a brief analysis of these techniques using the following guiding questions:

  • What feature did he use?
  • Where? (Provide a quote)
  • How was this technique or device effective?

I don't know that it is fair to evaluate Dr. King, but really, these questions are meant to help students start thinking about devices they would like to bring into their own speeches. I am hoping that they will notice that some features work better within a speech/context like this than they might their own speeches, but I may need to discuss this a little more clearly later in the unit. 

I will also ask them to write a brief analysis of his hook and his conclusion so that we have continuity from yesterday's lesson. I will let the students work in pairs on this if they choose to.

Wrap up and Next Steps

5 minutes

I will ask the students to turn in their written analysis of the speech during the last few minutes of class. I will also remind them to work on their annotated bibliography and/or speech drafts over the weekend to prepare for our short, but intense week starting on Monday, as we finalize our speech drafts and begin preparing our oral presentations.