Converting an Audience: Argumentative Speech Writing (Day 1 of 2)

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SWBAT write an argumentative speech in the persona of a character to convince an audience by analyzing character beliefs in Things Fall Apart and engaging in sustained writing time.

Big Idea

Seven years brings changes to Umuofia. Students will argue, in character, which path the village should take: maintain their Igbo traditions or convert to Christianity.

Lesson Introduction

Let's Get Started: Defining Conversion

15 minutes

For homework, students had to write their own definition of "conversion"(L.9-10.4).  I ask for volunteers to share their definition and I write them on the board.  Next I ask the students to consolidate the definition into one strong definition.  

Their final definition is: to change from one thing to another.  

I ask them to clarify the word "thing" using Things Fall Apart as their foundation. They change "thing" to "religion".

Next I ask, What does it mean for the Igbo to change their religion?"  I am looking for students to make a connection between culture and religion (RL.9-10.6). 

Then I ask, "How do the Igbo try to convert the white men?" The answer is, "They do not". So, I ask, "Why not?"

Through this discourse, I want my students to see that there are various ways to interpret the word "conversion" in Things Fall Apart. So that students can refer to this discussion while writing their speeches in later sections, I write their answers from the discussion on the board.

Applying Knowledge: Writing to Persuade an Audience

70 minutes

Next I pass out the conversion speeches assignment.  There are four different prompts that will be assessed with the same grading sheet.  All the prompts share the same purpose.  The students have to take on the persona of one of the characters in Things Fall Apart and try to convince their assigned audience to take an action or adopt a belief.

The choices are:

Okonkwo trying to convince Mr. Kiaga and his congregation  

Chielo trying to convince Mr. Kiaga and his congregation 

Nwoye trying to convince the Igbo village of Umuofia 

Mr. Kiaga trying to convinceThe Igbo village of Umuofia

The assumption is that it is market day and all of these people are at the market. Each character has to give a speech or a sermon to convert the people to their position(W 9-10. 1). Students have to write the speech/sermon recognizing each character's age, gender, and role in the village (RL 9-10. 3).  Additionally, they have to keep the audience in mind.  Who is at the market? Why are they there? Who is an outcast already? Why wouldn't someone want to be an outcast? Why is maintaining Igbo culture important? In order to convince their audience, the speech as to be credible and demonstrate that the speaker understands the needs of his/her audience (W 9-10.4).



Wrap Up: Speeches

5 minutes

I give the class a five minute warning.  Next class, I tell them, you will give your speech. Practice!