A Speech with Purpose: "I Have a Dream"

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SWBAT analyze a text for purpose, including rhetoric and style, by viewing and analyzing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

Big Idea

"I Have a Dream" for equality (and that every student will analyze purpose).

Do Now: What Do You Know...?

5 minutes

To start today, I help student access background knowledge about our next text, "I Have a Dream." I ask them what they already know about the speech.

"It's by Martin Luther King." Yep, what else?

"Wasn't it in DC?" Yes. What more?

"It was about racism." Yes, and?

"Equality?" Yes, and?

Silence. We're tapped out on background knowledge, but they are at least familiar with the big concept.

Viewing the Speech

25 minutes

I explain that rather than reading "I Have a Dream," we will view footage of the speech. Students may take notes on what they believe to be central ideas as we view.

After viewing, I ask, what are the central ideas? How do we know?

Students note that the dream is for equality for all men, as evidenced by the repetition of the "I have a dream..." phrases. Another key idea is that the current government, especially in southern states (most notably Alabama), is not just, which leads to the need for equality. There is, they observe, A LOT of emotional appeal in both the content (sad stories) and the tone used to deliver the speech. We're moving into our analysis for the day, so I segue us into practice.

Analyzing for Purpose

20 minutes

We transition to analysis for purpose with some general observations from our first practice: use specific proof from the text to support their responses, make sure the purpose statement includes an action, and fully address every question (consider both content in style in evaluation, for example).

Then, I pass out the purpose analysis questions and give students the remainder of the hour to work. Since this is our second practice (and the first practice showed accuracy in responses despite a lack of text proof), I ask students to work independently so that I can assess their individual skill level rather than a group skill level.