UNIT INTRODUCTION: A RHETORICAL READING OF JULIUS CAESAR
To begin this unit, I chose to open by providing students with a philosophical statement with a lot of hooks, that is, diverse points of entry that appeal to adolescent learners.
PEOPLE ARE ESSENTIALLY LOYAL/DISLOYAL
The goal of presenting this statement is to generate student questions, so I deliberately picked a statement with some grey area in it, debatable hooks and applications, as well a generative thematic relevance to Julius Caesar, although students do not realize that yet (RL.9-10.2). What is interesting is that although our focus in the unit will center on the use of rhetorical choices on persuasion (RI.9-10.6) to advance a point, it's important to understand the emotional and interpersonal relationships (RL.9-10.3) that give purpose to a range of oratories.
I then ask the students to generate original questions related to the statement, and I write these down exactly as they are stated (Please see my reflection in this section to see some examples of questions that my students generated). Later, we return to these questions and identify Priority Questions aloud as a class (SL.9-10.1). This method is known as Question Formulation Technique, and it has been popularized in the book Make Just One Change. (SL.9-10.1) I plan to take a photo image of their ideas and keep showing this photo back to them in our class discussions.
Usage and mechanics. During the second semester, I run a grammar curriculum in Grade 9 that prepares them for the kind of sentence analysis and punctuation that will help them for the ACT and for writing well-punctuated, error-free prose--ideally (L.9-10.2). While we have been examining usage and mechanics all year on a range of writing assignments during writer's workshops and discussions, we will focus more deliberately on key sentence workshops during our study of rhetoric.
My curriculum during second semester:
Commas: independent clauses, dependent clauses, complex sentences, compound sentences, semi-colons, colons.
Today, I will ask the students to do a quick exit slip in which they will demonstrate these skills. We've been reviewing them over the past quarter, off and on, and now I want to make sure that they are remembering and applying what they have learned.
I provide the following four questions orally and students write them on an exit slip which they turn in as they walk out of the room.
1) Please select the correct verb: Each of my friends is/are crazy.
2) Begin a complex sentence with "because."
3) Use a semi-colon correctly in a compound sentence.
4) Use a comma/conjunction in a compound sentence.