Activism in Bono's Speech: Reading a Contemporary Speech for Rhetorical Appraoch

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SWBAT explain Bono's rhetorical approaches to his message by listening to his speech and taking online notes using their 1:1 Chromebooks.

Big Idea

We learn to carefully examine ideas in a contemporary speech.

Who is Bono, and what's a U2?

5 minutes

Sequencing. This lesson presents our second modern speech, and it very much compliments our previous work on J.K.Rowling's speech.  I have chosen to space these two lessons out from each other in order to let new information and skill in reading rhetorically sink in.  The two lessons do reinforce similar skills, and I want to interweave the students' skill acquisition in these speeches with their ability to read Shakespeare (in particular, Marc Antony's speech) with the same appreciation for rhetorical choices. 

Bono at PENN.  In the present lesson, I will use this image to introduce the theme of ACTIVISM and connect back to RHETORIC.  First, I will state that we are listening to a second contemporary speech from a leader in our culture, and this one focuses less on the personal side (as in J.K. Rowling's speech, "Failure and Imagination") and more on the political side.  The goal of the following discussion is to set the stag for students to analyze the writers' uses of rhetoric to make a point (RI.9-10.6).  ultimately, the students will not only analyze Bono's speech here, but they will compare his rhetoric to Antony's speech in 3.2 and to J.K. Rowling's speech. 


To engage students, I will ask (SL.9-10.1):

- Do you think that we can change the world to be a better place?  Where would you start?

- Why does poverty happen, and what can we do about it?  In Chicago?  In Africa?  Have you ever engaged in a service project, if so, tell us about it!

- What is an ACTIVIST?  Why would someone be an activist?

- Take a look at this photo from back when I was in high school.  It depicts a benefit done for Amnesty International (define this).  Bono and Sting doing a conspiracy of hope.  Why do you think that these two famous musicians would get involved in Amnesty?

- One of them, Bono Vox, from U2 has gone on to advocate for the poor on a worldwide basis.  he argues against complacency (define this) and bureaucracy (define this) as we look to make changes.  As we listen to his speech today, see if  you can figure out how he tries to persuade us. 


Lesson Image Attribution:    [Image by S.M.Toole]

Listen to Bono's UPenn Commencement Address

30 minutes

In class, I will play the video of Bono's speech, asking the students to listen/watch and take down a few notes of some key lines.  


I will say:

- Why do some speakers use repetition?  Rhetorical questions?  Humor (especially in the beginning)?  Personal examples?

- As you listen to Bono, see if you can pick up on some of these examples (RI.9-10.1), and consider that his context is a commencement speech.  How does he use this situation to build credibility both for himself and his cause (SL.9-10.3)?

Text and Video of Bono's speech.


Writing about Rhetoric in Bono's speech

15 minutes

Student Notes and Comments.

Students will now analyze the rhetorical choices that Bono has made.   I will give the students a blank version of this image of handout (unfortunately, I have deleted it from my files, so this is the only copy I can offer you at the moment!!), and I will ask them to do each question independently, and then confer with a partner.  The goal here is to see if students can identify some of the rhetorical choices (RI.9-10.6) without my help and if they can explain their observations to a partner.  On the upcoming test, they will have to do this completely independently, so I am hoping that we will see a bit more independent analysis here than we did with the J.K.Rowling speech and that students are on track for the upcoming test. 


I will ask:

1.) How does he use humor on the beginning?  Why does this use of humor specifically play to his audience (RI.9-10.6)?  (His joke about P-E-N-N is very accessible to the students.)  If  you were giving the same speech here at school, how could you adapt the humor to a different audience?

2.) How does Bono use rhetorical questions and repetitions?  (RI.9-10.6)  Why does he use them when he does?  What is the effect?  


I will expect students to respond in discussion with key insights and examples from Bono's speech (SL.9-10.1).