Rhetorical Analysis: Rick Reilly's "Why I Love My Job"

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Objective

SWBAT recognize and evaluate the rhetorical strategies of a piece of writing while they are reading through a timed reading exercise.

Big Idea

Timed comprehension tests assess your ability to analyze a text while reading rather than after reading.

Overview

The students have their AP Exam in a little over a week, so I want to do a final push of reviewing rhetorical analysis in the lead up to the test.  A primary area addressed on the test coincides with the common core shift in reading standards five and six where there is a particular emphasis on the effectiveness of structure and places where the rhetoric is particularly effective.  Therefore, the next couple days we will analyze works through this deep rhetorical lens.

I’ve tried to choose a couple short pieces, since their AP Exam also uses pieces that are a page or so long.  The first is a sort of warm-up to get them feeling confident (since I feel like going into a high-stakes exam, 75% of the success comes from confidence!), a 21st century piece from ESPN the Magazine’s Rick Reilly called “Why I Love My Job.”  I chose this because the content is very similar to the free-write they did yesterday, in that Reilly talks about the role sports plays in our society and for him.  Also, the modern language will allow strong practice of the deep rhetorical analysis I want them to do (the next piece we read tomorrow will be older, with more complex language). 

My goal with this lesson is for students to practice recognizing rhetorical strategies as they read, rather than just reading a piece for content, then reading the questions and going back to the text.  In a timed test particularly, by recognizing some rhetorical appeals and strategies as they read, they can go into the questions more informed, and also have a better sense of where to look as they go back to the text.

Think, Pair, Share

25 minutes

My goal with this lesson is for students to practice recognizing rhetorical strategies as they read, rather than just reading a piece for content, then reading the questions and going back to the text.  In a timed test particularly, by recognizing structural elements, word choices, tone, etc., and how they are rhetorical appealing, as they read, they can go into the questions more informed, and also have a better sense of where to look as they go back to the text.

So, to start I will give them five minutes on the clock to read the piece and jot down in their notebooks any rhetorical strategies they notice while reading Rick Reilly's "Why I Love My Job", passages of specific appeal, etc.  At the end of the five minutes, they will do the second part of a ‘think, pair, share’ type format by turning to a partner and talking about what they noticed (I will instruct them to talk about the piece somewhat chronologically, since the test questions tend to go in that fashion, too).  After they’ve had some time to share with each other, we will move to our next step by coming to the larger group.

Group Discussion

35 minutes

Each pair will share out something they noticed (again, starting chronologically before looking at some overall organizational items).  This step by step sharing will allow everyone to participate in the review, rather than the few who participate the most carrying the conversation.  As they share out, I will ask probing questions of the whole group as necessary to deepen their rhetorical understanding.  Part of the probing will be to keep asking to talk about words and phrases from the text in their analysis (citing evidence!), because that will be the basis of the reading part of the test.  Additionally, if no one addresses structural elements of the text I will address it and emphasize how that will be a source for a number of questions on their test.  In this piece, he starts off most of his sentences with "sports is. . . ", so I think I'll be a bit disappointed if no one brings it up and I have to!  In the following video I highlight a couple of things I hope students will notice:  sports rick reillymp4.mp4