Rhetorical Analysis of a Letter: Theodore Roosevelt Day 1

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Objective

SWBAT to evaluate the rhetorical value of a personal letter of historical merit.

Big Idea

Even personal letters may be highly edited and utilize rhetorical strategies.

Overview

When reviewing for an exam like this it is tempting to throw everything at the students, but there is no way to anticipate what will be on the test, so I’m going with a deep study of a couple texts instead while trying to fill in some holes.  The students tend to have a bit more of a struggle reading older texts, and some versions of previous exams I’ve seen tend to emphasis that type of reading.  Additionally, a genre I haven’t looked at much is the letter (though I’m not sure about studying the rhetorical significance of personal letters that were initially not meant for the public, or even more than one person, it is another type of text that tends to show up on standardized tests, and I suppose has value from a writing perspective since we so often communicate via written text on-line to a variety of audiences).  So, given these thoughts, I decided to work for a couple days with a letter Theodore Roosevelt wrote to his son about playing football called “The Proper Place for Sports” now (I’m guessing Roosevelt didn’t title his letters to his son when he wrote them!) with the goal to study the genre of the letter and use reading skills they’ve learned such as a linguistic analysis to make sense of older, more complex texts.

Think, Pair, Share

30 minutes

Today we will repeat what we did yesterday to practice recognizing rhetorical strategies as they read (I want to do the same thing with this more complex text, including timing, to aid in them developing their own test-taking strategies).  I will give them ten minutes on the clock (twice as long as yesterday due to the text complexity) to read the piece and jot down in their notebooks any rhetorical strategies they notice, passages of specific appeal, etc.  At the end of the ten 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 a few minutes to share with each other (I will listen in here to formatively assess how they managed with the more complex text), we will move to the next part of the lesson in a full class. 

Class Discussion

30 minutes

We will now come to the larger group, and 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.  This is particularly important with this more complex text, where kids are a little more insecure.  As they share out, I will ask probing questions of the whole group as necessary to deepen their understanding of the text.

UPDATE:  Before discussing, I ended up reading the piece out loud, as explained in this video:  Roosevelt 1.wmv

 

Next Steps:  tomorrow students will continue work with this text by completing some multiple choice questions to practice that part of the exam process.