Rhetorical Analysis of a Letter: Theodore Roosevelt Day 2

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SWBAT to evaluate the rhetorical value of a complex text in light of their own biases.

Big Idea

It is important to differentiate between the writer's point of view and yours, particularly when you are not the intended audience.


Answering Multiple Choice

25 minutes

Today the students will begin by practicing multiple choice questions of complex texts connected with the Roosevelt letter they read yesterday.  It will be tempting for the students to jump to the questions, but I will start by explaining that they will read the piece again and look for the rhetorical elements we addressed yesterday as part of their test preparation (though I doubt they would consider not reading it, since they are so invested in the test coming up, and also because I’ve built enough trust over the course of the year so they feel confident this type of practice will help them and isn’t just busy-work).

Then, after handing out the questions, they will re-read Theodore Roosevelt’s letter to his son (“The Proper Place for Sports,” pg. 617 of The Language of Composition 2e) and answer the questions with the clock at fifteen minutes (they have 60 minutes to complete the whole reading portion of the AP Exam, so fifteen minutes is about where they should be for finishing a complex reading like this and answering a dozen questions).  Once they are done, I will have them work with a partner and go over each question and answer on their own, including discussing why they chose the answer they did, and working out any discrepancies.

Group Discussion: Vocabulary and Biases

35 minutes

After they have talked with partners about the questions (probably ten minutes), I will give them the answers and ask them to tell me what questions they would like to discuss more (we may run out of time if I walked through each one, so I want them to reflect on their own work and ask pointed questions for their own review to make sure I hit any problems.  To make sure everyone gets a chance to ask, I will go one by one around the room if necessary to see if anyone has some confusion in need of clarifying).

I do plan to work with number one for a few minutes, however, which asks about the overall tone of the passage.  The reason for this is because I’m confident the students will not know all of the words provided as possible answers (didactic, placid, zealous, condemnatory, and thoughtful).  I few weeks ago when they took a practice test, the students recognized that they needed more work on vocabulary, particularly on words that show up in testing.  While I saw then that this is an area I need to improve on for next year, I’ve tried to work some on this in the past few weeks through these practices (a lot of which I had students do on their own on-line using Curriculet.com, which allows a teacher to set up multiple choice questions connected to readings).  So, besides defining didactic (which is also the answer the question), we will talk about how this word is more specific than the one I anticipate most will choose—“thoughtful.”  While Roosevelt is thoughtful, there is an edge to it.  At this point I will refer them to a website I found that they can use to review tone words so they can review in a pointed way on their own for the test (unlike history or science, there isn’t a lot of “studying” they can really do for the English Language and Composition AP exam other than this type of practice).  Additionally, some of the other questions that refer to author purpose will allow for us to address an issue that came up yesterday about reader bias when you are not the intended audience (or, in this case, when the test-developer has initial say in how we should look at the piece!).

Next steps:

We will move from reading to writing in their review tomorrow—the students have a final essay for the class they are working on; they will spend a couple days in class working that before doing a peer review activity that will review many rhetorical elements from a writing point of view.