The first lesson of this unit introduced the basics of understanding the rhetorical situation and why that is important as we worked jointly to analyze the 9/11 Bush speech. During that lesson, we also moved to tone and rhetorical appeals as we analyzed the speech, leading to this lesson where students practice applying their knowledge by identifying evidence in the text that supports their analysis.
I chose a historical speech for a few reasons. First, it is simply a great speech, and one in which she expertly uses a variety of rhetorical strategies. Second, there is more complexity in the syntax, as was common in 19th century texts. Third, I wanted to use a text where understanding the historical context was obvious, so I could take a few moments and emphasize how this context affects our analysis. This focus is based on my reflection of the Bush speech discussion, where I assumed the context was understood, and realized later that George W. Bush is a punchline to these students, and 9/11 a historical event.
The students completed a SOAPStone worksheet (while this is a common AP strategy, I've started using these ideas with my tenth graders when studying non-fiction; the acronym elements provide a good framework for teaching) with the text for homework as practice and assessment of the previous day's lesson, so they have this coming in. This lesson moves to other reading standards by having students identify supporting evidence and explaining why those are important to meaning. The group element also has them verbalizing their understanding and collaborating to make deeper meaning.
My goal for this portion of the lesson is for students to re-connect with the text of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's speech for more thoughtful discussion, and also for them to apply their understanding of rhetorical appeal with evidence from the text.
I have found that asking students to take out written responses to something they read the previous day and start to talk about them thoughtfully usually doesn't go all that well, because lots has probably happened in their lives in 24 hours. So I often like to find some way to have them read at least a prominent passage again and do something with it that grounds them in the text, in part just to remind them of the main ideas and what they were thinking. It also models the fact that close reading often means reading the text more than once.
Like the rhetorical triangle, students are familiar with the three primary rhetorical appeals--ethos, logos, and pathos, having studied it in my 10th grade class, and also having to re-acquaint themselves as part of their summer essay assignment. So I think a quick ping pong of defining them is all that is needed before they start practicing use of the concepts. Taking this step also allows me to get a sense of what they do know regarding these concepts.
After we've defined the terms, I will ask students to re-read the Elizabeth Cady Stanton speech, highlighting passages where they believe Stanton establishes credibility and persona (ethos), evokes emotion in the audience (pathos), or appeals to the audience's sense of reason (logos). Once they are done with this task, we will move on to joint construction through group work. I will also walk around while they are completing this, looking specifically at how many highlighted passages they have (and if they don't have many, I will stop to coach them).
In this part of the lesson, students will jointly construct understanding of how an author establishes rhetorical appeals by sharing their SOAPStone analysis of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton speech and explaining why the passages they chose are representative of rhetorical appeals. By explaining the SOAPStone analysis they did for homework first, before moving on to the rhetorical appeals, they also practice establishing the rhetorical situation before going into deeper analysis, a skill I hope to build into habit by the end of the year.
As a way to have students work with new people, but still offering some freedom of choice, I will ask students to group up with 2 other people they have not yet worked with in class (or at least students they haven't worked with recently).
To provide some structure to their group work (which I think helps regarding productivity--asking students to "discuss" tends to devolve into social discussions, and also tends to be dominated by a few group members), I will instruct the groups to start with "subject," and take turns explaining each element of the rhetorical situation by going around in the group, pausing to discuss if there are discrepancies in their responses.
Once they've established the situation, they will follow a similar protocol for establishing the rhetorical strategies: the groups decide who which student will go first. The first student chooses one rhetorical strategy and reads at least two passages they highlighted, explaining why each passage appeals to the audience in that way. Then other students in the group each share one additional passage that demonstrates the particular appeal and explains why (if they say they highlighted the same ones, they must go back and find another one to reinforce rigor for the future). I ask the students to do this final step so everyone has a chance to practice explaining each rhetorical appeal, thereby reinforcing their understanding. This also practices speaking skills, and demonstrates the depth to which writers establish these appeals.
The next student chooses one of the other rhetorical strategies and follows the same process as above, and continue until all three appeals have been covered.
After the groups have addressed all three appeals, I will ask the groups to share a passage or discussion they found particularly interesting or insightful. Additionally, I will ask students to give examples chronologically so I can ask questions about tone and organization. This makes the sharing a learning opportunity for introducing how the order of information establishes meaning as well as creates appeals--seeding for future study.
Next Steps: To apply their knowledge in a new situation, students will construct the rhetorical situation for a speech they might give, discussing how they would establish appeals to two different groups of people (the example I will give is how to stop bullying in the school to a parent group and the student body). They can use my example, or construct their own--i will strongly encourage them to use a situation they might actually address.