Analyzing How Persuasive Appeals Advance Argument In Mary Fisher's, "A Whisper Of Aids"

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SWBAT identify an author's argument and analyze how the author uses rhetorical appeals to advance that argument by deconstructing Mary Fisher's "A Whisper of Aids."

Big Idea

Arguments can't be one dimensional.

Warm Up

5 minutes

In a previous  lesson, students focused on an understanding of the persuasive appeals (ethos, pathos, logos) in argumentative text.  To remind students what they are, students will write a definition for each persuasive appeal.  We will spend a few minutes discussing them.  

I ask students to do this because it is crucial that they understand not simply a definition of ethos, pathos, and logos, but instead, understand why an author/speaker uses them to advance his or her purpose.  

Mini Lesson

10 minutes

Today's lesson asks students to identify an author's argument (RI 9-10.2) and analyze how the text uses rhetorical appeal to advance the argument (RI 9-10.6). Students are coming in with the speech A Whisper of Aids by Mary Fisher read and annotated.  However, before we get started with Fisher's text, I am going to model the reading activity for today with a cold read.  I will distribute a copy of Lou Gehrig's Farewell to Baseball.  After explaining who Lou Gehrig was and why he was leaving baseball, I will read the speech aloud.  I'll direct students to the "Our Thinking" wall to review the 3 Step Argument Approach  anchor chart. I'll project my annotated copy of Gehrig's speech which demonstrates a reading using the 3 step approach.  I will then create a table on the Smart Board where I will provide evidence of each of the appeals from the text.  

The decision to use a cold read results from my educational philosophy that it is my job to assure that students can take the skills I teach and apply them to a text independently.  If I use Fisher's speech, students will simply be repeating my thinking rather than discovering the text on their own.  Additionally, using a cold read requires that I participate actively in the lesson I'm asking students to do.  They get to see my grapple with complex texts which helps build classroom trust.   

Student Work Time

25 minutes

Each group of four-five students will be given a sheet of butcher paper. As soon as students convene in their groups, I will ask them to discuss each of the steps in the 3 Step Argument Approach. I'll set a timer to three minutes per step and let students discuss their thinking, which should be documented in annotation on their copy of the speech.  Students will reread A Whisper of Aids and discuss areas where Mary Fisher appeals to her audience through ethos, pathos and logos and uses those appeals to advance her argument.  Students will create a three column poster listing text evidence of ethos, pathos and logos in Fisher's speech.  I will give students 15 minutes to complete this task.  At the end of 15 minutes, I will stop students.  We will hang up our posters and take a gallery walk around the room to read what other students recorded as evidence of ethos, pathos and logos.   

This activity ties directly to all parts of the lesson.  Students really dive into the text and closely evaluate what words, phrases and images advance Mary Fisher's argument (RI.9-10.5).  While students are working, I will frequently stop them to ask how these appeals function in the text.  I will ask questions like,

In this part of the text, Mary Fisher talks about children.  To whom is she speaking?  Why does she appeal to the emotion of her audience here?  What does it reveal about her purpose?  What does she want her listeners to do?  

While we are focusing on the appeals, students will begin to understand that author's purpose, diction, persuasive appeals, audience, etc., all tie together and help to advance the author's argument (RI.9-10.4, RI.9-10.6).  



5 minutes

To end our lesson, we will tie our reading of Mary Fisher back to our unit theme Rule Makers and Rule Breakers.  I will ask students to answer on an exit slip whether Fisher is a Rule Maker or Rule Breaker and explain why.  The skill on this lesson is most important, but I want students to be making judgments about the text.  At the end of the unit, students will be deciding if society needs one more than the other, so exit tickets like this one will provide them with evidence to support their thinking (W.9-10.10).