The following lesson plans are designed to work in an 82-minute block. However, the teacher can add or subtract elements to suit his/her needs on any particular day.
Lesson One: It's All Greek to Me
Direct Instruction: Present information about rhetoric and its relationship to the Greeks and Aristotle; stress the different elements of rhetorical arguments. This can be done via Power Point or overhead projector.
* For higher level students, excerpts from Aristotle's
can be given out. It is reading that may take students awhile to get through but if the class is up for the challenge, it can be used and discussed in class.
Lesson Two: Write Me A Letter
Introduction to Lesson: Review or present what rhetoric is and the importance of considering ones audience when writing a speech or an essay. Teacher should stress how language and word choice are always based on the audience.
Topic Presentation: Students will be writing four letters about the school board decision to have school on Saturday. The four letters will be written to four different individuals: the principal, the head of the school board, the student's best friend and the local newspaper.
Class Discussion: Class will brainstorm with teacher writing on board the different topics or issues that each recipient would be most interested in.
Class Work: Students will write letters and share with a partner during the class period.
: Students will each get an index card and on that card they will write two-three sentences about the importance of audience and what they learned that day in class.
This lesson can certainly be a mini-lesson for advanced students to just illustrate the idea of audience and its importance.
Lesson Three: Essays That Persuade (Jigsaw Activity)
Introduction to Lesson: Teacher should ask students to brainstorm elements of persuasive writing (e.g. good research, facts/details to support argument). List elements on the board.
Students will work in groups and each group will read one of the following proposal and position essays:
Cultures Gives Us a Sense of Who We Are
by Robert C. Solomon,
Improving Television for America's Children
by Edward L. Palmer,
"We Can't Dance Together"
by Maria Rose Menocal and
A Proposal for Multilingual America
by Allen L. Sack. All these essays can be found in Reading Critically, Writing Well: A Reader and Guide
Group Work II:
Groups will read essays and find the elements of persuasion in each. Groups will be asked the following: Author's position
Summary of essay
Support for that position
Evidence of an opposing viewpoint
Evaluation of the author's success
Note: Teachers can also ask students to answer some of the questions that follow each essay or make up his/her own
Each group will report its finding to the class
Lesson Four: Using American Rhetoric
Introduction to Lesson:
Brainstorm the following people with the class: Martin Luther King, John F Kennedy. Richard Nixon, Dwight Eisenhower. Ask students what they know about each political figure. Record findings on the board.
Activity (Students should be brought to computer lab):
Students will be given packets with speeches from the four political figures above: "I Have A Dream" (King), Inaugural Address (Kennedy), "Checkers" (Nixon) and "Atoms for Peace" (Eisenhower). Students will be randomly assigned ONE speech to listen to and view (if possible) on www.americanrhetoric.com. Students will read the speech first, then listen and follow along.
Group Work Activity:
After students have read and listened to their respective speech, they will group with students who have the same speech and answer the following questions:
· What is the speaker trying to persuade the public to do?
· For whom is his message intended? How do you know this?
· What effect does this have on the reader or audience? What feelings or emotions does the speech trigger?
· What is the tone of this speech? How do you know this?
· Did listening to the speech change your initial perspective?
Once students are finished in their groups, teacher should make groups of four with one person representing each speech. Students will report to the other students so by the end of class each person will have some understanding of each of the four addresses.
Students will write a seven to ten page essay in which they choose a controversial topic and present the pros/cons of that issue. Issues can range from Poverty to Abortion to Animal Rights. Students will be asked to use essential questioning to narrow down the large topic into two to three specific areas to focus on. For example, if a student wishes to write about Poverty, he/she can focus on how poverty influences learning or if there are statistics that link poverty with certain areas of the country. The goal will be to have students do more than just report. Students will work toward presenting the issue with support, research and statistics.
On the day students hand in their final paper, they will begin putting together a PowerPoint presentation in which they present their topic and try to persuade the audience to see the issue in the same light they did.