I created this assignment to give my AP students more frequent and useful practice with rhetorical analysis and close reading. However, this assignment would also work well in most high school literature or writing classes.
I have found that students are often intimidated by rhetorical analysis or close reading of longer passages, so this assignment focuses on the sentence. I tell my students that it's an exercise of "zooming in" on the text.
Because this assessment is a presentation, it involves all of the students in my classroom. So, each class gets to hear about 25 mini-rhetorical analyses. Additionally, the assignment is a nice change of pace for students and it allows them to practice their analytical skills and get quick feedback.
This assessment/practice has been very successful in my classroom. It's fast (about 10 minutes per student, and I do about one a week) and effective. In my end-of-year survey, many students said this was one of their favorite assignments. It has a strong analytical component, but because they are focusing on a single sentence, it prevents students from being overwhelmed.
I have included the handout I give students as well as an excerpt from Stanley Fish's book How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One, which inspired this assignment.
If you are looking for more rhetorical analysis or close reading exercises, please see my other products Great Gatsby close reading model
and Richard Wright's Black Boy close reading and rhetorical analysis activity