Great American Speeches: Close reading, discussion, and essays

Great American Speeches: Close reading, discussion, and essays
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In this high school activity, students will close-read an excerpt from "Pearl Harbor Address" together and look for rhetorical strategies, including appeals to ethos, pathos, logos, plain folks, allusion, and anaphora. Then, in groups, they will close-read excerpts from one of five speeches:

"Gettysburg Address" by Abraham Lincoln
"I Have a Dream" by Martin Luther King Jr.
"Ain't I a Woman?" by Sojourner Truth
"Farewell Address" by Barack Obama
"Address to John Smith" by Chief Powhatan

Then, they will present the main idea of the speech and the rhetorical devices used to the class.

In the next class, the students will use the graphic organizer to analyze the same speech and start planning a five paragraph essay about its use of rhetoric.

Then students will draft their essay, get feedback from the teacher, and write a final draft. I teach in 90 minute blocks, and the process took about 2 weeks, but we were also spending some of our time reading a book.

Pro tip: Have the student staple their speech, graphic organizer, and drafts together. Collect it at the end of class in a folder if you don't want them to lose it.
Total Pages
8 pages
Answer Key
N/A
Teaching Duration
1 Week
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