In this project, students select a prominent, current op-ed columnist whose views on contemporary issues they find engaging. Students then color-code and annotate 3 of their chosen writer's columns, analyzing the writer's rhetorical choices. Finally, students synthesize information from their annotated columns to craft a letter addressed to a public official or other stakeholder in a position of power to urge a particular course of action or policy change.
I typically use this assignment in the first two months of my 11-grade AP Language and Composition course after we've introduced Aristotelian appeals and discussed imagery from a rhetorical standpoint.
This assignment works well as a multi-day homework assignment, an in-class assignment on a day when you might need a sub, or (if modified) as a group assignment.
This assignment can also be modified to ask students to substantially revise their work in a unit focusing on the writing, revision, and editing process.
Please note that I have not included a rubric or other performance assessment for this assignment--please feel free to tailor it to your particular grading scale and approach.