John Brown is still a controversial figure in our contemporary world. Students will view clips from two different American Experience episodes where John Brown figure prominently. This lesson is designed for students to write with greater depth in regards to writing about argument. The student will learn to write more profoundly analyzing an excerpt from Henry David Thoreau’s “A Plea for Captain Brown.” They will participate in an exercise discussing the rhetorical strategies Henry David Thoreau uses in his piece. They will understand the context by listening to and reading the transcript of NPR’s Talk of the Nation with Neal Conan interviewing Tony Horowitz on his book on John Brown. Students will also read an excerpt from Horowitz’s book, Midnight Rising, where students will find examples of John Brown experiencing and overcoming adversity.
There is a link to the College Board’s AP Central site where the 2009 AP English Language Question #3 is a perfect fit to use when assessing this unit. Links to the rubric, the prompt, and student samples can be found here. Expert analysis in the Student Q/A section for the prompt and its intentions is also provided. Complete Common Core standards, Essential and Key Questions included.
Key words: AP English Language, NPR, John Brown, Henry David Thoreau, Tony Horowitz, social justice, abolitionists, argument, Socratic Seminar, slavery, American Literature, Common Core, American History