Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: Practice with Rhetorical Analysis/Synthesis

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: Practice with Rhetorical Analysis/Synthesis
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: Practice with Rhetorical Analysis/Synthesis
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: Practice with Rhetorical Analysis/Synthesis
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: Practice with Rhetorical Analysis/Synthesis
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: Practice with Rhetorical Analysis/Synthesis
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: Practice with Rhetorical Analysis/Synthesis
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: Practice with Rhetorical Analysis/Synthesis
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: Practice with Rhetorical Analysis/Synthesis
Grade Levels
Common Core Standards
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This lesson encourages students to write a rhetorical analysis and a synthesis essay.

Students learn about Rachel Carson’s legacy.

Students will read, listen to and view supporting video and audio clips while learning the necessary elements to establish their argument on the theme of modern feminism. Students will show mastery of the standards at the end of the lesson through a SOAPSTONE Analysis, short paragraph assessments, a Socratic seminar, and a written timed essay scored on an AP English-style rubric.

The central text is The Atlantic Monthly article, “Rachel Carson's Silent Spring Turns 50” by Elizabeth Grossman. The students will complete an evaluation on a purpose graphic organizer on this essay. The TED TALKS used are, “The Toxic Baby,” by Tyrone Hayes and Penelope Jagessar Chaffer, both scientists” & “Back to Basics: An Argument for Organic Food | Daniela Garabito Silva | TEDxStMaryCSSchool. Also used in this resource is The American Experience documentary: Rachel Carson & Bill Moyers Report: Rachel Carson. There is a short paragraph writing opportunity writing on comparing current environmental movement’s clash with climate change deniers with Rachel Carson’s fight to expose the dangers of DDT. Students will listening to an NPR Talk of the Nation on the book Silent Spring and on charts provided in the appendix; they will complete the evaluation of ethos, logos, and pathos. There is a lesson on rhetorical situation on New York Times article, “Rachel Carson, DDT and the Fight Against Malaria Video,” by Clyde Haberman.

Students will read and annotate The New Yorker essay, “The Right Way to Remember Rachel Carson” by Jill Lepore and complete an Audience Analysis graphic organizer. There is opportunity for debate using The New York Times Room for Debate series on Is Organic Food Worth the Expense? The entire lessons act as a building of context for the 2004B AP English Language exam, which featured a rhetorical analysis of an excerpt from Silent Spring. There is also a choice to write a synthesis essay using the sources from The New York Times Room for Debate series, “Is Organic Food Worth the Expense?”

These six daily lessons fit any Honors Literature class, Pre-AP, American Literature, AP English Language or Literature class to prepare students for AP English Language exams, Common Core extended response assessments, American Literature Course exams, the SAT and ACT essay and critical thinking activities.


There are sources for teaching the Socratic Seminar, as the lessons act as explication for the argument. The packet includes complete lessons, Common Core standards, essential and key questions.

New Additions April 2017: link to Atlantic Monthly article on Silent Spring turning 50 years old. Reformatting and inclusion of 4th lesson. There is also a 30 question/answer key viewing guide to American Experience: Rachel Carson.


New in December 2018:

Reformatted & added 2 more lessons. Fixed links. Added more videos, audios, print sources, and rhetorical situation, purpose & audience analysis graphic organizers. Resource is up to 46 pages. Added a “speaking to the sources” document.

Total Pages
46 pages
Answer Key
Included with rubric
Teaching Duration
1 Week
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