What Influences Our Choices?

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What Influences Our Choices?

How does an author persuade an audience? How do we use language to persuade? How do we evaluate an argument?

Teacher Essential Question

What influences our choices?

Sample Student Essential Questions

  • Why do people break rules?

  • Are people basically good?

  • What drives human behavior?

Stylistic Essential Question

How does an author persuade an audience? How do we use language to persuade? How do we evaluate an argument?

Key Vocabulary

Ethos, Logos, Pathos, Rhetorical Triangle, Audience, Purpose, Connotation, Denotation, Rhetorical Appeals, Authority, Analogy, Parallel Structure, Deductive Reasoning, Inductive Reasoning, Counter-arguments, Conclusions, Premises

Multi-Genre Text Set that connects to Essential Questions

Rip Van Winkle


Civil Disobedience

English 11 Textbook



“A Fable for Tomorrow


“Declaration of Independence”

http://mrgunnar.net/english.cfm?subpage=365081 (lesson plan)

“I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”


“Certain Kind of Fire” Handout


“Had I the Choice” poem


“The Road Not Taken” poem


“Letter from Birmingham City Jail”

http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/resources/article/annotated_letter_from_birmingham/ (with annotations)

President Obama Back-to-School remarks

http://www.whitehouse.gov/back-to-school (text & video)

“I Have a Dream”


JFK’s Inaugural Address

http://www.jfklibrary.org/Education/Teachers/Curricular-Resources/~/media/assets/Education%20and%20Public%20Programs/Education/Lesson%20Plans/Rhetoric%20of%20the%20Inaugural%20Address.pdf (Lesson Plan and full-text of speech)

Socratic Seminar

Citing the excerpts from Walden and Civil Disobedience, is Thoreau advocating reform or revolution?

Analytical Writing*

In-Class Rhetorical Analysis/Timed Writing:

The passage below is an observation of Abraham Lincoln made by Nathaniel Hawthorne when he had the opportunity to meet the president in 1862. Read the passage carefully. Then write an essay in which you define the attitude Hawthorne takes toward Lincoln and analyze the rhetorical strategies Hawthorne employs to help clarify and define the attitude.

Visual Rhetoric Analysis

Creative Writing*

Construct a two-minute Public Service Announcement to persuade a clearly defined audience of your chosen argument.

Reflective Writing*

PSA Reflection (Explain the rhetorical choices you made when constructing your PSA)

Journal Entries

Mini-Lessons on Writer’s Craft and Style

Day 1: Ethos/Pathos/Logos

Day 2/4: Parallel Structure

Day 3: Premise, Conclusion, Connotation, Denotation

Others as needed for student revision

Class time for feedback on and revision of writing

Day 5 (Visual Rhetoric)

Day 8 (PSA)

Clearly Defined Publishing Opportunities

Publish your PSA by performing it in person to a relevant organization or committee or publish it online via youtube, facebook, or a relevant website.

Additional Resources

Rhetoric Resources

Scholarly Definitions of Rhetoric: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/rhetoricdefinitions.htm

Rhetorical Triangle: http://mrgunnar.net/files/Rhetorical%20Triangle.pdf

Full Text of Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience http://thoreau.eserver.org/civil1.html

Rhetorical Analysis of Civil Disobedience http://prelimsandbeyond.wordpress.com/2008/12/31/thoreau/

Video Clip “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oehry1JC9Rk

Video Clip “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” with TEXT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJj725XrHzs

Columnists: http://townhall.com/columnists/

Movie Clips of Speeches: http://americanrhetoric.com/moviespeeches.htm

21st Century Speeches w/ videos & mp3s http://americanrhetoric.com/21stcenturyspeeches.htm

Vocabulary Resources

Examples & Audio Clips of Parallelism: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/figures/parallelism.htm

Examples & Audio Clips of Analogy: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/figures/analogy.htm

Diction Warm-Up: http://americanrhetoric.com/rodmanphase1.htm

Writing Resources

Duke Writing Studio: http://twp.duke.edu/writing-studio/resources/academic-writing/overviews

Writing for Authentic Audiences: http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/22/10-ways-to-promote-writing-for-an-authentic-audience/


Class Activities



Introduce Unit & TEQ: What influences our choices? (15 minutes)

Discuss different kinds of choices that we make:

  • Social: How do I select my friends? How do I act in varying social settings?

  • Ethical: Will I eat meat? Will I lie on my time sheet? Cheat on a test? Break the law by drinking at Friday night’s party?

  • Consumer: Do I follow a budget? What do I buy?

  • Academic: How often do I study? Will I apply to college? Where?

Journal Entry: (15 minutes)

What influences you? Recall choices you’ve made in the last month (or that you will be making soon). Reflect on the influences (both positive and negative) that contributed to the choices you made.

Mini-Lesson: Ethos, Pathos, Logos (40 minutes)

Introduce PSA Project (15 minutes)

Teachers: Review the following websites for ideas for introducing PSA

Ad Council PSA Website: http://www.adcouncil.org/Our-Work

Sample PSA Lesson Plan: http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/mytube-changing-world-with-1069.html?tab=4#tabs

Student Examples of PSAs:

http://youtu.be/iG6dAnIMDys Dog fighting PSA

http://youtu.be/Xpjuye4xwDg Student PSA Animal Testing

Have class brainstorm topics for PSAs with specific audiences and purposes.

Read “Declaration of Independence” and “Rip van Winkle.” Find at least 8 examples of ethos, pathos, or logos in each work.


Discuss “Declaration of Independence1”: Rip Van Winkle (uninspired colonist)

Journal Entry: How does the DOI address and attempt to persuade this audience?

Mini-Lesson: Parallel Structure in “Gettysburg Address”

Introduce Visual Rhetoric Project

  • Analyzing Print Ads/Campaign Ads

Read “A Fable for Tomorrow.” Annotate to answer the following questions: What is the purpose of this essay? How does Carson employ ethos, pathos, and logos?


Journal Entry: Read Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.” What is a choice that you’ve made that has considerably impacted your life?

Discuss: What is Frost’s attitude toward the road “taken” as opposed to the road “not taken”?

Mini-Lesson: Premises, Conclusions, Connotation, Denotation

Discussion: How did the rhetorical devices you found in “Silent Spring” impact the author’s purpose? How does the tone shift throughout the essay? What kinds of arguments (ethos, pathos, logos) does Carson use? What conclusion does Carson want readers to reach? What premises support that conclusion?

Introduce Socratic Seminar assignment (Civil Disobedience excerpt from textbook and Walden excerpts)

Read “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” and “I Have a Dream.” Annotate for audience, purpose, parallel structure, ethos, pathos, logos, connotation, denotation.


Journal Entry: Use this photograph and handout as a prompt for student journal writing.

Mini-Lesson: Parallel Structure in King’s speeches http://mrgunnar.net/files/King%20Letter%20questions%20and%20worksheet.pdf

Discuss rhetorical devices students found in “Letter from Birmingham City Jail.”

Read “Poetry & Power” Handout and JFK’s Inaugural Address. Annotate rhetorical devices found in JFK’s speech.


Read Walt Whitman’s poem “Had I the Choice.” http://www.princeton.edu/~batke/logr/log_310.html What choice does the speaker make? Why?

Model Rhetorical Analysis: JFK’s Inaugural Address (see attached document for procedure)

Class time to work on Visual Rhetoric project

Prepare for Socratic Seminar


Socratic Seminar: Civil Disobedience excerpt from textbook and Walden excerpts

Citing Walden and Civil Disobedience, is Thoreau advocating reform or revolution?


Computer Lab: Drafting/Revising PSAs

Visual Rhetoric Project Due


In-Class Essay: Rhetorical Analysis of Hawthorne’s attitude toward Lincoln

Peer Review: PSA


Public Service Announcement Presentations (1 or 2 days)

PSA project & reflection due

*All journal entries and drafts should be kept as separate documents for possible inclusion in the portfolio.

1 http://mrgunnar.net/english.cfm?subpage=349357

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