Rhetoric in Famous Speeches

This post has nothing to do with YA, but I do enjoy posting about some of the activities and lessons I teach in my classroom.  Last trimester ended with our Julius Caesar unit.  I didn’t require my class to read the entire play because while we spent time discussing loyalty and betrayal, I wanted a larger part of the unit to focus on ethos, pathos, and logos.  To tie this in beyond Shakespeare’s play, I created a project requiring my students to analyze a famous speech and identify the rhetoric used.

My Honors Sophomore Seminar classes worked on this unit, and since I have two sections I decided to find a famous speech for each individual student (55 speeches).  I went to American Rhetoric, chose a variety of speeches, typed them up and cut into strips of paper, and put them into a bucket for my students to draw from.  I chose famous speeches from movies, graduation ceremonies, presidential speeches, etc.  After the students chose their speeches we went to the lab so they could research the speaker, the time period, and the reason(s) for the speech.  We spent time in class analyzing the speeches and highlighting passages that are examples of ethos, pathos, and logos.  My students were required to write a one page (no more!) analysis of the speech, including examples from the speech to support their analysis.  The second part of this project required them to create a visual representation of the speech that included a picture of the speaker, the rhetoric used, the date and title of the speech, and passages from the speech that serve as examples of the rhetoric.

This was the first time I’ve done this, and it ended up being really fun to teach and grade.  My students did an excellent job breaking down the speeches and creating impressive visuals.  Right now I have them hanging on the wall outside my classroom because I’m so proud of them.  If you want to try this in your classroom, feel free to email me and I’ll share my handouts :)

**I wanted to take a picture of all of the visuals, but I forced myself to narrow it down to five**

This visual is missing some requirements, but it's a very cool visual overall.

This visual is missing some requirements, but it’s a very cool visual overall.

Morgan did an excellent job creating this visual. She used newspaper headlines from the event as well.

Morgan did an excellent job creating this visual. She used newspaper headlines from the event as well.

Billy highlighted important lines in this speech in a really creative way.

Billy highlighted important lines in this speech in a really creative way.

Brooke created this for Princess Diana's speech in response to landmines.

Brooke created this for Princess Diana’s speech in response to landmines.

Hallie's visual for Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech.

Hallie’s visual for Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

Comments

  1. I would LOVE to see the handouts and the speech files! I have honors 10 and last semester did nothing advanced with them. I don’t even know what to do. Do you have a syllabus you’d be open to sharing. I’ve never really taught honors and, well, part of the challenge is it’s a mixed class – however, I think all kids can do the work so what I plan on doing is teaching that class (even though it’s mixed) at a higher level and being more flexible with kids who MIGHT struggle. Right now it’s too darn easy and they aren’t being challenged.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. Love this project! The projects look fabulous!

I love comments!

%d bloggers like this: