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 🙂 

**NOTE– 3/12/15 Because of the high volume of requests for handouts, I need to decline any further requests. I’m sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you.**

**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.


  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!

  3. Jacqui White says:

    Just found this! Love it…going to teach Caesar for the first time ever and could use all the materials I can get my hands on! Please help 🙂

    • Mrs. Andersen says:

      I’m going to be working on maternity leave plans before the end of the month, so I’ll send you the assignment sheet for this project and the other pieces for it 🙂

  4. I know this post is a bit old, but I would love to still have some information about it. I too am teaching Honors 10th for the first time and I would like to see any of the other great things you do in the classroom.

  5. I’d love to have the information about this lesson too!

  6. Holly Green says:

    I also just came across this while looking for famous speeches for my 10 Pre-AP class. I would also love to have any information about this lesson too. I was wandering what the critieria was for the visual? Thanks Holly hollygreen@gmail.com or holly.green@yukonps.com

  7. Hi! This is fabulous. Any information (rubrics, assignment sheets, etc.) about this lesson would be fabulous! Thanks in advance! laurenawilkie@gmail.com

  8. Wendy Connelly says:

    I teach Civil Rights speeches ever year, but I love the project you have here! I’d love to see what speeches you selected and your assignment sheet, etc.
    This is a great assignment you’ve created!

  9. This looks like a wonderful project. Can I please have the handouts that go along with it?

  10. This project looks great! I always have a hard time finding good examples of rhetoric for my students. Could you send me your handouts? I would really like to look at your project criteria as well. Thanks a bunch!

  11. This looks awesome! I am always looking for new things for my juniors, and this looks perfect. Could you email the handouts to me as well? Thanks! sfort39@gmail.com

  12. Judith Nadeau says:

    I would love the handouts, please.

  13. If possible, could I please have the handouts for this lesson? Thank you! s_danna4@hotmail.com

  14. This is an excellent lesson and we are in the midst of Caesar right now. If you’re willing to share your handouts please send them to me! thanks so much.

  15. Stephanie says:

    I have just stumbled across this post and think the teaching idea is amazing. I know that it states no more handouts provided due to high volume but I am hoping that it has settled down since first posting and you would be willing to share with me? Email address is stephcollins2003@yahoo.ca. Many thanks, Stephanie

  16. Carrie Burger says:

    This looks awesome! I would love to do something like this with both my 10th lit and Speech classes–would you be willing to share your handouts?

  17. It would be wonderful if you could put PDFs of the handouts on here.

  18. Stephanie says:

    Why not offer the handouts on a website like Teachers Pay Teachers?

  19. Hi! I know you said you were not going to be sharing the project assignment/files, but I was hoping maybe you would consider sharing them with me as a start of the new school year exception… 🙂 I am teaching AP Language this year for the first time to 60 juniors and seniors. As one of the essays on the AP test is Argument, I was planning on having them read Julius Caesar (never taught it before so we will see how it goes), but I love the idea of supplementing it with your speech project!!! Pretty please. 🙂 melissadjoynson@gmail.com

  20. Could I still see a copy of your handouts for this? bendelaplanguage@gmail.com

  21. I would love to have something like this! Is it available on teacherspayteachers.com?

  22. megan kelly says:

    This is awesome. Can you just send me an email with the speeches that the kids used? I would love to avoid sifting through all the speeches on the websites. Thanks so much.


  23. Amy Parkinson says:

    This is such an excellent idea! I would appreciate any resources that you would be willing to share. aparkinson@juliancharterschool.org

  24. Tammy Gately says:

    Great idea! I know you said this was your first time to do this project. It’s been several years now, have you tweaked this idea over the years?

    • Mrs. Andersen says:

      Hi, Tammy! Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to recreate this assignment since this ended up being the only time I taught it. I switched districts and haven’t been able to fit it in the curriculum I’m teaching here.


  1. […] another form of rhetorical analysis for my AP Lang students via Mrs. Anderson at YA […]

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