Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • RI:  Reading Standards for Informational Text 6-12
  • 11-12:  11th & 12th Grades
  • 6: 
    Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is
    particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power,
    persuasiveness, or beauty of the text.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)


Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • SL:  Speaking and Listening Standards 6-12
  • 11-12:  11th & 12th Grades
  • 3: 
    Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric,
    assessing the stance, premises, links among ideas, word choice, points of
    emphasis, and tone used.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)

Art of Persuasion and Craft of Argument
Lesson Objective: Discuss and rank rhetorical devices in preparation for writing
Grades 11-12 / ELA / Analysis
ELA.RI.11-12.6 | ELA.SL.11-12.3

Thought starters

  1. How does the "Smart Chart" deepen student understanding of rhetorical devices?
  2. What are the benefits of having the students collaborate on the ranking activity?
  3. How does each step of this lesson prepare the students for their writing assignment?
wow, your teaching is good. I learnt new things and comparism
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I hate to admit although I love reading, I am not a Shakespeare fan. After viewing this, it did change my opinion slightly. Teaching 2nd grade, I am skeptical, LOL, but I wonder how this could work overall in other grade levels and in other subjects...
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Nathan, although I know nothing about Shakespeare's play Antony and Cleopatra, I do know his play Julius Caesar and it is this play the speeches being analyzed come from. Gretchen, the chart looks like a great tool. I'm going to try it next week. Thanks for the link.
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Emphasis on how effective devices are is important. Students who just learn what a device is but without seeing any practical usage of that device don't really learn anything. I wonder how well your methods will carry over to use on nonfiction texts or articles. My district has started placing emphasis on short, nonfiction/technical writing. I think I could use your methods for this.
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I'm so inspired!
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  • Art of Persuasion and Craft of Argument Transcript

    Gillian: 02:26: Essentially, what I would like you to be able to do

    Art of Persuasion and Craft of Argument Transcript

    Gillian: 02:26: Essentially, what I would like you to be able to do at the end of today, is to make a decision about which one you considered more persuasive and more effective.
    02:39: We're going to have to separate our feelings about Brutus and Mark Antony and really just be looking at the argument and the way the devices strengthen arguments.
    Gillian: 02:48: I am Gillian Spero, I teach at Kent County High School. I'm the English Department chair and the class today was my eleventh grade class.
    Gillian: 02:56: I want you to start to be able to delineate and evaluate the effectiveness of the devices.
    Gillian: 03:01: We are in the unit on persuasiveness, looking at rhetorical devices and persuasiveness.
    Gillian: 03:07: What we're really looking at being able to do is determine the point of view and the purpose, analyze the rhetoric, and then how - This is our big one, we've been focusing on this - How the devices contribute to the power persuasiveness or beauty in a text.
    Gillian: 03:20:I always open my classes by setting the purpose for the day, as well as the long-term connections. I try to incorporate the standards.
    Gillian: 03:29: Then you're going to evaluate and use the evidence and rhetoric and then apply this to your analysis when writing. Okay?
    Gillian: 03:36: We had read an annotated Brutus' speech and then Mark Antony's speeches, looking at devices.
    Gillian: 03:43: I want you to make sure you have both of your smart charts out.
    Gillian: 03:47: The smart charts that we had created for the two speeches, for part of the lesson they have to think about where in the spokes the device will fall; which, ultimately, has them thinking about how it operates within a text. Then what they did today was to, sort of, take a look at the charts that they created and make determinations, what are the top two or three devices used that really enhanced the argument of the speaker.
    Gillian: 04:13: So you are ranking these from strongest to weakest. So go through your charts, look at the rhetorical devices. Go back into the text and see how those devices operate within the text. Okay? And then you are going to rank them, one side for Brutus, one side for Mark Antony's speech.
    Gillian: 04:33:The next part of the unit is to have them writing paragraphs about the device's effectiveness. I did not see them being able to go right into writing the paragraphs about effective devices without talking and thinking. I knew that needed to be built in.
    04:49: My feeling was that if they could articulate it with a partner or at a table group, then it would be easier for them to be able to put that into words when they write.
    Gillian: 04:48: We will start to write tomorrow and Friday, but I'm thinking that this will really strengthen those body paragraphs where you're analyzing. Okay?
    05:05: All right, so I am going to pass these out and you guys, as soon as you get your paper, you can begin discussing and ranking those devices.
    Gillian: 05:34: Some just needed a starting place or a little bit of guidance. A lot of them need more probing questions.
    Gillian: 05:40: What is that going to show the audience?
    Student: 05:43: Sides.
    Gillian: 05:45:Okay. Why is that important?
    Student: 05:47: Because gives them that choice of where to go and that Brutus is not with them, that he is different.
    Gillian: 05:55: Okay. Good.
    Student: 05:56: But I loved Rome more, so he's like,
    Gillian: 05:59: Who's he addressing?
    Student: 06:01: The audience, the public.
    Gillian: 06:03: Okay. How is he targeting the audience?
    Student: 06:06: He’s trying to say both sides. Even, he did not, like, love him, but
    Student: 06:11: He didn't hate him.
    Gillian: 06:13: Why would he need to do that? Why would he need to start that way?
    Student: 06:17: Kind of for him and like himself, maybe.
    Student 06:20: Maybe like, he doesn't want to look like an enemy.
    Gillian: 06:23: They had these great discussions and I was really proud of how thorough they were in defending their responses.
    Gillian: 06:29: We are going to begin to share, Molly and Rachel, who did you consider to be more effective?
    Student: 06:36: We said Antony.
    Gillian: 06:38: Okay. Why?
    Student: 06:40: Well the devices used like sarcasm, it really adds emphasis to show how he really feels about Brutus. Like he says ... but Brutus says he was ambitious and Brutus is an honorable man. It shows how sarcastic he is by like stating a point, not like, using his opinion.
    Gillian: 07:02: Okay. So it shows what? Does Mark Antony share that sentiment?
    Student: 07:07: No.
    Gillian: 07:08: No. Okay. Next group. Do you agree with Antony or do you go with Brutus.
    Student: 07:13: Antony.
    Gillian: 07:15: What device? If you have one other than that, can you share it?
    Student: 07:18: We picked illusion. It's easy to find all of the devices, it's not easy to explain why they were used and how they were used. In the speech he says "Brutus is ambitious too," so he's making them seem more like similar. That was the time to part, but my teacher, helped us think how they were used; devices.
    07:39: Brutus is the same as Caesar and that kind of makes it seem like he should die too.
    Gillian: 07:44: Awesome. Good job.
    Student: 07:46: We said Brutus. We feel that he had a really strong argument...
    Gillian: 07:50: I was really impressed with some of the pairs that were able to have a different end result.
    Student: 07:55: ... Best device, because he used words like respect to build his credibility in the beginning.
    Gillian: 08:02: Good.
    Student: 08:03: Then we used repetition because he repeats important views to express his feelings to the reader. Like, he repeated friend trying to seem like innocent to the audience.
    Gillian: 08:14: It showed that they really did their own sort of independent thinking from one another.
    Gillian: 08:18: These were really quality conversations. I'm really optimistic that when you go to write you'll be able to really look at how and analyze how these devices work within the text.
    Gillian: 08:33: I wanted them to keep in mind that what they said today is how they should articulate in writing tomorrow.
    Gillian: 08:41: How many of you think that you are in a better place to start writing an analysis than we were before we went through this?
    Gillian: 08:48: The building of each day and the design of the units, it's awesome to have them already built and have them in place and just take it and apply it how it will best fit in my classroom. It's also awesome to have text chosen, because going through the process of determining text complexity and grade appropriate complex text is daunting and we're from a small school, so while we will need to tailor them to our students, there's a level of trust that the texts are rich and the cognitive demand is already, sort of, in place.


Gillian Spero


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