Text Complexity Analysis of Remarks on the Assassination of mlk by Robert F. Kennedy Text Type: Informational – Speech

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Text Complexity Analysis of Remarks on the Assassination of MLK by Robert F. Kennedy

Text Type: Informational – Speech

Knowledge D

Quantitative Measure of the Text:




Associated Band Level:


Quantitative Measure

Considerations for Reader and Task

Possible Major Instructional Areas of Focus for this Text
Reasoning and Evidence:

  • RI.9-10.3 Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.

  • RI.9-10.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.

Speaking and Listening:

  • SL.9-10.3 Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, identifying any fallacious reasoning or exaggerated or distorted evidence.

  • SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.


  • L.8.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing. [Use punctuation (comma, ellipsis, dash) to indicate a pause or break.]

    • How does Kennedy introduce and develop his message of peace and understanding? What are specific rhetorical devices he uses to encourage a peaceful response?

    • How is the transcript of a speech written differently than an essay?

See the text set

Updated July 2015 Reviewed by members of ELA and ASES SCASS

Potential Challenges this Text Poses:

CONTEXT: Presented baldly, without information about the Civil Rights Movement and the role Martin Luther King, Jr. played in it, this speech will be difficult to understand. Presented as the anchor text for a study of Eulogies as a genre study in a larger unit about the civil right movement, the speech will have greater meaning and be more accessible to students.

It will be important to point out the devices used to present a written transcript of a spoken presentation such as multiple dashes or midsentence corrections. Students may be confused by Kennedy’s side comments to the crowd (e.g., “Could you lower those signs, please?”), as well as his use of the poem by Aeschylus. Some readers may struggle with the complex sentence structure, which includes the repeated use of dashes.
Differentiation/Supports for Students:

For close reading:

  • Have students watch the video of Kennedy delivering the speech.

  • Handout the transcript and have students follow along while listening.

  • Read the speech aloud pausing frequently to allow students to annotate the text indicating words they don’t know, places they find confusing, or questions they have.

  • Have students read together and annotate.

Multiple readings coupled with text-based questions will improve comprehension and increase fluency.
For learning extension,

  • Consider analyzing Kennedy’s word choice, tone, style, and syntax used in the delivery of his speech as they relate to his message. (SL.11-12.3. 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.)

  • Comparing this speech to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech may help students extend their understanding of the context, why Kennedy was so respectful.

  • Reading about Robert Kennedy’s subsequent assassination just two months later and comparing messages may also deepen the analysis.

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