Communication Essentials

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Unit 1: Communication Essentials

ESSENTIAL QUESTION: What prompts our speaking and writing choices?

Overview: This unit generates consideration and evaluation of the use of formal and informal language. Ultimately, students will apply effective communication in various situations, both spoken and written.


13: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text

14: Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging

15: 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.

19: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

22: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

23: Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.

24: Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.

31: 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.

34: Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating a command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

37: Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

Strategies: Rhetorical Triangle, Peer Evaluations, Analyze Speeches, SOAPSTone,

Debates, Socratic Circle, Essays, Research, Opposing Viewpoints

Literary Selections (from the textbook)

“Of Studies”

“Tillbury Speech”

“Vindication of the Rights of Women”

“The Education of Women”

“The War”

“Survival in Auschwitz”

“I believe in a British Empire”

“The Noble Mansion of Free India”

“The Question of South Africa”

“Towards a True Refuge” Alternate Titles (from other sources)

“Two Ways to Belong in America”

“Lost in the Kitchen” by Dave Barry

“Graduation” by Maya Angelou

“How you became you” by Bill Bryson

Day 1: Standards 13, 14, 15, 31, 37

Prior to Day 1: Give students the terminology for the unit: argument, speaker, occasion, audience, subject, purpose, tone, parallel structure, diction, syntax, ethos, pathos, logos, satire, etc.

Bellringer: Play portion of video entitled “Worst Stump Speech Ever” (YouTube). Students should identify speaker, occasion, audience, purpose, and tone. What are the speaker’s strengths? Weaknesses? Does he effectively reach his audience? Does his use of emotion hurt or help him?

Relevant Question: What role does emotion play in our choice to communicate with someone? Discuss.

Task#1: Put the first line of “Of Study” (pg. 361) on the board.

“Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability.”

Have students paraphrase the statement while maintaining parallel structure.

Then introduce the goals for this task: to determine the effect of Bacon’s use of parallel structure, to compare the tone of Bacon’s essay to that of the Worst Stump Speech Ever, to identify claim/evidence/commentary in Bacon’s essay, and to identify effective diction choices

Students will read the essay aloud in groups and discuss the goals of the task.

Whole-class review of Bacon’s essay: how important is emotion in Bacon’s argument? Why? (What is his purpose?) How do you know?

Task 2: Students will read Queen Elizabeth’s speech to the troops at Tillbury. They will write one Literary 3x3 and one set of Levels of Questions (L.O.Q). One of the levels of questions should be related to emotion

Homework: Students will read and annotate a copy of “Graduation” by Maya Angelou (or another selection) in preparation for tomorrow’s Socratic Circle.

Day 2: Standards 13, 14, 15, 31, 37

Bellringer: Is it important to record personal experiences and share them with others? Why or why not?

Task: Socratic Circle – Students should have read and annotated Angelou’s “Graduation” for homework. Students must present their annotations to be able to participate in the Socratic Circle. Ideally, students will make observations concerning point of view, diction, purpose, and tone along with noting their personal reactions to the speaker’s experience and emotions.

After: Ink-think – “The relationship between expectation and reaction”

Day 3: Standards 13, 14, 15, 31, 37

Bellringer: How useful is humor as a persuasive technique? Explain.

Task 1: In groups, students will read “Vindication of the Rights of Women” and create a graphic organizer to incorporate satire, audience, purpose, structure, and tone. Directions will be provided before the task begins.

Upon completion of the task, students will display graphic organizers using the document camera. Class discussion.

Task 2: Students will individually read “The Education of Women.” Compare the use of rhetorical devices with those of “Vindication” and complete the rhetorical devices Quadrant Card.

After: Exit slips- How do today’s pieces of literature remind you of current issue in America or the world?

Day 4: Standards 19, 22, 23

Bellringer: How confident are you in your own writing? Explain.

Task 1: The teacher will introduce and explain the unit’s learning menu. Each component of the menu involves writing, and one component involves research.

Task 2: Students will begin working on the “appetizer” portion of the menu. Their draft should be completed before they leave class.

After: 3-2-1 on the new assignment.

Day 5: Standards 19, 22, 23, 24

Bellringer: Which three things must you accomplish in the computer lab/media center today?

Task: Students will work on the next component of their learning menu. They must accomplish three steps before they can get credit for this. The final portion of the learning unit will be completed away from class.

After: Exit slip

Day 6: Standards: 13, 14, 15, 37

Bellringer: What kinds of assumptions might writers or speakers make about their audience?

Task 1: Read “The War” and “Survival in Auschwitz.” Complete the 4 A’s activity individually. Class discussion.

Task 2: Watch Oprah’s interview with Elie Wiesel. Complete the 4 A’s activity as a class.

After: Carousel Brainstorm- Courage, Fortitude, Reality, Power

Day 7: Standards: 13, 14, 15, 31, 37

Bellringer: Which is the more effective way to reach an audience: through speech or through writing? Explain.

Task 1: Students will silently read “I believe in a British Empire” and “The Noble Mantle of Free India.” They will complete a rhetorical triangle. Class discussion: what is lacking when you simply read the speech rather than hear it?

Task 2: In groups, students will choose a section of one of the two speeches and have one of the group member deliver the portion aloud. Group members will discuss tone, emphasis, possible gestures, eye contact, timing, etc., prior to speech excerpt delivery.

After: Exit slip: Best speech you ever heard and why.

Day 8: Standards 15, 22, 23, 34

Bellringer: What situations might require you to give a speech? Could you do it comfortably?

Task 1: Review directions for individual speeches. Students will brainstorm and then propose speech topics. They must specify their target audience and their purpose. Teacher approval required.

Task 2: Students will begin drafting speeches, paying attention to diction, structure, and other rhetorical devices. They will finish for homework.

After: Exit slip- What do you think that you are going to do with this speech when you have finished writing it? What if I told you that there was a surprise twist?

Day 9: Standards 15, 22, 23, 34

Bellringer: Are we more comfortable presenting our own ideas or helping others convey their ideas? Why?

Task 1: Students will draw names. The person whose name they draw will be the person whose speech they will present (surprise twist). Students will meet with the writer, read and discuss the speech, and return to their desks. Complete the SOAPSTone for the speech.

Task 2: Deliver PowerPoint material: expectations and guidelines for speeches. Present rubric.

After: 3-2-1

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