This unit was created by ELA Educators in Idaho Schools, part of the 2021 cohort of The 1619 Project Education Network. It is designed for facilitation across approximately 3-4 weeks, or 15-20 70 minute class periods.
Students will be able to...
- Closely read, analyze, discuss, and write about given nonfiction texts (individually and in groups) in order to make a connection to real-world events and problems.
- Make a claim about the effectiveness of an author’s rhetoric and support that analysis with textual evidence.
- Organize claims logically, establish significance of claims, and anticipate their audience’s values and biases.
- Analyze texts for themes, purposes, and rhetorical features.
- Write a rhetorical analysis essay.
- What story do people tell or believe about you?
- What story do you tell or believe about someone else?
- What story is told/believed about America?
- How do these narratives inform our understanding of ourselves, our community, others, and our country?
- How are the past, present, and future linked in yourself, others, your community, and your country?
In this unit, students will spend about three weeks learning about and practicing rhetorical analysis of various texts in multiple modes, including print essays, videos, photo essays, and podcasts from The 1619 Project. Their learning will culminate with a rhetorical analysis essay in which they choose three different types of texts (one photo essay, one podcast, one written essay) and analyze how they connect the past to the present/tell the story of the past/achieve each author’s individual purpose. Students will practice close reading, analytical thinking, civil discussions, argumentative/persuasive writing with claims and evidence, and more.
This unit’s summative assessment is an analytical essay. The texts students read across this unit have all shared a common goal: to share the story of America from various perspectives. The authors have aimed to demonstrate the ongoing impacts of slavery, racism, economic disparity, and other injustices on today’s world. Students will choose three texts—an essay, a photo essay, and a podcast—and write about how their authors achieved this goal within their works. Students will consider the choices the authors made and describe how those choices supported their purposes. In this essay, students are not writing about whether they agree with the authors. Rather, they are analyzing how the writing is successful.
Three-four week unit plan for teachers, including pacing, texts and multimedia resources, graphic organizers for student projects, and performance tasks for the unit. Download below, or scroll down to read the complete unit plan.
Common Core Standards
W.11-12.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
- Introduce precise, knowledgeable claim(s), establish the significance of the claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that logically sequences claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
- Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the most relevant evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level, concerns, values, and possible biases.
- Use words, phrases, and clauses as well as varied syntax to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims.
- Use precise language, domain-specific vocabulary, and techniques such as metaphor, simile and analogy to manage the complexity of the argument.
- Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
- Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.
I.11-12.6 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.
- W.11-12.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3.)
- W.11-12.5 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. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1-3 up to and including grades 11-12.)
- W.11-12.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
- Apply grades 11-12 Reading standards to literature (e.g., “Demonstrate knowledge of eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and early-twentieth-century foundational works of American literature, and other literary canons, including how two or more texts from the same period treat similar themes or topics”).
- Apply grades 11-12 Reading standards to literary nonfiction (e.g., “Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal U.S. and other texts, including the application of constitutional principles and use of legal reasoning [e.g., in U.S. Supreme Court majority opinions and dissents] and the premises, purposes, and arguments in works of public advocacy [e.g., The Federalist, presidential addresses]”).
- L.11-12.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
- Apply the understanding that usage is a matter of convention, can change over time, and is sometimes contested.
- Resolve issues of complex or contested usage, consulting references (e.g., MerriamWebster’s Dictionary of English Usage, Garner’s Modern American Usage) as needed.
- L.11-12.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
- Interpret figures of speech (e.g., hyperbole, paradox) in context and analyze their role in the text.
- Analyze nuances in the meaning of words with similar denotations
RI.11-12.6 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.
- RI.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
- RI.11-12.4 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 (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).
- RI.11-12.5 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.
- RI.11-12.8 Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal U.S. and other texts, including the application of constitutional principles and use of legal reasoning (e.g., in U.S. Supreme Court majority opinions and dissents) and the premises, purposes, and arguments in works of public advocacy (e.g., The Federalist, presidential addresses).
- RI.11-12.9 Analyze seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century foundational U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (including The Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address) and other documents of similar significance for their themes, purposes, and rhetorical features.
- SL.11-12.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
- Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.
- Work with peers to promote civil, democratic discussions and decision-making, set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as needed.
- Set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as needed.
- Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives.
- Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives; synthesize comments, claims, and evidence made on all sides of an issue; resolve contradictions when possible; and determine what additional information or research is required to deepen the investigation or complete the task.
In these essays, students choose a text they explored as part of this unit and evaluate how the author demonstrates the ongoing impacts of slavery, racism, economic disparity, and/or other injustices on today’s world. For this task, students are not writing about whether they agree with the authors. Rather, they are analyzing how the writing is successful.
The essays below were written by students who took part in ELA Educators of Idaho Schools' unit in fall 2021.
Because [Bharati] Mukherjee puts 'illegal' in quotations, the audience knows that, in a sense, this is not her word, and instead inserts it in the mouth of someone else, someone oppressive, perhaps. She follows up this word with 'brothers and sisters' to immediately create a sense of irony. People tend to think of illegal things as wrong, unsolicited, or dangerous, but would seldom put those same labels on their own siblings or family. The audience sympathizes with immigrants at this moment because, in most cases, they wouldn’t want to see their own family called 'illegal.'
Student essay, fall 2021
In an excerpt from Farewell to Manzanar, a memoir co-written by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston in 1973, Wakatsuki Houston recalls her experience as a Japanese American living in an internment camps in order to aid the audience in sympathizing with Japanese Americans who lived during the war; whose identities and interests were torn in two by their circumstances...Wakatsuki lays forth this experience in order to help readers sympathize with the identity crises that many Asian Americans, and racial minorities as a whole, endure while living in America to promote a more open and accepting worldview.
Student essay, fall 2021