Transitioning to the American Revolution: Patrick Henry and Ben Franklin

As we move toward the close of the module, we find ourselves looking to the birth of the new nation. For this, we needed to set the stage of the historical settings, so we worked to make it fit.

1. Speech(es) to the (Virginia) Convention and a look at rhetoric.
To start this lesson, students were given a short historical hindsight lesson (notes) with a focus on rhetorical appeal. We reviewed them quickly and I realized students were able to define the appeals without fail but the recognition of them in text was something we would work on throughout the day. Additionally, I wanted them to start evaluating the rhetoric from both perspectives – those who would agree and those who would disagree – and make a call as to whether or not the rhetoric was effective overall.

I modeled this process with the first two sentences from each text.

For this task, the class was divided in to teams. One team focused on Henry’s Speech to the Convention while the other focused on Franklin’s Speech to the Virginia Convention. This worked well to make sure students were an expert on the first text. The neat thing was how the teams were decided…

First, we took a private notecard vote on whether to fight for independence or to try to just get along. Those who voted to get along were assigned to read Henry. Those who wanted to fight were assigned to Franklin.

Once the texts were assigned, the students were given their reading guide. (Find a free copy of the reading guide at http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/HenryFranklin-Speech-to-the-ConventionVirginia-Convention-Reading-Guide-877412)

Students progressed through the reading guide at their own pace and then moved to partner with a person on the opposite text. In the end, student discussion was guided by an author comparison section of the handout right before completion of the writing prompt on comparing author ideas. This wasn’t intended to be a formal essay, but more of a constructed response as we are working hard on developing paragraphs with cited evidence from the text.

Alas, let me know your thoughts so I can work to improve this lesson before the next implementation. It felt a little slighted because there was so much I wanted to get into with the text (and limiting the teacher-talk on such an amazing series of texts was really challenging!).

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