Responsible Citizens Speak Out

byTorrieann M. Dooley

Introduction and Objectives

Can you imagine what your classroom would look and sound like if students thought about their actions before acting? Would you like to start your school year by having your students think about how they want to be remembered? Think of the kids who consistently forget their homework, miss the trash container, call out, don't clean up supplies, waste materials, come late to class, etc. Do you think they've considered that their peers are evaluating their character based on this behavior? Flash forward to their ten-year high school reunion: Do you think that's how they want to be remembered? Do you think they can run for political office and avoid a peer leaking to the press how untrustworthy they are and cite evidence from their academic years?

This curriculum unit will help students to develop the capacity to define their character (ethos), and you as a teacher can use it to motivate engagement and positive behavior in your classroom so their actions provide evidence of their trustworthiness. The lessons from this curriculum unit support the theme of "exhibiting qualities of responsible citizenship in the classroom, school, and other social environments" (North Carolina Department of Public Instruction [NCDPI] 2006) a second grade social studies standard and will integrate the subjects of reading, writing, and social studies taught in the first semester of the school year. Students will learn how to define their own ethos in the classroom in order for others to recognize them by the character traits they want to portray. They will identify the qualities of the ethos of famous people throughout history and learn how the historical people use their ethos and rhetoric to influence others. After students identify what responsible citizens look like, they will choose an attribute of a responsible citizen to define and write a persuasive speech in order to better internalize how to be responsible citizens themselves as well as motivate others to be responsible citizens.

The study of rhetoric dates back to years B.C.E. (before common era) and lasting contributions are attributed to Gorgias, Plato, Aristotle, and many other orators and philosophers who taught others their craft. The connection that all of these great philosophers made to education was to teach others to value education. They taught their students the art of speaking and arguing, but expected their students to be experts in all subjects in order to be able to speak on any topic. How simple this idea is, but in the context of teaching where pressures of testing and performance are such driving forces, we forget to remind our students, and sometimes ourselves, why they are learning – so they can talk about what they know, so they can argue for something they want.

Students can be a great influence on their peers. Observing a classroom or school setting you can see students mimicking behavior, trends in fashion, literature choices, and academic styles. As a teacher, I utilize students who have a stronger, more influential voice to motivate and encourage other students, and I as well am a persuasive power in the classroom. I want my students to understand their power of persuasion and use it to contribute to being responsible citizens in the school environment, and encourage others through their words and actions to be responsible citizens as well. Although this unit will attend to my classroom and school environment, teachers of older students are encouraged to use the ideas and adapt them to the local and global communities as necessary for their students.

It is important for children to have good role models. As they grow and develop they will have numerous influences on their time and talents and if they are taught as young children what to value as being responsible and respectful, hopefully it will leave an impression on them so they will grow up to be responsible and respectful adults who positively contribute to society. Throughout the unit students will have the opportunity to listen to the speeches of responsible members of society and identify key words or phrases they use, as well as how they speak in order to influence and persuade others. It is also valuable for students to know how they are persuaded in order to know if someone is trying to persuade or coerce them to do something that may not be in their best interest. I may also have them consider a time when someone tried to convince them to do something they shouldn't in order to give the students an example of how words have influence and consequences, both positive and negative.

This unit will enable students to identify themselves as responsible and respectful citizens. Students will be encouraged to practice reciting text and to develop and deliver a speech in order to lay a foundation for public speaking. It will give students the occasion to think about and carefully choose their words and delivery, practice their speech, and stand up in front of peers. I had this opportunity many times when I was younger and because of it I am comfortable talking in front of audiences whereas some of my peers shy away from presenting or speaking in public because of fear. I want my students to have access to an encouraging and supportive environment to deliver their first few speeches so as they develop their intelligence and craft their writing; they are able to articulate their thoughts and ideas to a public audience without great fear.

This curriculum unit is being designed for second graders, and could be modified to be used by other elementary grades. I am a second grade teacher in a self-contained classroom in a large suburban public school in the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools district. My school fosters strong parental involvement and participates in the Basic School philosophy which prioritizes "The School as Community, Commitment to Character, Climate for Learning, and Curriculum with Coherence" (Boyer 1995). These priorities promote themed units with integrated connections across the subjects of math, science, social studies, and language arts. They also encourage the use of developing and using relevant and rigorous curriculum for students. The state's Standard Course of Study, prior knowledge of students, observations and assessments inform instruction in the classroom. Student assessments include district mandated quarterly tests in the subjects of reading, writing, and math, self-reflection, portfolios, grade level pre and post unit assessment, formative and summative assessment, and classroom observations. In the classroom and at the school students have access to numerous technologies including computers with internet and instructional software, calculators, overhead and data projectors, TV, VCR/DVD player, CD player, and cassette players. We have a transient student population that averages over 900 students and there is an approximately one to twenty-three teacher to student ratio on my grade level. The student population of my school includes 59.6% African American, 16.5% Caucasian, 11.3% Hispanic, 4.9% Asian, and 6.9% multiracial. 54% of our students meet the state's poverty level. 64.5% of our 2009-2010 students passed the state's end-of-grade test.

Background Information

At the beginning of every school year, we establish the classroom community. This is an incredibly important task in order to set the tone for academic year. It gives the students the opportunity to meet their peers and really get to know them; additionally the teacher has the opportunity to assess students, both academically and behaviorally. At the onset of the year, I will introduce the students to the new vocabulary word ethos. Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher, gave this term a special meaning: When we find something persuasive, he noticed, we do so partly because we trust the character (ethos) of the person speaking to us. Aristotle's practices and ideas have influenced generations of scholars, and for the purpose of this unit, his vocabulary and ideas about rhetoric will be defined and connected to elementary student learning. Aristotle's Rhetoric, as translated by Lee Honeycutt, indicates that there are three modes of persuasion, the first one being "personal character of the speaker" (Honeycutt 2004). Jay Heinrichs, a 21 st century scholar of rhetoric, explains Aristotle's term ethos as "argument by character which employs the persuader's personality, reputation, and ability to look trustworthy" (Heinrichs 2007, 40). It is my intention to motivate students to respond to this information favorably so as to create an ethos that is conducive to the learning environment and the contributions they are going to make to the classroom community this school year. This theme of ethos will be recurring throughout the school year and will contribute to the success of the speeches they will eventually deliver to their peers because, as Aristotle suggests, a person's "character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion he possesses" (Honeycutt 2004). Students need to be taught that their voice is linked to their character. Aristotle suggests that when people "feel friendly to the man who comes before them for judgment, they regard him as having done little wrong, if any; when they feel hostile, they take the opposite view" (Honeycutt 2004). Students need to consider this with all of their actions and mannerisms in the classroom, so that when they do speak and want to motivate and persuade others, they are not received with hostility. Heinrichs suggests, "While our brain tries to sort the facts, our gut tells us whether we can trust the other person, and our heart makes us want to do something about it" (Heinrichs 2005). Early on students want to "inspire confidence" (Honeycutt 2004) in their character so that other students are interested in hearing them speak. In order to do this Aristotle recommends they seem to have "good sense, good moral character, and good will" (Honeycutt 2004).

In addition to ethos, Aristotle coins another mode of persuasion as pathos, and it's defined in his Rhetoric as "putting the audience into a certain frame of mind" (Honeycutt 2004). When developing their speeches students will integrate passion and emotion into their speech as a motivating factor to move their peers into the type of action they are suggesting for being responsible citizens. The third mode of persuasion is logos. Aristotle refers to logos as "to reason logically" (Honeycutt 2004). Heinrichs echoes this definition referring to logos as "argument by logic" (Heinrichs 2007, 40). In order to construct a logical and organized speech, students will employ the use a graphic organizer in order to assemble their speech in an organized fashion that demonstrates understanding of the components described as needed in a persuasive speech.

In developing and delivering speeches, students also need to be aware of their intended audience, for it is the audience who carries the message and theme of the speech away and is called to action based on the persuasiveness of the speech and speaker. In Aristotle's Rhetoric, Honeycutt translates "For of the three elements in speech-making — speaker, subject, and person addressed — it is the last one, the hearer that determines the speech's end and object" (Honeycutt 2004). Students need to be aware of the audience members' or "hearers'" participation in the speech. They need to consider and address the audience(s) of the speech they are delivering and make sure not to offend anyone in their audience.

Aristotle's Rhetoric says "There are three divisions of oratory-(1) political, (2) forensic, and (3) the ceremonial oratory of display. Political speaking urges us either to do or not to do something" (Honeycutt 2004). For purposes of persuading peers to be responsible citizens, students will be creating oratories reflective of political speaking. "The political orator is concerned with the future: it is about things to be done hereafter that he advises, for or against" (Honeycutt 2004). Aristotle recommends the considerations of "making his own character look right and putting his hearers, who are to decide, into the right frame of mind" (Honeycutt 2004). Students will integrate what they know about the strategies employed by Aristotle to develop a good character in order to be recognized as a credible and trustworthy source. They will do this in order to deliver a logical speech that persuades an audience to recognize and take action to be a responsible citizen.

Cicero's theory of persuasion may also help in teaching our students. Cicero was a Roman philosopher and orator who wrote hundreds of years after Aristotle, in ancient Rome. He prescribed certain considerations for the development of persuasive speeches and he employed his theory in the creation and delivery of his own speeches.

Cicero's theory of persuasion advises speakers to consider different perspectives on their topic. Students following this theory can imagine how they would address the audiences of other students who support what they have to say, students who may have an argument against their ideas, as well as the adults (teachers and administrators) in the building who are accountable for students having responsible actions.

Cicero recommends going through five steps when writing a speech: invention, arrangement, style, memory and delivery. In De Inventione, Cicero explains that invention involves creating the topic and finding material to use in the speech. Arrangement concerns how the speech is organized and sequenced. Elocution consists of choosing the right words and sentences that support the topic. Memory involves being comfortable with the words so as to speak from memory and not read a script. And delivery represents how the speech is presented including the use of "the voice and body in a manner suitable to the dignity of the subjects spoken of and of the language employed" (Yonge).

In the collection Great Speeches in American History, William Safire introduces the book with a narrative about ten qualities of a great speech. These qualities include shapeliness, pulse, occasion, forum, focus, quotation, phrasemaking, theme, delivery, and awareness of undeliverable words (Safire 1997, 21-25). These qualities will be introduced individually to students, posted in the classroom, and students will be held accountable for showing mastery and ownership over the steps in the process and delivery of their speech. Safire advises that a speech should follow the structure of introducing the topic, talking about it, and then reminding the audience of what you told them (Safire 1997, 21). The pulse of the speech involves the "beat, a changing rhythm" (Safire 1997, 21-22). The speaker needs to consider the occasion for the speech and the forum of the speech. Students will be developing the speech to inform their peers of their position on how to be responsible citizens in the school community, and the occasion will rise out of wanting to make a difference and share with others ways they too can make a difference in the school environment. The forum of the speech will be the school community although the audience they will be directly addressing in person will be their classmates. However, their speech will be recorded and shared with the rest of the school. I think it is important for them to feel comfortable with their audience, especially with this being one of the first speeches some of the seven and eight year old students will ever deliver. In order to provide them with a comfortable environment it should include the peers that they know well and who have come to support them throughout the year. But their message and persuasion can benefit the larger school community and their voice deserves to be heard by all. Quotation and phrasemaking are some tactics students can employ to enhance the value of their speech. Students can quote other meaningful speakers or catch phrases in order to relate their message better to their audience, or they can also share anecdotal stories and thread them throughout their speech in order to enhance the significance and the personal connection to the topic. Additionally, students can add poetic value to their words by using metaphors, similes and alliteration (Safire 2007, 24). Throughout the whole speech, students need to keep in mind the theme, or "what the speech was about" (Safire 2007, 24). They need to be clear with what they want the audience to take away from their words and by using a graphic organizer as a visual that reminds them to thread the theme throughout their entire speech will help with this. After crafting their speech students will have the opportunity to deliver it. Safire emphasizes that "Delivery is the final step to eloquence; it requires practice, discipline, drill" (Safire 2007, 25) and he cautions against using words that are undeliverable, meaning words that may look good on paper and be appropriately fitting to the topic, but will not sound correct when spoken in the context of a speech (Safire 2007, 25).


Rhetoric will be a theme embedded throughout my entire school year. It will be introduced to the students at the beginning of the school year when they build a sense of how to be credible. They will increase fluency by linking reading, listening, and speaking through learning about speakers and their speeches. They will infer traits of good speakers in order to generate a rubric to evaluate them and their speeches. They will learn to "declaim" and practice being an attentive and critical audience. They will re-write a section of a famous speech for themselves, and work through the five stages of creating a speech to deliver to others.

I will introduce the unit at the beginning of the year by describing one of Aristotle's key ideas about rhetoric, ethos, so students understand the type of citizen they have to be as a model in the classroom and school in order for others to see them as valuable sources of authority when they are delivering their speech.

Anthony Everitt describes Julius Caesar's ethos as "clearly to promise future success: courage, rapidity of reaction, a refusal to let emotion control his decisions, absolute loyalty to friends, pride in race and an easy sociability" (Everitt 2001, 92). Students will think about the people who they value as role models and as a class we will list the attributes the different people have in order to compile a list of characteristics we think create a good ethos. From that list students will need to choose five characteristics they are going to prioritize throughout the year to contribute to their own personal ethos. And they will define what they are going to do to model that attribute and maintain that character and make sure they are not persuaded to negative actions that will contribute to them losing their credibility.

As a second grade teacher I am responsible for the foundation of reading and bridging fluency with comprehension of text. In the 19 th century this was developed using oratory: "even very young children were expected to read, memorize, and delivery speeches as part of their education" (National Endowment for the Humanities and Assumption College). American teachers used patriotic speeches in order to instill those ideals in their students (National Endowment for the Humanities and Assumption College). Because so many great speeches are preserved in both visual and auditory context, students will have the experience to use them to connect the visual representation of the word (reading) with the auditory representation of the speech (listening) as well as practice reciting the speech themselves (speaking). A priority for second grade students is to "use the listening, speaking, and reading foundational skills they have developed to extend their understanding of written language and their skills in using written language" (NCDPI 2004). Listening to famous speeches will do that. The website American Rhetoric is an excellent resource for finding these speeches in both the text and auditory form, and can be used if a teacher is interested in finding speeches in addition to or exchange for the ones suggested by my unit.

To introduce this strategy of listening, reading, and speaking I will share with the students numerous clips of speeches delivered by famous people, and students will have the opportunity to read further about the people whose speeches they listen to in order to understand the context of the speech, the value of their words, and get a sense of the speaker's ethos. I will either read aloud developmentally appropriate stories to the students about the person or find student-friendly articles or books about the person that they can read independently or in small groups. Author David A. Adler created a series of biographies appropriate to second grade students. This series includes A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. and A Picture Book of John F. Kennedy. These books, along with other developmentally appropriate biographies will serve as sources where students can get background information about the people who deliver the speeches they listen to in order to better understand the speech. As a teacher I will gather some of these resources and also show my students where to kind them in the school library. Prior to searching for biography books, students must be able to select books appropriate to their reading level. If they are not able to do that yet, then I allow them to browse the books and find out where their interests are and then I will find a book to pair with them. For some of their speakers, internet articles may be more appropriate for the students to look at, and all of the students will have access to researching their person online.

After sharing several speeches and modeling for them how to find background information about the speaker and/or the context of the speech, we will work together to infer what traits good speakers employ when addressing an audience. Together the students and I will create a rubric based on the information they value and they will use it to evaluate a speech they listen to as well as establish the criteria for their own speech. An example of a rubric for a persuasive speech can be found at

Before jumping in to writing their own speeches, students will have the opportunity to recite a part of a speech. Empowering them to choose a topic or person of interest to them, they will practice and deliver a part of a speech of their choice. Suzanne McIntire, in the American Heritage Book of Great American Speeches for Young People, introduces the vocabulary word "declaiming as giving a speech" (McIntire 2001, 285). She outlines the process of declaiming as follows. Choose a speech and practice it several times attending to the words. Look up things in the speech you are unfamiliar with and also gather background information about the speech and speaker. Practice reciting the speech in a small group setting. When you are ready to deliver your speech, smile at the audience before you begin. Introduce the speech by sharing some context about the author or setting from its original delivery. Speak slowly and include pauses, make eye contact and speak louder sometimes "for emphasis" and make sure to thank the audience at the end (McIntire 2001, 285). Following this format, students will choose a part of a speech they want to deliver to their peers. Attending to the rubric they created as a class and the steps suggested by Suzanne McIntire, they will start practicing their speech and make sure they comprehend the message and words used in the speech. They will research information about the original speaker or context of the speech to share with their audience. They will be given the opportunity to practice their speech several times with their peers in a small group and then they will deliver, or declaim, the speech to a whole class audience. Students will be evaluated based on the contents of the created rubric and they will also receive feedback about their presentation from their peers and me, the teacher.

Prior to delivering their speech, I think it's important for students to understand their role as an audience member. Since we've already discussed ethos and how to establish character, they need to understand that having a good character evolves to being a good thing when they are delivering a speech because they will be able to capture their audience better than a person who does not have good character. Putting it in kids terms, if you're always interrupting when others are trying to speak, they are going to remember that when you're delivering your speech and may interrupt you or not fully attend to what you have to say, but if you develop a good ethos and are respectful when others are speaking then they in turn should show respect to you. "Cicero said you want you audience to be receptive – sitting still and not throwing anything at you. Beyond that, they should be attentive – willing to listen closely to what you have to say. And most important of all, they should like and trust you" (Heinrichs 2007, 56). It's important for audience expectation to be established up front so students understand their role as an audience member. Additional to understanding their own ethos, while listening to a speech they can attend to the ethos of the speaker as well as comprehend the words being spoken.

Next, as a class and then either individually or in small groups, students will take a famous speech and change it to make the context fit the classroom setting. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr. "I Have a Dream" speech (American Rhetoric: Martin Luther King, Jr. - I Have a Dream) has the repeating stanza "I have a dream that one day..." which the students can take ownership in finishing off to create their own dream statements for the classroom community or for themselves. This is just one example of a speech that students can take and change to make it applicable to the classroom and their role of being a student. Students will then practice their newly composed speech and deliver it to the class. This will start the process of making them think of themselves as rhetoricians and speech writers.

After students practice listening to speeches, identifying characteristics of good speakers, learning about the speakers, delivering a part of a speech, and changing a speech to making it applicable to students today, they will then have the opportunity to try their hand at creating their own speech. Since an overarching social studies goal for second grade students is, "The learner will identify and exhibit qualities of responsible citizenship in the classroom, school, and other social environments" (NCDPI 2006) students will invest time in creating a speech persuading others to be responsible citizens in the classroom and school environment. Relaying back to Cicero's theory of persuasion, students will work through the suggested five steps from creating to delivering their own speech.

Invention- First as a class we will work together to brainstorm topics students would speak about if delivering a speech about being a responsible citizen in the classroom and school environment. Then students will individually choose a topic to concentrate on, but work in pairs or small groups to brainstorm with other students, subtopics or supporting ideas to their topic. Also in the invention stage they will consider all audiences who will be hearing their speech: the peers and teacher in the classroom, who they will speak to directly, and all the other students, teachers, and administrators in the school who their message will be shared with through the use of recorded and broadcasted media. They need to consider the prospective of all of their listeners as well as what some counter arguments their speech may be met with. In his article "Teach a Kid to Argue," Heinrichs says "Rhetoric doesn't turn kids into back-sassers; it makes them think about other points of view" (Heinrichs 2005). Bryan Garsten in his book Saving Persuasion: A Defense of Rhetoric and Judgment states, "persuasion is worthwhile because it requires us to pay attention to our fellow citizens and to display a certain respect for their points of view and their judgments" (Garsten 2006, 3). Students will be doing this with the intention to write a speech to persuade an audience, but inadvertently this skill will project in different areas of their life.

Arrangement - Next they will arrange the topic and subtopics of the speech. They will have the use of a graphic organizer to put their ideas together using an organized visual representation and they will follow the format suggested by Safire: introduce the topic, tell them what you want them to know, and remind them what they've heard (Safire 1997, 21). Students will take their ideas organized on the graphic organizer and turn them into sentences to use in their speech. They will also start by introducing themselves. McIntire suggests giving background information about the speaker or the context of the speech (McIntire 2005, 285) and since they are the speaker for their speech they can give information about themselves. I'm picturing them introducing their name age and grade, as well as any other information they want to relay to their audience that would support, and not take away from the attention to their speech. How they defined their ethos towards the beginning of the year and unit will help them to create their introduction to their speech.

Style - Students will recite their speech to themselves and even to a small group of their peers in order to listen to the flow and rhythm of their words. This is where they will revise their speech and include figures of speech, synonyms, similes, and metaphors and try to have some catchy sound bites that their audience can pick up on and walk away from the speech with. Second grade students are expected to "Compose first drafts using an appropriate writing process: planning and drafting, rereading for meaning, revising to clarify and refine writing with guided discussion" (NCDPI 2004) and they are responsible to "Write structured, informative presentations and narratives when given help with organization" (NCDPI 2004). In the style phase, not only will they practice the style of their delivery, but they will look carefully at the words they wrote and change words as needed to craft a more articulate and intellectual speech that is appropriate to their intended audience.

Memory - Students have the responsibility to practice their speeches. I want them to know their speech so well that they can recite it from memory or with little help from cue cards. If students practice their speeches they become more fluent. Since they are drafting and composing their own speeches, they already have ownership over the words, but they need the opportunity to practice it in order to decide where to put the emphasis and to make sure the words flow together when they are spoken. Students will be able to do this independently and in front of a small audience of their peers before delivering their speech to the entire class and a recording device which will preserve their speech and enable it to be broadcasted to the entire school community.

Delivery - Students will deliver their speech to the class and a recording device (video camera) in order to persuade the listeners (other students in the school) to be responsible citizens in the school environment. Their delivery will be evaluated based on the rubric they established and used to evaluate speeches of other speakers. Because I want to build up students' confidence, they will have the opportunity to deliver their speech more than once if they feel the need. I want to give them the opportunity to have great success and feel good about the experience of composing and delivering their own speech and to know that their words and their message has meaning and great importance and value to the school community.

By introducing students to ethos at the beginning of the school year, I will hopefully help them to consider establishing a good character which will have many returns in both the classroom setting, and also for the rest of their lives. As students study speakers and their words, they will learn how to put words together to provide meaning for the context of an event, an action, or a defense. Aristotle describes these ideas as "supporting or opposing a political measure, in pronouncing eulogies or censures, and for prosecution and defense in the law courts" (Honeycutt 2004) and it relates to rhetoric of the future, rhetoric of the present, and rhetoric of the past respectively. Understanding the context of an argument, including one they have to make, will enable them to better articulate their ideas and needs as well as communicate with others in a more comprehensible manner. In order to place priority and emphasis on encouraging students to stay in school and achieve high school graduation North Carolina's new teacher evaluation tool requires each teacher, from a students' Kindergarten year to Senior year, to support students so they may achieve this goal. By students understanding the value of being responsible citizens in the school environment, I hope they will synthesize that their greatest responsibility is to themselves – to stay in school and earn an education. Learning to argue well is a part of that responsibility because "the ancients considered rhetoric the essential skill of leadership – knowledge so important that they placed it at the center of higher education" (Heinrichs 2007, 4).

Classroom Activities:

This unit will involve the students engaging in a variety of activities. Students will establish a definition of the vocabulary word, ethos. I will introduce speakers and specific speeches, including teaching the students how to find speeches and contextual information about the speech and speaker; and students will relate the speech to the organization suggested by Cicero. Students will brainstorm attributes of responsible citizens, considering their audiences. They will brainstorm topics to persuade and supporting details for their argument. Then the students will take their ideas through the writing process: pre-write, first draft, revise and edit, peer revision, teacher conference, and publish. Next students will practice speaking and beginning to memorize their speech. Finally they will deliver their speech.

At the beginning of the school year, introduce students to the vocabulary word ethos. Write "ethos" in a circle in the center of the board and in a column on the side have students brainstorm what they think ethos means. Then provide for students the definition of ethos as "personal character of the speaker" (Honeycutt 2004) and record it in the circle under the word. Create a word web and have students call out different words that relate to how they want their character to be, for example: trustworthy, responsible, good listener, hard-working, respectful, neat, nice, friendly, follows directions, etc., would be some good words to encourage students to recognize here. From the words generated on the board, students need to choose five and write a sentence or two about how they are going to exemplify that characteristic so that it will contribute to their personal ethos. They need to cite what they are going to do and not going to do in the classroom during this academic school year. This activity may require them to turn and talk to a peer to get ideas about what to write. Students should be able to identify their five characteristics and write them down, but they may need some extended time to brainstorm, write, and revise what each characteristic will mean to them. It would also be helpful to give students time to share their ideas with their peers in order to receive feedback to strengthen their thoughts as well as offer suggestions to others. Students should sign their writing as a type of contract to say that they agree to model those behaviors related to building their ethos and it should be preserved for the year and could even be presented somewhere in the classroom.

Introducing students to speeches and speakers will be a process that will evolve over several class periods and maybe even a few months. First I will model for students information and how to find information. We will read developmentally appropriate biographies of people and identify words and actions from the stories that attribute to the person's ethos. The first person we will learn about is Martin Luther King, Jr. He is a person familiar to all of the students and the story A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. is located in their student anthology series so the students can listen to me read the story and they can follow along in their own books. Next, they can work in small groups and engage with the story to identify traits of Martin Luther King, Jr. that attribute to his ethos. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an influential Civil Rights leader in the United States. "He was a powerful speaker who stirred emotions in people around the world" (Harcourt Schools "Martin Luther King, Jr.) Martin Luther King, Jr. focused on equality for all people and was respected by "political leaders in many countries" (Harcourst Schools "Martin Luther King, Jr.) and he earned a Nobel Peace Prize for the work he contributed to equality of all Americans. There is a short five minute video compilation with historical information about Martin Luther King's development into being a Civil Rights Leader, located at titled "Martin Luther King" in the "Heroes of American History" series that can be shown to the students to support Martin Luther King, Jr's ethos. From that video clip students will learn he delivered that speech to over "200,000 Americans," he was a reverend who lived in a time of segregation. Martin Luther King started to pick up popularity when he organized a peaceful protest in the form of a bus boycott. Dr. King supported the constitution and prioritized non-violence. It is a great model of perseverance for the students, one of the character traits our school highlights.

Next I will introduce his speech, "I Have a Dream" from the American Rhetoric website. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered this speech on August 28, 1963 during the March on Washington for jobs and freedom. This speech was monumental for the Civil Rights movement, which was dedicated to gaining equality for all people, especially African Americans, in the United States. Students will preview the text and watch the YouTube video of him delivering it. Even though all students may not be able to comprehend the vocabulary of the speech, they can follow along with the text and begin to relate new words with their pronunciation, a second grade reading goal. Students will build an understanding of the setting and impact of the speech. I will ask students to share what the setting for the speech was and ask them why they think the setting contributed to the persuasion of the speech. It is evident in both the visual representation on YouTube and in the text of the speech that the speech is delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, creating a connection with the idea of ending segregation to Abraham Lincoln the president credited for ending slavery.

Students will complete a persuasion graphic organizer (Appendix II) identifying specific arguments addressed in the speech. They will use this same graphic organizer to brainstorm ideas for their own speeches, but it will be introduced as a tool for literacy where students complete it with information from what they have read. This can be done whole class, small groups, or independently. Students will identify key points about the speaker that contribute to his ethos. Then comprehend the goal of the speech and the main ideas used in the framework for supporting that goal. Some speeches include more than three main ideas, as allowed by the graphic organizer and for purposes of this assignment students only have to identify three, although if they want to record more they may on the back. They will provide supporting reason for each goal from the speech and write a generalization about the conclusion of the address. Students will do this in order to see how Cicero's organization is applied to speeches. It is important to point out to them that not all speeches may follow this format to persuade, and it may also be amusing to have them engage in this same task using music that has lyrics intending to persuade. This requires students to work backwards to reduce the style of the words to the organization of the message and have a visual for how the two differ.

Next students will highlight the section where Martin Luther King, Jr. uses a technique where he repeats the starting part of his sentences or phrases, "I have a dream that one day" (American Rhetoric: Martin Luther King, Jr. - I Have a Dream). Starting to put the pieces together of bridging ethos and considering the audience, as a class we will change this text to make it relevant to the classroom and this school year, and start our new speech by repeating "I have a dream that this year..." Students will work independently to establish goals for the class for this school year related to what they want to learn and how they want to establish their ethos. Students should be encouraged to be as articulate as possible in this process and clearly define what they want in as few and effective words as they can in order to get their message across without losing their audience, their fellow classmates. Students will recite their dream statement to the class and everyone's statement will be put together in a class speech. This will be the first opportunity they have to deliver a prepared speech/short-statement in front of their classmates. If possible, this moment should be recorded and preserved to use as evidence for assessment of student growth with writing and delivering speeches.

This process of finding and reading contextual information accompanying a speech can be modeled again using another famous speech and speaker. Harcourt School Publishers' website: provides a directory that links to websites containing biographical information about famous people. The content is developmentally appropriate for elementary students and some of them are also available in Spanish. (Beginning readers may need another student to read some of the text to them).

To model the process again for my students, I would read-aloud the story A Picture Book of John F. Kennedy from our school library and provide for the students some background information about John F. Kennedy using Discovery Education's video "Video Biographies: American Presidents: 1929-1963." The narration of this three minute video clip gives great information to the contributions of John F. Kennedy's ethos. After listening to and watching the video segment, students will record key words used to describe Kennedy's ethos including: "victory, dramatically established his political career, future seemed boundary less, campaigned vigorously, Pulitzer-prize winning, presidential hopeful, prevail over religious issue as he had heroically prevailed over the odds in the Pacific, front-running democratic candidate, won the nomination on the first ballot, and Nation's 35 th President" are just some of the sound bites used in the video segment to describe the credibility of John F. Kennedy. Another tool in rhetoric is to have someone else establish your credibility for you. "Another way to pump up your rhetorical virtue is get a witness to brag for you" (Heinrichs 2007, 65). Full videos of this Kennedy's Inaugural speech, and many others, are found at John F. Kennedy was a student, author, traveler, and war hero. He served in both the House of Representatives and Senate before running for President. He was the 35 th and youngest president in the United States and during his time in office supported the peaceful efforts to end slavery (Harcourt Schools "John F. Kennedy").

The full length broadcast of Kennedy's speech is titled "President Kennedy 1961 Inaugural Address." Students can watch the speech and discuss words and phrases he used to establish his credibility and inspire pathos in his audience. Students will reread the last three paragraphs and practice saying one of them in order to become accustomed to the style and rhythm of rhetoric Kennedy employed in his speeches. Students can also analyze the speech and identify the logos of the speech using the graphic organizer (Appendix II).

Contributing to the "Invention" of the speech, as a class, students will brainstorm valuable attributes of what a responsible citizen looks like in both the school and neighborhood community. These attributes will be listed on the board. Included in this discussion can be a sharing about when students were persuaded to do something they didn't want to do as well as to do something they knew was wrong. Hopefully not many students have experience with the later, but this is a good time to allow them to talk about it and reveal the persuasion strategies that were used to convince them negatively.

Then individually students will choose one of the attributes of a responsible citizen to write a persuasive speech about. Working in small groups each student will label a piece of paper with the attribute of their choice. Then they will spend three minutes brainstorming all of the ideas and words they can think about related to their attribute. Next they will share their attribute and brainstormed ideas with their group and their group members will have three minutes to add to their paper additional ideas. The step of others contributing to the attribute will continue until everyone has a turn to share and receive feedback.

The next lesson involves considering the audience of the speech. Students first have to identify who their audience will be, peers in the classroom and in the school as well as teachers, and they also have to realize that even though teachers will be listening to their speech, they are trying to persuade their peers. As a class we will discuss what things need to be included in order to appeal to that audience. This information should be recorded and displayed in the classroom so students can reference it as needed throughout the writing process of their speech.

"Arranging" their ideas students will then complete a graphic organizer (Appendix II) considering the integration of the parts of a speech as suggested by Cicero, Aristotle, and Safire. This will be the start of the writer's workshop process employed in the classroom.

Second grade students write narratives, creative stories, and skits and they start by brainstorming a topic or main idea to write about and record it on a graphic organizer. This is considered the pre-writing stage in the writer's workshop. Then students choose three supporting details about their topic to elaborate on when they record their story. For the purpose of writing narratives, creative stories, and skits, and in order to differentiate for both students' interests and abilities, several graphic organizers are available for them to use in order to do this. My links website,, connects to these graphic organizer choices. (Click on "T Resources" and then "Graphic Organizers.") From the ideas recorded on the graphic organizer, students get "writing booklets" which I (or a parent volunteer) have created for the class. Writing booklets involve putting four pieces of lined paper together, folding them in half (11 inches to 5.5") and then stapling on the side so it looks like a mini book for the students. Students create a title page on the front and give their story a title, illustration, and write their name. They are allowed to do this at any time during the first draft, so it is not the first thing they must accomplish when they get their booklet. Once they open the book on the first page they write their topic or main idea sentence and three or more sentences about it, including the introduction of the setting and the characters in their story. Then on the next three pages they need to write their three supporting details and for each detail include three or more sentences to describe what they mean.

For the purpose of writing a speech the details will be three specific actions students can do attributed to the topic or main idea of their speech. They will describe these actions in a variety of ways to get the point across of what it should look like and what type of result it should achieve. On the next page students write their conclusion summarizing what they have told and include a feeling about the events in their story.

When writing a narrative or short story, some students also like to include an "About the Author" page giving biographical information about them self, so they are familiar with introducing themselves in their stories. This information, including what they brainstormed at the beginning of the year when establishing their ethos, will lend itself to the introduction part of the speech.

After students have completed the first draft of their stories, they follow a checklist which requires them to look at the conventions of their story and make sure the first letter of every sentence is capitalized, there is punctuation at the end of every sentence, and they check the spelling against the high frequency word list that is supplied to them in their writing folders. They also have access to a dictionary (both book and online) if they want to check the spelling of unfamiliar words. They also re-read their writing, and contributing to the "style" of their work, by revising their sentences to flow better or by adding metaphors, similes, figurative language, synonyms, and other poetic features so that it sounds more coherent and intelligent.

Once students have inspected their own writing, they share it with a peer who goes through it looking for the same conventions and then has to "P.A.M." the story. "P" stands for praise, "A" stands for ask a question, and "M" stands for make a suggestion. The author of the story has to revise his/her story correcting any convention mistakes and responding to the P.A.M. by making sure to answer the question in their story as well as improving upon whatever was suggested. I have students do the revisions using a colored pencil so I can see they reflected on their writing and made progress. I do this instead of having them write a whole new second draft, and so I also introduce editing marks so they know how to make changes to their papers. A second grade friendly poster highlighting these marks can be found at

After students have edited and revised their own work, they may schedule a conference with me, to give feedback to their work. After conferencing they have the opportunity to accept the feedback and make changes to their writing and then to publish their work. Students typically choose to publish by typing their story into a word processing document and adding clipart pictures to illustrate it or by using Photo Story 3, downloadable for free from and adding original artwork that is scanned or digital pictures taken of scenes from around the school. Some students also choose to publish by re-writing their story neatly. Not every story gets taken to publication throughout the year, and at different times during the school year students' focus on strengthening different parts in their stories so they sometimes formulate many first drafts that may never be taken farther.

I include this information in order to share the writing process that is used in my classroom. Prior to writing speeches, students will have already engaged in this process with a couple of stories so they will be familiar with the format and expectation used for writing. Students will be expected to apply it to speech writing aligning their speech to the graphic organizer (Appendix II) to be used for writing a persuasive speech. For purposes of writing a speech, students will write their words neatly or type them into a word processing document in order to have a supporting document for what they are going to say. In order to scaffold this, some students may dictate their speech for other students (or adult volunteers) to type for them.

After students have written their speeches, they will begin to practice them. A "memory" device they may use is to "visualize the different parts of it as rooms in a house, for instance the introduction as the entryway, the narration as the living room, and so on" (Garsten 2010) or students may create flashcards or cue cards highlighting the different sections of their speech, or create a PowerPoint presentation, for their own personal purposes, not to read and project for their audience. Students will have the opportunity to practice delivering their speeches over several days and in front of small groups of peers in order to generate an ease about speaking in front of an audience specific words for a specific purpose, as well as to receive feedback about their technique.

Finally, students will "deliver" their speech to the entire class and have it recorded using a video camera. They should know ahead of time what day they are expected to deliver it so as to not be a surprise to them, and so they have time to consider how their wardrobe for that day may be used to contribute to their ethos when delivering the speech. It may be helpful for the class to have a discussion about whether they should dress up in order to address their peers about being a responsible citizen or if it is acceptable for them to wear their "kid" clothes. Since addressing their peers in both the classroom setting and by a recorded devise to project over the school news program is not an everyday occurrence for them, it may enhance their character by dressing professionally; however, it may not be necessary. I do not have the correct answer to this proposition so I will facilitate a class discussion about this idea and allow the students to decide. Some students may choose to dress professionally and some may not and the class discussion could resume after all of the students have delivered their speeches about whether or not it contributed to the persuasion of a speech.

Students will be evaluated based on the rubric introduced at the beginning of the unit. Hopefully growth will be shown from the delivery of their first speech to the delivery of this speech, the one they created putting together their own words. However, the comparison will be slightly different because the first speech the declaimed whereas in the second speech they delivered their own words. Students will also be evaluated on their written speech. Does it include all of the components outlined in the graphic organizer? Also, I think peers will be asked what they will take away from each speech, meaning what "sound bite" do they recall from it. Our society is so media driven that students are accustomed to quick images, words, or statements making an impact and driving persuasion, so the audience will be polled to see if what they take away from each speech matches the intent or topic from the speaker.

By going through this process from creating a credible ethos to delivering a persuasive speech about responsible citizenship, second grade students will engage in their first opportunity of democratic politics. In spending time thinking about ways to persuade others to be responsible citizens and listening to various speeches about it, they will start to internalize their own responsibilities in becoming responsible citizens, starting in the home and elementary school environment and over the years of their lives extend this responsibility to local, national, and global communities.


"American Rhetoric: John F. Kennedy - American University Address." American Rhetoric: The Power of Oratory in the United States. (accessed June 21, 2010). This speech about peace can be listened to and read by students. Paragraphs 3, 4, 10, and the last three paragraphs can be used for comprehension or sound bites appropriate for second grade students.

"American Rhetoric: John F. Kennedy — Inaugural Address." American Rhetoric: The Power of Oratory in the United States. (accessed July 7, 2010). This speech including John F. Kennedy's famous line "Ask not what your country can do for you..." can be listened to and read by students. Paragraphs 4, 22, 26-28 can be used for comprehension or sound bites appropriate for second grade students.

"American Rhetoric: Martin Luther King, Jr. - I Have a Dream." American Rhetoric: The Power of Oratory in the United States. (accessed June 21, 2010). This speech including Martin Luther King Jr. memorable words "I have a dream" can be watched, listened to and read by students. Paragraphs 8, 15-23, 20, and the end can be used sound bites appropriate for second grade students.

Boyer, Ernest L.. The Basic School: A Community for Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1995. This book describes the components of the basic school philosophy.

Corporation for Educational Technology. "Writer's Workshop: editing." The Writing Site Home Page. (accessed July 12, 2010). "Editing Marks" links to a pdf file that can be used as a poster for students to reference how to edit their own or a peers writing.

Department of Public Instruction. "Language Arts: Second Grade." North Carolina Public Schools. (accessed July 9, 2010). This website lists the second grade standards for language arts in the state of North Carolina.

Department of Public Instruction. "Social Studies: Second Grade." North Carolina Public Schools. (accessed July 9, 2010). This website lists the second grade standards for social studies in the state of North Carolina.

Everitt, Anthony.. "Against Catilina." In Cicero : The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician. New York: Random House, 2001. 87-112. Cicero identifies characteristics of different types of orators and persuasive mechanisms.

Garsten, Bryan . "An informal distillation of the art of rhetoric." Class lecture, Persuasion in Democratic Politics from Yale University, New Haven, July 9, 2010

Garsten, Bryan. Saving Persuasion: A Defense of Rhetoric and Judgment. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009.

Heinrichs, Jay. "Teach a Kid to Argue - Figures of Speech." It Figures - Figures of Speech. (accessed June 21, 2010). In this article Heinrichs describes why you should teach a child to argue.

Honeycutt, Lee . "Aristotle's Rhetoric." ISU Public Homepage Server. (accessed June 21, 2010). Aristotle builds a foundation for pathos, logos, and ethos which are used to build character, organize the speech and provoke emotion.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt School Publishers. "Biographies." Harcourt School Publishers. (accessed July 10, 2010). This website provides a directory that links to websites containing biographical information about famous people. The content is developmentally appropriate for elementary students and some of them are also available in Spanish.

"How to Write a Speech." Overcome Fear or Anxiety of Public Speaking. (accessed June 21, 2010). This website offers resources and seven steps to use for composing a speech. There is also a link to a graphic organizer for speech writing.

"Martin Luther King Jr." Harcourt School Publishers. (accessed July 12, 2010). This website provides biographical information about Martin Luther King, Jr's. life.

McIntire, Suzanne. The American Heritage Book of Great American Speeches for Young People. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass 2001-08-03, 2001. The table of contents offers ideas for speeches to use with young people, additionally the book describes advice for reciting speeches.

Microsoft Corporation. "Microsoft Photo Story 3 for Windows." Microsoft Corporation. (accessed July 12, 2010). Microsoft Photo Story 3 is a great outlet for students to use to integrate technology and writing., LLC. "msdooley_2nd's Bookmarks on" My Bookmarks . (accessed July 12, 2010). This website hosts all of the links I use as a classroom teacher as well as the ones I refer my students to. Click on "T Resources" and "Graphic Organizers" for a sampling of ones that can be applied to writing.

"Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama: Back to School Event | The White House." The White House. (accessed June 21, 2010). This is the text of President Obama's message to America's students. The entire text is appropriate and relevant for second grade students.

President Obama's Message to America's Students. Film. Directed by Government Whitehouse. YouTube, 2009. This offers the visual and auditory representation of Obama's speech to America's students.

National Endowment for the Humanities and Asuumption College . "The E Pluribus Unum Project: Archiving 1850's America." Assumption College: A Catholic College founded by the Augustinians of the Assumption. (accessed July 7, 2010). This link gives examples to how speeches were used in the 19th Century Schoolroom.

Safire, Wllam. Lend Me Your Ears, Great Speeches In History. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc, 1997. The introduction of this book details ten steps integrated into a great speech.

Wills, Garry. Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America (Simon & Schuster Lincoln Library). New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006. This book gives contextual information about Abraham Lincoln and the construction of the Gettysburg Address.

Yonge, C. D. "Cicero's De Inventione." Peithô's Web . (accessed June 21, 2010). The first book from Cicero's De Inventione introduces and gives information about Cicero's theory of persuasion.

Appendix I - Implementing the North Carolina Second Grade Standards:

Primary Standards

Social Studies Objective 1.01 Identify and describe attributes of responsible citizenship.

Social Studies Objective 1.02 Demonstrate responsible citizenship in the school, community, and other social environments.

Social Studies Objective 1.03 Analyze and evaluate the effects of responsible citizenship in the school, community, and other social environments.

Social Studies Objective 1.04 Identify responsible courses of action in given situations and assess the consequences of irresponsible behavior.

Language Arts 4.01 Begin to use formal language and/or literary language in place of oral language patterns, as appropriate.

Language Arts 4.02 Use expanded vocabulary to generate synonyms for commonly over used words to increase clarity of written and oral communication.

Language Arts 4.04 Use oral communication to identify, organize, and analyze information.

Language Arts 4.05 Respond appropriately when participating in group discourse by adapting language and communication behaviors to the situation to accomplish a specific purpose.

Language Arts 4.06 Plan and make judgments about what to include in written products

Language Arts 4.07 Compose first drafts using an appropriate writing process: planning and drafting, rereading for meaning, revising to clarify and refine writing with guided discussion.

Language Arts 4.08 Write structured, informative presentations and narratives when given help with organization.

Secondary Standards

Social Studies 2.04 Evaluate rules and laws and suggest appropriate consequences for noncompliance.

Social Studies 2.05 Identify examples of responsible citizen participation in society and social environments.

Social Studies 3.06 Identify individuals of diverse cultures and describe on their contributions to society.

Language Arts 2.01 Read and comprehend text (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama) appropriate for grade two by: determining purpose (reader's and author's), recognizing and applying text structure, comprehending and examining author's decisions and word choice.

Language Arts 2.02 Use text for a variety of functions, including literary, informational, and practical.

Language Arts 2.06 Recall main idea, facts and details from a text.

Language Arts 2.07 Discuss similarities and differences in events, characters and concepts within and across texts.

Language Arts 3.04 Increase oral and written vocabulary by listening, discussing, and composing texts when responding to literature that is read and heard.

Language Arts 3.06 Discuss the effect of an author's choices for nouns, verbs, modifiers and specific vocabulary which help the reader comprehend a narrative or expository text.

Language Arts 4.09 Use media and technology to enhance the presentation of information to an audience for a specific purpose.

Language Arts 5.01 Spell correctly using: previously studied words, spelling patterns, analysis of sounds to represent all the sounds in a word in one's own writing.

Language Arts 5.02 Attend to spelling, mechanics, and format for final products in one's own writing.

Language Arts 5.03 Use capitalization, punctuation, and paragraphs in own writing.

Language Arts 5.04 Use the following parts of the sentence: subject, predicate, modifier.

Language Arts 5.05 Use editing to check and confirm correct use of conventions: complete sentences and correct word order in sentences.

Language Arts 5.06 Use correctly in written products: letter formation, lines, and spaces to create readable documents, plural forms of commonly used nouns, common, age - appropriate contractions.

Language Arts 5.07 Use legible manuscript handwriting.

Appendix II – Graphic Organizer for a Persuasive Speech



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