To Persuade or Not to Persuade: The Makings of a Persuasive Speech

byDavid Probst


"When was the last time that I was persuaded?" At first I had a hard time really remembering the last time that I allowed someone to persuade me. I made a joke for my answer but in retrospect, people try to persuade me to get their way throughout the course of the day. It really became clearer to me while reading the book, Thank You for Arguing, by Jay Heinrichs, just how many times a day this happens. Persuasion is a part of our everyday lives. While some may be better at it than others it is something that we cannot escape. Someone is always trying to persuade me, whether it is one of my students trying to get me to reinstate lost recess privileges or my three year old daughter batting her eyes at me while holding up her arms trying to get me to pick her up.

I teach at Ginter Park Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia. Its population is 99% African American. A significant part of the population— around 85% —receive free or reduced lunch. Our school is divided into two buildings. Our annex, Mary Scott, houses grades pre-K through first grade and the main building, Ginter Park has grades 2-5. Ours is a neighborhood school with a large walking population and those who ride the bus have no more than a five or ten minute ride to get to the schools. Most of the students come from single-parent and low-income homes. I teach fifth grade Social Studies, science, and writing. We have four 60 minute blocks and the students switch classes for each of their core subjects. The switching of classes not only gives them the opportunity to have four different teachers but prepares them for middle school by not staying in one class the entire day.

One of the biggest issues that we face is that many of our students are not able to express themselves in written form. Across the board, the writing skills of the majority of my students is very poor and it is a struggle at times to get them to realize that being able to express themselves writing is an essential life skill that will not only help them while in school, but well into their lives after they complete school. Many of them are coming to the fifth grade and are not even able to compose proper sentences or paragraphs. While they may be able to verbalize their thoughts, writing them down in a coherent way has proven to be difficult for a lot of them. One of my driving motivations for this unit is the desire to strengthen their writing skills by analyzing speeches, identifying the components that make a good speech, and writing their own speeches while building oral skills as well as learning about persons in history who have made significant contributions with the use of words both written and spoken.


What drew me to create this unit is that the young people I teach are masters of persuasion, yet they do not even know it. There are numerous times throughout the day that they use their persuasive skills on teachers and peers. Whether it is getting someone to be their boyfriend or girlfriend (these are fifth graders mind you), trying to talk their way out of trouble, or trying to get someone to share something with them at lunchtime, persuasion is always being used. While they are unaware of what they are doing, they are constantly using the three basic tools of rhetoric: logos, ethos, and pathos.

In my unit I am going to introduce my students to the skill of rhetoric or persuasion as we know it. We will talk about the basic components of rhetoric and how they are used. We will look at persons who throughout history who have used rhetoric for the betterment of some and to the detriment of others. We will get into the history of rhetoric and look at great rhetoricians such as Aristotle of the ancient Greek civilization and Cicero of the ancient Roman civilization. We will also carry this over into medieval times and look at figures that also used rhetoric as a means to an end such as Pope Urban II. While looking at figures from the past, we will tie them to figures from the present and not-so-distant past who also are skilled at the art of rhetoric such as Presidents Barack Obama and John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others who have been able to use the power of words to sway people either one way or the other. I plan on using written speeches, videos, and other means of multi-media all leading to the students doing a special project showcasing everything they have learned in this unit. In the process I hope that they will not only become more familiar with those in the past and present who were great rhetoricians and the power of words but also strengthen their written and verbal skills.


The principle objective of this unit is making the students better writers and thinkers. They will improve their writing skills in preparation for the state's standardized writing test. In doing this they will also gain mastery over the required Social Studies and Language Arts objectives. I hope to help them with this mastery by presenting the objectives and lessons in engaging and exciting ways by tying together the past and present through the use of written, spoken, and recorded words with technology that is familiar to them.

The first objective is to establish some background knowledge of those who were important in the history of rhetoric focusing on Aristotle and Cicero. Aristotle directly ties in with the Virginia Social Studies Standards of Learning (SOLs). While Cicero is not directly mentioned in the Va. SOLs we do study the ancient Roman civilization that he lived in and made a significant contribution to. The activities during this part of the unit will include direct instruction so that the students will be able to get learn the background information necessary for the next part of the unit.

The second objective is to look at the different parts necessary for a speech to be considered persuasive: ethos, pathos, and logos. These tie directly in with the first objective. We will learn to recognize the different parts of a persuasive speech by using excerpts from speeches from the past as well as the present. This is where we will be able to incorporate different forms of media such as television, recordings, and written texts. We will use different activities and tools such as graphic organizers and cloze activities in this part of the unit.

The last objective is to be completed after they have learned who has made significant contributions to the history of rhetoric and persons throughout history who through their words have made significant contributions to the world. After mastering the aspects of what it takes to write a persuasive speech we will tie them all together by writing speeches where the listeners, who will be their peers, should be able to recognize the key components of a persuasive speech. This unit ties in nicely to Virginia's SOLs because they are required to complete an oral presentation.

Background Information

What is rhetoric? The term rhetoric itself originally stems from the Greek word rhetor which means orator or speaker. The rhetor is a person who has acquired the theory and technique of the art of oration, which already implies that the principles of rhetoric can be learned. 1 Some working definitions of rhetoric or persuasion are:

  • Rhetoric is the art of using language to communicate effectively. 2
  • The art of using language, especially public speaking, as a means to persuade. 3
  • The art of influencing the thought and conduct of an audience. 4

It is reported that rhetoric, as a distinct art, was born in the 5th century B.C. in the Greek town of Sicily and emerged in answer to a social need. Corax and Tisias were the first to use rhetoric. A rhetorician was then, in the original sense, a man who advised on the most efficient way of presenting a legal case. Corax and Tisias also provided the first definition of the rhetorician: artificer, or producer, of persuasion.

Gorgias, another Greek, came to be known as a Sophist, a rhetorician who travels from town to town making public displays of his rhetoric abilities, attracting students who would pay for their education. He was believed to have introduced the art of rhetoric to ancient Greece. He held the belief that a speaker need not concern himself with the truth of the subject he is speaking about. He taught that words had so much power that rhetoricians could persuade or manipulate others into doing just about anything that they wanted. Socrates, Plato, and also Isocrates were against this thinking and called Gorgias irresponsible. Gorgias was written by Plato to attack Gorgias' views concerning rhetoric. It was written as a conversation between Socrates and four other people: Chaerephon, Callicles, Gorgias, and Polus

After a while, Romans began to make significant contributions to rhetoric. Cicero and Quintilian were two of the most famous rhetoricians. Cicero's De Inventione and the anonymous Rhetorica ad C. Herennium became the most popular books on rhetoric. Both texts are technai, books used by scholars to learn rhetorical skills. They both contain brief and coherent explanations of the main rhetorical doctrine, the three kinds of oratory, the five stages of composition and the parts of speech. 5 Quintilian is best known for his work- Institutio Oratoria. This book gives ways to use rhetorical strategies in the courtroom. It was used in the practice of law by ancient Romans.

The Architects of Rhetoric

Two of the most important figures in the history of rhetoric are Aristotle and Cicero. Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) was a Greek philosopher, educator, and scientist. He was able to combine the thoughts of Socrates and Plato to create his own ideas and definition of rhetoric.Rhetoric, written sometime between 360 and 334 B.C., was one of his most influential works. In this work, he writes about the art of public speaking. He believes that rhetoric treats specific cases. These specific cases are topoi, which are different topics that can be used in persuasion. In Book Two of Rhetoric, he lists the twenty-eight common topics, or topoi. He also addresses style, diction, metaphor, and arrangement. The theory of the syllogism was first introduced by Aristotle. He was the first to analyze an argument in a logical order. The rhetorical syllogism is also called an enthymeme. An enthymeme is a statement that transfers attitudes the audience already holds to the case at hand. Another concept, pisteis, was developed by Aristotle. Pisteis simply refers to the different ways in which a speech can be persuasive. Aristotle wrote that there were three different ways: ethos, logos, and pathos.

  • Ethos is the credibility of the rhetor.
  • Logos is the power of reasoning shared by the rhetor and the audience.
  • Pathos is the emotions of the audience.
    Cicero (106-43 B.C.) is considered one of the most significant rhetoricians of all time. His works include the early and very influential De Inventione (On Invention), De Oratore, and Orator (a defense of Cicero's style). He championed the learning of the Greeks (and Greek rhetoric), contributed to Roman ethics, linguistics, philosophy, and politics, and emphasized the importance of all forms of appeal (emotion, humor, stylistic range, irony and digression in addition to pure reasoning) in oratory.

    Cicero was also a great politician in ancient Rome. He used his skills as a rhetorician to climb his way up the political ladder of the ancient Roman time culminating in him reaching the highest office that one was able to hold at the time which was called the consul. One of Cicero's greatest accomplishments and failures was when he "saved" the Republic of Rome from collapse at the hands of Catiline. After the Cataline incident Cicero's popularity increased but later the incident harmed him and he was banished from Rome. He eventually was allowed to return to Rome but not long after that Cicero was murdered. He was thought to be one of ancient Rome's greatest orators who made significant contributions to rhetoric and philosophy.

    Moments in History to Illustrate the Importance of Rhetoric

    There have been many occasions throughout the course of history that rhetoric has made significant impacts. Who can forget Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech? This historic speech was given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. For most people, it is the one speech that shows the true power of words in bringing about change. When Dr. King spoke the words "Let freedom ring", it not only brought light to the conditions many black Americans faced but it opened the eyes of white America. It was seen as a turning point in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's.

    In 351 B.C., Demosthenes (382-332B.C), who was referred to as the "The Orator", gave a series of three scathing speeches against Philip of Macedon, who had aspirations of conquering Greece. These speeches were known as the Philippics. They warned the Athenians against an impending attack against them by Philip's forces. Even though they were unsuccessful in halting the reign of Philip, today a speech that harshly denounces someone is called a Philippic.

    Another great example of a historical speech is Pericle's Funeral Oration, which was written by Thucydides for his History of the Peloponnesian War. In 431 B.C., at the end of the first year of the Peloponnesian War, Pericles gave this speech in Athens as a part of the annual public funeral of the dead. Here he compared the "greatness" of Athenian democracy to the "narrow and limited" scope of the Spartan oligarchy. It became one of the most influential political statements in Western civilization.

    "Four score and seven years ago" were the words spoken by Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address in November of 1863. This speech was given at a turning point in the Civil War at the dedication of a cemetery in Gettysburg. The Civil War was being fought between the North and the South in the United States over slavery. This speech is still one of the most quoted speeches in the history of the United States.

    While there have been many instances where rhetoric has been used in inspiring and uplifting ways, there have been some who used the art of rhetoric as a means to get the masses to do their bidding. One example is in 1095; Pope Urban II gave a speech at Claremont. This speech was the spark that ignited the first Holy Crusade. The speech was a call to the Byzantine Empire to free the "Holy Land" from its "evil" Muslim rulers. The success of the first crusade resulted in the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel.

    One person in history who stands out as a rhetorician that used his words against others was Adolph Hitler. The German leader had the ability to tap into the feelings of his audience. He used his words to effectively get his audience behind him. The power of his rhetoric came not from the validity of the message but from how it was delivered. An example of this is his speech to the Reichstag of Germany on January 30, 1939. Hitler gave this speech as a climax of the film, Der Ewigee Jude (The Eternal Jew), which was a propaganda film talking about the "Jewish problem". This was the first of many announcements that the Jewish race would be annihilated. It eventually led to the slaughter of millions of Jews in Europe by the Germans which became known as "the Holocaust".

    The Components of Rhetoric

    According to Aristotle, rhetoric is "the ability, in each particular case, to see the available means of persuasion." He described three main forms of rhetoric: Ethos, Logos, and Pathos. In order to deliver a good persuasive speech one must able to use all three successfully. Ethos (Greek for 'character') refers to the trustworthiness or credibility of the writer or speaker. There are four characteristics used to measure the ethos of a speaker: trustworthiness, similarity, authority, and reputation or expertise.

    When hearing a speech, an audience is more likely to believe someone that they can trust. If the audience trusts you then they believe what you are telling them is true. We can look at examples of the use of ethos in speeches made by two of the greatest orators of the modern era. On August 28, 1963, in front of 250,000 civil-rights supporters, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Dr. King used ethos to his advantage when he gave this speech. He portrayed this effectively because he himself was an African American, and he knew exactly what kind of segregation and discrimination his black brothers and sisters were experiencing. King gives an example by saying, "We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities…as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one." 6 Dr. Martin Luther King addressed to the people such real and visual examples of things happening in the Black community, that many people finally began to look at the situation in another point of view.

    On March 28, 2008, Senator Barack Obama gave his speech on race, A More Perfect Union ". It's in his use of ethos that Barack Obama excels. Here are a few lines from this passage: "I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived the Depression to serve in Patton's army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I've gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world's poorest nations." 7 He conveys the sense that he personally embodies and actually, in some sense, is the American dream.

    In these two examples we can see some of the four characteristics of ethos: trustworthiness, similarity, authority, and reputation. An audience is more likely to be persuaded by someone they trust. Trustworthiness can be measured by concepts like: the person's honesty; is he ethical or moral, is he generous, or benevolent. Your audience tends to trust you more if you are a member of a group with which these qualities are often associated such as a pastor or a firefighter. The audience is more likely to be receptive to persons to whom they can identify with. Some characteristics you might share with your audience are age, race, gender, socio-economic status, citizenship, and personality. The more you are like your audience the more likely they will be willing to accept your message. The greater a person's authority the greater the chance that the audience will be inclined to listen and be persuaded. Authority comes in many forms ranging from organizational authority, political, religious, and educational authority, just to name a few. Lastly, expertise is what you know about your topic and reputation is what your audience knows that you know about your topic. If your ethos is high and well established from the beginning then you have your audience from the very beginning but if you are not able to do this then the speaker may have a harder time getting the audience's attention or persuading anybody.

    For Aristotle, the most important means of persuasion was logos. 8 In Greek, logos can mean simply "word," "the underlying point that makes sense or meaning behind everything else," or it can mean "logic, reason, rational thinking." 9 Logos essentially is the reasoning or logic behind an argument. A speaker uses logic after he has established his character or ethos. A speaker uses two types of logic: one is induction where the listeners come to their own conclusions and the other is deduction. In deduction the speaker uses very specific examples in their speech. When using deductive reasoning, speakers often use enthymemes, which are syllogisms in which one of the premises is not stated leaving the listeners to fill in the blanks. A categorical syllogism consists of three parts: the major premise, the minor premise and the conclusion. For example: All men are mortal: Socrates is a man: Socrates is a mortal.

    An example of logos can be found in President Franklin Delanor Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor address to the nation, "A Day That Will Live in Infamy". This speech was given in response to the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941. This is the speech in which he asks America for permission to join the war effort during World War II. The use of logos was FDR's main selling point in this speech. When he stated "The Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace" 10, he used rationality to describe the realness of the situation and the animosity between the two nations. Another use of logos in this speech is when the President lists all the different places that Japan attacked on December 7. He lists each one as an individual place and does not place any more importance on any one place over the other.

    The word pathos is derived from the ancient Greek word for "suffering" or "experience" 11. In Aristotle's - "On Rhetoric"-, he identified seven sets of emotions with each pair representing opposite sides. Some of these are: anger and calmness, fear and confidence, kindness and unkindness, and envy and emulation. The goals of a persuasive speaker are to:

    • Be aware of the wide range of emotions,
    • Decide which emotions to evoke,
    • Learn how these emotions can be evoked in your audience.

    Aristotle knew that in order to persuade an audience, their emotions must be linked to the arguments of that particular speech. By making your audience more susceptible to being persuaded, you will make your audience more likely to be able to understand your perspective, accept your claims, and more likely to react to a call to action. When evoking emotions the speaker must evoke those that are appropriate to the context of your speech. If you are successful in using pathos well you will be able to accomplish the goal of a persuasive speech which is to get the audience behind you and feeling the emotions that you are trying to appeal to. Those who are not successful at establishing pathos will find that the audience will be more likely to find fault in your arguments and will not invest in your cause.

    We can look at President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address for examples of pathos in a presidential speech. Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863. In his speech, he honored the soldiers that had died in the Battle of Gettysburg. The speech is charged with emotionally charged words such as "hallow", "unfinished work" and "that these dead shall not have died in vain" 12. The use of these words helped the audience feel what he was feeling. He draws on the audience's own emotions to make his point. Another moment in time were we can see how pathos is used to the speaker's benefit was in Pope Urban II's speech given at the Council of Clermont, in 1095, where he addressed a great crowd and urged all to go to the aid of the Greeks and to recover Palestine from the rule of the Muslims. When he said, "Enter upon the road to the Holy Sepulchre; wrest that land from the wicked race, and subject it to yourselves. That land which as the Scripture says "floweth with milk and honey," was given by God into the possession of the children of Israel Jerusalem is the navel of the world; the land is fruitful above others, like another paradise of delights." 13 After this speech was given the First Holy Crusade was launched.

    Putting a Speech Together

    Now that we know the components of a good persuasive speech, what do we do to put one together? First we have to decide who our main audience is. If there is more than one audience, which one of them is the most important? Next, we have to determine timing and setting or kairos. Kairos is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment. Is it the right time for an audience to be persuaded? When would be the best moment to make your appeal and what is the most effective use of media to use when trying to reach your core audience? After we have determined the appropriate audience and setting we can follow the five canons (steps) as described in Cicero's De Inventione.

    • Invention (invention)
    • Arrangement (disposito)
    • Style (elocution)
    • Memory (memoria)
    • Delivery (action)

    Invention is the most important part of putting together a speech. It is when we brainstorm ideas about all of the possible ways that we can be persuaded in a situation. To insure that you do not forget any important resources available to you go through the three types of proof that Aristotle outline: ethos, logos, and pathos. Establishing these is critical to whether or your speech will be successful in getting your message across to your target audience and persuading those that you want to be persuaded.

    Arrangement is the order in which you should put all of the different proofs. As a general rule you establish credibility with your ethos first. Once your credibility is established you present your logos or logic. Give reasons that will appeal to the target audience and that uses the most appropriate criterion. Then using pathos, play upon their emotions to make them feel the righteousness of your argument. A standard for outline for any speech: introduction, narration, proof, refuting of any arguments or potential objections that could be made, and a conclusion.

    Style is where we choose the appropriate manner of speaking or writing. While trying to maintain your credibility, make yourself seem familiar, but not too ordinary, and someone that everyone can look up to and trust. We have to maintain clarity. We have to be sure that we use language that our target audience can easily understand. We also have to showcase our intelligence and good taste. We can do this by carefully choosing appealing figures of speech (see figures of speech appendix) and clever turns of phrase. Be sure that while doing this that you do not interfere with your credibility and clarity.

    Memorize the speech or at least familiarize yourself with it so that it does not seem artificial to you. Some advice for memorizing anything is to study it in a way that appeals to as many senses as you can. Some advice in ways to memorize a speech is by seeing, hearing, and feeling your material. By doing this you reinforce it in your brain. Visual prompts act as a great tool for reinforcing information and committing them to memory. Use flashcards or draw a series of pictures that represent your speech. Write out the text of your speech. The act of writing the words provides very strong reinforcement. Try memorizing your speech backwards, from end to start. This separates the emotion from the words. Record your lines with exaggerated vocal expressions. You may even want to yell your words. Exaggerations leave big imprints in your brain. There are many other different ways that work it is up to the speaker what works best for them.

    Delivery of the speech is crucial to delivering a good persuasive speech. Practice how you would actually give the speech. Practice tone, facial and body gestures. How fast or slow different parts of your speech should be. Practice being natural and relaxed so that you can win the audience's sympathy when you deliver the speech. Also take account the type of medium being used. What works well on television may not carry over well in person and different mediums of communication such as radio or newsprint.

    Instructional Strategies

    Direct Instruction

    While there has been a big push for differentiated (small group) instruction in the classroom; I find some direct (whole group) instruction a "necessary evil". In using direct instruction I am ensuring that the students get the specific information that I want them to receive. By using direct instruction I can use different kinds of technology in the classroom. Whether it is through lectures, power points, SMART board activities, videos, or recorded material I know that they get only the relevant information that I want them to have. With the use of direct instruction I will be able to better assess the student's assimilation of the information being presented to them through written and verbal assessments, quizzes, and other activities such as crosswords. I will use direct instruction techniques whenever the presentation of new concepts is being taught.

    Graphic Organizers

    A graphic organizer is a visual representation of knowledge that structures information by arranging important aspects of a concept or topic into a pattern using labels. These organizers help students in learning and thinking by: representing abstract ideas in more concrete forms, or depicting the relationships among facts and concepts. Graphic organizers can be used before a lesson to activate prior knowledge, guide thinking, and to develop vocabulary. During a lesson, the graphic organizer can help students organize information and stay focused on the content material. After a lesson, the graphic organizer allows the students to confirm or rethink prior knowledge and to relate the new concepts to the old. 14 Some types of graphic organizers that may be used are: hierarchical organizers that present main ideas and supporting details in ranking order, comparative organizers that depict similarities among key concepts, or sequential organizers that illustrate a series of steps or place events in a chronological order. We will use graphic organizers throughout the entire unit.


    In using a rubric I will be able to let the student know exactly what I am expecting from them. There will be no question about what is being expected from them when they present in front of the class as their culminating activity.

    Cloze Activities

    Cloze procedure is a technique in which words are deleted from a passage according to a word-count formula or various other criteria. The passage is presented to students, who insert words as they read or listen to complete and construct meaning from the text. This procedure can be used as a diagnostic reading assessment technique. 15 -We will use cloze activities when we have learned the different components of a persuasive speech. Students will listen to a speech or portion of a speech and then they will have to re-write them using their own words. This way I can assess what they have gotten out of what they heard and if they truly understand the different components of a rhetorical speech.

    R.A.F.T. Activities

    The R.A.F.T. Technique is a system to help students understand their role as a writer, the audience they will address, the varied formats for writing, and the expected content. RAFT is an acronym that stands for:

    • Role of the Writer - Who are you as the writer?
    • Audience - To whom are you writing?
    • Format - What form will the writing take?
    • Topic + strong Verb - What's the subject or the point of this piece?

    Almost all RAFT writing assignments are written from a viewpoint different from the student's, to another audience rather than the teacher, and in a form different from the ordinary theme. Therefore, students are encouraged to use creative thinking and response as they connect their imagination to newly learned information. 16 We will use these methods in preparation for their final project which will be an oral presentation.

    Oral Presentations

    The final project will be an oral presentation given in front of the class. This will be a culminating activity that will reflect everything that the students have learned. In being able to give a short persuasive speech that they have either written on their own or have re-written a portion of a speech of a famous person in history will reflect upon the techniques and knowledge learned throughout the course of the lesson.


    Activity 1:

    In this activity the students will be introduced to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. I have a short video that they will watch telling of the lives of these men during the times of ancient Greece. The resource that I used to find this video is While watching this short film they will take notes on a graphic organizer telling of the different contributions of each person. This graphic organizer will have contributions that these famous men made to Greek culture.

    Activity 2:

    After we have introduced the class to the contributions of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, we will begin to focus on Aristotle and his contribution to rhetoric. I will give them a working definition of rhetoric and show them a small Power Point presentation with Aristotle's components of rhetoric (ethos, pathos, logos) along with examples of speeches made. (E:\Rhetoric presentation power point_files\frame.htm) We will conclude this activity by completing a graphic organizer telling the different components of rhetoric and how they are used. I will ask the students to keep all of their work in a binder specifically for this project so that they can use it as a resource for their final project.

    Activity 3:

    Now that we are familiar with the parts of rhetoric we will do an activity that helps to identify what part of speech is using what technique. I will play excerpts from different speeches and ask them to identify what was being used; whether it was ethos, pathos, or logos. I will use the internet as a source for finding audio and video clips to show the students examples of speeches. For example, I will use excerpts from President Lyndon B. Johnson's speech on civil rights given on March 15, 1965. You can find both a transcript and audio recording of this speech at Another speech we will look at is Senator Barack Obama's "Yes We Can" speech. It can be found on YouTube at We will do Cloze activities in class and for homework to reinforce what they have learned. We will listen to and look at speeches and I will have them fill in the blanks with their own words or words from the speeches to see what they can do with it and how well that they have understood the material.

    Activity 4:

    In this activity I will introduce how to put an effective speech together. We will use Cicero's five canons (steps) to start to put together a successful speech. We will watch a Power Point presentation showing how build a speech. They will take notes in their binders that they have specifically for this unit I will give them excerpts from speeches and have them present them before the class. They will also do R.A.F. T. activities to start to be able to put together their speeches. The students will then have opportunities to practice giving speeches.

    Activity 5:

    I will then assign them their final project. They will have to give their own speech. In delivering this speech they have to first establish ethos, convince us with logos, and then persuade us with their pathos. The speech has to be at least two minutes in length and has to be on a topic that they believe in or one from the past such as not going to war or civil rights. I will provide them with the guidelines (rubric) for the speech so that they will know what is to be expected from them.

    Comments (0)

    Be the first person to comment

    When you are finished viewing curriculum units on this Web site, please take a few minutes to provide feedback and help us understand how these units, which were created by public school teachers, are useful to others.
    THANK YOU — your feedback is very important to us! Give Feedback