Unit Plan: Anger as a Rhetorical Strategy

School: Lowell High School, San Francisco, CA
Teacher: Jennifer Moffitt
Subject: AP Language and Composition
Grade Level: 11th or 12th grade

California State Standard 11.10.R.2.1: Analyze the features and the rhetorical devices of different types of public documents (e.g., speeches) and the way in which authors use these features and devices.

Aim: Students will understand how and why a speaker or writer might use anger as a way to call an audience to action, how the expression of such anger can be framed in Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle, and how anger can be an important part of ethos, pathos, and logos.

Essential Questions: When is anger righteous? How can people use anger in a positive manner? What are the risks of using anger as a motivating strategy?

Duration: Five days

Note on curricular sequence: This lesson presumes a base knowledge of Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle and prior work learning about and analyzing ethos, pathos, and logos, as well as the SOAPStone method of analyzing poetry referred to on day two. It is also designed to lead in to later lessons on the novel’s examination of rhetoric (analysis of how and why Ras moves from an “Exhorter” to a “Destroyer,” for example).

Texts: Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Pedro Pietri’s “Puerto Rican Obituary,” Spike Lee’s Malcolm X

Big Assessment: Informal essay comparing the rhetorical strategies of Pietri’s poem to those in the “speech” Ras the Exhorter makes in Ellison’s novel. Students should be given this assignment at the start of the unit so that they know what they are working toward. This essay can, and ideally should, become part of the prewriting for a larger formal essay on how Ellison portrays rhetoric in the novel as a whole.


DAY ONE: Introduction

Essential Questions: When is anger righteous? How can people use anger in a positive manner?

MOTIVATION: Personal reflection on anger
Journal: Get angry! Just let it out on that piece of paper; keep writing and don’t stop. [Give more set-up, prompting as seems to be needed.]

Reflection on the journals. Ask students to read over what they wrote, consider the following, and take notes on their answers at the end of their journals and in the margins: 1) In what ways does your anger seem righteous [define term if needed]? 2) How did it feel to get that anger out? 3) What positive, productive, or constructive things do you think you could do with that anger? 4) How could you transform the expression of it in order to accomplish such things?

INSTRUCTIONAL SEQUENCE
After explaining to students that they will be seeing a fictional version of Malcolm X, a speech based on the ideas in his writing and speeches, play clip of Lee’s movie: Malcolm X telling his audience that they have been tricked by the white man, ending with him saying, “Ya been took! Ya been hoodwinked! Bamboozled! Led astray! Run amok!” Elicit immediate responses/impressions.

Small groups: Ask students to discuss the following: Why does X point out how foolish his audience has been and in such an angry fashion? In other words, what’s his purpose?

Assessment/Summary: Groups summarize their responses and share with the whole class.

Homework: Read Pietri’s poem



Manny Vega’s Pedro Pietri mural, East Harlem

mural.jpg

SOURCE: Lowry, Paul. "La Calle De Pedro Pietri | Flickr - Photo Sharing!" Welcome to Flickr - Photo Sharing. Flickr.com,
21 Mar. 2008. Web. 23 July 2011. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/paul_lowry/2351204432/>.



DAY TWO: Pietri’s Rhetoric, Part I

Essential Questions: When is anger righteous? How can people use anger in a positive manner?

MOTIVATION: Listening to tone
After asking students to listen in particular to Pietri’s tone of voice, share uploader’s comments about Pietri’s biography, and play YouTube clip below of Pietri reading his poem, which includes pictures of Pietri and of the Nuyorican Cafe. Discuss immediate responses/reactions.

Pedro Pietri reads "Puerto Rican Obituary"



INSTRUCTIONAL SEQUENCE
Small groups, Part I:
1. Fill out graphic organizer about the poem’s main characters, Juan, Miguel, Milagros, Olga, Manuel, adding the specific details that complete the following: a) died dreaming of... , b) died dreaming about... , and c) died hating.
2. Take notes on other details in the poem that put these characters’ feelings into a socio-historical context. What is the world that they live in like? When Pietri refers to them as a group, what does he say?

Assessment/Medial Summary: Teacher calls on groups to share responses with class.

Small groups, Part II: Ask students to draft a SOAPStone the poem (take notes on Speaker, Audience, Occasion, Purpose, Subject, tone).

Assessment/Summary: Answer questions and collect groupwork



DAY THREE: Pietri’s Rhetoric, Part II

Essential Questions: When is anger righteous? How can people use anger in a positive manner? What are the risks of using anger as a motivating strategy?

MOTIVATION: Essential questions about anger
Journal: Put essential questions on board or on an overhead for students to answer as a journal and then discuss.

INSTRUCTIONAL SEQUENCE
Return student work from previous day. Lead whole-class discussion of SOAPStone, with a particular focus on how the poem’s angry tone connects to Pietri’s purpose and to his sense of and feelings about his audience.

Summary: Ask students to apply the day’s big ideas to the section of the novel they will be rereading for homework. (No formal assessment beyond the whole-class discussion today.)

Homework: Reread section of IM that includes Ras’s speech.
Optional homework: Prepare for dramatic reading of Pietri poem (be ready to do any of the sections).



Graphic Organizer for “Puerto Rican Obituary”

Instructions: Fill out the chart with specific details from the poem

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DAY FOUR: From Pietri to Ras the Exhorter

Essential Questions: When is anger righteous? How can people use anger in a positive manner? What are the risks of using anger as a motivating strategy?

MOTIVATION:
Dramatic readings of Pietri poem, with class voting on the winner, who gets extra extra credit. (All readers get some extra credit.)

INSTRUCTIONAL SEQUENCE
Teacher reads Ras speech out loud (students who don’t speak English at home or who are immigrants will often struggle with aspects of Ras’s Jamaican accent until they hear it out loud) while students follow along with their copies.

Small groups: Fill out handout on how the rhetorical triangle works with the speech in small groups.

Assessment/Summary: Whole class discusses handout, focusing particularly on Ras’s relationship to the two members of his “audience,” the narrator and Brother Tod Clifton. How and why does his message come across differently to each of them?



Rhetorical Triangle Elements Organizer

Instructions: Take notes and include arrows to indicate how the elements influence each other.



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Jeff Wall photographic recreation of the Invisible Man prologue

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SOURCE: "MoMA | The Collection | Jeff Wall. After "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue. 1999-2000, Printed 2001."
MoMA | The Museum of Modern Art. MoMA, 2010. Web. 23 July 2011. <http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=88085>.



DAY FIVE: Ras’s Ethos, Logos, Pathos

Essential Questions: When is anger righteous? How can people use anger in a positive manner? What are the risks of using anger as a motivating strategy?

MOTIVATION
Quick Warm-up: Fill out of column with definitions of the three appeals (ethos, logos, pathos).

INSTRUCTIONAL SEQUENCE
Small groups: Fill out columns that analyze how the appeals work in Ras’s speech.

Summary: Discuss responses on graphic organizer.

Assessment (for entire unit): Informal essay: Compare the rhetorical strategies in Pedro Pietri’s poem to those in Ras the Exhorter’s speech to Invisible Man’s narrator and Brother Tod Clifton.


Ethos, Pathos, Logos Organizer

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