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Rhetoric: Persuasion in Reading, Writing, and Critical Thinking
In this course, students become rhetorical masters of persuasion and argumentation. By the end of the year, students will have debated Socrates, planned their own businesses, solved a mystery through rational evidence-building, and solved a global crisis. This course will provide a strong foundation in critical reading and analysis, and would provide an advantage for students interested in competitive debate, student government, or entrepreneurship.
In the first unit, students study a dialogue—in this context, a philosophical conversation and commentary—written by Plato, the grandfather of Western thought. Using techniques originally developed in ancient Greece, students build a strong foundation for rhetorical mastery. The unit closes with students writing their own philosophical dialogues.
In the second unit, students learn how classical rhetoric applies in the world of business and marketing. Students deepen their understanding of persuasive techniques by studying successful marketing strategies. Students end the unit by using their rhetorical skills to devise a marketing campaign for a fictional business.
In the third unit, students step into the shoes of the most famous detectives in literature to learn how to build a strong body of evidence and solve the case through advanced literary and rhetorical analysis. Students finish the unit by putting pen to paper to write their own mysteries.
In the final unit, students will develop their rhetorical skills on a global stage. Students will take the roles of delegates in a simulated United Nations summit to address a global crisis.
What happens in class?
Each unit begins with an exploratory period in which students learn new writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills. They are encouraged to cultivate their abilities as the unit progresses and they encounter more advanced rhetorical forms. Each unit ends with a final project that is developed through a structured process of brainstorming, drafting, revising, and performing.
Each day of class will include a blend of the following types of activities:
- A review of the skills learned in the previous lesson
- A full-class discussion in which students practice their critical thinking and public speaking skills
- A writing assignment that includes either smaller writing prompts to help students build writing stamina or allows them to focus on developing their unit project
- A reading assignment in which students read a text and develop close reading skills with the teacher’s guidance and support
Students should expect to spend about 1-2 hours on homework every week. Homework will include: practicing skills learned in class through questions in the Homework Tab, long-term writing assignments connected to the unit project, and assigned reading in one of the four quarterly textbooks.
During class, the teacher will give students direct, oral feedback on skills and projects. This in-person feedback is key in helping students revise and improve their writing while they are working on the unit projects. At the end of each writing project, students can expect to receive extensive written feedback from their teacher.