Reading Closely and Introducing Rhetoric Toolbox: Unions as Agents of Change—Part 1 | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G7:M2A:U2:L3

Reading Closely and Introducing Rhetoric Toolbox: Unions as Agents of Change—Part 1

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can determine a theme or the central ideas of an informational text. (RI.7.2)
  • I can analyze the development of a theme or central idea throughout the text. (RI.7.2)

Supporting Targets

  • I can determine one of Cesar Chavez's main claims and identify the supporting evidence for it.
  • I can identify basic rhetorical strategies and analyze how Chavez uses them to develop his claims.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Students' annotated texts of the Commonwealth Club Address


AgendaTeaching Notes

1.  Opening

A.  Entry Task (5 minutes)

2.   Work Time

A.  Reviewing Evidence-Based Claims for Paragraphs 1-7 (5 minutes)

B.  Introducing Rhetoric Toolbox (20 minutes)

C.  Reading Closely: Paragraphs 8-15 (10 minutes)

3.   Closing and Assessment

A.  Adding to Agents of Change Anchor Chart (5 minutes)

4.   Homework

A.  Continue reading in your independent reading book for this unit.

  • In this lesson, students explore how unions can be agents of change. After learning about the problems faced by the farmworkers in Lesson 2, students learn how Chavez organized the UFW.
  • In the entry task, students will look at several images of farmworkers' strikes led by Chavez and the UFW.  Find these in advance.  An internet  search will yield many possibilities;  select several that clearly show the workers striking, not just what their working and living conditions were like.
  • Students will also learn to analyze not just what Chavez says but also how he says it. They will learn some basic tools of rhetoric that speakers use to develop their claims. In the interest of time, these lessons focus on having students identify a set of tools and consider how the use of these tools helps Chavez develop his claim.
  • If you have additional time, consider taking this opportunity to help students understand how speakers appeal to their audience's ethospathos, and logos. Many text and on-line resources provide a clear introduction to this framework.  If you have time to develop students' understanding of this framework, it will enrich their reading of the text. However, it is not necessary to their mastery of the standards targeted in this unit.
  • In this lesson, students again use the Discussion Appointments protocol from Unit 1. (See Module 2, Unit 1, Lesson 3) You can continue to use the Weaving Room Discussion Appointments handout that students set up in Unit 1. As in the second half of Unit 1, these lessons do not specify which appointment students should meet with in a given lesson; you decide, with attention to varying the appointments so students have the opportunity to work with a variety of their classmates.
  • Review: Commonwealth Club Address, Paragraphs 1-15.
  • Post: learning targets.


 rhetoric, emotionally charged words, credible, rhetorical questions, tangible, intangible, counterclaim; savage, vivid


  • Photos of the UFW strike, found in advance by teacher (a search will yield many possibilities; focus on images that show striking and picketing workers)
  • Text of Commonwealth Club Address by Cesar Chavez (students' own copies; from Lesson 2)
  • Entry Task (one per student)
  • Rhetoric Toolbox anchor chart (new; teacher-created; one per student and one to display)
  • Weaving Room Discussion Appointments handout (from Unit 1; distributed in Lesson 3 and used throughout)
  • Text-Dependent Questions for Paragraphs 8-15 (one per student)
  • Text-Dependent Questions for Paragraphs 8-15 (Answers, for teacher reference)
  • Agents of Change anchor chart (from Lesson 1)



A. Entry Task (5 minutes)

  • Display some photos of the UFW strike. Tell students that huelga means "strike" in Spanish. Distribute or display the entry task.
  • Briefly discuss the entry task. Answer any questions that surface for the students about the UFW, their reading from yesterday, or unions in general. Tell students that they will read a section about the United Farm Workers union. Encourage students to visualize these pictures as they read the next section of Chavez's speech today.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Reviewing Evidence-Based Claims for Paragraphs 1-7 (5 minutes)

  • Be sure students have their Text of Commonwealth Club Address by Cesar Chavez (from Lesson 2).
  • Direct students to check their homework, the Forming Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizer for Paragraphs 1-7, as you discuss it as a class. Call on a student to share a piece of evidence he or she added. Then ask for a show of hands to see which other students also added that piece of evidence. Finally, call on a different student to explain why that piece of evidence supports that claim. Repeat this process for each piece of evidence.
  • Praise the students for working hard to understand Chavez's speech thoroughly.
  • Although cold calling is a participation technique that necessitates random calling, it is important to set a supportive tone so that use of the cold call is a positive experience for all.
  • Consider collecting this assignment and using it to determine which students may need additional support in mastering this skill.

B. Introducing Rhetoric Toolbox (20 minutes)

  • Focus students' attention on the learning targets. Explain that yesterday and last night, they focused on what Chavez said--which is today's first learning target:

*   I can determine one of Cesar Chavez's main claims and identify the supporting evidence for it."

  • Now they will focus on how he said what he said--which is today's second target:

*   "I can identify basic rhetorical strategies and analyze how Chavez uses them to develop his claims."

  • Display the Rhetoric Toolbox anchor chart and distribute a copy to each student. Explain that speakers or writers such as Chavez who want to persuade their audiences use different tools from those used by a newspaper writer who is trying to describe what happened downtown yesterday. Explain that it's like a toolbox. If you are a carpenter, you have a saw, a hammer, and nails in your toolbox. If you are a plumber, you have a wrench and a plunger. Different tools perform different functions. Yesterday students thought of a text as a house, or something an author "builds" by putting together different sections and relating them together. Today they will think about the tools that are used to build the structure.
  • When we use the word rhetoric, we mean the art of trying to persuade someone. Speakers use a variety of tools to develop their claims. The tools are listed on the anchor chart, and the class will discuss each of them. However, the tools of rhetoric are important because of what they do--just as a hammer isn't important by itself; it's important because it can drive or pull out a nail. As they talk about the tools of rhetoric, students will be thinking about why Chavez selected a particular tool and how it helps him convince the audience of his central claim.
  • Direct students' attention to the "uses powerful words and phrases" part of the Rhetoric Toolbox, and ask them to look at Paragraph 2. In this paragraph, Chavez wants to convince his audience of something. He wants them to agree with his claim that farmworkers were not treated like human beings. So he describes a terrible scene of an accident and "savage conditions." Focus on the word savage and ask a student to define it (violent and cruel) or use it in a sentence or phrase ("the savage lion," for example). Explain this is an emotionally charged word; that is, it's a word that evokes a strong emotion. If he had said "really bad conditions," it would not have been as powerful. Using a vivid word like "savage" is powerful and therefore more convincing.
  • Ask students if they can identify another word or phrase in Paragraph 2 that they think is emotionally charged. Wait for several hands to go up and then generate a list on the board (tragicbodiesnobody even knew their namesgarbagehuman excrementvicious rats gnaw). Ask students to read over this list and think to themselves:

*   "Why is Chavez using these words?"

*   "How does it make his audience feel?"

  • Help students notice that language like this appeals to their emotions (or pathos) and is trying to build their empathy for the plight of the farmworkers. The vivid descriptions also immediately engage them. So Chavez has begun his speech with language that grabs his audience's attention and makes a powerful emotional appeal. This is a way of developing his claim: He did not just tell the audience that because the living and working conditions for farmworkers were challenging, he organized a union. Instead, he tried to make them feel the way he felt through a use of powerful language, anecdotes, and personal experience.
  • Remind students that they labeled the right margin "How Chavez Says It" in Lesson 2. Tell them to write: "With emotionally charged language to engage the audience and build empathy." Consider modeling with your own copy of the speech on a document camera so that students can see what an annotated text looks like.
  • Now instruct the students to turn and talk with a partner about Paragraph 3:

*   "What rhetorical tool is he using? How do you know? What do these tools do?"

  • Instruct them to take notes during their discussion.
  • After a few minutes, ask several pairs to share out. Listen for students to notice the use of facts and statistics. Ask: "Why would Chavez follow a paragraph of powerful emotional language with one of statistics?" Listen for students to explain that these make a logical appeal to the audience and back up the more emotional appeal that Chavez made in the second paragraph. Model the annotation you make on the right hand side of the speech: "uses statistics to make a logical appeal and back up his claim."
  • Direct the students to Paragraph 5. Ask a student to explain how this paragraph establishes Chavez as a credible, or trustworthy, speaker. Listen for students to understand that he lived it; therefore he knows it. Instruct them to write this in the margin; model on your own copy.
  • Ask students to read silently as you read Paragraph 8 aloud. Ask students what repeating pattern they notice in this paragraph, particularly around punctuation. When they name that the paragraph includes a long set of questions, ask whether Chavez wants someone in the crowd to answer these questions. (He doesn't.)
  • Define rhetorical questions (questions that an author poses to make a statement instead of to get an answer) Point out that this is another technique from the toolbox. Rhetorical questions help an author appeal to our reasoning, but because they repeat and extend an idea, they also build emotion.
  • Think-Pair-Share:

*   "Reread paragraph 8 aloud, with emotion.

*   Why does Chavez argue that it is logical for the Hispanic movement to start with the farmworkers?

*   How does asking a series of questions help him develop his claim?

*   What other strategies from the Rhetoric Toolbox do you see in this paragraph? (Think of words that appeal to our moral sense, such as: 'shame,' 'injustice,' 'without pride'; and how he references his own experience.)"

  • In the debrief, prompt students to add notes to the right-hand side of their speech about the tools Chavez uses to develop his claim. Explain that not all rhetoric strategies are equal in value. Appealing to moral sense is certainly more weighty then just using an emotionally charged word. As students grow to be more critical readers, they will be able to evaluate arguments in a more thoughtful way.
  • Tell students that in their close reading today they will see more rhetorical questions. They should underline them. Also, they will see Chavez acknowledge the counterclaim. Remind students they also did this with their Lyddie essay.
  • Ask students to read silently as you read aloud Paragraph 9. Pause at the end and ask a student to identify where Chavez acknowledges a counterclaim (lines 57-59). Ask them to write "counterclaim" in margin. Ask:

*   "Why does Chavez do this? How does it affect the audience's perception of him?"

  • Listen for students to notice that acknowledging a counterclaim makes a speaker seem very reasonable and also gives him a platform on which to directly counter the argument. Ask them to note this on their text.
  • Using an analogy helps to makes to make abstract concepts more accessible to students.
  • ELLs may be unfamiliar with more vocabulary words than are mentioned in this lesson. Check for comprehension of general words that most students would know.

C. Reading Closely: Paragraphs 8-15 (10 minutes)

  • Invite students to sit with an appointment on their Weaving Room Discussion Appointments handout. Distribute the Text-Dependent Questions for Paragraphs 8-15. Direct students to partner-read Paragraphs 8-15 and answer the text-dependent questions in the margins, just as they did in Lesson 2. Consider working with a small group of struggling readers during this time.
  • Collect students' annotated copies of the text to informally assess students' comprehension. The Text-Dependent Questions for Paragraphs 8-15 (for Teacher Reference) provides guidance around what answers you might see.

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Adding to Agents of Change Anchor Chart (5 minutes)

  • Ask students to Think-Pair-Share:

*   "What does Chavez's speech suggest about how workers can affect working conditions?"

*   "What would he say to Lyddie about her decision to sign the petition?"

  • In debrief, add to the class Agents of Change anchor chart (begun in Lesson 1) and prompt students to add to their own copy of the chart.
  • Providing models of expected work supports all learners, especially those who are challenged.



  • Continue reading in your independent reading book for this unit.


Note: Use the texts you collected at the end of class to guide your lesson tomorrow. Consider changing the entry task in Lesson 4 to clear up misunderstandings of the text.

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