Rhetorical Reading (Katie Bullock)

Lesson Prep

Objective: Teach students to read better and smarter. Students will know and understand different reading strategies, how to do them, and when to apply them both in and out of class. They will become better readers by being able to critically think about what they are reading and discern between fact, opinion, absent information and what that means to the text/media.

Materials needed: A reading that they can do a quick and close reading with, a statistic to do the “what do you know/not know” exercise, textbook, handout for reading strategically

Assessment: In class activities, homework assignment


Lesson Presentation

Previous lesson/Homework: Finished the Op-Ed/Reflection exercise. This is a “bridge” lesson to starting the RA 

Rush Write:  3-5 minutes. How do you think “thinking rhetorically” helps us as readers? Discuss as a class


Prepare For Learning:

What is reading?

How do you read?

What makes a good reader?

Discuss how reading is a fundamental skill for this class, for school, and for life. There are different kinds of reading for different tasks and situations. Part of being a good reader is to know when to use different reading strategies. We will be practicing different reading strategies today.

Have them flip through the book and review the different reading strategies. Tell them to read pgs. 184 & 189.

What are some reading strategies in this chapter?

When would you use these reading strategies?


Guided Learning: Introduce the concept that careful, rhetorical reading is one of the skills they will use for rhetorical analysis

Go over handout of reading strategies and describe how to use it.

Practice speed reading strategy. Pass out reading sample face down and give them my expectation (tell me what is going on in this article) Give them 15-20 seconds to speed-read through it using the strategies in the book. Ask who was able to come up with a summary/description of what is in the text. Probably have them do it again. Discuss. How would this reading strategy be helpful to you? When would you use it? What types of information do you gain from it?

Talk about how some things should be read closely and the different strategies that can help with close reading (annotating, note taking, etc.) Have them get into groups and give each group one of the following assignments about the text. Encourage them to use the “close reading” strategies we talked about.

Group 1: How old do you think the stripling warriors are? What textual evidencesupports your assessment?

Group 2: What were the conditions that the stripling warriors were fighting in? What physical, emotional, mental, and emotional challenges were they facing? What is their perspective on their situations? Use textual evidenceto support your answers and inferences.

Group 3: How is this account relevant and applicable to us? When would you use this account to teach/comfort/exhort? What examples would you use from the text to support your claims?

Group 4: How did Helaman feel about the stripling warriors? How did the other men in the armies feel about the stripling warriors? How did the Lamanites react to the stripling warriors? How did their families feel about the stripling warriors? (See Alma 56:27) How does understanding these different relationships contribute to the meaning of the story? What examples in the text would you use to support your inferences?

Come back together as a class.

Ask each group to give one (maybe 2) insights on what they learned and then ask, “What did you do while you were reading to find that insight?”

Did you skip some parts? Did you skim? Did you look at specific textual evidence? Did you look for key words?


What have you learned about close reading from the Selzer piece and this class exercise? How did you find new insights on what you were reading? Emphasize that they were thinking rhetoricallywhile they were reading (could be guided questions or general inquisitiveness, awareness about context etc.) Close reading usually provokes questions. Questions encourage conversation. Reading and writing is a conversation.

Pull up the usual picture of the Stripling Warriors. Ask them who thought of it while they were doing this exercise. Make the point that all of us read with preconceived notions about information and that we need to be aware of those while we read so that we can try to see past them. This helps us gain a different perspective.

After this activity ask:

What makes good reading? Or, how do we read effectively? Possibly review the questions we started with. Ask students what they learned about reading. CONNECT THIS CONCEPT OUTSIDE OF THIS CLASS. Note that these strategies can be applied outside of just text.

Emphasize at the end the class by discussing that careful, smart reading is a skill they will need to exercise for the rhetorical analysis paper.

If there is time, do this activity.

Pair up and write down everything you know about this statistic. Now write everything you don’t know.

What did you learn about reading during this exercise? What did you learn about the power of a rhetor from this exercise? What is this exercise teaching you about reading and thinking rhetorically?

Homework: Choose two Op-Eds and read them critically. Give me the title and a one-sentence summary of each op-ed. List the answers to the following questions: What do you know? What do you not know? (keep it relevant to the information in the article) Why does that matter? What is one thing you learned? What is one point that you didn’t agree with about the article? Why? What is one point you did agree with about the article? Why? What is one question that you want answered after reading the article? What is a characteristic that you noticed about the genre of an op-ed? What did you notice about your reading as you answered these questions?  Practice a reading strategy from Ch. 12 and apply it while reading in your text book.