- English Language Arts
- Material Type:
- Lesson Plan
- High School
Declaration of Independence
Declaration of Independence
In this lesson, students will learn about audience appeal and analyze how Jefferson chose his arguments and his language to appeal to his particular audience.
Read the lesson and student content.
Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.
Encourage students not to spend too much time trying to make this perfect. The idea is for them to make some quick choices about how they would present their case to two different audiences. If they are having trouble getting started, you can give them suggestions about audiences and possible ways to appeal to them.
Return to the list of reasons and evidence for the claim your teacher chose. Now, imagine that you are presenting that argument to two different audiences: a fellow student and a principal, for example, or a teacher and a city council member.
- Choose your audiences.
- Using a selection of the reasons, evidence, and counterclaims from last lesson’s discussion, write two quick outlines of what you could say, one for each audience.
Same Argument, Different Audiences
- Project or display the questions for easier viewing.
- Hear a selection from the class. Try to get responses aimed toward a variety of audiences. Bring modern connections into the discussion: mention commercials, targeted ads on Internet search engines, etc.
- Help students see a variety of intended audiences for the Declaration of Independence: the British, the king, other colonists, the global community, posterity, etc.
- SWD: One method to help students keep track of different audiences is to provide them with a chart of the necessary information. Depending on their needs, they can use a pre-completed chart to follow along or the scaffold of one that they can fill in as the activity progresses.
- Decide how students will see the Declaration of Independence while writing their Dialectical Journal entry in the task ahead. For example, you could project the Declaration onto a screen or distribute print copies.
Share your work and listen to your classmates’ responses. Discuss these questions.
- How is the same argument framed for different audiences?
- Who do you think might have been the audience for the Declaration of Independence?
Declaration of Independence Audience
Model your thinking as you begin reading a third time, noting where Jefferson's writing seems appropriate to his audience. Think of the diction, the allusions, the kinds of reasons he uses, etc.
Now, return to the Declaration of Independence. Follow along as your teacher begins a third reading of the text, and consider this: how do you think Jefferson tailored his writing for the audiences he was trying to persuade?
Declaration Dialectical Journal
- Circulate as students complete this work.
- Consider working with a small group of struggling students.
- Make sure students are able to view the Declaration of Independence while they have their Dialectical Journal open.
Finish this third reading of the Declaration of Independence.
- Choose two or three quotations where you see Jefferson tailoring his writing for a specific audience and create and complete a Jefferson's Audience Dialectical Journal entry.
This will allow students to see each other's reasoning, as well as to see which sections of the document seem most audience-specific.
- ELL: Check to ensure students understand the meaning of some of the more complex and abstract terms in the document (endowed, station, transient, despotism). It may be helpful to provide some simpler synonyms for these terms so that the concepts are accessible to all students.
If you'd like to check specific students' work, instruct them to share their quotations and comments with you.
Find a quotation you think particularly suits one of Jefferson's audiences.
- Write down the quotation.
- Add notes explaining how it appeals to one of Jefferson's audiences.
Write and share your ideas with the class.
Audience Appeal Techniques
During this part of the discussion, keep a list of audience appeal techniques for future reference (either digitally on a shared page or on chart paper in the classroom). This may include thinking about the audience members' current knowledge and the allusions they would understand as well as considering the audience's biases, motivations, and frame of reference.
Discuss the quotations and comments with the class, and then compile a class list of audience appeal techniques.
- What do you notice about the quotations chosen?
- What do you think writers should do when trying to write for a particular audience?
Audience Appeal Reflection
If time allows, hear a few responses.
Students may wish to refer to notes from the previous lesson.
Return once more to the list of reasons and evidence for the claim your teacher chose. Compare them to the list you and your classmates just compiled.
Respond briefly in writing.
- How did you do at audience appeal?
- What changes might you make if you were revising these arguments?
Make sure students are on track with their reading and journals. Conference with students if necessary.
- SWD: Students with visual processing difficulties can benefit from having access to an audio version of their Independent Reading text. If this is available, remind them how they can access it outside of class.
For homework, continue your Independent Reading and Independent Reading Dialectical Journal entries.