Title of the book: Blue Pastures
Author: Mary Oliver
Publishing Information: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1995
Suggested Grade Level: High School
Goal: Students will increase their skills in rhetorical analysis of non-fiction prose.
Objectives: Students will:
recognize, explain the purpose of and analzye the effectiveness of various rhetorical devices and techniques
discover and explain the author's purpose in writing
clearly analyze and explain the rhetorical devices used by the author to achieve her purpose
complete a rhetorical analysis timed writing based on the AP prompt for this excerpt from Mary Oliver's book, Blue Pastures.
Rather than TEKS, I base my AP lessons on the AP Curricular Requirements. Here are some of the requirements included in this lesson:
The course teaches and requires students to write in several forms (e.g., narrative, expository, analytical, and argumentative essays) about a variety of subjects.
The course requires students to write in informal contexts (e.g., imitation exercises, journal keeping, collaborative writing, and in-class responses) designed to help them become increasingly aware of themselves as writers and of the techniques employed by the writers they read.
The course requires expository, analytical, and argumentative writing assignments that are based on readings representing a wide variety of prose styles and genres.
The course requires nonfiction readings (e.g., essays, journalism, political writing, science writing, nature writing, autobiographies/biographies, diaries, history, criticism) that are selected to give students opportunities to identify and explain an author's use of rhetorical strategies and techniques.
The AP teacher provides instruction and feedback that help the students develop these skills:
A wide-ranging vocabulary used appropriately and effectively
A variety of sentence structures, including appropriate use of subordination and coordination
Logical organization, enhanced by specific techniques to increase coherence, such as repetition, transitions, and emphasis
A balance of generalization and specific, illustrative detail
An effective use of rhetoric, including controlling tone, establishing and maintaining voice, and achieving appropriate emphasis through diction and sentence structure
Research supporting this lesson:
Bloom, Adi. (2007). Skip to my lou, my darlin'. Times Educational Supplement, 6/8/2007, 4740, 15.
Coleman, Jennifer. (2005). Ready, set, motivate. Library Media Connection, March 2005, 30-32.
McCoach, Betsy, and Siegle, Del. (2005). Making a difference: Motivating gifted students who are not achieving. Teaching Exceptional Children, 38, 22-27.
Kitano, Margie K., and Lewis, Rena B. (2005). Resilience and coping: Implications for gifted children and youth at risk. Roeper Review, 27, 200-2005.
Reis, Sally M., and Renzulli, Joseph S. (2004). Current research on the social and emotional development of gifted and talented students: Good news and future possibilities. Psychology in the Schools, 41(1), 119-129.
Students will reorganize themselves into new groups based on the song wordstrips that they receive.
Students will receive a "green sheet" list of terms they must know.
They will analyze each song to determine what rhetorical devices are used.
Students will learn to sing all three songs in a round; this is an analogy to show how authors sometimes incorporate many devices or techniques in one piece.
We will review other rhetorical terms, particularly diction and juxtaposition; both are very important in analyzing this particular piece of prose.
We will review other terms using "wuzzles," which are word puzzles. We will work through one wuzzle worksheet, then each group will create their own wuzzle of a rhetorical term. Groups will share their wuzzle and class members will solve them.
The class will read the "Owls" excerpt together, with the teacher commenting on some rhetorical devices and their importance.
As a group we will determine the author's purpose.
Then, class members will create a didactical journal--one column noting rhetorical devices/techniques, the other explaining their importance/effectiveness. They are working to analyze how the author uses the devices to achieve her purpose.
Once students have completed working together on analyzing Oliver's purpose and how she achieves it, they will write a draft version on the timed writing addressing the AP prompt.
students will complete the AP writing prompt
students will participate in whole group and small group discussions of the material
This unit will be part of our transcendentalists study. Within that framework, students will also read other nature writings--Thoreau, Emerson, Annie Dillard, Rachel Carson, etc.
Students will visit our school's wetlands area, taking time to explore, then return to class to write extensively about their experiences.
We will complete a major project on the wetlands area--much like the Bluebonnet River Legacy project--incorporating technology with our written reflections and reactions. As our AP Environmental Science teacher is retiring this year, we will give her the presentation as a parting gift.