An effective lesson I use in class is based around the quadrant concept of movement where a subject or concept is broken into separate parts and students assign a specific movement to each part to kinesthetically learn the concept. Because we spend so much time analyzing, evaluating, and writing argumentative texts, the quadrant exercise is a strategy to help students better master the four essential components of a persuasive text.
Grade Level/Age: 10thgrade (15-16 years)
Curriculum Addressed: The focus of the curriculum is basic rhetorical structure comprehension within a nonfiction text.
Process Goals: Persuasive texts are basically comprised of four categories of sentence types: the claims (thesis or topic sentences), the reasons (the parts of the argument that justify the claim), the evidence (sentences designed to convince the reader/audience that the reasons are justified), and the discussion (the sentences that drive home the point and complete the argument). The initial stage of talking about persuasive texts is spent simply identifying these components in an essay and determining their function. To get my students to truly “own” these concepts, I have them use the quadrant strategy. Students work collaboratively in small groups to develop a creative movement for each of the components that visually demonstrates its “feel” and function. Students then create an iMovie demonstrating each of their movements while explaining their creative process and choices behind each movement. The process aids them in their analysis skills moving forward because they are able to visualize and “feel” the individual components in a persuasive text.
Materials: This activity can be used with any editorial or persuasive essay. Kurt Vonnegut’s letter to Drake High School, “You Have Insulted Me,” resonates well with teenagers and is easily approachable as a persuasive text.
Desired Understandings: Display a basic comprehension of the four rhetorical types of sentences and their basic function through movement.
- Because this is an introductory lesson, I don’t place too many parameters on students’ expression. We simply review the rhetorical sentence types, their functions, and collaboratively brainstorm coinciding movement. Students discuss which movements best embody the concepts and make choices based on their discussion.
- Students use their discussion to create their movement pieces.
- Students record their movement pieces and produce an iMovie.
- iMovies are uploaded to our digital classroom and are presented to the class. Discussions about individual interpretations of each other’s movements are used as a closing discussion.
Standard 2: Reading for All Purposes
- The development of new ideas and concepts within informational and persuasive manuscripts
Standard 3: Wring and Composition
- Organizational writing patterns inform or persuade an audience
Assessment: I use our English Department’s AP Quick Write rubric to evaluate the groups finished project. Because they are essentially making an argument about their movement (they are advancing an idea with evidence and explanation to an audience), the writing rubric reinforces both the content students are learning and the writing process at the same time.
Adaptions/Accommodations: I expect all students to do their best in completing the assignment. I could adapt the assignment, as needed, to accommodate students’ interests and abilities.