Rhetorical Analysis: The Ultimate Unit Plan

10 Rhetorical Analysis lessons to pick and choose from. A variety of ways to teach rhetoric that are focused on student engagement.


Rhetoric is one of the most difficult subjects to learn and can be even more difficult to teach. It is difficult because there is not one answer, one process, or one way to teach it. People who are good at analyzing rhetoric oftentimes are “just good at it.” They don’t know why they are good and they don’t know how to share what they know.


Rhetoric is also a difficult subject to teach in just one lesson, so I teach different concepts or facets of rhetoric throughout the unit. I have simplified the concepts so that high school general education students can have conversations about it. I believe that they will go into the details and variables in college, but in high school, they are capable of discussing at a more simplified level.


Depending on the needs of the students or class, I will pick from a variety of these lessons. They aren’t given in any particular order, as I will ask them to begin the Rhetorical Analysis Packet before they fully understand what rhetoric is so they can be introduce to the types of questions we will be searching for the answers to.


My main objective in many of these lessons is to get them excited and talking about it within pairs and small groups. Try to bring in as many examples as you can. Also, it’s important to be politically and morally unbiased. If you are sharing your opinion about a politician or issue presenting only one side of the issue, you are using your rhetoric, or ethos/credibility as a teacher, to persuade them rather than to let them make their own decision.

Most Popular Lesson: Rhetorical Analysis Unit, including Graphic Organizers

Whether students continue their education or not, they must learn to identify persuasive techniques in spoken or written text.

The concepts of the Rhetorical Appeals (persuasive techniques) can be extremely challenging for students but can also be very interesting for them.

Understanding, identifying, discussing, and writing about the rhetorical appeals can be especially confusing, but using this unit with these steps, can simplify the process for both students and teachers. These steps can also be replicated with new texts and topics to solidify the concepts for students.

At the end of this unit, students will have discussed and written a solid claim, body paragraph, and will be able to confidently discuss Ethos, pathos, and Logos.

Research Paper: The 10-to-1 Approach

Includes slides:

Lesson 2: Identifying Credible Sources: 10 WAYS TO IDENTIFY A CREDIBLE SOURCE
Lesson 3: How to write the research paper rough draft: 6 PARTS OF THE RESEARCH PAPER, writing effective thesis statements
BONUS: Lesson 4: Writing the Introduction

Students struggle with research mainly because they have never been taught the research process. There are also simple things they do that must be fixed: for instance, they read one sentence and want to transform that into their paper. I have taught my students the ten to one approach with success. This slide deck includes slides like:

  • why research is difficult
    introduction to the 10-to-1 approach
  • making a plan for research
  • how to break research down to 20-minute sessions

Use this slide deck to share directly with your class OR film the training with loom, zoom, or screen-cast-o-matic and upload to your google classroom.
If you purchase and would like a video instruction example that I have filmed, please email me at hello@jessicalmoody.com, and I’d be happy to share that with you.

Student Taught Grammar Lessons

Are you like me and you HATE teaching grammar because you feel like the students don’t care and especially don’t retain the grammar rules or skills?!?

That’s why I don’t teach grammar anymore. I make THE STUDENTS teach it!! *cue evil laugh*

We know that to teach something, people need to know it well, so when they teach the grammar concept they have to know it well to teach it (so at least they will learn at least one grammar concept well, haha).

We also know that if we don’t teach them HOW to teach, it will be a boring, mindless presentation. So along with the instructions, I have also included suggestions on what to teach and How.

Analyzing Poetry through the Rhetorical Appeals

The push for critical thinking and rhetorical analysis in high school has driven me to turn almost all of my 11-12 grade English literary analysis assignments into a lesson on rhetorical appeals.

That said, analyzing poetry through the lens of rhetoric isn’t a typical poetic response, but I have found that the students understand it and do well when it is broken down through this process. I have added a loom video explanation on how I use this packet.

Here is an excerpt from the instruction on Rhetoric:

“Poetry, when read, should cause you to change your thinking about the subject. It should challenge you to see something in a different light, consider what you believe about the topic, and/or be mentally or emotionally changed. Just like a song can influence you, make you feel better or deeper, poetry should cause you to respond in some way.

Because of these truths, a large purpose of poetry is for the poet to influence their audience and make them change their thinking. Therefore, poetry is an argument.

The previous assignment was created so that you will establish some baseline things you believe about art, beauty, truth, and more. We will build upon that and read poetry as rhetoric.”

Analyze Literature to Greater Depths

As English teachers and Literature lovers, we can have discussions about the meaning and purpose of any text, and it’s easy to get frustrated when students can’t have those meaningful conversations.

This packet can be used with just about any text in your textbook, breaking down the unspoken (or spoken) questions that we literature nerds ask each other and discuss for hours on end.

They are broken down into discussion cards first. You can decide to focus on just one element of the deeper discussion at a time, or you can scaffold and add on each additional discussion card to get deeper and more thoughtful discussions out of your students.

As a whole, these discussion cards will lead to a written response which will then lead to students putting them together in paragraph form (or it can be used in the way that you already structure their written responses).

Just this alone can be used multiple times throughout the year with multiple texts and purposes. They are also automatically differentiated since the students will go into as much depth as they are capable and it will challenge even the most advanced students in your classroom.