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Do You Want the Truth?

Can You HANDLE the Truth?
Unit Introduction:
These days, the truth is a hard thing to define let alone understand. Yet it is a critical skill for
success in life. So how does one become a critical thinker? Or a savvy consumer? These skills
are not always easy to grasp, or taught at home, or even spoken aloud because of assumptions of
knowledge. Students have to learn these skills somewhere, and school is a safe and encouraging
environment for students to question, explore, and define for themselves what the truth means to
them. This unit will be exploring the different rhetorical strategies that are used to convey
meaning and persuade the reader. By recognizing the rhetorical strategies, understanding the
effects, and having the skills to critically think about a situation, students can be successful in life
and in school.

Significant Assumptions:
For this unit I am assuming that students are familiar with these commercials enough to know
how they manipulate situations, use actors, and exaggerate the effects of the product to sell the
product. Students are exposed to so much media marketing, and will have to be able to make
critical decisions about these products; from kitchen tools, credit cards, student loans, and
vehicles. I am also assuming that students have been told to “think critically”, but never taught
how to. So I will be working with them on building those skills necessary to evaluate and make
decisions that will benefit them and lead towards greater success.

Grade:
This unit is designed for 11th grade students. At that age, students have the ability to think more
critically and abstractly about ideas that are necessary for this type of learning. They are also at
the age where they have to start making important decisions about their life, such as college,
credit cards, and voting. Having the ability to think critically about the world around them, as
well as the information they are given, are invaluable skills students need to succeed as adults
and in school. Learning about rhetoric strategies and recognize when a fallacy is being presented
can help students to make the most informed choices. Students have so much access to
information, yet it can be difficult to know whether they should trust the information. What if it
was their respected aunt on Facebook who shared the article? Should they trust the information?
Their futures could have serious negative consequences if they do not correctly understand the
terms and conditions of a credit card or loan for a car. These are the realities that students face.
The real life application of these skills will help keep students engaged in the learning and

excited for the information. By having the appropriate knowledge and skills for understanding
rhetoric and fallacies, students will become better citizens, consumers, and have better critical
thinking skills for all areas of their lives.

Essential Questions:




What makes a story true?
How do you define “true”/”truth”?
Where do you look for the truth?
How do you convince someone?
Who do you trust?

Enduring Understandings:
Students will understand:




Perspectives shape our world, but they can be changed to allow for new information
The way information is presented (verbal, visual, audio, written) can have a positive or
negative effect on the success of the information being accepted.
Personal agendas are present in almost any type of communication.
A person must be able to communicate effectively in order to be successful in any
environment.
To find the truth students must use critical thinking, research, and trust in self-judgment help
to act as a guide for the hard decisions.

Minnesota State Standards: Anchor Standards for Reading and Writing



Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from
it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from
the text.
Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical,
connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning
or tone.
Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger
portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the
whole.
Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and
quantitatively, as well as in words.
Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of
the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

Hook:
To start, students will do a short writing about a well-known betrayal in either a movie,
TV show, or real life. They will write about this individually at first, with the prompt directing
them to evaluate how this betrayal has shaped their future decisions and impacted their life. After
the allotted writing time, students will be partnered in pairs to discuss each other’s examples,
ideas, and the impact of the betrayal. As a class, we will discuss how these betrayals have
impacted our perspective in life, as well as our future decisions. This idea of perspective and
truth will be major themes during this unit, and this discussion will be our introduction to the
unit, as well as the first writing project.
From there, we will be discussing the unit idea of perspective and truth. This will lead to
the students’ first writing assignment, a Where am I From? Poem to explore their own
perspectives and how those perspectives shape personal understanding of truth. By
understanding their own cultural perspective, they can identify the lenses through which they
view the world and how a truth can look differently to them than to another person. This poem
will serve as their base on which we build from, a person needs to understand themselves before
they can understand another.

Learning Activities:
Whole-Class:

Discussion on “truth” and what it means for a something to be “true”. This is to be a whole
class discussion because students should be able to share with each other and hear each
other’s ideas. This discussion included the volunteering of student’s examples of times their
trust was broken, and how that has shaped them and their future decisions. This can build a
better environment within the classroom by fostering a welcoming and safe environment for
students to share their ideas and better understand each other.
Read conspiracy theories as a class so students can learn together about the theories and he
rhetoric involved. It also gives a chance for students who already know about this topic to
share their insight and understandings of conspiracy theories which helps them to engage
with the lesson and build confidence.
Discussions on the rhetoric of the theories. This discussion will occur after they learn about
the elements of rhetorical strategies, and have a chance to write their own examples. They
will be sharing their examples with the class, and the class has to try to figure out what
rhetorical strategy they are using based on what we had learned that day or from their
previous knowledge.

Small Group:

Students will explore persuasive writing styles and techniques and practice techniques
(political speeches, persuasive essays- A Modest Proposal by Johnathan Swift). They will be,

on different days, working on the different types of writing in small groups, as to gain
specific skills given in mini workshops that day. This way students have a chance to practice
the writing techniques and can inspire each other and challenge each other in small groups.
Write ads for “ridiculous” products that students create and design a poster for the class to be
informally presented to the class. They students will work in small groups because I want
them to build working relationships within the class, and have individual responsibilities
within their group to make sure all students are contributing to the project and showing their
knowledge and understanding of the concept.
Expand onto other media (songs, print ads, ect,) in small groups jigsaw then whole class. The
students will work together to research and answer specific questions about a specific media.
Then they will be jig sawed into other groups so all students can learn about the different
media types. This puts the responsibility on the students for their own learning, as well as
others in the class. Students are accountable for their specific media and are held to that
accountability.
Learning Native American culture and how is has been portrayed, positively and negatively,
and researching to educate others on the truth behind the myths. By working in small groups
students can do research in ways that work best for them. Some could be on the computers,
some looking at books. Having a guest speaker come in and help would be an additional
resource that I would love to have. But this way students can find a lot of information, and
narrow down what is important and should be on the poster.

Individual:

Write Where am I From? Poem + reading one stanza to class. This activity allows students to
consider their perspective in life, and how that shapes their lens through which they view the
world around them. This also includes writing exercises and another chance to explore poetry
during the year. I want students to recognize and acknowledge where they came from, and
what has shaped their understanding of the world. And by having them read at least one
stanza lets others in the class see how similar they are to each other, or show them a new
perspective in life, without the stress of reading the whole poem.
Written reflection on how that shapes the lens through which we view the world. I want the
students to have some time between when they write the poem, and when they reflect on the
poem so they can have a little more objectivity when doing reflections. I want them to really
dig in and consider how this shapes them, and influences the decisions they make and the
Creating a product and writing a persuasive argument for the consumers. This project is
individual because it is a step up the scaffolding towards a future assignment where they
have to research and write on their own in the future for their final project. This will be
chance for them to practice, as well as for me to inform my practice.
Their role in the Native American education project. This project has many parts where
students will be responsible for individual elements that will be combined for a cohesive

poster. This will help students to work together in a group and work towards a similar goal
under the same theme.
Conspiracy theory presentation. This will be their final project for the unit. Students will use
writing skills, presentation skills, and their knowledge and understanding of rhetorical
strategies. The students will be rating each other for who has the most convincing theory, and
that student will receive a king sized candy bar of their choice the next school day.

Skills:






Perspective
Ethos, logos, and pathos
Persuasive writing
Presenting in front of an audience
Reflective Writing
Note Taking
Critical Thinking with visuals and with text

Summative Assessments:
1. Students will create their own conspiracy theory, and then present the theory to the class in
individual presentations. By assuming the role of a news anchor, students will use persuasive
techniques and rhetoric to engage and convince their audience of their agenda.
2. Students will complete a journal documenting their journey through different perspectives
and their journey through the unit.
3. Students will complete a poster with a group for the purpose of learning about Native
American culture.
4. Students will create a new product and use rhetorical strategies to make the product
appealing to consumers.

Grading:
A lot of this unit will be discussion based, in large and small groups. I want the students to hear
each other’s ideas and opinions about issues. They can learn a lot from each other, as well as
gain discussion skills for the future. Assessments will range from formal, informal, and complete
or incomplete. For the complete or incomplete assignments, students will not be assessed on
those beyond whether they were completed by the due date. An example of this is their peer
review for the presentations. The presentations and projects will be formal, as they will be
assessed on specific requirements that they will be aware of.

Grading Breakdown:
Assessment Task

Grading Scale

Where am I from? Poem + Reflection
Native American Poster Reflection
Product presentation
1 of the 2 Prompt writings
Conspiracy Theory Notes and Vote Sheet
Conspiracy Theory Presentation

20 pts (10 pts for poem, 10 for reflection)
20 pts.
20 pts
20 pts
20 pts
50 pts.

Resources:






http://www.copyblogger.com/persuasive-writing/
http://list25.com/top-25-most-popular-conspiracy-theories/
http://mentalfloss.com/article/50246/10-best-selling-infomercial-products
Cleary, L. & Peacock, T. (1998). Collected Wisdom: American Indian Education. Needham
Heights, MN: Allyn and Bacon.
Flynn, Gillian. Gone Girl: A Novel. New York: Crown, 2012. Print.
Gagnon, Michelle. Don’t Turn Around. HarperCollins, 2012
Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York: The Penguin Group, 1995

Calendar:
Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Introduce the
unit with
Hook Activity
(trust/broken
trust), discuss
the EQ’s and
how they
relate to the
unit, discuss
perspective
and rhetoric
Hand back
poems, spend
10 minutes
writing
reflections on
the poem.

Continue
discussion about
unit theme.

Work time on
poem, due at the
end of class.

Discussion on
truth and rhetoric,
and manipulation
of truth and
perspective

Discussion of
manipulation of
perspective
within American
history with
Native American
stereotypes.

Watch move
infomercials,
small group
discussions on
rhetoric

Review the
different types of
media that were
jig sawed.

Work time for
presentation

Continue
discussion
about Native
American
representation
and
perspective

Present
products
Small groups
analyzing
different
persuasive
writing (ex.
Johnathan
Swift’s A
Modest
Proposal)

Introduce WaIF?
Poem Work time
for poem

Native American
discussion and
assignment in
small groups
Present Native
American
informative
posters and hang
posters around
classroom/school.

Continue small
groups for
cooperative
learning with
rhetoric in
advertising
Small groups
looking at print
ads, music, arts
then doing jigsaw
to teach others

Continue
discussion on
persuasive
writing, jigsaw
discussions

Discuss data
manipulation and
statistics, how
they affect the
understanding.

Whole class
discussion on
rhetoric,
rhetorical
strategies in the
writing, and their
effect.

Students practice
with stats and
numbers to try to
manipulate them
towards a goal of
their choice.

Introduce product
assignment
(Individual) and
work in computer
lab to research
ideas and create a
PowerPoint
(maybe? Or just to
type up the
descriptions and
uses)

Prompt given for
students to turn
into an argument
for a product or
idea. Individually
for first half of
hour, them can
form small groups
if choose to.

Second prompt,
same routine.
Students turn in
1 of the 2 they
created.

Conspiracy
theory
introduction
lecture
Explain
logical
fallacies

Read conspiracy
Theory examples
as a class, look at
rhetorical
strategies and
where they
recognize logical
fallacies.

Wrap up unit
with
discussion of
how our
understanding
of truth has
changed, or if
it has.

Assign final
project
(conspiracy
theory
presentations)

Final work
day in class
for
presentations
– NOT IN
LAB as a
class

Presentations
Due

Lab time for
research

Model good
summary-writing
Start Individual
3-5min
Presentations
Classmates
summarize
content &
strengths each of
presentation

Individual
reading of
theories, then
move to small
groups to discuss
the rhetoric
within the
theories
Mini-Lesson on
note taking
Work on
presentations in
lab
Mini-lesson to
remind students
of the
words/phrases
that are used in
persuasive
writing and in
advertisement
Individual 35min
Presentations
Classmates
summarize
content &
strengths each of
presentation

Whole class
discussion about
what was found
individually, and
in the small
groups.

Reflect as a class
what has been
talked about,
learned,
explored.
Reflect with
partners and exit
slips.

Work on
presentations

Work on
presentations in
lab

Peer review
workshop

Individual 3-5min
Presentations
Classmates
summarize
content &
strengths each of
presentation

Project check in
for progress and
understanding.

Presentations &
voting for
winner.