American Dreams Pre-Draft Activity: Persuasive Techniques

Queens College, College Writing: American Dreams

Lesson Plan on Persuasive Techniques in Speech and Images

Lesson objective: Introduce persuasive techniques as they are used in speech and images, specifically Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech and Rockwell’s corresponding paintings.

Total estimated time: 60 minutes

Additional outcomes: Students will develop an awareness of the role of persuasion in political speeches and in advertising. They may practice some techniques in their own work.

Course work that’s underway: Students will have read some overview material on American Dreams as well as texts from the Colonial and Revolutionary War periods and will be familiar with evolving perspectives on American Dreams. They will now begin to evaluate how American Dreams are reflected in political rhetoric and images. Analyzing and discussing several speeches will culminate in an essay that compares two speeches in their persuasive techniques and what they articulate about American Dreams.

Sequence of classroom activities: 

Students will be assigned to work in groups in order to evaluate various elements in Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech and Rockwell’s corresponding paintings. Students will address a set of questions asking them to focus on intent, tone and attitude, emphasized values, emotional appeal, use of symbols, use of information, connection to audience and connection to American Dreams (40 minutes). Group work will be followed by a class discussion about the material (20 minutes).

Download: American Dreams Pre-Draft Activity-Persuasive Techniques (PDF)

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