Connecticut Core Standards

Grade 11: The Art of Persuasion and the Craft of Argument

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  1. In order to access this unit from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website, you will need to register with the site; there is no charge for access to these materials. Use the above link to register.
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Common Core Standards

Reading Informational Text

RI.11-12.5 Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging.

RI.11-12.6 Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness or beauty of the text.


W.11-12.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.


L.11-12.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

Speaking and Listening

SL.11-12.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, assessing the stance, premises, links among ideas, word choice, points of emphasis, and tone used.

Description of Unit

This Grade 11 unit titled "The Art of Persuasion and the Craft of Argument" from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is intended to be completed in 10-12 sessions of ELA/Literacy instruction (forty-five to sixty minutes in length). Through a series of lessons, students develop analytical skills to recognize and understand the tools of argument and persuasion, including the ability to analyze and integrate evidence appropriate to their audience.  As a summative assessment, students write a detailed persuasive essay expressing their opinion about the effectiveness of a teacher-selected speech based on analysis and evaluation of the rhetorical devices in that speech.


Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that teacher notes and reading selections are extensive and will require familiarity to be used effectively.  Teachers should also be aware that due to the rigor required for student success, additional supports for students who are ELL, have disabilities, or read well below the grade level text band may be required.  Before this unit is used in a history/social studies course, some modifications will be necessary including: the replacement of the ELA standards listed above with the English Language Arts Standards in History/Social Studies that are targeted in this unit, additional history/social studies content to meet grade-specific content standards, and possible assessment and/or rubric revision.

Rationale for Selection

This exemplary unit includes a clear and explicit purpose for daily rigorous instruction which integrates reading, writing, speaking and listening so that students apply and synthesize advancing literacy skills. It focuses on complex text(s) and engages students in a productive struggle through discussion questions and other supports that build toward independence. It also focuses on building students’ academic vocabulary in context.  The unit contains reading materials, templates for instruction, assessment guidelines, frequent formative assessments, and an aligned CCSS rubric for interpreting student performance.

View a video of one of the lessons from this unit: "The Art of Persuasion and the Craft of Argument" where students learn to discuss and rank rhetorical devices in preparation for writing.  (developed in partnership with Achieve for teachingchannel.org)