Structuring a Successful Argument

Imagine you are having an argument with your siblings – who should get the car Friday night? You each want to convince your parents that you are the most deserving child – but how? If you just yell at your sibling the whole time, you won’t look very mature or credible. You’ve helped around the house all week and you have good grades, shouldn’t you bring that up? Plus, its your friend’s birthday party and their dad is going to be relocated to a different base soon – you won’t be together for their next birthday. How do you present all of this information so that you win the argument and get the car?

Know how to structure argument is useful for many reasons – for real life arguments and debates over issues big and small, in writing your own arguments and in reading and analyzing the arguments of others.

The first thing you want to consider is what is your point – what is your claim? This will be the stance or position you take on the given topic or situation.

Next, what evidence do you have to support your claim? What do you have to ‘back up’ what you’re saying?

Also, is that evidence reliable, unbiased, and balanced (ethos/pathos/logos)? If its not trustworthy, why should we listen to it? If you don’t use all three rhetorical appeals, how can we know/trust/feel for you?

Finally, do you acknowledge your opponent? Remember, you are having an argument – if you don’t talk about your opponent’s point, you’re not really arguing, you’re just informing me on your own ideas and position.

Let’s review the elements of an argument and how to organize your argument-


Remember, your arguments will be assessed using the rubric – please click here to view it and please be sure to review the rubric before submitting your final essays!

Your 1st essay topic will use the resources from Patrick Henry and Joseph Galloway’s speech – your prompt is “Whose side would you support – the Loyalist or the Colonist, Joseph Galloway or Patrick Henry – in the Revolution? 


11th Grade American Literature Fall 2019

“Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death” by Patrick Henry and Joseph Galloway’s “Address to the Continental Congress”

The faces that these guys are pulling are PRICELESS.

The faces that these guys are pulling on Henry are PRICELESS.

As we read two of the most important and powerful texts in the Revolutionary Period – Patrick Henry’s “Speech to the Virginia Convention” and Joseph Galloway’s “Address to the Contintential Congress” you will be practicing analyzing rhetoric through the SOAPSTone PLUS method.  As we read through the texts together in class and discuss the use of rhetorical questions and extended metaphor, but sure to add our discussion to your analysis worksheet. You will also need these notes for the argumentative essay later this week.

Be sure to review the videos below from class today on Patrick Henry’s background, and the performance of his speech, if you were unable to get all of the notes:

Additionally, click here to access Henry’s speech if you have misplaced your copy, and click here to access the in-depth analysis packet you will be creating with your groups.

For my ESOL students, click here for a copy of the speech with explanations in the margins. 

Please see the video below for the notes over Galloway

And click here to access his speech if you misplaced you copy.

Finally, we analyzed and compared Henry and Galloway’s roles as Patriots and Loyalist in class, as well as completing a SOAPSTone over them – see the image below for our comparison notes.


Finally, you each summarized the main idea of each of the paragraphs in Galloway’s speech – see the images below for your summaries.

11th Grade American Literature Fall 2019

Revolutionary Literature

As we transition from literature of the Puritan period to literature of the American Revolution, it is important for you to understand that history and its accompanying literature transition SLOWLY – the colonist did not simply wake up one day and realize ‘Hey, we’re in a new literary time period! Let’s change our writing style and beliefs overnight!’. We began to see the slow shift from theocratic colonies governed by religion to a more secular, democratic society with civil courts. Below you will find our notes from class outlining what exactly happened to transition the ideas of the Puritan period to the ideas of the Revolutionary period. Additionally, you will also find a complete list of ideas, concepts, beliefs and characteristics of the Revolutionary period that you may refer to throughout this unit.


Common Beliefs

  1. Faith in natural goodness – a human is born without taint or sin
  2. Perfectibility of a human being – it is possible to improve situations of birth, economy, society, and religion
  3. The power of reason 
  4. The attitude of helping everyone
  5. Outdated social institutions cause unsociable behavior – religious, social, economic, and political institutions, which have not modernized, force individuals into unacceptable behavior (in response to the Great Awakening and the Salem Witch trials)

Functions of the Writers of this Period

  1. A searching inquiry in all aspects of the world around
  2. Interest in the classics as well as in the Bible
  3. Interest in nature
  4. Interest in science and scientific experiments
  5. Optimism – experiments in Utopian communities
  6. Sense of a person’s duty to succeed
  7. Constant search of the self – emphasis on individualism


(*note: the end of the above video covers Revolutionary literature)

11th Grade American Literature Fall 2019

Sinners In The Hands of An Angry God – Johnathan Edwards

lordian guard portada

As we move into ‘The Great Awakening’ in our study of American Literature, we will be analyzing the rhetorical power of Edward’s famous sermon, “Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God”. Edward’s use of startling imagery and terrifying depictions of the wrath of God are shocking even for today’s modern audience, but would have been absolutely terrifying to the members of his congregation during his own time period.

Below you will find a brief video with background information on Edwards that YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY WATCH FIRST, follow by a PDF of the Sermon and the audio to the sermon. Download the PDF and follow along as you listen to the Youtube video of the sermon… make notes of the rhetoric Edward’s uses. You can use the SOAPSTone Plus method we learned in class for this:

As we begin to examine an author’s use of rhetoric to achieve a specific purpose remember that this will be a huge part of AP Language next semester! That means you need to practice the method of SOAPSTone Plus. Begin practicing the SOAPSTone Plus analysis method – you will use it from now on!


After you have become comfortable with just finding the use of these rhetorical devices, you can begin analyzing texts in the Arch Method. This will streamline you note taking over your analysis, and can be a life saver during the timed Rhetorical Analysis essay on the AP Language and Composition Exam. Below you can find a sample of the Arch Method process, as well as an example of how to conduct the Arch Method Analysis with Mary Rowlandson’s “A Narrative of the Captivity”.

 Arch Method Arch Method Rowlandson

*Click on the images for an enlarged view

Click here for “Sinners In the Hands of An Angry God.”

And finally, click here for the full audio of his sermon. 


Can’t wait to discuss this with you tomorrow! 🙂


11th Grade American Literature Fall 2019

Diagramming Sentences: Relative Pronouns (Adjective Clauses)

Before you can effectively write using the English language, or even analyze how others use writing effectively, you need to be familiar with the basic parts and components of the English language. Knowing and being able to identify these smaller component of your own language will allow you to write more effectively and assess and improve your own writing as the year progresses.

This week we will be examining how to correctly diagram relative pronouns.

Relative Pronouns are words that introduce adjective clauses : who, whom, whose, that, which.

Relative Adverbs can also introduce adjective clauses: where, why, when…

An adjective clause is a dependent clause that is used as an adjective. That means the whole clause modifies a noun or pronoun.

This is the house that Jack built.

That Jack built is a whole clause modifying the noun house That Jack built is an adjective clause.

Relative pronouns or relative adverbs link adjective clauses with the word in the independent clause that the adjective modified. The relative pronouns may act as a subject, direct object, object of the preposition, or a modifier within the adjective clause.




Now practice with the following sentences:

  1. I love the person who vaccumed the living room!
  2. Stacy walked slowing into the house that was haunted.
  3. The woman with whom I spoke sold real estate.
  4.  Are coaches who are also teachers paid double?
  5. The Christmas presents, which were wrapped in gold and green paper, looked perfect under the tree.
  6. The couples, who looked so happy and in love, danced all night.
  7. I gave her the carton of milk, which had been sitting in the fridge.


11th Grade American Literature Fall 2019

Anne Bradstreet Poetry Analysis and Video Notes



Anne Bradstreet – and some ducks.

Please see the video below for the notes over Anne Bradstreet that you will need for class. Remember to keep in mind the differences between the use of literary devices and emotional appeals in Bradstreet’s poetry, as you’ll have to compare it to Johnathan Edwards’s sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” at some point this week!

As we analyze ‘The My Dear and Loving Husband’, but sure to pay attention to how Bradstreet always manages to connect her expressions of humanity and worldliness with her pious beliefs. Also, be sure to know the significance behind many of her allusions! If you need a refresher on how to annotate and analyze a text, see our handout from class here. 

see our handout from class here. 


11th Grade American Literature Fall 2019

Narrative Writing

In addition to writing academic essays you also need to practice crafting interesting stories through narrative. Being comfortable using the elements of narrative writing not only makes it easier to read and understand narrative choices an author makes in the stories we read in class, but it can also be a useful tool to spice up your academic writing as well.

Remember, there are key elements we’ve covered in class for narrative writing. These include:

  • Having multiple characters that interact or speak with each other.
  • Using descriptive language that appeals to the senses.
  • Using dialogue – either internal or external (and formatting it correctly!)
  • Making the setting, POV and plot clear to the reader.
  • Having a thematic conclusion.

Many of you have had difficultly with the thematic conclusion – let’s review how to do this in the video below from class:

Consider this – will you be able to complete all of these points in just a few sentences? No. You will need to make sure your narrative is adequately developed. Let’s look at the examples below:

Sample 1

This samples scored a 1/4 – what elements can you see are missing?



Sample 2

This samples scored a 3/4 – do you see how it includes dialogue and description? Despite formatting and grammatical errors, the development and use of elements was still solid.



Sample 3

This samples scored a 4/4. The student has clear characters, dialogue, description, and a plot. The story is developed in three short paragraphs, and has a conclusion.


Remember, I will be assessing your writing with the same rubric the state will use.

Please click here to access the rubric.


You also will need to track your own progress on these writing – please be sure to look back at your growth and take note of which elements you are improving on – you can make sure to repeat that performance in the future! Click here to access your tracking chart for class.

11th Grade American Literature Fall 2019