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Grade 9-10 English Language Arts: Speeches - Argument and Methods

NYC Dept of Education/University of Pittsburgh

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Note that this resource was reviewed during the Spring 2014 review period. The resource may or may not have been updated since the review. Check with the content creator to see if there is a more recent version available.


This resource was reviewed by OSPI in Spring 2014. Learn more about the review process and the data analysis approach.

Background from OER Project Review Team
The New York City Department of Education has developed Common Core-aligned tasks embedded in units of study to support schools in implementing the standards. This particular unit was developed by the University of Pittsburgh. Though there is no clear licensing on the materials, there is clear instruction on the website that educators may adopt these resources in their entirety or adapt the materials to best address students' diverse needs.

EQuIP (Learn more)

Exemplar (11.3)
Chart with scale of 'meets criteria' from 0 (None) to 3 (All). Alignment: 3.0, Key Shifts in the CCSS: 3.0, Instructional Supports: 3.0, Assessment: 2.33.

Achieve OER (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Weak) to 3 (Superior). Explanation: 2.67, Interactivity: 0.0, Exercises: 2.67, Deeper Learning: 2.67.

See standard error chart for the review scoring

Reviewer Comments (Learn more)

None (0.7)

Comments/Ideal Use:

This is an excellent unit for assisting student in understanding how arguments are constructed and the various language elements that writers use. Students are able to practice these elements in isolated components and then in a more holistic manner. It also addresses an issue that is of high interest to students. The amount of detail provided and the choice for teachers, allows numerous entry points depending on the level of your students and the culture that has been developed in a teachers classroom. This could be done in an ELA or a Social Studies classroom.

Comments/Ideal Use:

This is a well-planned unit that is closely aligned with the Common Core. The learning is scaffolded and requires the student to read closely, analyze and compare texts of speeches from Martin Luther King, Bill Clinton, George W Bush, and Barack Obama on racial equality. Students then form an argument on which speaker makes the strongest argument. The alignment to standards is clearly documented. Instructions are clear and include meta cognitive responses in addition content questions. Annotated student work is included, which provides models for the assessment, but additional keys and/or background information would be helpful to the novice teacher or one implementing a completely new curriculum. Additional support for helping students understand the language of argument and for vocabulary instruction are given in the appendix, but content support may be necessary depending of the students' understanding of history and racial inequality.

This unit could effectively be used in most 9th or 10th grade ELA or U.S History social studies classrooms. As written, it would work in the 50-60 minute class periods but could be adapted easily to block periods. Options are given for blended or online classes as well. Teachers will need additional time to prep the materials because no answer keys or background information is given.


  • There are no answer keys or background information for the speeches. New teachers or those who are implementing a completely new curriculum would benefit by having this support. Assuming they are qualified, they would have the ability to determine the answers and research the background, but having these available would save time and increase accuracy in the first year or two the unit is taught.
  • ELL strategies. While options for approaches to each speech are given, clearer strategies for ELL would strengthen the unit.


  • Provide answer keys and background information.
  • Provide clearer ELL strategies.

Comments/Ideal Use:

The ideal scenario for this resource seems to be a partial unit / unit replacement or as supplemental material for and English 9-10 (Supplemental / Portion of Unit) class or Honors / AP Social Studies (US History) or Argumentation / Speech-Debate Class.

This resource is best used by a teacher with a strong interest in facilitating public speaking, history of civil rights and race relations in the United States. Needs someone who is culturally sensitive and motivates students to explore ideas and connections to text and supplemental materials through intensive DOK activities.


  • Shows alignment between reading and writing activities and the Common Core.
  • Thorough directions on how to review the assignments then work through templates that have been provided as graphic organizers for student work.
  • Presents a sort of disclaimer that for the standards that are represented. If the entire standard is not represented, it underlines the part of the standard that is evident in the lesson.
  • Provides rubrics for assessing student work and the explanation regarding those rubrics. The primary rubric is Standards Based Scale 1-4, the secondary trait rubric is 1-3, intended to compliment the primary. The two rubrics can be combined for a total score.
  • I was really blown away by the presentation after the rubrics of annotated student work. It is obvious the mastery of the authors who selected sample works and who provided color coded feedback (instructional feedback) towards each level of the rubrics. Very nicely done.


  • Would have liked to have seen more links to multi-media sources. Few outside visual / multi-media sources utilized.


  • This is an easy fix or change with search queries or URLs to locate popular / famous speeches available on the Internet.

Creative Commons License
This work by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.