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Common Core State Standards 6-12 English Language Arts

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1 Common Core State Standards 6-12 English Language Arts
Session 6 6-12 English Language Arts

2 John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address
A Close Read

3 Reading of the Text Introduce Kennedy’s Inaugural Address and ask students to read the text silently. Students will engage in the text itself rather than depending upon scaffolding provided by the teacher. Read the text orally to the students allowing them to follow the structure and form of Kennedy’s address and opportunity to hear fluent reading.

4 Guiding Statements/Questions
In small groups: Analyze the impact of specific words used by Kennedy, such as free and freedom (paragraphs 1,7,8,9,16,26) and determine how these words contribute to the overall tone of the address. Why does Kennedy use the word “liberty” in paragraph 4? This is a fairly straightforward question for students to answer but must be grasped to understanding the speech’s meaning.

5 Guiding Statements/Questions
In small groups discuss the following and record your answer: Read paragraphs 2-4. According to the text, what was the situation in the world at the time of Kennedy’s address? The world was politically divided between the United States and allies who embraced democracy and the Soviet Union and their allies who practiced communism. People were fearful because of the development and stockpiling of nuclear weapons. It was a very volatile time in history, with the country not far removed from WW2 and the Korean War. Kennedy won the election by the smallest popular vote in history. He wanted his address to inspire the nation and send a message abroad highlighting the challenges of the Cold War and his hope for peace in a nuclear age.

6 Guiding Statements/Questions
In small groups discuss the following and record your answers: What words or phrases does Kennedy use throughout the speech to evoke emotion in the audience? What kinds of emotions are stirred? Kennedy chose his words careful to convey his message acknowledging the challenges in the world, the resolve of the United States, and the hope for peace. Students will undoubtedly respond with a variety of words and phrases from the speech that evoke emotion. Some examples include: “For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life” (paragraph 2) – optimism, fear “before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction (paragraph 11)– fear “So let us begin anew” (paragraph 14) – optimism, hope

7 Guiding Statements/Questions
In small groups discuss the following and record your answers: Kennedy addresses several specific audiences throughout the speech. Who are these groups and why does he address them? This question focuses on the idea that Kennedy developed a message that was not just an address for Americans, but for the world as well. Access to the masses was newly available through television, and Kennedy took care of analyze his audiences and convey a targeted message to each. He knew that what he said would be seen, heard, and reported throughout the world. (paragraphs 4-11)

8 Guiding Statements/Questions
In small groups discuss the following and record your answers: Discuss the pledges that Kennedy makes to each of the audiences he addresses. How are they similar? To one audience, Kennedy offers not a pledge, but a request. How does the request align with his pledges? Kennedy uses declarative sentences directed to his audience to emit strength, and emphasizes that he fully intends to fulfill what he pledges to them. Students will note that his pledges are positive and offer support according to the needs of his audience. His request of “those nations who would make themselves our adversary” is also positive and conveys the desire for cooperation as he emphasizes the need to pursue peace. (paragraphs 4-11)

9 Guiding Statements/Questions
In small groups discuss the following and record your answer: What is meant by the phrase, “and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside,” in paragraph seven? These words reference a famous limerick: “There was a young lady of Niger, who smiled as she rode on a tiger, they returned from the ride with a lady inside, and the smile on the face of the tiger”. This illustrates what Kennedy considers to be the fate of dictatorship in the past and in the future. While dictators may control their people for a time, the people will ultimately rise up and overthrow the dictator.

10 Guiding Statements/Questions
In small groups discuss the following and record your answers: How often does Kennedy use anaphora in his address? What phrase(s) are repeated, and what effect does this have on the address? Anaphora is a rhetorical term for the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or verses. Kennedy uses the phrases, “To those old allies”, “To those new state”, “To those peoples in huts and villages”, “To our sister republics”, “To that world assembly of sovereign states”, and “to those nations who would make themselves our adversary”(paragraphs 4-11). He does not have to explicitly list the names of countries – those who heard the speech would know of whom he is speaking. He also uses the phrase, “Let both sides…”(paragraphs 15-18) to convey the critical need for a fresh start, the spirit of collaboration and cooperation on the quest for peace.

11 Guiding Statements/Questions
In small groups discuss the following and record your answers: How are the beginning and end of the speech similar? Why does Kennedy commence and conclude his speech in this manner? Kennedy references the ultimate power and authority – God – both at the beginning and end of his address. At the beginning he describes how he has sword before the Almighty God the same oath that was sworn by George Washington some 175 years prior when the country first began. He ends with the emphasis that with God’s help all people on earth are responsible for carrying out His work and that history would be the “final judge for our deeds”.

12 Writing Assignment Write a paragraph that answers one of the following citing textual evidence: One famous quote from Kennedy’s address is, “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”. How does this request align with the overall address and what are the expectations from individual Americans? Describe the relevance of Kennedy’s Inaugural Address to today’s world. Could this speech be delivered today – why or why not? Participants will have delved deeply into this text. Allow them a few minutes to craft an answer to one of the questions on their writing handout.

13 Sharing/Strengthening Writing
In small groups share paragraphs developed addressing the prompts. Discuss how the answers could be strengthened. Revise your answers based on feedback. Groups will have an opportunity to discuss their writing, strengthen their answers, and revise. Provide time for participants to work through this revision process.

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