I had my students read the Declaration of Independence out loud today for three reasons:
One, to actually read it – despite learning ABOUT it, most of my AP juniors had never actually READ it.
Two, to illustrate deductive and inductive argument styles (more below).
Three, to heckle King George III.
If you ever need to teach the Declaration, here’s my plan: have two strong readers read the first two paragraphs so they don’t flinch at words like “evince” “despotism” “usurpation” and their favorite, “shewn.”
Then, when Jefferson lists off all of King George’s sins (It’s a long list of sentences beginning with “He has…”), have each student read one of the abuses. To do so, he or she must stand up and read his or her part with anger. Afterwards, the rest of the class must heckle the statement like Statler and Waldorf on the Muppet Show.
It sounds like this:
Student: “He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.”
Hecklers: BOOO King George! Give ’em assent boys! You suck, Britain!
Student: “He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.”
Hecklers: SSSS Judiciary! We need justice!
In reality, here’s what I’m teaching from the textbook regarding argument structure:
And the applications to the Declaration, which includes both types:
This was about a twenty-minute mini-lesson to cover something I should have done last month, but this semester has been a whirlwind of half-finished lessons on our new block schedule, semi-nights of sleep, quarter-written blog posts, and any other fractional non-completed activity you can think of. No joke, my closet is a third proper fitting work clothes, a third summer clothes, and a third maternity still stuck in there.
Maybe when Christmas break rolls around in THREE WEEKS (I’m not sure how to ever get through everything before then) I can finish some of my blog post drafts. In the meantime, BOOO KING GEORGE!!