Writing Skills Focus: Creating a tone; awareness of audience and purpose
Task: To write a short humorous speech inciting a revolution among either a group of animals or inanimate objects.
Step 1: On the board write Household Appliances. Ask the students to list several examples.
Step 2: Ask students to imagine those appliances capable of thought and feeling. If appliances could complain about something, what would they complain about?
Step 3: Teacher reads the model speech. (The more dramatic, the better.)
My dear fellow household appliances, it’s time for us to recognize the long period of human domination. For decades now, men and women have used us to make their lives easier. But I ask you: who worries about making our lives easier?
The other day my friend from the closet told me her sad story. She’s a vacuum cleaner, and she’s been in the household for about four years now. Although she’s often bumped and dropped, she’s provided quality cleaning week after week. Sadly, the human family is now talking about buying a sleeker, lighter model. This new purchase would put my friend out with the trash. This is how the human family plans to reward reliability and strong performance. Does this story sound familiar? How many friends have you all lost because of the humans’ obsession with technological advances? Out with the old and in with the new! That’s what they do. There’s no appreciation or loyalty.
Let’s unite and save ourselves from the garbage dump. Let’s act together and give this house the kind of cleaning it needs. Let’s throw out the humans before they throw us out. My fellow appliances, it’s now or never. Join me!
Step 4: Pass out copies of the model speech. Looking together, identify the audience: “fellow household appliances”. Then identify the purpose of the speech: “recognize…human domination”/ “unite and save ourselves”/ “throw out the humans”.
Step 5: Discuss how awareness of audience and purpose affects language. What is the tone of the speech? Note, for example, how “My dear fellow…” and use of the first person plural creates comradery and unity. Note how use of direct questions and the imperative creates a sense of urgency.
Step 6: Identify the purpose of each paragraph. The introduction addresses the audience and states a position. The main paragraph uses specific examples to build an argument. The final paragraph concludes that action must be taken.
Step 7: Help students generate ideas for their own compositions. My original inspiration was Orwell’s Animal Farm. This led to one student writing a speech to incite a revolution among chickens against their farmer. Another student came up with the unique and entertaining idea of hair revolting against their owner; the speech made a case for falling out together in protest and rendering the human bald.
Step 8: After editing and revising their compositions, allows students to share their speeches. Oral presentations are ideal.
ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS: With the same model speech but a different presentation, this task could be turned into a grammar lesson on verb tenses (e.g., the present perfect contrasted with other tenses) or the gerund (i.e., gerund v. the infinitive).