Reading the Story:
Before reading, pass out the graphic organizer and complete Section I. This will be a review of imagery and connotations of several concepts that will help the students understand how subtle choices an author makes relates to the text as a whole. Then, either review or present the definition of symbol.
Once that step is complete, introduce the story’s overview and RAFT assignment to your students, so that they understand their job will be to gather details from the text that revolve around the two main characters and the details which support the symbolic imagery of the story. Once they know that they are essentially lawyers gathering evidence, the text will become something they delve into when reading so that they don’t miss anything of importance. Finally, tell them to complete Step II on the graphic organizer as they read or listen to the short story.
After reading, spend a few minutes discussing how Hurst uses details and symbols to characterize Brother and Doodle. Have them put their thoughts into the metaphors listed in Section II of the graphic organizer. Next, have them determine Brother’s degree of guilt. Give them several minutes to write out a few sentences discussing their judgment and why they feel this way.
Re-Focusing on Story Excerpts:
Now, once they have made their judgments, have them go back to the text and use Section III of the graphic organizer to locate evidence from the text which helps them determine the guilt or innocence of Brother. These details should be taken from throughout the text and they should expand upon the details already gathered. Essentially, students should be looking for actions, thoughts, or words from the characters which would help them persuade a jury to believe their judgment about the character. This might be a good time to have students work together—especially if they have the same perspective or viewpoint regarding the guilt or innocence of Brother.
Because part of being persuasive is predicting or acknowledging the opposite case, have students pair up and share evidence with a student of the opposite opinion. Have each student jot down a few of the best examples of evidence from the opposing perspective/viewpoint.
Starting the Writing Assignment:
Tell students that they are now going to write either an opening or closing argument for a jury in regards to Brother’s guilt or innocence in the tragic events of story. The opening speech sets the stage for the trial to come, introducing the topic and presenting the evidence that will be seen or heard. A closing speech reminds the jury of what has already been presented and sums up the major points or ideas. Remind them that a prosecuting attorney is arguing for Brother’s guilt and that a defense attorney argues for his innocence. Review with students that in order to be persuasive to a jury that they need to include evidence from the text—weaving it in with their own words, ideas, and interpretations. They should also focus on two major persuasive techniques—using logic and evidence, and appealing to the emotions of the situation. The graphic organizer will help them with the first persuasive technique and their own beliefs and reasons will help with the second. Finally, remind them that because this is a speech, they might want to consider focusing on word choice, repetition, and sentence fluency when writing. Have them consider reading aloud to themselves as they draft their speeches.
The Rest of the Writing Process:
Once their draft is complete, have them switch with another peer. This peer should highlight the evidence used in one color, and the appeals to emotion in another color. This will help the writer physically see the balance between evidence and emotion used within the speech. The responder should write a two to three sentence argument against the speech in order to provide an opposing view that the author may want to consider including in order to refute. Another technique would be to use Traits Post-it® Note-sized templates to rate in the areas of word choice and sentence fluency.
You might want to consider setting aside time for a debate, where students present their speeches in an attempt to persuade each other.