The Annual Student Address

Students will create a commencement address to reflect on what their high school experience means. This address may also be forward looking.  Students will first explore a variety of high school and college commencement speeches.  Speeches will be accompanied by an author’s statement (to be passed in after the in class speech occurs) that will identify and discuss the effectiveness of the rhetorical strategies used within the speech.

Standards: (Speech^, Writer’s Statement*)

  • ^*W2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  • ^W4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)
  • ^W5: Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.
  • *L6: Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

Big Concepts / Goals:

  • Rhetorical strategies are in use all aspects of life even when it is not expected.
  • Rites of passage include opportunities for reflection and to be forward-looking.
  • The organization of a piece needs to follow its purpose.


Essential Understandings:

  • Speeches for commencement (and other like occasions) make use of a variety of rhetorical strategies in order to reflect, look to the future, offer advice, etc.
  • Rites of passage are times to reflect, look towards the future and / or take stock and offer advice.  
  • The purpose of a piece dictates its organization.


Essential Questions:

  • How do commencement speeches make use of rhetorical strategies?
  • How do we reflect, look towards the future and / or take stock and offer advice when making an address during a rite of passage (such as commencement)?
  • How does a speech sets its purpose for its audience? How does a speech’s organization follow its purpose?


Scope of Study: (List of Materials)

  • Previous Examples of Commencement Speeches (Transcripts and Videos)


Mission / Vision:

  • A Clear and Effective Communicator
  • A Collaborative and Quality Worker
  • A Citizen Who Is Involved, Civic-Minded, and Personally and Socially Responsible


Habits of Mind:

  • Responding Appropriately to Feedback


Opportunities for Further Enrichment:

  • Opportunities for further demonstration, presentation

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