Gender Roles and Power

Gender Roles in Society: Their Source, Their Power

In this 4-week unit, students will focus on gender , a broad and multi-faceted topic which has invited and provoked intense debate and writing since time began.

Essential Questions:

  • What is the difference between sex and gender?
  • Where do our ideas around gender roles and sexual stereotypes come from? To what extent are gender roles innate (natural) or superimposed (created)?
  • What ideas do we receive about gender throughout our lives?
  • How can social stereotypes around gender limit our potential and curtail our attainment of happiness?
  • How can author’s apply literary devices to enhance their arguments?

Recognize that these questions are iterative (meaning, you’ll come back to them again and again over the course of the unit) and framing (meaning that the core texts in the unit should be read through the lens they provide).

By the end of the unit, scholars should have a solid grasp of the following Enduring Understandings:

  • People continually grapple with identifying the source of gender characteristics, considering how much of what it means to be masculine or feminine can be accredited to biology and how much is socially constructed.
  • When a chasm exists between who we really are as men and women and who society expects us to be, we suffer—on an individual, familial, and social level.
  • The heart of rhetorical analysis is not recognizing literary devices in context, but rather, in understanding why they are there, and how the author has used them to enhance his or her argument.
  • Short sentences can draw attention to a crystallized, distilled idea, rendering it power, while long sentences create a rhythm or tone that may achieve an intentional effect on the reader.

 Reading and Text Analysis Skills:

Over the course of Unit 4, scholars should pay particular attention to examining a writer’s use of literary and rhetorical devices. Within the context of the key text, push them to specifically analyze tone, hyperbole, synecdoche, allusion, personification, understatement, and metaphor. Scholars should also be led to examine a writer’s use of sentences, and can analyze the relationship between sentence length and structure and an author’s tone and message.

Writing Skills:

Scholars will carefully analyze Virginia Woolf’s oration, “Professions for Women,” which will be the focus for a FRQ#2 that they will spend multiple days work shopping towards the end of the unit. The unit also includes at least two on-demand drills which require scholars to write analytical paragraphs in a timed setting and, as a final summative assessment, an on-demand essay in the style of the FRQ #2. At this point, push scholars to select a judicious amount of clearly related evidence, and to present that evidence in a way that supports the logic of their thesis statement and reads in a way that is both fluid and compelling. Scholars should also focus on the organization of their ideas, and on varying sentence length and structure to create an effective style and tone for their own writing.

 Unit Themes and Reading Selections:

Week 1: What is difference between sex and gender, what stereotypes do we have around gender? Where do these come from? Readings include an excerpt form “Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies,” by Margaret Mead, “Girl,” by Jamaica Kincaid; and a political cartoons by Liza Donnelly.

Week 2: Continue identifying the ideas we receive about gender throughout our lives, and begin addressing the question, “How can social stereotypes and expectations around gender limit our potential and curtail our attainment of happiness? “Readings include excerpts from “Give Her a Pattern,” by D.H. Lawrence; rhetorical devices glossary project; begin identifying and analyzing literary devices in context.

Week 3: Continue considering how gender stereotypes and expectations impact our lives while emphasizing the analysis of literary devices in context. Readings include “Being a Man” and “Professions for Women.”

Week 4: FRQ#2 Workshop and MCQ Practice; time on-demand FRQ#2 assessment

 The following CCSS are emphasized within Unit 4:

RI11-12.3: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).

RI11-12.6: Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness, or beauty of the text

SL11-12.1: Initiate and participate in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

SL11-12.4: Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.

W11-12.1a: Introduce precise, knowledgeable claim(s), establish the significance of the claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that logically sequences claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.

W11-12.5: 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.

 Key Skills

Reading: Rhetorical Strategies and Appeals

To continue, with increasing independence: SWBAT…

  • Analyze how the rhetorical situation influences the writer’s argument.
  • Analyze an author’s argument, claims, evidence and appeals to logos, pathos, ethos.
  • Identify words, phrases, and sentences which contribute to the tone of a piece, and/or which reveal an author’s point of view or purpose.
  • Perform technical close reading (pronoun/antecedent, synonyms, navigating complex syntax, following idea references).

New for Unit 4:

  • Analyze how an author’s sentence length and sentence type impacts the tone, power, and clarity of his or her argument.

 Reading: Literary Devices

To continue, with increasing independence: SWBAT…

  • Identify examples of juxtaposition and repetition within the context of the core texts.

 New for Unit 4:

  • The act of defining, identifying, and analyzing literary devices as rhetorical tools is a key part of this unit.
  • Identify, describe, and analyze the rhetorical effect of an author’s use of synecdoche, hyperbole, allusion, tone, understatement, paradox, and personification found within the context of core texts.
  • Define, illustrate, and provide examples for all key rhetorical and literary terminology, to include at minimum 50 terms from the following list: Allegory, Alliteration, Allusion, Anaphora, Analogy, Anecdote, Anachronism, Antithesis, Aphorism, Apostrophe, Argumentation, Assonance, Asyndeton, Attitude, Begging the question, Canon, Chiasmus, Claim, Colloquial, Concrete Language, Consonance, Description, Diction, Euphemism, Ethos, Example, Exposition, Generalization, Humor, Imagery, Juxtaposition, Litote, Logos, Loose Sentence, Metaphor, Narration, Oversimplification, Oxymoron, Paradox, Parallelism, Pathos, Periodic Sentence, Personification, Prose, Realism, Rebuttal/refutation, Repetition, Rhetoric, Rhetorical question, Sarcasm, Satire, Simile, Style, Symbolism, Synecdoche, Syntax, Theme, Tone, Understatement, Vernacular, Voice, Zeugma

Additional “challenge terms” for Glossary Project could include: Syllogism, Isocolon, Anadiplosis, Invective, Euphony, Cacophony, Induction, Deduction, Inversion, Polysyndeton, Asyndeton, Ad hominem. Hasty Generalization, Slippery Slope


To continue, with increasing independence: SWBAT…

  • Compose thesis statement responding to FRQ#2 prompts.
  • Draft clear, concise, and compelling assertions that support the thesis statement.
  • Articulate clearly how identified rhetorical devices, appeals, and strategies serve an author’s purpose.

 New for Unit 4:

  • Select relevant, compelling evidence to support assertions.
  • Contextualize and present relevant and sufficient evidence in a way that is fluent, clear, and compelling.
  • Frame analysis within the introductory paragraph by providing appropriate background information regarding the text’s author, context, and purpose.
  • Apply to their own writing an awareness of the impact sentence length, variety, and structure can have on the tone and clarity of an argument.

 Test-Taking Skills

To continue, with increasing independence: SWBAT…

  • Independently apply the MCQ approach and Steps 1, 2, and 3 of the FRQ Approach.
  • Continue tackling MCQs categorized as “Main Idea,” “Organization and Structure,” and “Author’s Meaning and Purpose,” within the context of the core texts.

 New for Unit 4

  • Identify and practice attacking MCQs categorized as “Rhetoric” within the contexts of the core texts
  • Read, annotate, and apply the main ideas found in the article “How to Approach Multiple Choice Questions on the AP English Language & Composition Exam” (see Week 4 Text Resources).
  • Calculate current average response time per MCQ and compare this against target response time of 50-60 seconds per question.

Calculate reading speed for the passages on the AP Lang exam, aiming to read at a rate of 1 ½ minutes per page.

Week 1 Core Texts: 

  1. Excerpt from “Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies,” by Margaret Mead The full-text PDF is available here:
  2. “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, a good girl or a slut,” by Liza Donnelly (Political Cartoon) Available online here:
  3. Liza Donnelly is a cartoonist frequently published in The New Yorker who often uses humor to comment on issues around gender. Use to foreshadow and reinforce the main ideas presented in “Girl,” also to return to the idea of argument in visual texts.
  4. Teachers can either simply show, enjoy, and briefly discuss this visual, OR, if time allows, they can engage in a deeper analysis of the text by responding to the following questions (which can be repurposed to analyze any political cartoons in the future):
  1. People: What kinds of people are in the image? What are they doing, literally?
  2. Objects: What physical items are included in the image? What do these stand for or symbolize?
  3. Debatable issue: What is the contentious or controversial issue that the cartoon comments on?
  4. Artist’s technique: To what degree is the artist’s style abstract, iconic, or realistic? Is there use of caricatures, exaggerated features, symbols?
  5. Humor technique: irony, parody, satire, understatement, pun, black humor, juxtaposition, analogy, allusion?
  6. Agree/Disagree: What side of the debate are you or other people on?

Use to foreshadow and reinforce the main ideas presented in “Girl,” also to return to the idea of argument in visual texts.

“Girl,” by Jamaica Kincaid Available online here:

 This very short story, published in At the Bottom of the River in 1983, is written in a stream-of-consciousness style, in the voice of a mother lecturing a daughter (who can barely get a word in edgewise). In short, she is giving her daughter a litany of instructions on how to become a lady, not a slut.

Through the story, Kincaid “analyzes the domain of the title female, both the roles she is This short story complements many of the themes and ideas of the unit well, especially those presented by “Professions for Women.” It also pairs perfectly with Liza Donnelly’s political cartoons on gender. Both can be analyzed deeply or skimmed as a way to reiterate the main themes introduced in Woolf’s speech.

It also introduced the idea that our ideas about proper gender manifestations come also from our parents.

Have scholars analyze the style and organization of the piece.  What effect does the stream-of-conscious delivery of instructions have on the tone? Why does the daughter not get a chance to interrupt until the very end? What categories of information are presented? Why does the mother organize the instruction into these categories?

Because this is a short, accessible piece, you might have students comprehend and interpret this piece in collaborative reading/discussion groups.

 Potential discussion questions:

  • What kind of life does the mother depict for her daughter?
  • Why did Kincaid write her story as one long sentence? What does this achieve?
  • What effect would the spitting line have if it were the last line of the story?
  • What categories of female obligations do you see? How do they help organize the story?
  • Think about genre. Based on the text, what theme or main idea is Kincaid attempting to convey? Why did she chose to communicate her ideas in a short, fictional story rather than in a nonfiction essay?

This sample analysis may be useful as you prepare to teach “Girl”:

 Supplemental text- “Not All Men are Sly Foxes,” by Armin Brott

Armin Brott is called a “parenting expert” who left his career in marketing when his first child was born because he “wanted to be an active, involved parent.” He has written 6 books on parenting and has contributed to such magazines as New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, and Readers’ Digest.

From The Bedford Reader, which includes the essay as a model: “In this essay from a 1992 Newsweek magazine, Brott offers a different view of men from that taken by Judy Brady in the previous essay [“I Want a Wife”]. While acknowledging that women and men are not yet equal in child care, Brott holds that children’s books are hardly helping. He uses analysis to show that the Sly Fox remains much more common than the Caring Dad.

Use this readily accessible essay as an anchor text, introducing the following themes and skills for the  unit:

Themes: Gender, as different from sex, is to a debatable degree something we learn from the world around us. Media (such as children’s literature) can reinforce negative stereotypes which get in the way of establishing equality between the sexes. The text also  introduces the idea that stereotypes can be harmful, in that they can shape our identities in a way that restricts our options and hurts the way we relate to one another.

Consider having scholars write a definition of “masculine” and “feminine” as Brott suggests the roles are presented in children’s literature. How are each of these stereotypes hurtful, both to the gender they depict, and to the opposing gender?

Skills and Content Knowledge:

  • Focus on Brott’s use of analysis. Review the term, identify what he analyzes, and discuss why he conducts this analysis.
  • In discussing the overall organization of the essay, ask scholars to identify the placement of Brott’s thesis statement. Why does he wait until the end of the essay to state it so clearly?
  • Look at the last line of the essay. Why does it end like this?

Also on organization: Ask scholars to identify the purpose of paragraph 7, with its reference to books for parents. Why did Brott include it in an essay about children’s books?

  • Highlight the descriptive language in paragraph 4, when Brott provides vivid description of Mother Goose an the Sly Fox. What concrete details help explain these differences?
  • Organization: Where in the essay does Brott air and refute a counterargument?

As a follow on short research assignment, have scholars analyze examples of children’s literature in class. (Consider having small groups that each look at a different form of contemporary media: children’s lit, commercials, sitcoms, etc.) Have images of fathers in children’s books changed since then, or have they remained essentially the same? If time allows, have scholars write an essay reporting their findings, being sure to analyze several specific books.


Week 1: Laying the Foundation Introduce the unit themes and focus specifically on the questions, “What is the difference between sex and gender?” “Where do our ideas around gender and sexual stereotypes come from?” and “What ideas do we receive, as children, about gender?” Within the context of these provocative conversations and readings, practice summarizing the central ideas of an argument and grasping an author’s purpose. Consider this week a “warm up” in which scholars develop comprehension skills and engage themselves in the conversation.

Day 1
Content Acquisition
SWBAT differentiate between sex and gender by completing internet-based research.

SWBAT describe unit goals and essential questions.

Text: Internet Resources

 Possible Agenda:

1) Do Now: Anticipation Guide (See Appendix)

2) Present question for brief internet-based research: What is the difference between sex and gender?

3) Internet-based research

4) Come Together and Share Out: What is the difference between sex and gender?

5) Present overview of unit goals and essential questions.

6) Exit Slip: Freewrite: What expectations, questions, or opinions do you have at this point, going into the unit?

HW:  Present a rough-draft argument, written in the first-person, that answers the following question:

In your opinion, are gender roles innate (something biological that we are born with) or socially constructed? Is gender something we have from birth, or something we learn? Provide evidence from your life to support your response.

Day 2
Given a seminal text focused on the origin of gender roles, SWBAT comprehend and summarize the author’s main ideas and purpose for writing.
Text: Excerpt from “Sex and Temperaments in Three Primitive Societies” by Margaret Mead

Possible Agenda:

1) Do Now: Describe what people mean when they tell someone to “Act like a man!” In contrast, when they describe someone as “ladylike,” what are they saying?

2) Discuss, then ask, where did these ideas around gender come from?

3) Briefly summarize Mead’s research.

4) First reading, followed by focused annotation: Highlight Mead’s main assertions and consider her purpose for writing.

5) Think/Pair/Share: What conclusions does Mead reach about the origins of assigned gender roles? Do we agree or disagree?

6) Share Out

Note: This rigorous text may provide a good opportunity for close reading practice.

Day 3
SWBAT analyze and explain an author’s use of evidence by writing an in-class timed analytical paragraph.
Text: Excerpt from “Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies” by Margaret Mead

Possible Agenda:

1) Do Now

2) Review/Model components of an analytical paragraph. Discuss the importance of developing the ability to analyze an author’s method quickly.

3) Give scholars 10 minutes to draft a response to the following prompt:

 In the article, Mead asserts that gender behaviors and roles are a product of socialization. What strategies or devices does she employ in making the case for this idea?

4) Share student writing on the dot cam. Discuss.

Homework: Write a rhetorical analysis on how Mead asserts that gender behaviors and roles are a product of socialization in her essay.

Tips for writing the essay:

Analytical: rhetorical strategy, shift in development, rhetorical stance, style, metaphor, contrast, comparison, cause/effect, argument, description, narration, specific-general, general-specific, how something is characterized, imagery, passage is primarily concerned with, function of…

the language of rhetoric (syntax, diction, figurative language, tone, etc.)

  1. A shift in point of view is demonstrated by
  2. The repetitive syntax of lines “…” serves to
  3. “..” can best be said to represent
  4. The second sentence is unified by the writer’s use of ….. rhetorical device?
  5. The word “…” is the antecedent for
  6. The style of the passage can best be characterized as
  7. The author employs “…” sentence structure to establish
  8. The tone of the passage changes when the writer

organization and structure (is there contrast, deduction, spatial description, etc.)

  1. The shift from “…” to “….” Is seen by the author’s use of…
  2. In presenting the author’s point, the passage utilizes all of the following except
  3. The speaker has included “…” in her argument in order to…
  4. The type of argument employed by the author is most similar to which of the following?
  5. The can be said to move from “….” To “….”
  6. The “…” paragraph can be said to be … in relation to …
  7. The structure of this passage is primarily one of ….
  8. rhetorical modes (narration, description, argumentation, etc.)
  9. All of the following modes can be found within the passage except

An EXAMPLE( analysis of Kennedy’s speech)


  • Point out the specific purposeof the speech ( “condemn” companies for raising steel prices as well as ” appeal” to “everyman audience” for communal sacrifices)
  • Specify the context( for raising steel prices)
  • Reveal/ the speaker-persona: where does the speaker stand on the issue? ( “include himself as “we”; “he is on their side; united with them”; set himself apart from another privileged group- steel executives; us vs them , contempt and righteous indignation- tone)
  • Thesis: Such us vs them distinction is a crucial justification for the contempt and righteous indignation that Kennedy heaps on the steel companies.

Body Paragraphs: Illustrate  the purpose

Body Paragraph 1

  1. In addition to his appeal to class warfare, he switches to patriotism. The speaker lists the people he wants to appeal to such as ” union workers, reservists and servicemen, every American businessman and farmer” to connote ” a fighting spirit, rugged individual ingenuity and self-reliance, ones hundred Americanism.
  2. Shift tone ( But Kennedy is not in bed with the unions by noting that the steel companies enjoy an ” unusually good labor contract” and highest earnings in history” implying that steel companies have right and reason to succeed.
  3. The economic status of the steel companies  lends furthercredibility to Kennedy’s condemnation( purpose) of them, in particular  after he had asked “each American and the steel companies to consider what he would do for his country”. Instead of making necessary sacrifices, they take advantages of the people and situation by increasing the prices.

Body Paragraph 2

In this paragraph, the student further complicate the situation and explain how the speaker demonstrates his persona( take American people’s side and calls for sacrifices in the crisis) and his purpose ( condemns the steel companies without alienating them or going to a war with them, instead, he uses reasons and economic facts to reveal their greed and unpatriotic action)  in the context:

  1. Further evidenceof Kennedy’s rhetorical caution can be found in his disclaimer that ” price and wage decisions…are and ought to be freely and privately made.” ( the speaker clearly sows his stance on this complicated situation- he does want his audience to believe regulating prices for private companies is a norm). Because in 1962, it would have been unprecedented for a President to coerce a private company into taking a specific economic action.
  2. Shift: Yet, in this extraordinary situation, he calls for everyone’s sacrifices( But again, Kennedy invokesthe uncontroversially virtuous idea of “higher…responsibility ” so as not to undermine his message. And his final closing lines, cleverly put the ball in his opponent’s court. Kennedy does not directly go on the war path or appear to be aggressive, yet manages to appear strong and principled without giving the steel companies any ammunition to respond to the actual substance of his speech.

Conclusion: In the speech, Kennedy’s clearly justifies why he condemns the greedy and unpatriotic steel companies, in the meantime, calls for ” our ” sacrifices as a nation, which includes all- the unions, service men and steel companies. He stands as a leader united with his people during ” this serious hour”.

Day 4
SWBAT comprehend and summarize the argument made by two different types of text: a political cartoon and a work of short fiction.
Text:  “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up…” by Liza Donnelley (Political Cartoon); “Girl,” by Jamaica Kincaid

Possible Agenda:

1) Do Now: Show Donnelly’s political cartoon. Have scholars respond to prompt: Donnelly is using humor to make a very serious point. What is she trying to say about the choices available to women in American society? What tools or devices does she use to make her point?

2) Discuss

3) Read “Girl” aloud—perhaps selecting a student to read ital text for a more dramatic effect.

Day 5
SWBAT analyze and explain an author’s structural decisions by writing an in-class timed analysis
Text:  “Girl,” by Jamaica Kincaid

 Possible Agenda:

1) Do Now: What is Kincaid’s purpose for writing the short story, “Girl”? In what way is it an argument?

2) Discuss

3) Ask: What do we notice about Kincaid’s craft here?

4) Have scholars write 1-2 paragraphs in response to the following prompt:

How does Kincaid’s structural decision to present her story as a list of instructions serve to convey tone and theme?

5) At end of class, present the glossary assignment and give due date.

HW: Work on Glossary Projects.

 Optional Scaffolding:

1) Consider allowing scholars to draft their analysis in a group of three, OR provide scholars with a paragraph frame like this:

In the story, Kincaid uses X, which allows her do do Y. For example, [insert examples of strategy from the passage]. [Insert link/connection back to topic sentence].


Week 2

  • Core text:  Excerpts from “Give Her a Pattern,” by D.H. Lawrence ;Full text available here:
  • Supplementary text: “About Men,” by Gretel Ehrlich; Available in Unit Materials, and here:
  • Originally published in Time magazine; also published in her collection of essays, The Solace of Open Spaces. This four-page essay discusses the differences between how cowboys are depicted by the media and how cowboys are in real life.Since it is called “About Men” and not “About Cowboys,” we can extend what she says to general social stereotypes around men and masculinity.
  • Theme: This text reinforces some key themes of the unit:
    • That the media invents and reinforces gender stereotypes
    • That the media doesn’t usually get it right
    • That there is a cost to this disconnect

Week 2: Literary Devices in Action Take two days to support scholars’ essential acquisition of key terminology, knowing that learning the language is key to their ability to fluently discuss and analyze texts. During the last three days of the unit, begin pushing scholars to identify and analyze those literary devices within the context of the core texts, starting with a reading of “About Men,” by Gretel Ehrlich. This text also initiates a shift in topic: whereas Week 1 centered around defining gender roles and determining their origin, Week 2 begins to explore how social ideas and expectations around gender influence our lives and development

Day 6
Content Acquisition
SWBAT review, illustrate, and exemplify terms on a comprehensive list of literary and rhetorical devices.
Possible Agenda:

1) Do Now: 2-3 Rhetorical Devices  MCQs

2) Provide time in class for scholars to work on their glossary projects. Remind them of the challenge to find examples in context of previous class readings for each term on the list.

HW: Finish Glossary Projects and prepare for one-minute teach presentations.

Prompt: Once you’ve completed your project, prepare to present one of the terms to the class. (Your teacher may assign specific terms to individual scholar.) You will have one minute to present the term’s definition, an example of the definition in context, and a way of remembering the term (mnemonic device). You may use pre-made visual aids or the whiteboard/chalkboard to support your presentation.

Day 7
Content Acquisition
SWBAT apply effective public speaking skills and active listening skills when delivering and listening to “one-minute teach” presentations.
Possible Agenda:

1) Do Now: 2-3 Rhetorical Devices  MCQs

2) Conduct “one-minute teach” presentations.

3) Exit Slip: Which are your favorite literary or rhetorical devices, and why?

Day 8
SWBAT identify literary devices within the context of a core text.

SWBAT comprehend the central ideas of a text written in the early twentieth century.

Text: excerpts from “Give Her a Pattern,” by D.H. Lawrence

Possible Agenda:

1) Do Now: Freewrite: Are there different types of men? Different types of women? Is there something all men, or all women, have in common?

2.) Discuss, then introduce D.H. Lawrence text. Discuss context.

3) Read the text together.

4) Think-Pair-Share: What essentially is the text about? What does Lawrence want us to believe?

5) Discuss literary devices: What devices do you notice in the text? (Focus on identification, with analysis being the focus of the following class.)

6) Challenge question: What assumptions about gender is Lawrence implying? From the article, what can you infer about the what ideas about gender must have been implicit during Lawrence’s time?

Day 9
SWBAT analyze the rhetorical purpose and effectiveness of literary devices in context.
Text:  excerpts from “Give Her a Pattern,” by D.H. Lawrence

Possible Agenda:

1) Do Now

2) Model with one literary device from the passage.  (For example, do a close reading of paragraph 1. Label the repetition of “When a woman is..” as anaphora and the repeated syntactical pattern in the last sentence “what to be, which pattern to following, which man’s picture…”  as asyndenton. Share the pen or collaborate to write a Says/Does Statement for one of these devices.

3) Small Group Work: Assign each group a paragraph, and task each with analyzing the purpose and effectiveness of any literary devices they might find within that paragraph. (Note that paragraphs 2, 5, 6, and 12 are especially rich.)

4) Share and discuss as time allows.

Day 10
SWBAT analyze the impact of sentence length on the tone, power, and clarity of an author’s argument.

SWBAT make generalizations about the impact sentence length can have on the one, power, and clarity of a message.

Text:  excerpts from “Give Her a Pattern,” by D.H. Lawrence, “Girl,” by Jamaica Kincaid, and “Consider the Lobster” or “In the Strawberry Fields,” from Unit 3.

 Possible Agenda:

1) Do Now

2) Model/We Do: Look at and discuss sentence length in the Lawrence essay. Identify the content and function of the 3 or 4 shortest sentences in the essay.

3) Small Group Research. Give one group the story “Girl,” another group the excerpts from “Give Her a Pattern,” and another group one of the texts from Unit 3 (either “Consider the Lobster” or “In the Strawberry Fields.”  Ask them to answer the following questions:

–Identify and list the three longest sentences in the article.

–What impact do these sentences have on the tone, power, or clarity of the argument? Why are they so long?

–Identify and list the three shortest sentences in the article.

–What impact do these sentences have on the tone, power, or clarity of the argument? Why are they so short?

–What generalizations can you take with you from this class, to either apply to your own writing or to future analysis of text?

4) Discuss as time allows.

HW: Read “Being a Man,” by Paul Theroux and “Professions for Women,” by Virginia Woolf.


Week 3:  The Angel in the Corner vs. The Hemingway Personality  To continue the conversation about the power of gender roles and expectations in our lives, engage scholars in a deep analysis and comparison of two rich and powerful texts: “About Men” and “Professions for Women.” The purpose of this comparison is not just to find similarities but to sharpen scholars’ understanding and awareness of how such elements as tone and figurative language serve to develop a writer’s style and argument. While it may appear that focus hops around quite a bit this week from one rhetorical device to the next, remember that the key is not to MASTER one rhetorical or literary device, but rather, to recognize and understand more deeply how these techniques can enhance and develop an argument.

Week 3 Core Texts: 

  1. “Being a Man,” by Paul Theroux(
  2. Professions for Women,” Virginia Woolf ( )

This essay was published in 1983 in the New York Time Magazine. Theroux is a well-known, well-regarded essayist known for his fiction, literary criticism, and travel writing. Scholars who enjoy his style might also want to read The Great Railway Bazaar or The Mosquito Coast.

From Wikipedia: “As a traveler he is noted for his rich descriptions of people and places, laced with a heavy streak of irony, or even misanthropy.”

A funny tidbit also from Wikipedia: “By including versions of himself, his family, and acquaintances in some of his fiction, Theroux has occasionally disconcerted his readers. “A. Burgess, Slightly Foxed: Fact and Fiction”, a story originally published in The New Yorker[10], describes a dinner at the narrator’s home with author Anthony Burgess and a book-hoarding philistine lawyer who nags the narrator for an introduction to the great writer. Burgess arrives drunk and cruelly mocks the lawyer, who introduces himself as a fan. The narrator’s wife is named Anne and she shrewishly refuses to help with the dinner. The magazine later published a letter from Anne Theroux denying that Burgess was ever a guest in her home and expressing admiration for him, having once interviewed the real Burgess for the BBC: “I was dismayed to read in your August 7th edition a story … by Paul Theroux, in which a very unpleasant character with my name said and did things that I have never said or done.”[11] When the story was incorporated into Theroux’s novel, My Other Life (1996), the character of the wife was renamed Alison and reference to her work at the BBC is excised.”

Consider how Theroux’s experiences as a traveler and travel writer impact his point of view.

  • Find sentences and paragraphs in which Theroux organizes ideas using comparison and contrast. Which transitions allow him to move from one topic to the other, within a sentence and/or across sentences/paragraphs?
  • Examine how the figurative language in paragraph 2 helps Theroux convey the contrasting images of masculinity and femininity. How does this literary device enhance his message?
  • Theroux discusses a paradox in his essay, that it is easier for a woman to write and for a man to be published. Use this to review the term paradox, and ask scholars, Would Woolf agree?
  • Explore the repetition found in the sentence constructions in the second to last paragraph.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why does Theroux think that “the whole idea of manhood in America is pitiful”?
  2. Describe Theroux’s tone, and compare/contrast it with other writers we’ve read this unit. Who does he most resemble in tone and style, and why?
  3. In par.2, Theroux uses a simile to compare and contrast masculinity and femininity. Paraphrase and react to it. What do you think?

“The version of masculinity is a little like having to wear an ill-fitting coat for one’s entire life by contrast, I imagine femininity to be an oppressive sense of nakedness.”)

  1. In par 1, what does Theroux suggest that the phrase “Be a man” means? What is the problem, as he sees it, by what this phrase implies? (After reading this, consider how he might react to Tannen’s views.)
  2. The author compares and contrasts how boys and girls are raised. What ideas does he suggest are inculcated at an early age? Who is to blame?
  3. What is the purpose and meaning of par 4?
  4. In paragraph 5, why does the author “regard hs sports as a drug far worse than marijuana?” Summarize his opinion, and then react to it. What do you think?
  5. Vocab study: List all of the adjectives Theroux assigns to the contemporary version of masculinity. How would you describe these words as a group? How do these words contribute to the overall tone of the essay?
  6. In par 6, why does he suggest that being a writer is incompatible with being a man? From this sentiment, what conclusions can you make about how, according to Theroux, gender stereotypes can stunt our development and expression?
  7. In paragraph 8, what paradox does the author present? How does this agree or disagree with the ideas presented in Woolf’s “Professions for Women”?
  8. Towards the end of the article, Theroux lists a number of authors. Why does he do so? What generalizations do these examples support?
  9. Sentence study: What kinds of sentences are most common in Theroux’s style? Look again at the shortest sentences in the essay. What effect does this brevity achieve?
  10. In the second to last paragraph, Theroux calls “being manly” the “subversion of good students” and “the most primitive insecurity.” Why does he say this? Is he justified? Do you agree?
  11. What generalization does Theroux make in the last sentence, why does he make it, and what does it reveal about his point of view? Do you agree with it?

Looking across texts:

In his essay, Theroux discusses what it means to be a writer who is a man, much in the same way that Virginia Woolf discussed what it means to be a writer who is a women. How is the “Angel in the Corner” the same as “The Hemingway personality”? It what way is each author’s experience with the phantom similar? How, and possibly why, is it different?

“Professions for Women,” Virginia Woolf

“The essay is an abbreviated version of a speech Woolf delivered to a branch of the National Society for Women’s Service on January 21, 1931. It became the seed for much of the work Woolf completed after A Room of One’s Own, eventually evolving into “The Years,” published in 1937, and Three Guineas, published in 1938. The excerpt concentrates on that Victorian phantom known as the Angel in the House (borrowed from Coventry Patmore’s poem celebrating domestic bliss)—that selfless, sacrificial woman in the nineteenth century whose sole purpose in life was to soothe, to flatter, and to comfort the male half of the world’s population.  “Killing the Angel in the House,” wrote Virginia Woolf, “was part of the occupation of a woman writer.”  That ahs proved to be a prophetic statement, for today, not only in the domain of letters, but in the entire professional world, women are still engaged in that deadly contest in their struggle for social and economic equality.”

  • Read excerpts from “The Angel in the House,” which is the poem by Coventry Patmore that Virginia Woolf references. This poem is very long (multiple books/Cantos, etc), but if you want scholars to access the primary source and get the general gist of things, you could use an excerpt from “Prelude, “The Fount of Honor,” Canto III, Part II, lines 6-24; OR Prelude: “The Rose of the World,” Canto IV, Part 1, lines 1-16.) Both excerpts can be found at
  • Consider Woolf’s purpose and audience. How does her task, the interest and background of her listeners, and her point of view shape her message?
  • Identify Woolf’s tone: at which points in the essay is she especially sarcastic? Why does she use sarcasm at these points?
  • In the first paragraph, “the cheapness of writing paper” and “Pianos and models, Paris, Vienna, and Berlin” may be read as synecdoche. What larger ideas are represented by these details? The Persian cat in paragraphs 2 and 3 also represents a larger whole. Why does she use this concrete detail instead of the larger idea it represents? (funny, it engages the audience and gives them something clear to imagine; it also makes her seem more trivial and unthreatening, which contrasts better with the confrontational writer she grew into being.)
  • In paragraph 2: “You have only got to figure to yourselves a girl in a bedroom with a pen in her hand,” is a kind of irony that depends for its effect on understatement. Why does Woolf simplify herself as she was at the beginning? (It makes a jarring contrast with her later self, which set out to “kill the angel of the house.)
  • Note the impact of the personification in the middle of paragraph 2. Why does Woolf personify the notion of womanhood that she battled as a young writer? What allusions, imagery, sensory language, and concrete details enhance this personification, and thereby increase the strength, power, and appeal of the speech?
  • Here’s a doozey of an idea: “In other words, now that she had rid herself of falsehood, that young woman had only to be herself. Ah, but what is “herself”? I mean, what is a woman? I assure you, I do not know. I do not believe that you know. I do not believe that anybody can know until she has expressed herself in all the arts and professions open to human skill.”
  • In short, she’s asking, “What is a woman after you strip away the role that society has pinned on her? What is fundamentally female?”
  • It’s powerful to think that she didn’t know, and we probably don’t know yet, either. It is this tension she feels—and that we all feel on some level—that search for essential identify, that was probably the source of her lifelong emotional struggles. In any light, I like picturing Sojourner Truth, standing up to answer her and saying, “Ain’t I a Woman?” Might be an awesome supplemental resource.
  • Also, consider asking if “What is a woman” is a rhetorical question or not; if you bring in Sojourner Truth, extend that scrutiny to her question, “Ain’t I a woman?”
  • “Ain’t I a Woman,” by Sojourner Truth (
  • Virginia Woolf asks “What is a woman?” just as Truth asks, “Ain’t I a Woman?” Is either, both, or neither question a rhetorical question
  • Also compare/contrast use of repetition and listing with Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl.”
Day 13
SWBAT apply comprehension strategies and close reading strategies to comprehend and interpret text.
Text: “Professions for Women,” by Virginia Woolf


(1) Do Now

(2) DI: Background Information on Virginia Woolf (engage scholars’ prior knowledge and experience where possible) Ask: Based on what you know about who she was and why she was speaking, what ideas about gender do you predict Virginia Woolf might suggest in this oration? How does understanding the rhetorical situation allow us to make predictions about the author’s argument?

(3) Scholars scan text, noting striking passages and recording two questions they have about Woolf’s meaning or craft.

(4) Class Discussion: Discuss as many observations and questions as time allows.

(5) Close reading to develop scholar’s understanding of Woolf’s main ideas

6) Ask TDQs to ensure scholar comprehension.

(6) Discuss HW expectations; share model responses

HW: Answer the following questions.

1. Identify passages where Woolf’s sentences are mainly long. What impact does this have on tone?

2. What are the three shortest sentences in the essay?

3 What impact does this brevity have on the delivered message or tone?

Day 12
SWBAT analyze and describe an author’s use of tone, paradox, and simile.
Text: “Being a Man,” by Paul Theroux


1) Do Now

2) Have scholars work in small groups, with each group writing an analytical paragraph (or Says/Does Analysis) in response to one of the following questions:

·         Describe the author’s use of paradox in paragraph 8.

·         Describe the author’s use of simile in paragraph 2.

·         Describe the author’s tone. Does this tone contribute to or detract from the author’s argument?

·         What is the purpose and meaning of par 4?

3) Have each group share their paragraphs under the dot com; make revision suggestions and clarifications as needed. Invite other scholars to do the same.


Day 14
SWBAT analyze and describe an author’s rhetorical use of tone, personification, hyperbole, understatement, or synecdoche.
Text:  “Professions for Women,” by Virginia Woolf


1) Do Now

(2) Review Homework

(3) Have scholars work in small groups, with each group writing an analytical paragraph (or Says/Does Analysis) addressing Woolf’s use of tone, personification, hyperbole, understatement, or synecdoche. Remind them to be mindful of Woolf’s purpose and audience. Ask: How has her use of this device allowed her to more successfully make her argument to her specific audience?

3) Have each group share their paragraphs under the dot com; make revision suggestions and clarifications as needed. Invite other scholars to do the same.

 HW: Provide the seminar prompt for tomorrow’s discussion. Have scholars prepare by freewriting their initial response to the question.

Day 15
SWBAT compare and contrast two authors’ rhetorical use of allusion by participating in a seminar discussion.
Text:  “Professions for Women,” by Virginia Woolf; “Being a Man,” by Paul Theroux


1) Do Now

2) Conduct seminar discussion addressing the following prompt:

In his essay, Theroux discusses what it means to be a writer who is a man, much in the same way that Virginia Woolf discussed what it means to be a writer who is a women. How is the “Angel in the Corner” the same as “The Hemingway personality”? It what way is each author’s application of allusion similar? How, and possibly why, is it different? 

HW: Have scholars write rough drafts of an FRQ#2 style rhetorical analysis:

In her seminal speech, “Professions for Women,” master rhetorician Virginia Woolf uses a variety of literary devices to vividly explain how social expectations around gender have impacted her as a writer. Using your notes from this week, write an analysis that highlights at least two of the devices Woolf uses in making her argument.

Week 4:  Summative Assessment  During this week, a few different types of assessment happen. You can evaluate scholars’ writers’ workshop (i.e., the FRQ#2s on “Professions for Women,” as well as their MCQ test results from Day 18 and their on-demand writing efforts from Day 20. Remember that the focus as scholars tackle MCQs on on-demand writing prompts is pacing and time management, and that the focus for processed FRQ#2s should be on the treatment of evidence.


This contemporary, high-profile article garnered a great deal of attention when it was published in The Atlantic in the summer of 2012.

The subheading to the article: It’s time to stop fooling ourselves, says a woman who left a position of power: the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or self-employed. If we truly believe in equal opportunity for all women, here’s what has to change.


Day 16

Objectives: Students will be able to present and discuss some of the ways in which debates around gender show up in high schools and colleges through a jigsaw reading activity.

Do Now: Share one idea from the unit you feel very strong about. Briefly explain why.


  1. Share Do Now
  2. Discuss questions based on  “But What Do You Mean?” by Deborah Tannen
  3. Class is divided into three groups, each of which reads one article from the following. First each group reads the article and discuss its main idea and one or two students or each group join the expert group where the ” expert” explains what each article is about. Then finally, all students convene and wrap up the most important ideas.

Mini Lesson with Guided Practice

 “But What Do You Mean?” by Deborah Tannen

According to the introduction provided in The Bedford Reader, much of Tannen’s research and writing has been motivated by the question, “Why do men and women so often communicate badly?” In this essay, she classifies the conversational areas where men and women have the most difficulty.”

  • How is sex portrayed by Barry and Tannen respectively? Whose definitions do you agree with?
  • Pay attention to the author’s organizational structure: classification, but it gives a good chance to point out example, definition, and compare/contrast as modes.
  • Consider the author’s purpose. What does Tannen hope to accomplish with her writing? Also, identify her primary audience.

Student Independent Practice

Tannen Group: “But What Do You Mean?”

Questions for main idea:

  1. What does Tannen mean when she writes, “Conversation is a ritual” (par 1)?
  2. What does Tannen see as the fundamental differences between men’s and women’s conversational strategies?
  3. What problem is posed by these fundamental differences? Are the differences, in your opinion, always “unfortunate
  1. Why does Tannen think it is important to examine ritualistic speech?
  2. Re: Section 2, Criticism. Since many high school teachers are female, and many college professors are male, what might you anticipate about the kind of feedback you might get on your writing at college?

Questions for style, organization, and structure:

  1. Although Tannen well-educated university professor and researcher, her tone in this essay is quite conversational and relaxed, as opposed to being more formal and academic. Why did she chose to present her ideas like this?
  2. Look at her use of the pronoun “you” in par 9 and par 19. Who is Tannen addressing here? Why?
  3. Identify sections of the text in which Tannen uses example, definition, description, and comparison and contrast. How does each of these modes contribute to the strength of her argument?
  4. In what way is Tannen’s article a strong example of “classification” as a writing mode?
  5. In par. 1, “at least avoid appearing one-down” is possibly a litote, along with the sentence, “Because women are not trying to avoid the one-down position, that is unfortunately where they end up.” Litote? 
  6. In par. 4, she includes an anecdote about a newspaper columnist.
  7. Identify and evaluate Tannen’s generalizations, considering how relevant they are in the context of their own lives.
  8. Point out her use of figurative verbs (“barking,” par 11, and “erupted,” par 20)
  9. In section 2, analyze Tannen’s sentences and use of the semicolon. What is the effect of her varied sentence lengths? Identify the three shortest sentences in the section. What is the purpose of each one? How does the sentence length effect the delivery of her ideas?
  10. The last paragraph includes the sentence “just as English won’t do you much good if you try to speak to someone who knows only French” is an example of hyperbole. what does Tannen emphasize or convey through this exaggeration?
  11. Create a brochure titled “How to communicate effectively in the workplace.” Each “rule” listed should be a one-sentence summary of a section from Tannen’s essay.

Vocabulary: synonymous, self-deprecating, lucid, intrinsic, reciprocate, contentious, rebuttal ,adage, commiserate, malcontent

Make connections between Dillard’s ideas and Tannen’s idea about speaking. Why is it important to notice and comment on what is normally unseen, just as it is important to notice and analyze ritualistic, automatic speech?

These three contemporary newspaper articles present the some of the ways in which debates around gender show up in high schools and colleges.

  • What’s the relationship between genre, purpose, and author’s craft? Since these are newspaper articles, they are put together differently from memoirs or essays. Quickly review the characteristics and elements of journalistic writing (i.e., headlines, bi-lines, photographs, quotations, short paragraphs, length, reading level, bias, etc.) and discuss how each of these elements contributes to the article’s function.
  • What are some of the claims about gender and sexuality made in each article? Be sure to support your generalization with evidence.
  • How important are the function of statistics, quotations, and photographs in journalistic text.
  • Reflect also, on headline writing. What are the goals of the headline editor?
  • How is the information organized in the articles?
  • Is there any bias? Do the journalists here reveal their points of view, or do they try to remain unbiased? Compare this with Brevard. Why is bias acceptable in one genre but denied in another?

End of the Lesson Assessment: Compare Tannen’s essay with Ehrlich, Theroux, or Brott, then write a response in which you define each sex as portrayed by the two authors, then agree or disagree with the definitions.

Day 16
Writers’ Workshop
SWBAT present, contextualize, and interpret relevant evidence in a way that is clear and compelling.
Text: “Professions for Women,” by Virginia Woolf


1) Do Now

2) Mini-lesson: (DI) Briefly review the qualities of an exemplary analytical paragraph, pointing out the clear assertion/topic sentence, the fluid contextualization,  organization, and interpretation of evidence, and the final sentence which links the evidence back to the writer’s topic and.or thesis sentences.

3) Give scholars time to draft their body paragraphs, or to work with a partner for revision suggestions.

HW: Complete drafts of rhetorical analysis essays.

Day 17
Writers’ Workshop
SWBAT make and respond to constructive suggestions for revision and editing suggestions during a writers’ workshop session.
Text: “Professions for Women,” by Virginia Woolf


1) Do Now

2) Review what elements to look for when reading the paper of a peer (revision=logic, ideas, evidence, organization; editing=spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization).

3) Have scholars circulate papers with members of a small group.

4) Give scholars time to review the suggestions they’ve received.

5) Exit Slip: How will you revise, edit, and generally improve your essays based on the feedback you’ve gotten today?

HW: Complete your essays.

Day 18
SWBAT apply pacing suggestions and a strategy for approaching multiple choice questions.
Text: MCQ Assessment (see Appendix)


1) Review MCQ pacing suggestions and approach

2) Give scholars 8 minutes to read and annotate a fresh passage.

3) Give scholars 15 minutes to answer approximately 12-15 multiple choice questions that predominately address the author’s use of literary devices (i.e., those MCQs which fit into the “Rhetoric” category).

4) Exchange and correct papers as time allows.

5) Exit Slip: How did you do? What is difficult about reading and answering questions in a timed setting?

HW: If scholars haven’t already, have them read the article “How to Approach Multiple Choice Questions on the AP English Language & Composition Exam”

Day 19
Test Literacy
SWBAT analyze and evaluate the multiple choice questions from the previous class.


SWBAT apply pacing suggestions and time response time to multiple choice questions.

Text:  “How to Approach Multiple Choice Questions on the AP English Language & Composition Exam” ;

“MCQ Assessment” (see Appendix)


1) Do Now: How long do you think it takes you to answer one multiple choice question? How long should it take on the AP Lang exam?

2) Review take-aways from the article scholars read for homework.

3) After discussing pacing suggestions (one question a minute, approximately) give scholars the chance to time themselves answering a new MCQ. Have them record and reflect on their times.  (Remind them to apply this awareness of pace to the upcoming IA.)

4) Ask: What happens when you can’t answer a question in a minute? Discuss options (skip it, come back to it, logical guess, etc.)

5) Work through the items from yesterday’s assessment, discussing until scholars understand the correct answers.

Day 20
SWBAT demonstrate comprehension, analytical skills, pacing strategy, and growth in writing ability while writing rhetorical analysis essays in response to a fresh text in a timed setting.
Text:  excerpt from Susan B. Anthony’s 1873 speech.


1) Review pacing plan and approach strategy.

2) Give scholars 8-10 minutes to read and annotate the passage.

3) Give scholars 30-32 minutes to write their rhetorical analysis essays.

Note: Remind scholars that if time runs out, they should spend the last five minutes outlining their remaining points. An outline is better than an unfinished essay.