Guide students through an engaging activity that stresses the importance of the thesis & topic sentences to structure the line of reasoning. Students will articulate their understanding of the essential components of a rhetorical analysis essay, specifically composition structures like thesis, topic sentences, and stems for crafting commentary in the rhetorical analysis essay.


Students will work from the same thesis and topic sentences; however, divided into groups, students will have to complete their assigned section of a body paragraph without knowing what other groups are writing. The thesis and topic sentences serve as the guiding framework for all students.


Students will provide a short video articulating their section; then, all students will watch each clip, creating an outline based on the video content. After looking at their outline, students will consider where there were flaws in the line of reasoning, missing commentary, or misreadings of the thesis, topic sentences, or even the passage as a whole. Included in this post are step-by-step directions and a template for embedding thesis, topic sentences, and student-created videos. The goal for this lesson is for students to recognize the significance of a thesis and topic sentences in structuring the line of reasoning, and how to connect these elements with commentary, throughout a rhetorical analysis response.


Skills Covered

REO-1.E: Writers create texts within a particular context that includes the time, place, and occasion.

STL-1.A: Words have both denotative and connotative meanings.

STL-1.B: Descriptive words, such as adjectives and adverbs not only qualify or modify the things they describe but also convey a perspective toward those things.

STL-1.C: Precise word choice reduces confusion and may help the audience perceive the writer’s perspective.

STL-1.D: A writer’s tone is the writer’s attitude or feeling about a subject, conveyed through word choice and writing style.

STL-1.F: A writer’s shifts in tone from one part of a  text to another may suggest the writer’s qualification, refinement, or reconsideration of their perspective on a subject.

STL-1.Q: A writer’s style is made up of the mix of word choice, syntax, and conventions employed by that writer.

STL-1.R: Writers may signal a complex or ironic perspective through stylistic choices. Irony may emerge from the differences between an argument and the readers’ expectations or values.


Download the template for uploading video sections, outline template, and reflection questions below!

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Lauren Peterson (Master of Arts, Education) has been teaching AP® English Language and Composition in a number of states for more than ten years, most recently at Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, where she is also the schoolwide literacy leader. Before this position, Lauren served as a curriculum and instructional coach in Duval County, Florida. Lauren worked for College Board on a pilot curriculum designed to both remediate common AP® English Language challenges and also prepare students for Microsoft Office Specialist Certification. As an independent consultant for the National Math and Science Initiative, Lauren has written diverse curricula used by students across the country as well as training materials for beginning and experienced AP® English Language teachers. Lauren served as an AP® English Language Reader and continues to work as an AP® English Language trainer for new and experienced teachers.