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Why Should I Agree With You?
Using Persuasive Speech and Political Mavericks to Examine Historical,
Democratic or Current Issues
Students need to understand how participation in the democratic
process is a means for governments, politicians, and citizens to
effect change in their communities. How do people impact how others
make decisions? How did the Maverick politicians influence people
to agree with their point of view? What can I do to have other people
listen to and accept my point of view?
In this project, students will develop an appreciation of how people
effect change in their community or government by becoming a speechwriter
for one of the political Mavericks. They will choose a topic and
come up with arguments, facts and figures that will persuade others
to accept their opinion on the issue. They will then write a polished
persuasive speech, written for the Maverick themselves, as they
might present in their time or even in the present.
Alberta Social Studies Curriculum Unit Connections
Grade Five - Canada: The Land, Histories and Stories
5.3 Canada: Shaping an Identify
Grade Six - Democracy: Action and Participation
6.1 Citizens Participating in Decision Making
Grade Seven - Canada: Origins, Histories and Movement of People
7.2 Following Confederation: Canadian Expansions
Materials and Resources Needed
Students will create a persuasive speech to their fellow Albertans
on specific issue, under the assumption that it will be spoken by
one of the political Mavericks, whom they will have to learn about
using the Mavericks: An Incorrigible History of Alberta site.
Each student will become a speechwriter for one of the political
Mavericks, conducting research and finding arguments to support
their viewpoint. The students may even present the speech as the
actual Maverick character if they choose.
The topic may be about a current question or concern or on an issue
that was important in Alberta's past. Students may write their
speeches about individual topics, or they may join into small groups
to research their topics together. They will decide what their chosen
Maverick would think of the issue and write their speeches individually.
Introduce the project by asking students what being persuasive
is? When in their life have they ever had to be persuasive? For
example, trying to stay up past their bedtime, asking their parents
to do something, asking for their parents to drive them somewhere,
etc. How did they try to convince the other people of their point
of view? Then have students look at some of the elements of delivering
speeches such as their body language, expression, pronunciation,
pitch, pacing (or speed), pauses, volume, and variance in the tone
of voice. The goal of this speech is to change someone's mind or
way of thinking about a topic, and these elements will affect how
persuasive they are able to be.
Speech ideas may come from various sources. They may relate to
Alberta's history, relate to democratic issues, or be about
current events. It may be an important issue to them or they may
collect issues from the newspaper or the television news. Potential
topics are listed below.
Possible Speech Topics
Historical Question Examples
- Should everyone have the right to vote in elections?
- Should women have the right to vote? (1929)
- Should citizens who have emigrated from another country have
the right to vote? (Chinese people did not have the right to
vote in a federal election until 1947)
- Should there be a prohibition of alcoholic beverages? (1916)
- Should women be allowed to own property? (Dower Act of 1925)
- Should the First Nations people get their land back?
Democratic and Government Process Question Examples
- Should Canadian citizens be forced to vote?
- Should we have appointed or elected senators?
- Should Canada have direct or representative democracy?
- How should elected officials be held accountable for their
Current Issues and Events Question Examples
- Should we have a city funded recycling collection program?
- Should children have to go to school until they turn 16?
- Should children have the right to vote?
- Should Alberta have to share oil revenues with the other provinces?
Once a topic has been chosen, students will need to research arguments
that either support their position and arguments that detract from
their opposition's position. They should find facts, graphs,
and quotes by famous or important people to support their arguments.
They should also incorporate the political Mavericks into their
speech using research done on the Mavericks: An Incorrigible
History of Alberta site. What might their view on the issue
be? How would they approach the speech? For example, the students
could use a sentence starter like "My distinguished colleague,
_____, believes…" or "If _____ were alive today,
he or she would tell us…" This will help to add credibility
to their speech.
Students will need to practice their speeches often, either at
home or in class, before delivering them in front of their audience.
Assessment and Evaluation
- In groups or as a class, students may conference and debrief
each other after they have presented their projects. Students
should be encouraged to share their personal reflections about
how it felt to speak in front of their audience.
- Students may evaluate themselves and their peers using their
project rubric, examining each other's project for historical
accuracy, detail, and creativity.
- After completing the project, students may talk or journal about
what they felt they did very positively, what they had difficulty
with, and how they would change how they would approach a similar
project in the future.
Ideas for Enriching this Project
- Students may create a poster, radio or television advertisement
to promote their point of view on the issue they have chosen.
This may be done in place of the speech or as an addition to enhance
to their persuasive presentation.
- Two students (or groups) could go head-to-head on an issue by
taking opposing sides. Their goal will be to persuade others to
accept their viewpoint over the opposition's.