More Practice with Finding the Point, Courtesy of Barack Obama

This post is a follow-up to The Well Built Essay:  It’s All About Structure.

Let your students practice finding the point in longer pieces of writing.   For example, have your students read the famous Obama speech on race:   Then have them answer: 

  • What’s the point?
  • How does he back it up?
  •  So What?

Collect the answers and review them to assess how well your students are able to identify the main point and supporting evidence in a longer work of writing.  Here, generally, is what you might look for:

What’s the point?

This nation has been  in a racial stalemate for decades.

 How does he back it up?

  • I’m here today because of the Reverand White scandal – African Americans are angry and have legitimate concerns about discrimination
  • White americans are angry – they have worked hard and resent affirmative action, e.g,  “your dream coming at my expense.”
  • African  and White Americans often focus their anger on each other –and often behind closed doors – and that is not helpful.

 So What?

  • Now is the time to break through the racial stalemate and focus on our common needs: Our union may never be perfect, but it can always be perfected, thanks to princibles on which it was found.

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