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Rhetoric: Persuasion in Reading, Writing, and Critical Thinking

Academic Year Language Arts
Schedule in 2024-25

All times Eastern.

Monday
6:15 – 8:00pm
Aug. 26, 2024 – June 9, 2025
ENROLL
Wednesday
4:00 – 5:45pm
Aug. 28, 2024 – June 4, 2025
ENROLL
Thursday
6:15 – 8:00pm
Aug. 29, 2024 – June 5, 2025
ENROLL
Saturday
1:45 – 3:30pm
Sep. 7, 2024 – June 7, 2025
ENROLL
Sunday
9:15 – 11:00am
Sep. 8, 2024 – June 8, 2025
ENROLL
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In this course for 7th through 9th graders, students become rhetorical masters of persuasion and argumentation. By the end of the year, students will have made a speech before a town council, pitched a Super Bowl commercial, solved a mystery through rational evidence-building, and devised a plan for sharing a limited global resource. By tackling these challenging, engaging projects, students develop a deep understanding of how they can wield the tools of rhetoric to persuade others—and how they can recognize the rhetorical strategies at work in the world around them.

The course is divided into four project-based units.

In the first unit, students find themselves in the small midwestern town of Pilot Pass, where the Town Council wants to sell a beloved green space to property developers. Students learn to recognize and master the components of the Rhetorical Situation while investigating the Council Members through a sequence of roleplayed "Encounters" and crafting a speech perfectly targeted to sway their votes

In the second unit, students learn how rhetoric applies in the world of business and marketing. Students deepen their understanding of persuasive techniques by studying successful marketing strategies, all while preparing to pitch a commercial for a fictional business.

In the third unit, students are immersed in a fictional mystery as they learn how to build a strong body of evidence and solve the case through advanced literary and rhetorical analysis. Students finish the unit by putting pen to paper to write their own resolution to the mystery.

In the final unit, students develop their rhetorical skills on a global stage as they convene in a simulated United Nations to argue for the best way to distribute a limited natural resource.

What happens in class?

Each unit is grounded in a challenging project that requires students to build and apply their skills as rhetoricians to solve an engaging problem. In each day of class, students engage in lessons and activities that help them advance their project work, including a blend of the following types of activities:

  • a review of the skills learned in the previous lesson
  • a full-class discussion in which students practice their critical thinking and public speaking skills
  • a writing assignment that includes either smaller writing prompts to help students build writing stamina or allows them to focus on developing their unit project
  • a reading assignment in which students read a text and develop close reading skills with the teacher’s guidance and support
Homework

Students should expect to spend about 1-2 hours on homework every week. Homework will include: practicing skills learned in class through questions in the course homepage, long-term writing assignments connected to the unit project, and assigned reading in one of the four quarterly textbooks.

Teacher Feedback

During class, the teacher will give students direct, oral feedback on skills and projects. This in-person feedback is key in helping students revise and improve their writing while they are working on the unit projects. At the end of each writing project, students can expect to receive evaluative written feedback from their teacher.

Course Texts
  • Contagious: Why Things Catch On
  • Murder Is Bad Manners
  • Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In

Note: To ensure students have the best experience, it is recommended that they do not read the course texts before class starts.

SYLLABUS

Our family regularly talks about AoPS. We try to think about how our life would be different without you all. What if my daughter hadn't learned to love math? What if she never experienced being pushed to her limits? Overcoming failure? She wouldn't be who she is. And she is AWESOME! A very proud mom here. We are so fortunate that we found AoPS Academy. I credit AoPS for much of her confidence.

Kelly B.,

AoPS Academy parent to 16-year-old engineering major at UW and future cancer researcher