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Do Something about… Teen Voting/Civic Engagement


Social Studies  


9, 10, 11, 12  

Title – Do Something about… Teen Voting/Civic Engagement
Lesson 10 – How can speaking engage others in my cause?
By – Do Something, Inc. /
Primary Subject – Social Studies
Secondary Subjects – Other
Grade Level – 9-12

Do Something about…
Teen Voting/Civic Engagement


The following lesson is the final culminating lesson of a 10-lesson
Teen Voting/Civic Engagement Unit from Do Something, Inc.
Other lessons in this unit are as follows:

Lesson 1: What is Civic Action?
Students learn about why people get involved in their communities.
Lesson 2: Why Is Democracy So Demanding?
Students will discuss the role of citizens in a democracy.
Lesson 3: Representin’
Students learn about the system of representation in a democracy.
Lesson 4: How have people used elected offices to make changes?
Students learn how holding a political office effects change.
Lesson 5: Social Capital
Students learn about social capital and how to use networking for civic action.
Lesson 6: Politics, A Laughing Matter
Students learn how cartoons and satire raise concerns about an issue.
Lesson 7: How do organizers bring about change?
Students earn about the strategies of unionizing and boycotting.
Lesson 8: Why do I have to do jury duty?
Students learn how jury duty is a type of civic engagement.
Lesson 9: How can I use writing to lead others to action?
Students learn how the written word is a method of civic action.
Lesson 10: How can speaking engage others in my cause? (See lesson below)
Students learn how speeches can gather support for community change.

More student teen voting resources can be found at:

For more Service-Learning Curricula check out:

Lesson 10: How can speaking engage others in my cause?


Students will learn about the power of speeches in gathering support for community change.


Language Arts Speaking Standard 8:

  • Uses a variety of verbal communication skills (e.g., projection, tone, volume, rate, articulation, pace, phrasing)


Tapes or audio files of famous speeches


  1. Warm-up: Have students fill in the blank. A great speaker is ___________(charismatic, dynamic, inspirational, etc.). Share lists of words.
  2. Ask students what’s the difference between reading a speech and listening to someone say it aloud. Which do they prefer? Why? What are the benefits of each?
  3. Tell students that throughout time, speeches have played an important role in civic life. Have students brainstorm the great speeches or orators they have heard or heard about. Briefly discuss some of these examples. Discuss the idea of knowing your audience.
  4. Play Let’s Rant. Let students pick an index card out of a hat. On each of the index cards there should be a “topic” for students to rant about (they might include school topics or world issues). Then let them pick another index card. This card will decide the audience they should their speech for. Give students 5-10 minutes to “rant”. Bring in a milk crate and tell students that this is their soap box. Explain how the term is used to students. Ask for volunteers to get on their soap box and read their rant.
  5. Discuss with class what makes an effective speech. Separate the characteristics of a well written speech with that of a good speaker.
  6. Discover: Give students a brief background on speeches. According to Greek philosophers who analyzed the components of great speeches, there are 6 parts. They are as follows:
  • The introduction: In this section the speaker must establish ethos (credibility) with the audience. Ask students how a person can do this? (Show expertise, show that they are the same as the audience and share similar concerns).
  • The proposition :This is where the speaker states what he or she is going to prove. Ask students what this section is called in essays. (Answer: thesis statement)
  • The outline: This section tells the audience what to expect from the speech
  • The proof : Here is where the speaker makes his case. He presents facts and any type of evidence to convince the audience. The speaker appeals to (logos) or logic to support his point of view.
  • The refutation: This is the point where the speaker attacks the validity or justness of other arguments.
  • The conclusion: The conclusion sums up the speech and builds in emotion. It is at this point that the speaker appeals to the pathos, or emotion of the audience. Many great speeches end with a call to action. (Based on information from great speeches by
  • Other techniques of great speeches include using a refrain, metaphors or similes, conceit (extended metaphor), and repetitions. Explain to students that many speeches have an overt message and then a more subtle subtext.
  • Listen or read various speeches Some suggestions include “Ain’t I a woman” by Sojourner Truth or “I have a dream” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. First discuss what message of the speech was? Do you think this speech could change people’s opinions?
  • If audio files are available, listen to the speech while reading it and ask students to note words that the speaker emphasizes, pauses, and tones of voice. How do these techniques add to the speech?
  • Take Action: In their Civic Action Groups, have students write a speech about the issue they are studying. Have one member of each group get up on the soapbox and spur the class to action with their speech.








Final Project:

Have students create a museum of civic action. Brainstorm what types of objects/presentations should be included in this museum. What types of artifacts from history might students want to include in their museum? How could the museum encourage others to become active citizens?


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