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Common Core Standards: ELA

Grades 9-10

Speaking and Listening SL.9-10.3

SL.9-10.3. Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, identifying any fallacious reasoning or exaggerated or distorted evidence. 

It might be fun to go through life completely gullible, believing everything everyone else says, or completely skeptical, refusing to believe any statement that reaches one’s ears (or eyes). Or it might be a confusing, lonely, and possibly dangerous existence. Either way, it’s always beneficial to have critical reasoning skills to fall back on to decide whether someone or something can and should be trusted. This speaking and listening standard asks students to listen to speakers and then evaluate what the speaker is saying. Does it make sense? What is the speaker’s point? How does the speaker support that point? Does the supporting evidence actually support that point, or does it work against the speaker, and how?

Example 1

Sample Activities for Use in Class

1. Questions....

In groups or as a class, have students brainstorm possible questions they might ask themselves if they were listening to a speaker and trying to figure out if the speaker’s arguments make sense. You may want to write these on the board, have students write them down, and/or collect them into a worksheet for students to use while evaluating a speaker.

Possible questions include:

Who is this person? Does she have any experience, education, or other qualities that suggest she knows what she’s talking about? If not, does she refer to sources that know what they’re talking about? How can I tell?

What is she trying to prove?

Does her train of thought from point A to point B make sense? If not, where does it derail?

What examples does she use to support her point? Are they good examples? Can I think of better examples? Can I think of examples that show the opposite?

What parts of this story confuse me? What information would I need to clear up these parts, or to tell whether they are true or false?

Is the speaker persuading me to agree with her - do I “buy what she’s selling,” either literally or figuratively? If not, why not? What other evidence might convince me to agree with the speaker?

Example 2

2. ...and Answers<.em>

Read out or have students read a short, persuasive essay - something on the lines of the essays that can be found here and here.

While listening to the essay, have students think about the questions they developed in the previous activity (or questions you provide) and take notes that help them analyze the persuasive essay they’re hearing. Once the reading and note-taking is finished, have students discuss in groups or as a class their answers to the questions and what could be improved in the persuasive essay.

Quiz 1 Questions

Here's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.

Questions 1-10 are based on the following passage, taken from the CDC:

Man and woman's best friend bites more than 4.7 million people a year, and key experts believe that public education can help prevent these bites. The third full week of May is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the United States Postal Service, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are each working to educate Americans about dog bite prevention.

Each year, 800,000 Americans seek medical attention for dog bites; half of these are children. Of those injured, 386,000 require treatment in an emergency department and about 16 die. The rate of dog bite-related injuries is highest for children ages 5 to 9 years, and the rate decreases as children age. Almost two thirds of injuries among children ages four years and younger are to the head or neck region. Injury rates in children are significantly higher for boys than for girls.

  1. The intended audience for this piece is MOST likely to be:

    Correct Answer:

    People searching for general information about dog bites.

  2. The information that children ages 5 to 9 are most likely to be bitten by dogs would be MOST useful for:

    Correct Answer:

    Parents of children in this age group who need to know about the risks of dog bites.

  3. The writer of this information MOST likely inserted the words “key experts believe” into the first sentence because:

    Correct Answer:

    The writer needed to show that the phrase “public education can prevent these bites” is a hypothesis, not a fact.

  4. The phrase “key experts believe” could be made MORE convincing if:

    Correct Answer:

    It named the “key experts” in the text or in a footnote, so readers could look up what those experts really had to say about dog bites.

  5. The article mentions that the American Veterinary Medical Association and the U.S. Postal Service are working to educate people about dog bites. This information implies that:

    Correct Answer:

    Dog bite prevention is serious enough that multiple organizations want to help people learn to prevent dog bites.

  6. Based on the information given in the passage, which of the following is the MOST likely reason the U.S. Postal Service participates in dog bite prevention education?

    Correct Answer:

    Many of the 4.7 million people bitten by dogs each year are U.S. Postal Service workers who are delivering the mail when the bites occur.

  7. Based on the numbers given in the passage, which of the following appears to be true about dog bites?

    Correct Answer:

    Although many people are bitten by dogs each year, only a very small number of them die from the bites.

    Answer Explanation:

    The answer is (C).

    4.7 million are bitten, but only about 16 die.


  8. The fact that 800,000 people get medical treatment for dog bites each year BEST supports the conclusion that:

    Correct Answer:

    At least 800,000 dog bites each year are serious enough that the person bitten can’t take care of the damage themselves at home.

  9. You’re giving a presentation about dog bites to a group of seven-year-olds. Which of the following changes to the information above would make it MOST useful for kids?

    Correct Answer:

    Including information that tells kids what to do around strange dogs so they don’t become one of the 386,000 kids who has to go to the emergency room for a dog bite.

  10. For more information about dog bite prevention, which of the following websites would be LEAST helpful?

    Correct Answer:

    All of the above named webpages would likely be helpful.

Quiz 2 Questions

Here's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.

  1. A speaker’s “point of view” is:

    Correct Answer:

    The way the speaker is looking at the situation, including any opinions he or she already has about the topic.

  2. When evaluating a speaker’s reasoning, which of the following is MOST important?

    Correct Answer:

    Whether the points the speaker makes support the speaker’s main idea or argument

  3. A “fallacy” in a speech occurs when:

    Correct Answer:

    The speaker fails to connect one point of reasoning to another, but pretends like they’re connected anyway

  4. What is one reason that the statement “because I say so” is a fallacy?

    Correct Answer:

    “because I say so” is an appeal to authority or force, not a fact that can be verified by research

  5. When might the statement “because I say so” NOT be a fallacy?

    Correct Answer:

    when the speaker is describing something from his or her personal experience (“because I say so and I am telling you what I saw when I was standing there watching”)

  6. A first-person point of view is most effective when the speaker is:

    Correct Answer:

    talking about something he or she personally experienced

  7. A third-person point of view is most effective when the speaker is:

    Correct Answer:

    talking about data or information about a separate group of people, and not the speaker or the audience

  8. A speaker is more likely to need to refer to outside sources when speaking from which point of view?

    Correct Answer:

    third person (“he, she, they”)

  9. Good sources are:

    Correct Answer:

    all of the above describe good sources

  10. The points in a speech should:

    Correct Answer:

    all of the above are necessary for a good speech

Aligned Resources

More standards from Grades 9-10 - Speaking and Listening