The Last Letter (not really… but I’ll tell you more about that later)
English 12 - Womble

Recently we watched Randy Pausch’s “last lecture”, the lecture that inspired the best-selling memoir The Last Lecture. In his lecture, Pausch shared with the audience his childhood dreams, the accomplishments he was most proud of, and the lessons he learned in his life. Randy Pausch was aware that he was at the end of his life and wanted to share his dreams and lessons-learned with his students and colleagues, but in the end he said it was all for his kids, who would never know their father.[
Comment 1: CCRI 7-10, 20, 44-47. At the time we watched Pausch’s lecture, students were reading memoirs. We have a copy of The Last Lecture in our classroom because it was highly recommended by several students. I did a read-aloud from the book as well, and several students subsequently read the book.
While you are not at the end of your life, you are at the end of an important stage of your life. You have experienced the best and worst of high school with your own dreams and accomplishments, and you too have life lessons to share. Therefore, we are writing a letter to next year’s freshmen so that they might know what the next four years of their life may be like and might learn from your successes and your mistakes. Your letters will be read by next year’s freshmen class
Comment 2: This authentic assessment gave students a chance to reflect on their own experiences. Like Pausch, they had goals, experienced success, and made mistakes. As they were writing their rough drafts, many students commented that this was “hard to write.” Most of their letters were thoughtful and poignant.
Remember what we discussed about establishing your own credibility and appealing to your audience…

1. How you will establish your credibility as the writer? (i.e. why should they listen to YOU?)
  • You are a senior who is just a couple of months away from graduation. You’ve lived through what they are about to experience, right? Tell them something about yourself so that they value your experience.
  • You will use proper grammar, mechanics, and usage so that they value your education.
Comment 3: This discussion and subsequent list on our board was based on Ethos in the Rhetorical Triangle.
2. How will you appeal to your audience?
  • Remember that they are 14 and still somewhat innocent and excited about being in high school. While we want to be real with them, we don’t want to scare them or kill that excitement prematurely.
  • Remember that they are starting a new stage in their life, just like you will be next year. They have dreams and goals, just like you do for next year. So… we don’t want to discourage them from trying their hardest and doing their best.
  • Remember that no one likes to be preached to or talked down to. You can say a lot by just sharing your story and experiences without being bossy or condescending. They’ll get the message if you are just real with them.
  • Think about your diction. While this letter will be written in standard English, it can still use language that will appeal to them. You are very close in age to them, so express yourself in a way that they will appreciate without using too much slang. Think of them as your younger brother or sister, and be nice
Comment 4: This discussion and subsequent list on our board based on Pathos in the Rhetorical Triangle.

Comment 5: CCRI 22-27

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