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Rhetoric 9/10 – Reading and Analyzing

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The unit started off with students answering a prompt convincing or persuading a potential listener. From this, the students were introduced to the three important elements of a Rhetorical Triangle (ethos, pathos, and logos) and watched a TED-ed video on the methods of persuasion.

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Students then viewed a selection of advertisements for a variety of different products and analyzed how ethos, pathos, and logos were used to influence consumer decisions. Per advertisement, students individually answered questions on a given worksheet followed by a class discussion.

Mercedes Ad Toyota Ad

Through this activity, students learned how to provide reasons for their answers and to defend their chosen appeal with supporting evidence. In pairs, students found their own set of advertisements, identified the rhetorical techniques used and their effectivity on the audience, and presented them to the class.

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In addition to learning about effective rhetorical techniques, students were introduced to logical fallacies (errors in reasoning that weakened an argument), given a list of terms to discuss, and shown a video to reinforce what they’ve learned. Subsequently, students searched for three other examples of logical fallacies used in advertisements and had an option of answering a given chart or making a video for extra credit.

Logical Fallacies

Next, students deepened their understanding of the Rhetorical Triangle by analyzing Coretta Scott King’s speech where they had to identify the rhetorical techniques from the SMART Bank of Rhetorical Terms and evaluate their impact through a given chart. The speech was read orally by a volunteer after which students analyzed the speech in pairs using the Rhetorical Triangle.

A class discussion occurred after which students revised and added to their individual SMART charts as needed. For their assignment, students wrote a reflection evaluating King’s speech, cited textual evidence, and used their SMART chart as a guide to support their conclusions.

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Students received copies of Marc Antony’s funeral speech (from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar) and read along while they listened to the audio version. The audio was played again while small groups annotated the speech and took note of numerous rhetorical elements (ethos, pathos, logos, repetition, tone, connotation, irony, rhetorical question, syntax and more). Using their notes, students wrote a paragraph evaluating the effectiveness of the various rhetorical elements used in the speech. They then repeated this process with Ninoy Aquino’s 1983 Arrival (undelivered) speech.

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The last assessment of the quarter was persuasive essay writing. Students applied what they learned in their previous speech analyses to evaluate the effectiveness of a speech by Severn Suzuki which they viewed. Finally, students peer edited each others’ essays before submitting the final assignment for the quarter.

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