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Making Rhetorical Appeals

Minilesson Print

Making Rhetorical Appeals

Aristotle Statue
Panos Karas/

How can you create a winning argument? Aristotle taught us we can win over an audience by appealing to logic, ethics, or emotion. When building an argument, make supporting points that will appeal to your audience in one or more of these ways:

  • Appeal to logos—build a logical case that argues for your position using reason and evidence.
  • Appeal to ethos—ethically argue your point using a balanced tone, factual support, and trustworthy sources.
  • Appeal to pathos—move the audience emotionally to connect to your main point.

Your Turn Scroll down to the "Standing Up to Cyberbullying" essay at the end of this minilesson. Search for and identify appeals to logos, ethos, and pathos

Your Turn Watch a recent Superbowl commercial. Identify appeals to logos, ethos, and pathos at work in the commercial. Note how appeals are made through words, statistics, images, music, and story.

Your Turn Imagine you are speaking to convince the local school board to move your school's start time later in the day. Create an appeal to logos, ethos, and pathos to support your argument. 

  • Appeal to logos:
  • Appeal to ethos:
  • Appeal to pathos:


Standing Up to Cyberbullying

In the comedy classic Mean Girls, Regina George and her squad of “Plastics” go out of their way to bully and belittle their classmates. The movie gives an exaggerated yet revealing portrayal of bullying in high schools during the early 2000s. While in-person bullying still happens today, digital bullying has become the bigger problem among teens. To prevent cyberbullying, students like us need to be alert, vocal, and willing to act.

Cyberbullies use technology to spread hurtful messages, pictures, and rumors. A cruel comment on a social post, an embarrassing photo texted to classmates, or a rumor started in an online chat can spark a growing cycle of hate, leaving a victim feeling fearful, helpless, and alone. According to TeenSafe, one in three youth has experienced cyberbullying online. Victims may experience loss of self-esteem, extreme sadness, and social isolation. In the worst cases, victims may choose to harm themselves or others.

While some teens are victims of cyberbullying, many more of us are witnesses. As of 2014, 9 out of 10 youth admitted they’ve witnessed cyberbullying. As the supermajority, we have the power to take a stand against bullies and change the culture online.

To begin, each of us needs to be on the alert. If you witness online bullying against someone you know, let the victim know you support him or her. Also save evidence of the act in case you need to let others know about it. (Do the same if you’re the one being bullied.) However, most cases of cyberbullying aren’t visible to outsiders. Pay attention when friends and classmates are not acting like themselves. For example, if a friend seems extra nervous or agitated about receiving texts, ask if something is wrong. If the person won’t talk, remain watchful and provide a listening ear when the person is ready.

The second way we can tackle cyberbullying is to stop its spread and speak up. If someone sends you an embarrassing photo or rumor about someone else, don’t share it with anyone else. More importantly, don’t be a bystander. Question the person who sent it to you. Let the person know that what you received makes you uncomfortable and cyberbullying is not cool. If you feel nervous about confronting the action alone, ask a group of trusted friends to add their support. And always, if you sense danger, consult with a teacher or another trusted adult.

Positive change will occur if we build an anti-bullying culture at school. People may think that teachers and staff should lead the charge, but real change won’t happen unless students see other students speaking out against bullying. To do this, we can use technology to create an antibullying campaign and recruit others to join us. All of us need to be visible opponents of bullying at school.

Cyberbullying is too damaging a problem to ignore. No teen should have to feel powerless against online attacks. As helpful as it is for parents and teachers to address bullying, students can make the biggest difference. Let’s look out for our classmates online and in person. Let’s refuse to spread online rumors and hurtful photos. Let’s let victims know we support them.Finally, let’s use technology for positive change. Together, we can improve the culture at school and online for all of us.

From 201 in Write Ahead

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