Rhetoric in the Classroom: Appeals Activity (Part 4)

Hello readers! Today’s post continues and ends the “Rhetoric in the Classroom” series, and I’m really excited about this one. This post describes an activity I used with my Sophomore Honors Literature class during our Rhetoric/Animal Farm activity and provides insights into how it went!

The class before I introduced this activity to my students, we had gone over the 3 rhetorical appeals (ethos, pathos, and logos) in detail. We also practiced finding and understanding the appeals through speeches in chapters 3 and 4 of Animal Farm. At the beginning of this class, we reviewed the appeals using advertisements, and then I introduced the activity.

The activity:

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(When labeling the appeals, students were asked to label them on a separate piece of paper so that the rest of the class could guess the appeals being used when posters were presented.)

Before students broke up into groups, I showed them example campaign posters. I also told students to think carefully about their color choices, considering how different colors might make different appeals.

Students were incredibly engaged during this activity. They took it so seriously; they really were creating these campaign posters as if the class was going to vote for one of the animals! It was incredible to see the different appeals they chose to use and how effectively (and effortlessly) they were able to use them. Moreover, when students presented their posters to the class, it was incredible to see how well the rest of the class was able to label the appeals being used. Perhaps the most incredible part of this activity, however, was that my students were doing visual rhetoric without ever being officially taught it! One group in particular spent a great deal of time describing their use of the color green and why that color would emotionally appeal to the animals of the farm; their description was not only thorough but was a thoughtful analysis of visual rhetoric–something they weren’t officially taught by me!

I wish I could share their work with you because these posters were incredible!

I would definitely do this activity again with future classes; however, next time, I think I would give them a (very brief) introduction to visual rhetoric, providing students with the academic language so they can even more effectively discuss this element of their work.

Have you ever discussed visual rhetoric in your classroom? Have you ever done campaign posters as part of a rhetoric unit? Let me know in the comments!



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