In high school, the ELA Common Core Standards require students to develop formal writing skills, creating essays and arguments that are well-thought-out and syntactically varied. They also require students to effectively use persuasive writing strategies to defend a claim or point of view. The ability to dissect and validate, or debunk, other arguments is key to strong persuasive writing. This requires a basic working knowledge of rhetoric. A great way to enhance students' understanding of effective arguments is to teach the Aristotelian concepts of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. Students can then identify and analyze the effectiveness of these strategies in a work of literature, a speech, or a letter.
Patrick Henry’s “Speech in the Virginia Convention” was delivered to advocate a complete break with England, not just a compromise. Henry needed to ensure that he established credibility, made logical arguments, and showed his audience that there was no other option but to forge a new path, away from England. Have students examine the text and come up with quotes from throughout the speech of Ethos, Logos, and Pathos rhetoric. Have students illustrate these examples in a storyboard. The following storyboard shows two examples of each strategy.
Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason toward my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.
I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the house?
I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of natives and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other.
And what have we to oppose them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain.
They tell us, sir, that we are weak - unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house?
Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)
Create a storyboard that shows examples of ethos, pathos, and logos from the text.
Grade Level 9-10
Difficulty Level 5 (Advanced / Mastery)
Type of Assignment Individual, Partner, or Group
Type of Activity: The Rhetorical Triangle: Ethos, Pathos, LogosCommon Core Standards
(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)
| Proficient |
| Emerging |
| Beginning |
Ethos, Pathos, and Logos
The elements of ethos, pathos, and logos are correctly identified and depicted, and an appropriate quote or summary is provided. There are at least 2 examples provided for each rhetorical element.
Most of the elements of ethos, pathos, and logos are correctly identified and depicted, and an appropriate quote or summary is provided. There are at least 2 examples provided for each rhetorical element.
The elements of ethos, pathos, and logos are incorrectly identified and depicted. Quotes and summaries may be missing or too limited. Only one example may have been provided for each rhetorical element.
The art chosen to depict the scenes are accurate to the work of literature. Time and care is taken to ensure that the scenes are neat, eye-catching, and creative.
The art chosen to depict the scenes should be accurate, but there may be some liberties taken that distract from the assignment. Scene constructions are neat, and meet basic expectations.
The art chosen to depict the scenes is inappropriate. Scene constructions are messy and may create some confusion, or may be too limited.
Ideas are organized. There are few or no grammatical, mechanical, or spelling errors.
Ideas are mostly organized. There are some grammatical, mechanical, or spelling errors.
Ideas may be disorganized or misplaced. Lack of control over grammar, mechanics, and spelling reflect a lack of proofreading.