This year I’m going to start my College in the High School class (American Literature) with the rhetorical triangle. We will focus on creating solid arguments which use all three appeals: emotional, logical, and ethical. Each time the students construct an essay, they will be required to map out their support (sometimes known as warrants) using these three appeals.
Sometimes I put the intended audience in the middle of the triangle to make sure the students understand that their arguments must be focused towards the intended audience. This becomes very useful when tackling a controversial or broad issue and allowing the students to see that a change in audience results in a change in arguments.
For example, after drawing this triangle on the board, I tell the students that we are going to formulate arguments within each type of appeal with the purpose of explaining why year-round school is a good idea, and local parents are the intended audience. Once we come up with valid arguments covering pathos, logos, and ethos, we stop and I draw a second triangle next to the first.
Now, the audience is the student body. As we formulate arguments for this new audience, the students will see how they must tailor their ideas for this new audience. The purpose is the same, the appeals are the same, but the arguments begin to change.
Do you use the rhetorical triangle? How do you use it? What else do you use?