Considering Rhetoric in Different Modalities

Part 1: Blog Post

Visit the “It Gets Better” website and watch at least three of the videos.  There are hundreds of videos to choose from, so watch three that seem interesting to you, not just the three from the first page.  After watching three videos, choose one and compose a blog post that 1) embeds your chosen video and 2) analyzes the appeals (ethos, pathos, logos) used by the speaker.  When writing the analysis, remember to analyze not just the words they are saying but also other aural and visual components.

Part 2: Blog Response (This part requires pairing students up in some way beforehand.)

After composing your blog post, visit your partner’s blog, watch the embedded video, and read her or his analysis of it.  Then return to your own blog and compose a new post that 1) links to your partner’s blog post and 2) compares and contrasts the rhetorical strategies of your chosen video with the one chosen by your partner.  Are these videos aimed at the same audience?  How effective are they at reaching that audience?  Which speaker’s video seems more credible?  More effective?  Why?

Part 3: In-Class Exercise (For this exercise, ask students to bring laptops/tablets to class.)

A) With your partner, spend a few minutes discussing the rhetorical strategies of each video.  There may be disagreements as to which video you found most effective, but after discussing the merits of both clips, try to settle on the one you find most persuasive.

B) After choosing one of the videos, your pair will join another pair and take turns watching the two videos you have selected.  Then, as a small group of four, you will compare and contrast the rhetoric of the two videos, again with the goal of settling on one the group finds most persuasive.  (Here again, it is okay if there is disagreement.  That just shows that different audiences respond in different ways.)

C) Finally, the group of four will informally present their chosen video and their analysis of the rhetorical strategies therein to the rest of the class.

Course Name: 
WRD 111
Assignment Type: 
Classroom Activity
Assignment Length: 
Multiple Class Periods
Primary Pedagogical Focus: 
Preparation Guidance and Instructor Advice: 

This assignment set is geared toward getting students to consider rhetoric in multiple modalities.  It could be used early in the semester as a way to introduce students to analysis of nontraditional sources (e.g. videos, tweets, podcasts), or it could be used as a way to help students practice analytical skills previously developed.  The set utilizes a class blogging component (on Blackboard or elsewhere) and assumes as its case study the “It Gets Better Project,” but the exercises could easily be adapted for classes that do not use blogs or classes with a different case study. 

I like using this sequence of exercises because it gives students opportunities to analyze persuasion, work collaboratively, and speak in front of a live audience--all in low-risk situations. 


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