The Three Appeals

Author: Jill Torrey Emmons

Time: 1 period
15 minutes to make copies of articles
Materials: Copies of the articles “Signs of Energy”, “EPA Says Dupont Withheld Chemical’s Danger”, and “Rambling Sea Lion Shot Dead” or 3 persuasive editorials of your choice concerning environmental health


Now that students have thoroughly explored the ways in which the media uses persuasive techniques to achieve desired aims, they are ready to apply specific titles to those techniques, learn further about their origin, and discover how they are used in other forms of persuasive writing. Students will learn to label the appeals of logic, emotion, and ethics, and explain how these are used in editorials and other texts.

Purpose – This lesson is where students will begin to explain what they have learned about the various types of persuasive appeals used in advertising and other forms of persuasive writing. Students will begin to attach the formal labels to the persuasive techniques they have discovered.

Students will be able to:

1. Identify and describe the persuasive techniques used in editorial writing.
2. Label persuasive techniques with the logos, pathos, and ethos terminology.

National English Education Standard
Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and also their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).

Teacher Background
The instructor should be familiar with the 3 appeals (logos, pathos, and ethos), their origin, as well as specific persuasive techniques associated with each appeal.

Resource Websites
The 3 Appeals:
LA Times editorial page: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/
NY Times editorial page: http://www.nytimes.com/pages/opinion/



1. As class begins, hand out a copy of the editorial “Signs of Energy” or another article which you have chosen (an editorial which deals with a prominent environmental health issue and uses the logical appeal). Allow students sufficient time to read over the article, and as they are reading tell them to think about the following questions (you may want to write them on the board):

  • What is the main idea of this article?
  • What is the author trying to accomplish? How can you tell?
  • What makes this article persuasive? Be specific.
  • Who is the target audience for this article? How do you know?

2. After allowing the class to read and perhaps jot down a few notes about the questions you have asked, discuss student responses. Help the class to identify some of the persuasive elements of the article, such as: 1) the author’s use of very professional, polished language which builds his credibility, 2) the use of facts and numerical data, which make his claims seem very logical, 3) the ending statement of the article which eloquently states what the real issue is not, in order to clarify what it truly is. After discussing the above questions, ask the class the following: Is this article convincing? Why or why not?

3. Place the students into groups of 3 or 4, and proceed with the next article “Rambling Sea Lion Shot Dead” or another similar article which uses the pathos appeal. Give the students 10-15 minutes to read and discuss the article, answering the same 4 questions used above.

4. Bring the class back together as a whole, and ask for some student reactions to the article. Some may not notice the persuasive elements of the article right away, but many will react to the piece emotionally. Ask the class: How did you feel when you read the article? What thoughts were going on in your mind? Students will probably respond that they felt sad, or wondered who would harm a sea lion. Explain to the students that these responses were encouraged by the way the author wrote the article. See if the class can pick out specific details from the text that lead us to have an emotional response to the article, such as 1) using the nickname given to the seal, 2) describing the seal’s demise in dramatic terms (‘shot to death’), and 3) using poignant vocabulary such as “flopped”, “gobbling”, “posing”, etc.

For the last part of class, distribute the handout “The 3 Appeals: A Brief Overview” and review the labels and techniques for each appeal. Go back to the two articles and help students label the persuasive techniques they identified earlier with the proper terminology.

Have the students independently read “EPA Says DuPont Withheld Chemical’s Danger”, or another similar article. Ask them to answer the same questions posed before, and try and identify the persuasive elements in the article.

Embedded Assessment

During group work have one member of the group act as a recorder and evaluate student work this way, or you may wish to simply evaluate the discussions, or float around the room and conference one-on-one. Collect student responses to the final article and ensure that students can successfully identify the persuasive appeals used.

PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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