Character and Emotion (Katie Johnson)

Lesson Prep

Objective: Students will identify key strategies for developing character and will compare and contrast effective and ineffective appeals to emotion. By watching Serena Williams in a commercial and in the US open controversy and by working in pairs and analyzing and revising their own writing, students will implement strategies of character and emotion. They will demonstrate conditional knowledge of these concepts.

Teacher Prep: MW 8 and 9, Pathos Handout, Ethos Handout, Google Slides

Student Prep: MW ch. 8 and 9 

Lesson Presentation

Group/Class Discussion—Ethos (8 minutes)

Watch Serena Williams commercial (1 minute)

Rush Write: Why does Nike choose Serena Williams as the face of their brand? What character traits does Serena exhibit in this ad? What about Serena’s life appeals to you to make you want to buy Nike products? 

  • Discuss: Write down a list of why Serena’s character appeals to make us buy (3 minutes)

Controversy Video: (explain a bit of the backstory and caveat that there is a lot surrounding this grand slam final, but we are just going to look at the surface level of it) Watch Serena Williams at the 2018 US Open (2:06–3:22) 

  • How does Serena defend her character? Is it effective? Why or why not? 
  • Discuss why in groups then as a class.
Direct Learning (10 Minutes)
  • Hand out Ethos handouts
  • What are  Rhetorical Strategies for creating Ethos in your paper (Use Serena Williams videos)
  • We are not experts or world leaders in sports, so we have to create our ethos in other ways
  • Use credible facts
    • So in the second video, it might be a fact that she did not cheat, but it cannot be confirmed, so it is not a credible fact
  • Employ correct genre conventions
    • How should you get your audience to buy stuff?
    • How should you talk to a tennis umpire?
  • Be relatable
    • Almost all of us can think of where we have tried in sports, where our dads tried to coach us.
    • The joy of succeeding in something, the sadness of failure
    • Serena is saying something only happens to her, is that relating to the umpire who might have also played tennis and gotten bad calls?
  • Show balance and fairness
    • Is it fair for Serena to continue to talk without considering the umpire’s side?
  • Be kind
    • It is a disputation that is not kind, it is accusatory, perhaps on both sides.
  • Be funny
    • Nike ad is a little funny when Serena slips and her dad chuckles
  • Be gracious and humble
    • Showing Serena coming from very average routes, just playing with her dad
    • Not giving umpire benefit of the doubt or showing umpire that she respects his authority but maybe he should change his mind on this one thing.

Don’t have to use all of these methods, but you should use several

Emotion (hand out pathos sheet)

Group/Class Discussion

(8 minutes) If running low on time, simply ask them to remember the ad and the video again. Watch Serena Williams commercial again. Pay attention to the emotional aspects. Write down which emotions it conveys and how it conveys them. Is it effective? Does it make a difference that the man in the commercial is Serena Williams’s father?

  • You feel emotion right? Which emotions does it bring up?
    • Pride
    • Overcoming Failure
    • Father-daughter love
    • Exertion and hard work
    • Pride of growing up and being a success
    • If I get Nike, I will grow up to be successful or my child will be successful
    • I can achieve the impossible
  • Two main emotions are love and pride

Watch Serena Williams at the 2018 US Open (1:44–3:15) Pay attention to the emotional aspects. Write down which emotions it conveys and how it conveys them. Is it effective? Why or why not?

  • She is obviously emotional. Does it work to convince the umpire? Why not?
    • No angry rants
    • Not letting the umpire say his side of the story
    • Anger might be justified but not in a way that the umpire is going to understand
    • Do our quick-writes read like thoughtful arguments, or are they just angry rants that compromise our ethos? Emotional appeals should fit the situation. Too much anger for something small can cost you your audience listening to what you’ve got to say.
    • outrage does not equal an audience buy-in. Your emotions do not necessarily equal your audience’s. You want to do what you can to appeal to their emotion, not just explode yours and hope they agree.
Direct Learning
  • Rhetorical Strategies for Pathos (5 minutes)
    • How do we convey effective emotion
      • Give concrete details, not general stories
        • So it’s a specific video of serena and her dad, not just saying that good tennis players usually practice with their parents when they are young. 
      • Tell stories
        • Nike is a story about growing up to be successful, right?
      • Amplify word choice
        • Serena makes the word “cheated” very dirty (something that she would not show her daughter). Gives negative power to cheating when it might not be such a big deal in some cases
        • It’s only crazy until you do it. Just do it
          • So the words “do it” become more real and meaningful, a sign of success despite the odds
      • Call your audience to action
        • You owe me an apology is a call to action, but maybe not tactful 
        • Just do it—you too should do what Serena does, by wearing our clothes and shoes.

Applied Learning 10 minutes

  • Read through each other’s drafts with a partner (3 minutes)
  • Identify 1 rhetorical strategy they are using for ethos (highlight) (1 minute)
  • Identify 2 rhetorical strategies that they could implement to increase their ethos (comment or margin notes) (2 minutes)
  • Discuss with each other how you will implement these rhetorical ethos strategies into your paper. (2 minutes each)
  • (5 minutes) With the same partner, identify one pathos strategy and 1 strategy you could use.
  • How will you incorporate the pathos strategy?

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