Rhetorical Toolbox Lesson

Rhetorical Toolbox Lesson Plan

ENG 101/102

By: Allison Tharp

Goal: Have students create an ongoing list of evidence they can utilize throughout the semester and later in their college careers.

Prep: Explain rhetoric—the art of persuasion. Explain rhetorical tools/rhetorical moves—the things writers/speakers/artists do in their work that convinces the reader to see things their way. Most of our students are stuck in the 5-paragraph essay format, where only one piece of evidence is needed for each supporting paragraph. And often, that evidence is not very convincing. This on-going lesson plan will give students the understanding of the rhetorical tools they need to effectively persuade their readers.

Start: 1) Have students take out a piece of paper and tell them they’ll put this in a folder/notebook/binder, etc. and keep it for the whole semester. 2) Write “Rhetorical Toolbox” on the board. 3) Have an open discussion with students about the things that make for persuasive writing. Begin with the personal narrative. Students will probably say things like “detail,” “interesting,” etc. 4) As students call out appropriate forms of evidence, write them in a list on the board. 5) As the semester continues, and as you begin to introduce new projects, add to the rhetorical toolbox.

Sample List:

“Rhetorical Toolbox”:



Hypothetical situation


Appeal to emotion

Appeal to logic




Outside sources



Conclusion: After writing certain rhetorical moves on the board, discuss how they can be used alone or simultaneously, and how the list is never complete. Challenge students to add to their toolboxes on their own, and as each new assignment comes up, tell them to pull out their toolbox, add different types of evidence appropriate to the project.

Offshoot lessons from this: 1) Have students freewrite about a topic of their choosing, but make them choose two separate types of evidence to use in a paragraph. 2) Discuss audience in relation to this evidence—who would emotional detail work for best? Facts? Hypothetical situations?





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