5 Top Persuasive Writing Lesson Plans for Students and Teachers
The purpose of any persuasive writing text is to persuade the reader of a particular point of view or to take a specific course of action. Persuasive texts come in many different forms, including, but not limited to, essays, editorials, letters, advertisements, and reviews. While persuasive texts come in many shapes and sizes, they all share standard features.
Persuasive texts employ a wide variety of different rhetorical strategies and techniques to achieve their ends. For example, they’ll use emotive language and rhetorical questions. Images are sometimes used to entice or appeal to the reader or viewer.
Advertising is one key form of persuasive writing . It makes vigorous use of all the tools in the persuasive writing toolbox as it strives to sell goods or services to the reader.
In this article, you’ll learn how to take your students from reluctant salespersons to master marketers in a lightning-fast five days.
Students will first learn how the various persuasive strategies work before incorporating them into their advertisements. We have comprehensive guides to persuasive writing and advertisements you should explore also.
So, let’s get started!
Persuasive Writing Lesson Plan 1: Identify the Key Features of Adverts
Before your students will be able to produce their own well-written advertisements, they’ll need to be well-versed in all the tricks up the skilful salesperson’s sleeves.
One of the most productive ways for students to do this is through reverse engineering.
Organize your students into small groups or pairs and distribute print advertisements gleaned from various sources such as magazines, newspapers, and posters. You could also show projections of some sample advertisements projected onto the whiteboard to facilitate this exercise.
Now, ask the students to examine the advertisements and answer the following question:
What techniques do the advertisers use to get our attention?
Challenge the students to go beyond the pretty obvious features of advertisements, e.g. branding, slogans, and testimonials, to also look at more subtle techniques such as the use and interplay of images and various other effects created by language choices and figurative devices.
When the students have finished their discussions, give them feedback as a whole class and use their responses to compile a master list of the various features they have identified.
Some features suggested by the class might include:
- Emotive language
- Appealing adjectives
- Powerful verbs
- Strong adverbs
- Contact details
- Rhetorical questions
Once you have compiled a master list of persuasive strategies and techniques used in advertising, these can handily be turned into checklists that the students can use when producing their own advertisements later.
Persuasive Writing Lesson Plan 2: Analyze an Advert
Now, the students have a solid understanding of the different features of advertisements and a checklist to work from; it’s time for them to analyze an advert in more detail.
Not only will this prove a valuable exercise to help prepare your students for producing their own advertisements later in the week, but it will also serve as an excellent task to improve your students’ media literacy skills. It may even help to innoculate them from media manipulation in the future.
To get started on their advertisement analysis, they’ll need to source a suitable advertisement to look at in detail.
Older and higher-ability students may be fit to make their own choices regarding which advertisement to analyze. If this is the case, perhaps they can choose an advert for a product they like or a product or service in a category that interests them greatly.
Allowing your students some say in the ads they analyze will help fuel their interest and enthusiasm when creating their own advertisements later.
However, it might be best to choose a sample advertisement for younger students and those of lower ability – or at least offer a pre-vetted, limited choice. They will most likely have enough to contend with already!
When students have a suitable advertisement to hand, please encourage them to use their checklist from yesterday’s lesson to explore how the ad works. The students should then write a paragraph identifying the various techniques used in the advertisement and their effect.
Challenge the students to write another paragraph or two, considering what makes the advertisement work – or not, as the case may be. Ask them to consider where the advertisement could be improved. Could the slogan be catchier? How about the logo? Does it convey the brand’s identity appropriately? Are the images used in the advertisement optimal?
When the students have finished their paragraphs, they can display their advert and their analysis and share their thoughts with the class.
Persuasive Writing Lesson Plan 3: Plan an Advertisement
At this stage, your students should have a good understanding of many of the main features of advertisements and had plenty of opportunities to see examples of these in action. Now it’s time for them to begin to plan for writing their own advertisements. Here are some areas for your students to think about when starting the planning process.
The Purpose and Audience
Like any other writing type, students will need to identify both the purpose and the audience for their advertisements bef ore putting pen to paper.
The purpose of any advertisement is to sell goods or services. Precisely what goods or services are being sold is the first question that needs to be answered.
Students might like to focus on the goods or services advertised in the adverts they’ve been exploring over the previous two days. Or, if they prefer, they might like to choose something new entirely.
Once they’ve chosen what they’re selling, students will need to identify who they will sell it to. Scattershot advertisements that attempt to sell to everyone often end up selling to no one.
One effective way to help focus an advert is to define a ‘buyer persona’ first. This is a profile of the hypothetical buyer who the ad will target.
Students can consider the following characteristics to help them develop their buyer’s persona:
- Education level
- Marital status
- Who they trust
- What they read/watch
The Brand Name
The next stage is for the student to decide on a name for their company. This should usually be something relatively short and memorable, and appealing to the target audience.
Generally, the student will need to come up with at least four or five ideas first. They can then choose the best.
It can be a helpful practice for the student to look at the brand names for companies selling similar goods and services. A little internet research will be beneficial here.
Now it’s time for students to jot down ideas for their brand’s slogan. Slogans are short and punchy phrases that help make brands more memorable for customers.
Slogans often employ literary devices such as alliteration, puns, or rhyme. They don’t always have to be the most meaningful things in the world; it’s more important that they’re memorable. Think Nike’s Just to Do It or McDonald’s I’m Lovin’ It – not the most meaning-rich phrases in the world but instantly recognizable!
The Body Copy
This part of the advertisement will contain the bulk of the writing. It’s where the students will get to use the various techniques and strategies they’ve explored in the previous activities.
Despite containing most of the ad’s text, advertising copy is usually concise and to the point. Student’s should strive to get the main points across in the fewest words possible. Nothing turns readers off faster than impenetrable walls of text.
To help organize the text, students may use bullet points and subheadings. They should be sure to include any specific information or specifications that they want the reader to know about the product or service.
The language chosen should also be appropriate for speaking to the audience that they have defined earlier.
The Call to Action
The Call to Action – commonly referred to as the CTA , usually comes at the end of an advertisement.
The CTA typically comprises a few sentences that invite the reader to take a particular course of action. Normally, to buy the advertised goods or service.
However, not all CTAs focus on getting the reader to make an immediate purchase. Some, for example, aim to get the reader to provide their contact details so they can be sold to later.
Students need to first define what their Call to Action will invite readers to do. They will then need to choose a strong imperative that will call on the reader to take that specific action. Commonly used verbs that urge readers to take action include subscribe, join, buy, etc.
The CTA must be clear and specific; the reader should be in no doubt about what the advertisement is asking them to do.
Often, the CTA will create a sense of urgency by limiting special offers by time.
As part of the planning process, students should use some of their time in today’s session to think about and make some notes on options they might like to include in the final drafts of their Call to Action.
Persuasive Writing Lesson Plan 4: Create the Advertisement
Day 4, already! This is the day students will try to bring all the elements together. They’ll work to complete their advertisements by the end of today’s session.
You may like to have the students collaborating to produce their ads or working individually. Either way, reinforce the importance of attention to detail in their work.
The main focus for persuasive texts of any kind, advertisements included, shouldn’t be length but, instead, it should be on how effectively it persuades the reader to take the desired action.
Students should incorporate their planning from yesterday and refer to their checklists as they create. As precise language is so essential to effective marketing, encourage students to use thesauruses to help them find just the right word for their copy.
When students have had a chance to draft their advertisements, they can then get into small groups and compare their work. This is an opportunity for students to provide each other with constructive criticism.
They can use their checklists as a basis to provide this criticism. Students can then revise their advertisements in light of the advice they’ve received in their groups.
Persuasive Writing Lesson Plan 5: Further Practice in the Art of Persuasion
In the process of comparing their work with each other, with reference to the criteria they’ve worked on earlier in the week, students will no doubt identify areas they are strong in and other areas where they are weaker.
Day 5’s activities should offer students an opportunity to practice those areas identified as needing further work to bring them up to par.
For example, students can practice their persuasion skills by moving their focus from printed ads to other types of marketing endeavours that utilise the arts of persuasion.
Where students struggled to employ literary devices in their advertising copy, they may benefit from creating a radio jingle or radio ad for their product or service. As this type of ad can contain no visual imagery to support, writing a radio jingle or ad will force the student to pay particular attention to verbal imagery, rhyme, alliteration, etc.
If the testimonials used in the first advertisement were unconvincing, perhaps the student will benefit from isolating this strategy to focus exclusively on effective testimonial writing. They should spend some time researching testimonials and how to write them effectively.
For example, testimonials should usually be:
- Short and to the point
- Conversational in tone
- Authentic (use a name, photo, job title, etc.)
- Specific about the benefits
- Directed at overcoming objections.
Once students have a good handle on how these work, they should put their new-found knowledge into practice and get writing as soon as possible.
This research-then-practice model can help the student improve in whatever particular area of persuasion that needs work – as identified in yesterday’s activity.
Getting good at persuasive writing demands our students to develop their knowledge and abilities with a broad range of skills and strategies.
Advertising copy is a highly concentrated form of persuasive writing and, therefore, an excellent means for our students to gain lots of practice in a short space of time.
And, as the saying goes, a good start is half the work, so set your class of creative copywriters on the road to marketing mastery today!
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Explore our Premium Teaching Unit on PERSUASIVE TEXTS
Can You Convince Me? Developing Persuasive Writing
- Resources & Preparation
- Instructional Plan
- Related Resources
Persuasive writing is an important skill that can seem intimidating to elementary students. This lesson encourages students to use skills and knowledge they may not realize they already have. A classroom game introduces students to the basic concepts of lobbying for something that is important to them (or that they want) and making persuasive arguments. Students then choose their own persuasive piece to analyze and learn some of the definitions associated with persuasive writing. Once students become aware of the techniques used in oral arguments, they then apply them to independent persuasive writing activities and analyze the work of others to see if it contains effective persuasive techniques.
From theory to practice.
- Students can discover for themselves how much they already know about constructing persuasive arguments by participating in an exercise that is not intimidating.
- Progressing from spoken to written arguments will help students become better readers of persuasive texts.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
- 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
Materials and Technology
- Computers with Internet access
- LCD projector (optional)
- Chart paper or chalkboard
- Sticky notes
- Persuasive Strategy Presentation
- Persuasion Is All Around You
- Persuasive Strategy Definitions
- Check the Strategies
- Check the Strategy
- Observations and Notes
- Persuasive Writing Assessment
- Work in cooperative groups to brainstorm ideas and organize them into a cohesive argument to be presented to the class
- Gain knowledge of the different strategies that are used in effective persuasive writing
- Use a graphic organizer to help them begin organizing their ideas into written form
- Apply what they have learned to write a persuasive piece that expresses their stance and reasoning in a clear, logical sequence
- Develop oral presentation skills by presenting their persuasive writing pieces to the class
- Analyze the work of others to see if it contains effective persuasive techniques
Session 1: The Game of Persuasion
Home/School Connection: Distribute Persuasion Is All Around You . Students are to find an example of a persuasive piece from the newspaper, television, radio, magazine, or billboards around town and be ready to report back to class during Session 2. Provide a selection of magazines or newspapers with advertisements for students who may not have materials at home. For English-language learners (ELLs), it may be helpful to show examples of advertisements and articles in newspapers and magazines.
Session 2: Analysis of an Argument
Home/School Connection: Ask students to revisit their persuasive piece from Persuasion Is All Around You . This time they will use Check the Strategies to look for the persuasive strategies that the creator of the piece incorporated. Check for understanding with your ELLs and any special needs students. It may be helpful for them to talk through their persuasive piece with you or a peer before taking it home for homework. Arrange a time for any student who may not have the opportunity to complete assignments outside of school to work with you, a volunteer, or another adult at school on the assignment.
Session 3: Persuasive Writing
Session 4: presenting the persuasive writing.
- Endangered Species: Persuasive Writing offers a way to integrate science with persuasive writing. Have students pretend that they are reporters and have to convince people to think the way they do. Have them pick issues related to endangered species, use the Persuasion Map as a prewriting exercise, and write essays trying to convince others of their points of view. In addition, the lesson “Persuasive Essay: Environmental Issues” can be adapted for your students as part of this exercise.
- Have students write persuasive arguments for a special class event, such as an educational field trip or an in-class educational movie. Reward the class by arranging for the class event suggested in one of the essays.
Student Assessment / Reflections
- Compare your Observations and Notes from Session 4 and Session 1 to see if students understand the persuasive strategies, use any new persuasive strategies, seem to be overusing a strategy, or need more practice refining the use of a strategy. Offer them guidance and practice as needed.
- Collect both homework assignments and the Check the Strategy sheets and assess how well students understand the different elements of persuasive writing and how they are applied.
- Collect students’ Persuasion Maps and use them and your discussions during conferences to see how well students understand how to use the persuasive strategies and are able to plan their essays. You want to look also at how well they are able to make changes from the map to their finished essays.
- Use the Persuasive Writing Assessment to evaluate the essays students wrote during Session 3.
- Calendar Activities
- Strategy Guides
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The Persuasion Map is an interactive graphic organizer that enables students to map out their arguments for a persuasive essay or debate.
This interactive tool allows students to create Venn diagrams that contain two or three overlapping circles, enabling them to organize their information logically.
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Persuasive Lesson Plans and Activities
Explore ready-made resources and discover how to teach the key concepts behind each Step.
- This series of sample lesson plans demonstrates how to teach the Seven Steps activities using the explicit teaching model – I Do, We Do, You Do.
- Each lesson plan includes relevant links to the Australian Curriculum and NAPLAN marking criteria, plus a learning intention and success criteria to assist with planning and assessment.
- Become a Teacher Hub member to access the full range of Seven Steps Lesson Plans.
Think First, Write Second
STEP Step 1: Plan for Success PURPOSE Teach RESOURCE TYPE Lesson plan YEAR 3–6 RELATED
- Learn how to brainstorm and select great ideas for a persuasive text.
- Students work in groups to come up with several arguments for and against a topic.
- These templates promote creative thinking and encourage students to have fun with the Seven Steps.
- We have a range of templates available for students of all ages and ability levels (see Teacher Hub for more). Students can write or draw on the templates; many are editable PDFs that can be used electronically.
For and Against Topic Brainstorm
STEP Step 1: Plan for Success PURPOSE Apply RESOURCE TYPE Template YEAR F–10
- This editable template is left blank to fill with a ‘for and against’ topic of your choice.
- Teach students to brainstorm ideas for and against a topic before picking a side
- Need tips on how to implement the Seven Steps? We have a selection of planning resources on Teacher Hub to help you with ideas and inspiration.
Writing Improvement Agenda
STEP All Steps PURPOSE Teach RESOURCE TYPE Planning YEAR F–10 RELATED Bucking the trend with the Seven Steps
- A sample Term 4 planning document from Allenstown State School in Queensland.
- Amalgamates the NAPLAN marking criteria with the Seven Steps in a fortnightly scheme of work.
More persuasive resources
Explore more classroom resources and make persuasive writing fun with the Seven Steps!
Writing samples and exemplars
Discover the difference Seven Steps can make with these student writing samples. We also have ‘real world’ exemplars – discover how professional authors use the Seven Steps in narrative texts.
Picture writing prompts
These visual prompts offer fun and quick writing practice to develop your students’ writing skills, one Step at a time.
Other text types
Mastered persuasive writing? Explore more Seven Steps resources for narrative and informative writing!
Lesson plans and activities to help your students create epic tales and become great storytellers.
Lesson plans and activities to help your students write engaging informative texts that bring facts to life.
Persuasive Writing Course
Step-by-Step guide to teaching the Seven Steps for persuasive writing.
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Persuasive writing is a form of nonfiction writing that encourages careful word choice, the development of logical arguments, and a cohesive summary. Young children can be guided through a series of simple steps in an effort to develop their persuasive writing skills.
Appropriate group size, why teach persuasive writing.
As children mature as writers, it’s important to give them the opportunity to write using a variety of formats. Persuasive writing helps students formulate specific reasons for their opinions, and provides an opportunity to research facts related to their opinions. As students develop an understanding of how writing can influence or change another’s thoughts or actions, they can begin to understand the persuasive nature of the marketing they are exposed to through television, the Internet, and other media.
How to teach persuasive writing
- Have students listen to or read examples of persuasive writing. Together, listen and look for words, phrases and techniques that helped the writer persuade the listener.
- Brainstorm something that is important to an individual child or the group. Is it extra recess? Another chapter of the read aloud? The potential closing of a library? The more authentic the issue, the more passionately your students will write.
- Once the important privilege is chosen, have the child (or class) start to list reasons why they should be allowed this privilege. “Just because,” and “because I like it” should not be considered valid reasons. Students can work together to generate at least three good reasons to support an argument. This list of persuasive words and phrases from the site Teaching Ideas may help get students started.
- Have students do some research to gather facts or examples that support their reasons.
- Have students summarize their position.
Here’s a persuasive letter written by an elementary school student from Crozet, VA:
Watch: Bubble gum letters
Create an authentic writing opportunity that motivates students to write persuasive letters to a target audience. (From the Balanced Literacy Diet : Putting Research into Practice in the Classroom)
This persuasive writing lesson (opens in a new window) from ReadWriteThink uses the Beverly Cleary book Emily’s Runaway Imagination as the springboard for kids to write letters to a librarian urging the addition of certain titles to the library. A Persuasion Map Planning Sheet guides students through steps similar to what is described above.
This resource shows the lifecycle of writing a persuasive letter to a child’s parents about where to vacation for the summer. The PDF begins with the brainstorming, moves through drafting, editing, and publishing of the final letter.
From Writing Fix, here’s a speech writing lesson (opens in a new window) that uses the mentor text Otto Runs for President in conjunction with the RAFT strategy. In this lesson, students assume to the role of a talking fruit or vegetable. Pretending that there’s a “Fruit/Vegetable of the Year” election, the students will create a campaign speech that explains why their fruit/veggie is the best candidate for the job.
For second language learners, students of varying reading skill, and younger learners.
- Have students work in small groups to generate their ideas and do the research.
- Offer various suggestions for how students can share their argument: e.g., a debate format, a “soapbox” in the classroom, or letters to the editor of the newspaper.
See the research that supports this strategy
Wollman-Bonilla, J. (2000). Family message journals: Teaching writing through family involvement . Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.
Children’s books to use with this strategy
Martin Luther King Jr. grew up fascinated by big words. He would later go on to use these words to inspire a nation and call people to action. In this award-winning book, powerful portraits of King show how he used words, not weapons, to fight injustice.
Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Farmer Brown has his hands full when the cows on his farm get a typewriter. Duck, however, negotiates successfully for all parties in this very funny farm story of very clever animals. Be prepared to talk about typewriters or take a trip to a museum to see one!
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type
This is the story of librarian Pura Belpré, told through the eyes of two young children who are introduced to the library and its treasures just before Christmas. Lulu Delacre’s lovely illustrations evoke New York City at the time of the Great Depression, as well as the close-knit and vibrant Puerto Rican community that was thriving in El Barrio during this time. Bilingual Spanish-English text.
The Storyteller’s Candle
How Oliver Olsen Changed the World
Otto Runs for President
Emily Bartlett lives in an old farmhouse in Pitchfork, Oregon at a time when automobiles are brand-new inventions and libraries are a rare luxury. Can Emily use her lively mind to help bring a library to Pitchfork? ReadWriteThink (opens in a new window) offers a persuasive writing lesson plan featuring this book.
Emily’s Runaway Imagination
Liked it share it, topics this strategy is especially helpful for.
FREE EDITABLE PARAGRAPH RUBRIC? YES, PLEASE!
10 Steps to Teach Persuasive Writing
Kids are natural-born persuaders. They do it all the time. The trick as a teacher is to take their set of cajoling skills and help them use their power for good. And by good, I mean to channel these skills into writing effective persuasive pieces.
So, what exactly do we need to do to teach persuasive writing? I won’t lie to you…it’s not an easy task, but I’ll try to break it down here and simplify the steps to hopefully make this something that you can use in your classroom.
1. Teach Paragraph Writing FIRST
Before I even begin to think about writing a persuasive piece, I make sure that my class has learned the basics of writing a good paragraph. We spend a lot of time with each component and after they’ve mastered one paragraph, we move on to the five-paragraph essay.
Since I teach 4th/5th, this is one of the standards we need to reach. Once I know the kids can write a reasonably good essay, then we can add the persuasive aspect a little more easily.
2. Use Mentor Texts to Teach Persuasive Writing
I am a big fan of mentor texts. I just love how picture books easily capture the attention of my “big” kids, while quickly teaching them so many lessons.
When I teach persuasive writing, I like to gather several of these persuasive mentor texts and share them with my class. We talk about how the character used persuasive techniques well, and how he/she didn’t.
3. Introduce Persuasive Writing Techniques
We have a really fun discussion about how advertisers try to persuade us to buy their products using a number of techniques, and how we might incorporate some of these same ideas into our writing.
We look at ads that I’ve selected on a PowerPoint that showcases each example. I use the EITHER OR acronym:
E – Everyone is doing this (Bandwagon) I = Appeal to intellect (Intellect) T = This is good for you or for someone you know (Beneficial) H = This will bring you happiness (Happiness) E = Every reasonable person would agree (Common Sense) R = This is your right (Right) O = Opinion of an expert (Expert) R = This is your responsibility (Responsibility)
I have the kids write these in their Writer’s Notebooks as we discuss them and then send them home with a homework assignment (included in my persuasive writing unit) which asks them to select an ad from a magazine or online, to identify the persuasive techniques used, and to bring it in to share.
4. Practice Persuasive Techniques with Task Cards
These task cards are included in the Persuasive Writing Unit and can help reinforce every single concept you can think of. I feel so strongly about them that whenever I make a resource for my classroom, I almost always include some kind of task card to go with it. Kids love task cards and especially like to move around the room in pairs to solve them. They think of it as fun, but I know they’re learning as they go.
These persuasive strategies task cards are definitely tricky and will require lots of critical thinking skills, so it might be a wise idea to pair a stronger student with a weaker one.
Also, before the kids begin, it’s a good idea to point out that an advertising slogan might use more than one persuasive technique. For example, an ad for Disneyland might use Happiness as well as Bandwagon.
5. Work on Hooks
Now we spend some time focusing on how to start the essay. We start using a hook!
I like to describe a writing “hook” using a fishing analogy. The fisherman puts a nice pink, juicy worm on the hook, hoping to attract the attention of the fish. If the fish bites, the fisherman’s happy. If the fish doesn’t bite, that means that it wasn’t interested in the hook, and there won’t be any fish caught.
Our goal as a writer is to get the reader interested by “hooking” them into reading our essay, from the very first sentence.
We go over six different types of hooks and practice these. Then we practice writing hooks with topic sentences.
6. Practice Paragraph Star Ideas on Whiteboards
I can’t tell you how much I love using whiteboards in the classroom. I use them daily for math lessons, and use them off and on whenever I need the kids to practice a skill and want instant feedback and 100% participation (well, maybe not 100% but 99% is pretty close!).
I purchased mine at Home Depot (bought shower board for about $14 and they cut them into 12 x 12 inch squares for free for me). Whiteboards are great for writing lessons and I use them often when teaching paragraphing skills.
For this lesson, I give the kids a topic (school uniforms or treats at school or which season is the best, etc.) and then ask the kids to write three stars on their whiteboards. Next to each star, they write down a word to describe a reason they like/dislike this idea.
For example, if the topic was school uniforms, the child might write lack of individuality, gets boring, uncomfortable… I can quickly glance at their lists, while we discuss a few of them and then we’re on to the next topic.
Without writing a whole essay, this is teaching the kids to think about organization and how reasons help support their opinions. I think this kind of practice is great!
7. Share a Persuasive Essay Example
It’s one thing to talk about a persuasive essay’s components and to even practice them. It’s another thing to see a really good example of an essay and to get to go through it and to discuss what makes it work and why.
I have several great examples I’ve saved over the years (and have one I wrote about why cats are excellent pets that I included in my persuasive essay unit).
Additionally, I like to type these student essays examples to make them easier to read and then I project them on my smartboard for the kids to see. I also like to use “bad” examples, to show them some mistakes to avoid. I’m always careful to hide the names of the authors before I share them.
8. Make an Outline and an Essay as a Whole Class
Okay, here’s where your perseverance has to kick in.
Trying to complete an essay as a whole class will drive even the most saintly of teachers to want to pull their hair out at times but this hard part is crucial. There, I said it. It is that important, that this is a step you shouldn’t miss.
Here’s how I do it. I break it down into two or three days. The first day we create an outline together. I have the kids write this outline in their Writer’s Notebooks as a model to refer to when they need to make their own outline later. We always do school uniforms, because I find it to be a great topic and one that the kids feel strongly about.
I tell them for the sake of continuity, we need to take a stand as a class for the essay, whether they really agree with that stand or not. We take a class vote and then stick with it, whether it’s for or against the uniform idea.
On the second day, when we have the outline in place, I make a deal with the kids…I tell them if they stick with me and participate and don’t zone out…I’ll do the writing and they can just tell me what to write. If they don’t stay focused, then they’ll have to write it themselves. This works like magic. I’ve never had a class that lost out on this “deal.”
So, using yesterday’s outline, we to go step by step and write each paragraph together. Kids feed me sentences, which I try to use or gently guide them a bit where needed. Usually, we do 2 – 3 paragraphs in one day and the other 2 – 3 the next. Attention spans of 9 – 10 year olds can be a killer, so I find that breaking it into several days helps.
9. Go over Expectations Using a Rubric
I really like to use rubrics for a lot of assignments. It breaks down the activity into its components and it also serves as a road map for kids to know what is expected of them. I think the more we can explain to students exactly what we’re looking for, the more they can meet and sometimes exceed (hallelujah) our expectations.
There’s never a reason to hide what we want from kids, in my opinion. So, we go over the rubric and it’s a kind of review for all of the lessons leading up to this. I make sure it’s three-hole punched so they can store it in their binder, or you could make one to fit their Writer’s Notebook or Interactive Journal if you wish.
10. Practice Writing Persuasive Essays…Over and Over and…
Once your kids have gone through lots of lessons on persuasive writing, it’s their turn to write independently. I choose several different topics for them, over the next few weeks and we do about an essay a week in class. The kids get better as time goes by and usually, I let them choose a topic for the last essay. It’s interesting to see what they come up with (school appropriate, of course).
Whew…such a huge unit and so many skills to fit in but in my mind, it is an awesome unit. I love teaching it because of the great number of discussions it provides and because I see it as an important set of tools for them to have in their writing tool belt.
If you’d like some resources for persuasive writing , I love this unit I created. It’s a 52 page packet and comes with the task cards. I think it works well for 3rd – 6th grade.
What do you like to do for persuasive writing? Know any other good mentor texts to use? I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks for stopping by!
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