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Lesson Plan

Communicating on Local Issues: Exploring Audience in Persuasive Letter Writing

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Communicating on Local Issues: Exploring Audience in Persuasive Letter Writing

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Missy Nieveen Phegley

Missy Nieveen Phegley

Cape Girardeau, Missouri


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



In this lesson, after brainstorming a list of local issues, students select and research an issue that concerns them, using Internet and print sources. Next, students review the concepts of purpose and audience. They then argue a position on their selected issue in letters to two different audiences, addressing their own purpose and considering the needs of the audience in each letter. Students work with peer groups as they use an online tool to draft and revise their letters. Finally, letters are published using the online, interactive Letter Generator, and then sent to their intended readers.

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  • Persuasion Map: Use this online tool to map out and print your persuasive argument. Included are spaces to map out your thesis, three reasons, and supporting details.
  • Letter Generator: This online tool allows students to read about the parts of a letter. They can then write and print their own friendly or business letter.

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In 1998, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) undertook a study of 200 writing classrooms in grades four and eight for the purpose of looking at writing in a natural setting. One of their findings indicated the importance of an authentic audience, suggesting that "the better assignments asked students to write to an authentic audience in a genuine act of communication." The study found that "when the audience is not real and the communication not authentic, the writing is often weak." Similarly, Kixmiller writes: "Authentic writing assignments can have this power. They can help students make sense of their world while advocating for change." This lesson plan focuses on authentic audience by asking students to write letters to specific readers on local issues that concern them.

Further Reading

Peterson, Art. "NAEP/NWP Study Shows Link between Assignments, Better Student Writing." The Voice 6.2 (Mar.-Apr. 2001). 24 February 2008. Web. http://www.writingproject.org/cs/nwpp/lpt/nwpr/112


Kixmiller, Lori. A. S. "Standards without Sacrifice: The Case for Authentic Writing." English Journal 94.1 (September 2004): 29-33.


Hallman, Heidi L. "Authentic, Dialogic Writing: The Case of a Letter to the Editor." English Journal 98.5 (May 2009): 43-47.

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