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Lesson Plan

Dear Librarian: Writing a Persuasive Letter

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Dear Librarian: Writing a Persuasive Letter

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois

Publisher

National Council of Teachers of English

 

Student Objectives

Session One

Session Two

Session Three

Session Four

Extensions

Student Assessment/Reflections

 

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will:

  • develop and support a position on a particular book by writing a persuasive letter about their chosen title.
  • use a guide to help them organize their persuasive ideas into written form.
  • outline a persuasive piece that expresses points in a clear, logical sequence so the reader can follow their reasoning.
  • publish their persuasive piece as a letter.

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Session One

  1. Invite the students to share about a favorite book, using the following questions to guide the discussion:
    • What makes it your favorite book?
    • How did you first hear about that book?
    • Have you recommended that book to others?
  2. Playing off the last discussion question, ask the students whether they have ever read a book that was recommended to them by others. If you have read Emily's Runaway Imagination as a class, remind students that Muriel recommended a book for Emily. Use the following questions to guide discussion:
    • Did you enjoy the book?
    • Did it live up to your expectations?
    • What did Emily think of Black Beauty, after she was finally able to read it?
  3. Ask students if they have ever looked for a book at the library and found that it was checked out or that the library did not own a copy. Ask student volunteers to share how such an experience made them feel.
  4. Invite students to problem solve, focusing on the question, “If there is a book that you really want for the library, what can you do?” Students’ responses will vary. If someone does not volunteer that you could write a letter to the librarian asking for a copy to be purchased for the library, ask some leading questions to lead them to the response. If you have read Emily's Runaway Imagination as a class, remind students that Emily’s mother does: she writes a letter to the State Librarian requesting books for their new library.
  5. Explain that students will write a similar persuasive letter to their librarian, requesting that a book they are interested in be added to the library collection.
  6. Introduce the idea of persuasive writing by discussing the Persuasion Map Printout, which walks through the components of a persuasive piece of writing.
  7. After students have been introduced to the Persuasion Map Printout, share the Persuasion Rubric so they understand the target for the project and what is expected of them.
  8. Answer any questions that the students have about persuasive writing or their persuasive writing project.

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Session Two

  1. Demonstrate the Persuasion Map, the online graphic organizer students will use to map out their arguments for a persuasive essay. Be sure that you demonstrate how to complete each of the following tasks in the interactive:
    • Type your name and topic on the opening screen.
    • Read through the prompts, showing the connection between the questions on screen and those on the Persuasion Map Printout.
    • Show how to use the small map in the upper right corner to navigate among the prompts.
    • Demonstrate how to print the finished maps before exiting, stressing that students cannot save their work online.
  2. Answer any questions that students have about the online tool and their assignment.
  3. Allow students the rest of the session to organize their ideas, and create finished copies of their work using the Persuasion Map.
  4. Explain that students will use these notes during the next session to create their letters.

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Session Three

  1. Post the name and address of the librarian(s) that students will write to on the board for use during the session.
  2. Using their printed Persuasion Map as a guide, ask students to write their persuasive letters, requesting that a book they are interested in be added to the library collection.
  3. Demonstrate the Letter Generator, using the introductory information to discuss the parts of a letter and to help students decide whether to write business or friendly letters.
  4. Be sure that you demonstrate how to work through the different parts of the online tool, especially how to return to sections to edit them once you reach the preview stage.
  5. Answer any questions that students have about the online tool and their assignment.
  6. Allow students the rest of the session to organize their ideas, and create finished copies of their work using the Letter Generator.
  7. Keep the Persuasion Rubric posted so students can make sure that they include all necessary components.
  8. Explain that students will share their letters with the class during the next session.

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Session Four

  1. When students have completed their letters, invite them to share with the class.
  2. The teacher should assess the final letter using the Persuasion Rubric.
  3. Arrange for a visit to the library to deliver the letters to the librarian.
  4. Students should be prepared to answer any questions the librarian may have.

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EXTENSIONS

  • If the librarian is persuaded, like in Emily's Runaway Imagination, arrange for a party to celebrate the new books.
  • Choose from one of the activities to further explore the Beverly Cleary book, Emily's Runaway Imagination.
  • Do an author study on Beverly Cleary. Visit The World of Beverly Cleary for details on the author and her books, as well as character profiles, online games, and teaching resources.
  • Explore the library further by visiting this ReadWriteThink Calendar Entry on National Library Card Month, which provides additional activities related to libraries and library cards.

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

  • Assess students’ persuasive writing piece using the rubric.
  • Respond to the content and quality of students’ arguments and reasons as they share their project with the librarian. Look for indications that the student provides supporting evidence for the reflections, thus applying the lessons learned from the work with the Persuasion Map.

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