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Lesson Plan

Developing Persuasive Arguments through Ethical Inquiry: Two Prewriting Strategies

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Developing Persuasive Arguments through Ethical Inquiry: Two Prewriting Strategies

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

Teresa Henning, Ph.D

Teresa Henning, Ph.D

Marshall, Minnesota


National Council of Teachers of English


Materials and Technology

Student Interactives






  • Flip chart paper and markers
  • Computers with Internet access

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Persuasion Map

Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Persuasion Map

The Persuasion Map is an interactive graphic organizer that enables students to map out their arguments for a persuasive essay or debate.


Letter Generator

Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

Letter Generator

The Letter Generator is a useful tool for students to learn the parts of a business or friendly letter and then compose and print letters for both styles of correspondence.


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  • CCCC Ethical Conduct of Research Involving Human Participants: A Bibliography

    This bibliography of print resources from CCCC provides links to codes of ethics from various professional organizations that can be used to support the ‘extensions’ described for this lesson. These codes can also be mined for values to promote discussion as the class works to complete the ethical inventory questions.

  • Web Resources for Teachers from GoodCharacter.com

    This web page provides links to writing, discussion, and other classroom activities that focus on ethics and character in the K-12 classroom. The resources are free, and the discussion resources provide tips for how to lead class conversations on ethics.

  • The Markkula Center For Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University

    This online center provides a wealth of free resources on ethics across a range of disciplines. The resources are too numerous to list here, but the links to character and campus ethics might be of use to teachers who would like to link ethics to other projects in their classroom.

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  1. Read “Ethics as a Form of Critical and Rhetorical Inquiry in the Writing Classroom” from English Journal 100.6 (2011) to get a sense of how this lesson works and the types of responses it can generate.
  2. A persuasive unit should be in progress in the classroom; students should have a topic and audience. If a persuasive unit is not already in progress, it is recommended that teachers use  Joelle Brummitt-Yale’s “Persuading the Principal:  Writing Persuasive Letters about School Issues” to prepare for this lesson.
  3. Write out your own answers to the questions on the Lesson Overview Discussion Questions handout.  Use the Lesson Overview Discussion Questions handout to guide whole class discussion and overview the lesson (see also directions on the handout).
  4. Gather flip chart paper and markers.
  5. Make copies of the following materials for students:
  6. Test the Persuasion Map and Letter Generator student interactives and make sure that you have the appropriate software installed for them to run effectively.  You will need computers with internet access for each student to use these interactives.  If you need additional help with these interactives, please visit our Technical Help page.
  7. Plan for computer use on Session 3 of this lesson so that students can access the Persuasion Map interactive and for when students are ready to format their final drafts as letters and reflect on their use of ethical values so that students can use the Letter Generator interactive.
  8. Add an ethical component to the Peer Review Guidelines for Persuasive Letters (see Student Assessment/Reflection section of this lesson for more details).
  9. Add an ethical component to the assessment of student work by modifying the ReadWriteThink Rubric for Persuasive Letters (see Student Assessment/Reflection section of this lesson for more details).

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