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Lesson Plan

Persuasive Writing: What Can Writing in Family Message Journals Do for Students?

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Persuasive Writing: What Can Writing in Family Message Journals Do for Students?

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 30-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Julie Wollman, Ph.D.

Julie Wollman, Ph.D.

Worcester, Massachusetts


National Council of Teachers of English



From Theory to Practice



Building on an introductory lesson, Launching Family Message Journals, this lesson shows children how they can use daily journal communication with families to serve their needs. Students first write a message designed to persuade their families to modify a specific behavior. For example, they might write to persuade their family to recycle. Next, they write a message to help them get something they want for themselves, such as a new pet. Finally, they write a message to get help with something, such as a problem with a friend. By involving children in writing several messages with varied purposes, each related to school activities, this lesson helps students discover the power of writing to serve their needs. When children recognize what writing can do for them, they are motivated to write and to work at making their messages clearer and more persuasive.

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Family Message Journals provide an authentic writing experience for students that can be adapted for many purposes. In Family Message Journals: Teaching Writing through Family Involvement, Julie Wollman-Bonilla describes a number of functions that can be addressed through family message journals. She writes: "A functional perspective on writing-with a focus on how writing affects an audience and moves an audience to action-complements the individual use of writing as a purposeful tool. This flip side of the power of writing is essential to carefully designed writing curricula. Because of its multifaceted nature and the centrality of writing for an audience, the Family Message Journal can play a prominent role in such a curricula." This lesson highlights three authentic purposes for persuasive writing in Family Message Journals.

Further Reading

Wollman-Bonilla, Julie. 2000. Family Message Journals: Teaching Writing through Family Involvement. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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