Can You Convince Me? Developing Persuasive Writing
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- Standards |
- 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.
|Persuasion Map: Students can use this online interactive tool to map out an argument for their persuasive essay.|
|Persuasive Strategy Presentation: This handy PowerPoint presentation helps students master the definition of each strategy used in persuasive writing.|
|Check the Strategies: Students can apply what they know about persuasive writing strategies by evaluating a persuasive piece and indicating whether the author used that strategy, and–if so–explaining how.
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
|1.||Prepare for the game students play during Session 1. Divide the class into teams of four or five. Choose a prize for the winning team (e.g., extra time at recess, a chance to be first in the lunch line, a special snack, a certificate you create, or the chance to bring a special book home). If possible, arrange for another teacher or an administrator to come into your class at the end of the game to act as a judge.
For Session 3, assign partners and pick a second prize for the group that wins the game.
|2.||Make one copy of the Observations and Notes sheet for each group and pair of students. (You will use this sheet to record your observations while students are working during Session 1 and presenting during Session 4.) Make one copy of the Persuasive Strategy Definitions, Persuasion Is All Around You, Check the Strategies and the Persuasive Writing Assessment for each student. Make enough copies of the Check the Strategy sheet so that every student has a checklist for each set of partners that presents (see Session 4).
|3.||Make a two-column chart for Session 1. Write Winter is the best season at the top of the chart. Write agree at the top of one column and disagree at the top of the other.
|4.||If you do not have classroom computers with Internet access, arrange to spend one session in your school’s computer lab (see Session 3). Bookmark the Persuasion Map on your classroom or lab computers, and make sure that it is working properly.
|5.||Preview the Persuasive Strategy Presentation and bookmark it on your classroom computer. You will be sharing this with students during Session 2 and may want to arrange to use an LCD projector or a computer with a large screen.|
- 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
|1.||Post the chart you created where students can see it (see Preparation, Step 3). Distribute sticky notes, and ask students to write their names on the notes. Call students up to the chart to place their notes in the column that expresses their opinion.
|2.||After everyone has had a chance to put their name on the chart, look at the results and discuss how people have different views about various topics and are entitled to their opinions. Give students a chance to share the reasons behind their choices.
|3.||Once students have shared, explain that sometimes when you believe in something, you want others to believe in it also and you might try to get them to change their minds. Ask students the following question: “Does anyone know the word for trying to convince someone to change his or her mind about something?” Elicit from students the word persuade.
|4.||Explain to students that they are going to play a game that will help them understand how persuasive arguments work.
|5.||Follow these rules of the game:
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
|1.||Begin by asking students to share their homework. You can have them share as a class, in their groups from the previous session, or in partners.
|2.||After students have shared, explain that they are going to get a chance to examine the arguments that they made during Session 1 to find out what strategies they already know how to use.
|3.||Pass out the Persuasive Strategy Definitions to each student. Tell students that you are going to explain each definition through a PowerPoint presentation.
|4.||Read through each slide in the Persuasive Strategy Presentation. Discuss the meaning and how students used those strategies in their arguments during Session 1. Use your observations and notes to help students make connections between their arguments and the persuasive strategies. It is likely your students used many of the strategies, and did not know it. For example, imagine the reward for the winning team was 10 extra minutes of recess. Here is one possible argument:
“Our classmate Sarah finally got her cast taken off. She hasn’t been able to play outside for two months. For 60 days she’s had to go sit in the nurse’s office while we all played outside. Don’t you think it would be the greatest feeling for Sarah to have 10 extra minutes of recess the first week of getting her cast off?”
This group is trying to appeal to the other students’ emotions. This is an example of pathos.
|5.||As you discuss the examples from the previous session, have students write them in the box next to each definition on the Persuasive Strategy Definitions sheet to help them remember each meaning.
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
|1.||Divide the class into groups of two or three students. Have each group member talk about the persuasive strategies they found in their piece.
|2.||After each group has had time to share with each other, go through each persuasive strategy and ask students to share any examples they found in their persuasive pieces with the whole class.
|3.||Explain to students that in this session they will be playing the game they played during Session 1 again; only this time they will be working with a partner to write their argument and there will be a different prize awarded to the winning team.
|4.||Share the Persuasive Writing Assessment with students and read through each category. Explain that you will be using this rubric to help evaluate their essays. Reassure students that if they have questions or if part of the rubric is unclear, you will help them during their conference.
|5.||Have students get together with the partners you have selected (see Preparation, Step 1).
|6.||Get students started on their persuasive writing by introducing them to the interactive Persuasion Map. This online graphic organizer is a prewriting exercise that enables students to map out their arguments for a persuasive essay.
|7.||Have students begin writing their persuasive essays, using their printed Persuasion Maps as a guide. To maintain the spirit of the game, allow students to write their essays with their partner. Partners can either write each paragraph together taking turns being the scribe or each can take responsibility for different paragraphs in the essay. If partners decide to work on different parts of the essay, monitor them closely and help them to write transition sentences from one paragraph to the next. It may take students two sessions to complete their writing.
|8.||Meet with partners as they are working on their essays. During conferences you can:
Session 4: Presenting the Persuasive Writing
|1.||During this session, partners will present their written argument to the class. Before students present, hand out the Check the Strategy sheet. This checklist is the same one they used for homework after Session 2. Direct students to mark off the strategies they hear in each presentation.
|2.||Use the Observations and Notes sheet to record your observations.
|3.||After each set of partners presents, ask the audience to share any persuasive strategies they heard in the argument.
|4.||After all partners have presented, have students vote for the argument other than their own that they felt was most convincing.
|5.||Tally the votes and award the prize to the winning team. To end this session, ask students to discuss something new they have learned about persuasive arguments and something they want to work on to become better at persuasive arguments.|
- 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.