Appropriate Group Size
Why teach persuasive writing?
As children mature as writers, it’s important to give them the opportunity to write using a variety of formats. Persuasive writing helps students formulate specific reasons for their opinions, and provides an opportunity to research facts related to their opinions. As students develop an understanding of how writing can influence or change another’s thoughts or actions, they can begin to understand the persuasive nature of the marketing they are exposed to through television, the Internet, and other media.
How to teach persuasive writing
- Have students listen to or read examples of persuasive writing. Together, listen and look for words, phrases and techniques that helped the writer persuade the listener.
- Brainstorm something that is important to an individual child or the group. Is it extra recess? Another chapter of the read aloud? The potential closing of a library? The more authentic the issue, the more passionately your students will write.
- Once the important privilege is chosen, have the child (or class) start to list reasons why they should be allowed this privilege. “Just because,” and “because I like it” should not be considered valid reasons. Students can work together to generate at least three good reasons to support an argument. This list of persuasive words and phrases from the site Teaching Ideas may help get students started.
- Have students do some research to gather facts or examples that support their reasons.
- Have students summarize their position.
Here’s a persuasive letter written by an elementary school student from Crozet, VA:
Watch: Bubble gum letters
Create an authentic writing opportunity that motivates students to write persuasive letters to a target audience. (From the Balanced Literacy Diet: Putting Research into Practice in the Classroom)
This persuasive writing lesson from ReadWriteThink uses the Beverly Cleary book Emily’s Runaway Imagination as the springboard for kids to write letters to a librarian urging the addition of certain titles to the library. A Persuasion Map Planning Sheet guides students through steps similar to what is described above.
This resource shows the lifecycle of writing a persuasive letter to a child’s parents about where to vacation for the summer. The PDF begins with the brainstorming, moves through drafting, editing, and publishing of the final letter.
From Writing Fix, here’s a speech writing lesson that uses the mentor text Otto Runs for President in conjunction with the RAFT strategy. In this lesson, students assume to the role of a talking fruit or vegetable. Pretending that there’s a “Fruit/Vegetable of the Year” election, the students will create a campaign speech that explains why their fruit/veggie is the best candidate for the job.
For second language learners, students of varying reading skill, and younger learners
- Have students work in small groups to generate their ideas and do the research.
- Offer various suggestions for how students can share their argument: e.g., a debate format, a “soapbox” in the classroom, or letters to the editor of the newspaper.
See the research that supports this strategy
Wollman-Bonilla, J. (2000). Family message journals: Teaching writing through family involvement. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.