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Persuasive Writing

Compiled By: Mrs. G

Many students struggle with persuasive writing. Try implementing some of these activities or prompts to get your students moving on the right track.

Persuasive Writing
Posted by: Carol

I use both Charlotte's Web and Because of Winn Dixie to demonstrate persuasion. In Charlotte's Web, Fern persuades her father to let her keep Charlotte, the runt of the litter, rather than killing him. In Because of Winn Dixie, Opal convinces her father to let her keep the mangy stray dog she calls Winn Dixie. After either reading the excerpts of these books, or having the children read them in literature circles, we discuss the characteristics of a persuasive essay (do a google search for many teaching ideas, persuasive worksheets, rubrics, etc.) They then have to write a persuasive paragraph or two trying to persuade their parents to let them have some animal as a pet. I send home a warning letter to parents first, letting them know it is only an assignment. It is always taken in the right spirit. Hope this helps.

Persuasive writing idea
Posted by: Amy Lee

I have used letters to the editor from our local newspaper. There are usually letters from adults about school and young people. I have students to respond to the letter. This takes care of persuasive writing and business letter writing which are two lang. arts standards from our middle schoolers. I have mailed the letters to the newspaper or the class chooses a letter or takes several responses and combines them and they sign their names to the one letter.

Also I have students write letters to our school administration. Last year our system hired a new director of cafeteria services and the students were frustrated with some changes and wanted to suggested improvements to the director. For a lesson we wrote letters to the director and they were mailed to him.

Students enjoyed these writing assignments because there was the possibly their letters would be published in the newspaper or the administration would respond to their requests. This has happened.

The key is to make the lesson of persuasive writing to be meaningful and not just another writing assignment.

Persuasive Ideas
Posted by: Janie

One idea I used to start my students thinking about Persuasive Writing was showing them a video I made. The video shows recordings of TV advertisements, i.e., M & M boys; fitness equipment; Dude, you're getting a Dell, and many others.

After showing the video, I asked the students what they thought of the commercials and if the comm. influenced them in any way. And of course asking the students if this kind of commercialism is a type of persuasion.

The TV approach generated a lot of discussion on what they already knew much about...persuading parents, friends, teachers, etc. I followed up with models of persuasive writing. Brainstorm topics, i.e., baseball series, school lunch menu, or others to start. There are several styles of persuasive writing...check Google. Hope this helps.

persuasive writing
Posted by: mlg

I've done a persuasive argument piece several years around Thanksgiving where the children have to take the side of the turkey to convince a hungry holiday celebrant not to have the turkey for dinner. The kids have to brainstorm all the reasons the turkey might use to argue his point of view. They also must brainstorm as many reasons as possible to support the opposing view. I have them look at both sides in order to be able to effectively counter opposition.

As a prelude to this writing, I read the story of "The Three Little Pigs" and the fractured fairy-tale version of the Wolf's side of the story ( sorry, the exact title escapes me at the moment, but I have the book at school and I can post it tomorrow if you are interested). This gives them the idea that there are always at least two sides of a story and each one can make convincing arguments, although each has a strong stake in overcoming objections for their own needs.

Hope that helps.

Opening Activites for a Persuasive Unit
Posted by: Takisha

I began my persuasive unit with commercials. I recorded some commercials during different times. We had class discussion about the persuasive techniques used in the media. Students created their own commercials and the unit took off.

Oh, the novel "Tunes for Bears to Dance to " by Robert Cormier is a short novel that has a rising action full of persuasion. It's also a great book to teach manipulation and diversity.. E-mail me for more info. Best wishes!

Persuasive Piece
Posted by: JWest

This year we did our persuasive letter to the principal. We have a class pet, a Guinea pig. The students had to persuade her to allow us to keep the pig. Also, are you familiar with any of Susan Miller's lessons on writing. ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL. She has step by step lessons on persuasive, personal narrative, how-to's, and feature article writing pieces. Check it out!

Persuasive Writing
Posted by: Stacey

I read "The Stranger" by Chris Van Allsburg to my fourth graders. In groups of two they decide just who/what the stranger might be. Using index cards the children write a sentence telling what they think the stranger might be (white index card). They give three reasons for their answer (yellow index cards) Each reason is written on a seperate index card. They then must find a detail from the story to support their reason. Then they write a concluding sentence (blue index card). Next, they take the idex cards and use them as a graphic organizer to write their persuasive essay.

persuasive writing
Posted by: Julie

This is a great story to discuss sequencing and persuasion. One activity I do with it is that I give the students a situation and those for it, go to one side of the room, those against go to the other side of the room. Then I give each side a chance to "persuade" and give justification to their opinion. Then we see if anyone would want to switch sides. We then do "improv" sales pitches (not sure what grade you have, but my fourth graders love this) and I choose an item and they have one minute to think about how they could sell this object to the classroom and then they speak for 30sec. - 1 min. to sell it. Finally, we do a writing on a topic they choose that they would like to persuade the public on. Depending on the subject, if it pertains to a local issue, we send it on to the newspaper. Have fun - hope this helps!

persuasive writing
Posted by: Linda

One of the ideas I use in my class that my students really get into are OREOs. The first O stands for their opinion on a subject; R - reason; E - explanation of reason; and final O is for their opinion restated in another way. I usually give them the topic a day before and have them think of reasons for their side of the argument. They list all they can think of. The next day, they have to pick one reason and expand it. I then line them up across the room from each other and have them present their arguments one by one. When each line is finished, I ask if anyone would like to change lines. I then allow them to change lines if they so desire but they have to explain which argument influenced them to change. If you need any more info on this idea, please e-mail me.

Persuasive Writing
Posted by: Heather

I use a 'T' organizer with my students to teach this genre of writing.

The students begin by writing what they are trying to convince someone to do or not to do above the T ie: I should have a later bedtime. Then they select their audience; who they are persuading. Next they write their audiences argument on one soide of the T: Your bedtime should stay the same and their's on the other side; my bedtime should be later. Finally the student begins to fill in the reasons on each side of the chart audience on the left their own on the right.

Using this graphic organizer has a couple of benefits; it not only helps to organize their ideas for writing but it also helps thme to see if they have enough reasons pro and con to write a valid argument.


Try a paragraph frame
Posted by: BN

I don't have any sample paragraghs but
have you tried using a paragraph frame to start.
First we brainstorm topics-- more recess time,
more time between classes, lockers, different menu in cafe, allowing music/radio during lunch, more library books etc. We try to think of topics that are of interest to grade five students.We write to persuade the prinipal, teachers,parents of some topic that concerns them. Two impt. concepts about persuasive paragraphs that students find difficult are--#1 a topic that can be supported with facts/examples or reason and #2 writing to a specific audience. I remind them that they are writing to persuade or convince someone of their POV. In order to do this they need facts and examples to back up their POV.

Then,we compose a class paragraph by filling in the frame.

Persuasive paragragh frame ( I have a transparency)

I believe that...

One reason is...

For example...

Another reason is...*

For example..*. *(More can be added if needed)


Therefore, I think that...

For individual paragraphs you can use the frame or a persuasive map...

Persuasive Map
(sample transparency)

Goal or Opinion

Reason Reason Reason
__________ _________ _________
__________ _________ _________
_______ __________ _________

Support (EX) Support(EX) Support(EX)
___________ ____________ ___________
____________ ____________ ____________
___________ __________ ___________


Therefore, I think that...

Frames and maps are good techniques to get students thinking about trying to persuade or explaining their points of view.

horseshoe game
Posted by: shasta

I attended a workshop on 6 trait writing and received a wonderful activity to intro persuasive writing. It's the horseshoe game. Each week, I have some sort of poll (usually pulled from that the students vote on. Last week we voted whether or not we should have uniforms. I always give them 3 choices: yes, no, or maybe. Students write their response down on a piece of paper, but do not discuss it with anyone. We then form a horseshoe with the yes side and no side facing each other and the maybes at the top of the horseshoe. I stand in the middle. Students are only allowed to talk if they have the koosh ball. I then toss the ball to each side, alternating who I throw it to. Students express their vote and give a 2 sentence reason why they feel that way. Once everyone has voiced their opinion, I ask if anyone has changed sides. If they have they move and then say why. We play this for about 3 weeks before we actually start writing about it. I continue to play the game as we are writing, after about 2 months, I begin asking people to move to the opposing side and write or defend it, even though they may not agree with it. My kids ask to play this every day. They really enjoy it. It also helps them develop debate skills.

job applications
Posted by: tng

I teach fifth grade. On the first day of school, I pass out a "employment" ad, which identifies and explains the classroom jobs I want to be filled. I have enough jobs for every student to apply for and the students are told ahead of time that they will be accountable for taking the job seriously and will be responsible for it for the first semester. They choose the job they want and fill out a "job application", which is really a persuasive essay explaining why the class should hire them for the job they are applying for. We share the essays in class. As the students share, they are listening and voting on whom they want to take the job by using a secret ballot. Those that don't get the job they want are assigned a job that wasn't applied for. This really teaches the students a real-life lesson about working hard and making sure they are qualified and prepared for the job they want to have in the future. It also teaches character education values and makes everyone responsible for maintaining a safe and clean learning environment.

Posted by: Jacquie

Every year around this time I teach persuasive letter writing. Then I have the children write a letter to Santa. They have a few choices....
Persuade Santa to:
*give all your toys to needy children, this year.
*you deserve eveything on your Christmas list.
*it is time to get into the year 2001 and get rid of that old sleigh and reindeer and ride in a super duper holiday jet!
If you teach them about persuasive writing first, they do a great job on this! I usually post them on the hall bulletin board. It is great fun!

Happy Holidays

similar activity - xmas trees
Posted by: Jade

I did a similar activity last year where the students wrote persuasive paragraphs pretending they were xmas trees (all my students celebrated Christmas) and they had to persuade families to choose them as their christmas tree. It was so cute! I read a very cute story before hand about a little tiny xmas tree who wants a home, ( I totally forget the name, but could get it for you). Anyway, they were very cute and they made up great reasons like "I am very full with branches and will hold your ornaments nicely" or "I will fill your home w/ my wonderful pine scent".

Persuasive Writing
Posted by: Mrs. G

This book is a must for teaching persuasion. It is filled with awesome lessons. I use some of them with my 5th grade class.
Why We Must Run With Scissors: Voice Lesson in Persuasive Writing (Paperback)
by Barry Lane (Author), Gretchen Bernabei (Author)

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Here's an idea...
Posted by: lynnylubner

The book I Wanna Iguana is very cute and short. A boy and his mother write letters back and forth about the boy getting an iguana. Each letter from the boy uses persuasion tactics, and each letter from the mother counters the persuasion. I read this with my third graders. We then brainstormed as a class possible things they would want to persuade their parents. Then, I set up a block chart (Sorry, cannot attach, I'm still a new member:(. )
But I drew a circle in the middle: What I want
Then I drew a line at the top that said: Audience
Then below the circle: Three reasons for your persuasion
Three lines: Address parental concerns
Concluding statement

For example:
Audience: Parents
Want/Persuasion: Pet
Three reasons: I am responsible, I will take care of it, I will use allowance to take care of it
Counter arguments: I know you think I won't take care of it, but I know how much work it is...It's too expensive, so I will save money to buy it and contribute allowance for food/maintence
Statement: I hope you will consider my reasons for wanting a new pet.

Hope this is useful!

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