Project Description
Project Components
National Standards Correlations
Lesson Planning Suggestions

You and your students encounter persuasive writing everyday. Whether it's the radio announcer telling you why you should keep listening to his station, the television commercial showing you the results of a specific toothpaste, the magazine article examining the life of your favorite rock star, or even the President of the United States giving the State of the Union address, persuasive writing plays an important part in your everyday life.

During this workshop, you will take students step-by-step through the process of writing a persuasive essay. The student's goal in persuasive writing is to try and convince people to agree with them about a specific issue. It is important for students to understand that persuasive writing relies heavily on facts- not opinions. That means they'll need to do a little research before they ever place pencil to paper. While the focus of this project is the creation of a persuasive essay, the step-by-step instruction for completing the essay revolves entirely around the writing process.

You and your students encounter persuasive writing everyday. Whether it's the radio announcer telling you why you should keep listening to his station, the television commercial showing you the results of a specific toothpaste, the magazine article examining the life of your favorite rock star, or even the President of the United States giving the State of the Union address, persuasive writing plays an important part in your everyday life.

During this workshop, you will take students step-by-step through the process of writing a persuasive essay. The student's goal in persuasive writing is to try and convince people to agree with them about a specific issue. It is important for students to understand that persuasive writing relies heavily on facts- not opinions. That means they'll need to do a little research before they ever place pencil to paper. While the focus of this project is the creation of a persuasive essay, the step-by-step instruction for completing the essay revolves entirely around the writing process.

Time Required
A typical class following the entire set of Persuasive Writing lesson plans can expect to spend one class period each school day for three to five weeks, depending on class size, grade level, and resources. Our weekly lesson planner has divided the project up into a four-week schedule. However, you may choose to work at a slower or faster pace than what we've outlined. It should be noted that a good portion of the work required to complete this project (including the required research) could be completed away from school.




This "Writer's Workshop" project gives students the opportunity to become comfortable with the writing process as they work to complete a persuasive essay. The workshop is designed to take students through each step of the writing process and includes tutorials, worksheets, online planning tools and interactive mini-lessons.

Mini-Lesson (1 day)
Begin your workshop with a quick mini-lesson designed to enhance students' use of transitional words and phrases and fine tune their use of supporting examples- each important skills required for writing a successful persuasive essay. We've provided both interactive online versions of our mini-lessons as well as printable versions you may copy for each student.

Prewriting (3–4 days)
The pre-writing stage of this project is probably one of the most important. It's during this stage that students will choose their issue person, research an issue, and finally, plan the structure of their essay.

Drafting (2–3 days)
During this step, students will refer to their research notes and use their structural plans as they begin to create a rough draft of their report. A rough draft allows students to begin the process of organizing their work and get their thoughts down on paper. During this phase of the writing process, grammar, spelling, and punctuation aren't of utmost importance.

Revising (2–3 days)
The revision process concentrates on the content of their persuasive writing. As students begin the process of revising their work you'll want to remind them that revising doesn't involve making changes for spelling, grammar, or punctuation.

Editing (1–2 days)
While editing isn't always a student's favorite task, it's an important task nonetheless. During this stage, students will check spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and subject/ verb agreement.

Reviewing (1–2 days)
The review cycle allows students one more look before taking their work public. During this phase we discuss number of different ways to students may conduct a review process including: peer review, expert review, and self-assessment.



"Writer's Workshop: Persuasive Writing" correlates with many of the national standards for language arts.

National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the International Reading Association (IRA) include:

  • Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
  • Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and non-print texts.
  • Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.
  • Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Technology Foundation Standards for Students

  • use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity.
  • use technology tools to collaborate and interact with peers, experts, and other audiences.
  • use a variety of media and formats to communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences.
  • use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.
  • use technology tools to process data and report results employ technology in the development of strategies for solving problems in the real world.
  • use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity.
  • use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.
  • use technology tools to process data and report results.


Week One

Introduction to the Unit & Mini-Lesson (1 day)

Introduction:
Begin the unit with a discussion of persuasive writing and its many uses. Explain that persuasive writing is a tool for getting others to understand a particular point of view. If possible, provide adequate examples of persuasive writing students may have already encountered without even being aware of the fact.

Be sure to explain that persuasive writing relies heavily on facts- not opinions. That means students will be doing a little research before they actually begin writing.

Next, discuss the overall scope and sequence of the workshop. If your class isn't already familiar with the steps of the writing process, review the steps and activities involved with each step. Be sure to include how much class time and homework will be involved with this project.

Mini-Lesson
The mini-lessons that accompany this unit, using transitional words and supporting examples align nicely with the type of writing required to create a persuasive essay.

Start by explaining the importance of transitional words and phrases. Discuss how these skills make it easier to compare and contrast viewpoints- an important skill in persuasive writing. Allow time for students to experience the online activities.

End the day with a lesson on supporting details and their relevance in persuasive writing. Explain that the supporting details must be facts, not opinions and that these details will be obtained through research.

If possible, bring in examples of persuasive writing and ask the students to locate supporting details included by the author and then make a list of transitional words and phrases the author used.

Pre-Writing (3–4 days)
The pre-writing activities actually fall under four different headings:

Choose an Issue
The first, and most important step for writing a persuasive essay is deciding what a student wants persuade someone to believe. Is there a compelling social issue they'd like to correct, a situation within the school that they'd like to change, an issue from history that needs to be addressed, or maybe even a political condition they'd like to explore- the possibilities are endless!

Research It
Once students have decided on an issue they'd like to explore, give ample time for the research process. Explain that good research is critical to a successful persuasive essay. It is essential that they have content to back up their claims. Remind students to take detailed notes as they record information that documents both sides of their issue. They will be referring to these notes as they begin to draft their paper.

Encourage the use of a variety of different resources: encyclopedias, newspapers, magazines, textbooks, online interviews, public documents, and face-to-face interviews with experts.

Week Two

Make Your Case

List the arguments (2–3 days)
Discuss the importance of relevant arguments in persuasive writing. Distribute the Arguments For and Arguments Against worksheet. Examine the fact that it is impossible to persuade someone to believe one's viewpoint without also considering the viewpoint of those who may disagree with him or her.

Brainstorm as many examples as possible. Have students review their research and then use the worksheet to create a list of arguments for and arguments against their issue.

Finally, explain that ultimately they will be choosing their three best arguments to include in their writing.

Plan the Structure (1–2 days)
Explain that all persuasive essays should contain the following elements:

  • Opening/Introduction: In this area students will introduce their readers to the topic and give a little background information. Tell students that it works well to state the topic in the form of a question- Is the Iditarod an example of cruelty to animals or a sporting event? They must be sure to state their position on the issue within the last sentence of the paragraph. In the opening, they should pull the reader in and give them a reason to keep reading.
  • Body: Explain that the body of their essay should contain at least three paragraphs. Each paragraph must state a different viewpoint on their topic, examine the opposition to that viewpoint and provide a defense of that viewpoint. Many of the best examples of persuasive writing save the most compelling viewpoint for third body paragraph leaving the reader with the strongest point before closing. The defense must be supported with evidence documented through research. Remind students not to forget the reason for examining an opposing viewpoint- they're trying to prove, through the use of factual information-why their opinion is better.
  • Within each paragraph students must be sure to use powerful transitional words and phrases as you compare each point.
  • Closing/Conclusion: Explain that the conclusion should always restate the issue and then quickly tie in the three viewpoints examined in the body paragraphs. Students should never introduce new information in the closing. Tell them to simply summarize the arguments and then close with a powerful statement relating to their originally stated issue.

Week Three

Week three is when the real writing begins. Students should write their drafts and make revisions to content.

Drafting (2–3 days)

Once students have chosen their topic, done the research, and decided on the structure of their paper, it's time to begin working on their rough draft.

A rough draft allows students to begin the process of organizing their work and getting their thoughts down on paper. As they begin this phase of the work, remind students to focus on the content and allow their ideas to flow freely. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation will be corrected in later steps of the writing process.

Next, send the students to their desks and have them read through research and review their structural planing sheet. Require students to spend an adequate amount of time students thinking about ways to open their reports - a great "hook" to keep the reader interested.

Finally, allow students at least one class period and additional time at home to complete this part of the process. Remind students that this is simply a time to get their thoughts on paper- get content down now, and go back later to make corrections.

Revising (2–3 days)
When everyone has completed his or her first draft, it's time to begin the revision process. Spend time discussing what actually happens during a revision.

  • Add additional information
  • Rearrange events or information
  • Remove unneeded information
  • Replace existing text with new text that better describes or adds additional insight. Remind students that they do not need to correct grammar, punctuation, or spelling during this phase of the writing process.
Tip for Students: A great way to check flow, content, and sentence structure is to read a paper out loud.

Week Four

Editing (1–2 days)
Once students have drafted and revised their work, it's time to check for grammar, punctuation, capitalization, subject/verb agreement, and spelling.

Reviewing (1-2 days)
The essays are almost ready for their debut. The reviewing process comes next. This step is painful to some students, so be sure to offer a variety of options for review.

  • Teacher Conference
  • Peer Review
  • Self-Assessment
Tell students to think of the Reviewing process as a dress rehearsal—one last time to "get it right" before the rest of the world gets to see their report.

Publishing (1–2 days)
In some schools, this step is called "Celebrate". In many aspects, publishing is a form of celebration. It's a time for students to share their work with others and in this case, the world. There are many great ways to publish a persuasive essay. One great way is to share it with the world by posting it on the Internet. Other great publishing ideas include:

  • Using their persuasive writing as the base, have each student create a 60-second videotaped commercial designed to convince others of their views.
  • Actually mail the students' papers to the person or organization they're trying to persuade. Be sure to have them request a formal response to their letter.
  • Have students use a multimedia software program to create an interactive version of their writing complete with graphics, photos, and recordings that help state their argument.
  • Host a debate on the issues. Ask fellow students to take the opposing viewpoints, research their side, and then host a debate.
  • See if you can get your school or local paper to publish the students' persuasive writing attempts.