Grade: Senior

#1972. Persuasive Writing

Reading/Writing, level: Senior
Posted Thu Oct 5 15:43:22 PDT 2000 by Retika Dial (
Hampshire Unit School, Hampshire, TN
Materials Required: choice of item to advertise
Activity Time: 7-9 days; 70 minute classes each day
Concepts Taught: To teach students how to use persuasive writing from commercials to formal essays.

1. Students chose an item of clothing, food, drink, etc. to advertise to the class. Students write a short one minute commercial to advertise the product. Class votes on most convincing (persuasive) commercial.
2. The teacher introduces persuasion and discusses with students how it was used in the presentations.
3. Students are given complex, debatable topics (capital punishment, abortion, corporal punishment, etc.) These "deeper" issues will help provoke thought and trigger reactions. Students debate the topics orally for a period. This allows students time to develop opinions and share ideas.
4. Without any guidelines students are instructed to write an essay on the topic. When students turn in the paper, teacher should not grade, but highlight or mark all "opinion" words i.e. think, feel, in my opinion, etc. Most students will have several opinion words in these essays. Do not return papers at this time.
5. Instruct students to take the opposing viewpoint and write another essay on the same topic. Again, teacher should only mark the opinion words. Generaly, there will be less opinion words in the latter assignment.
6. Teachers return essays and a few volunteers read their essays aloud. Discuss the differences in the two essays. How do the opinion words make the essay sound weaker? Does the one with less opinion words sound more convincing? Why?
7. Briefly review students on formal writing style and essay formats, then discuss other guidelines for persuasive essays. The following are some key factors to discuss:
Do not use contractions
Use formal language
Write in first or third person only
Do not use "opinion words"
Have a strong introduction which states your
view on the situation
Wrap up with a strong conclusion
8. Now have students write a 250-300 word persuasive essay. This essay will be graded on sentence structure, grammar, spelling, etc., as well as writing technique. Teachers may assign a topic or let students chose their own. The following are some good topic ideas collected from various sources:
There have been several school shooting recently. Could your school be next?
There has been discussion of raising the legal driving age. How do you feel?
Should professional athletes be paid more than teachers?
Auto insurance is more expensive for males under the age of 21 than for females under the age of 21. Is this fair?
Should public school students wear uniforms?
Should prayer be allowed in public schools?

I usually spend one to one and a half days on each activity. Teachers can move at their own speed and decide on which areas to focus.