I posted some persuasive writing pieces that the kids in my class typed up yesterday, and got loads of messages asking about lesson ideas and resources, so I said I’d put together this blog post to hopefully help somebody out.
The PDST has a really-useful document on genre writing, which gives a great seven-step approach to teaching any genre, which I recommend using. I’m going to squash those into four steps for this post.
- Familiarisation & Framework: Children exposed to writing in the given genre, and analyse a piece to discover features and structure.
- I Do: Teacher writes a piece and thinks-aloud.
- We Do: Teacher uses students’ ideas, opinions and edits to write another piece.
- You Do: Students plan, write, edit and present their own pieces.
Familiarisation & Framework
Give students a piece of persuasive writing, and analyse it. The main features you should be able to pull out are:
- Clear Title (‘We Should Not Have to Wear a Uniform’, ‘Donald Trump is a Terrible President’ etc.)
- Connectives (first, also, moreover, etc.)
- Persuasive Language (it should be obvious that, clearly, there can be no denying, etc.)
- Rhetorical Questions (‘Who wants to live in a world like that?’ ‘How many more times must this happen?’ etc.
Teacher Think-Aloud: Once we had pulled a list of features out from these pieces, I opened up a new document in Word on the board, and typed up a piece on homework in front of them, talking them through it as I went (you may need to have this prepared beforehand – I’m lucky enough to be a very fast typist!).
I then went back and edited the piece, talking aloud again about using more emotional language, stretching the sentences out, using rhetorical questions etc.)
Cut and Code: Take a piece of persuasive writing, and jumble up the sentences. Students work in groups to cut sentences out, rearrange them, and then code the features previously mentioned using a key (highlight connectives in red, rhetorical questions in yellow, etc.)
Walking Debates: Call out a statement (e.g. everyone should own a dog), and have the kids choose a corner of the room (agree, disagree, not sure etc.). I find this can be quite noisy and unproductive, so you might want to try picking one table at a time, and probing them to explain their reasons why.
Correct the Homework: Children act as a teacher to ‘correct’ a piece of persuasive writing, making suggestions and edits for an imaginary student.
Shared Writing: Give the kids a new topic (e.g. Why Every Child ‘Should Have an iPad in School’), and have them brainstorm arguments to make. Work together to compose the piece, with the kids giving the ideas and arguments, but you writing and editing as you go along.
- Brainstorm: The main thing here is to have a lot of sample ideas that the kids can use to come up with their own pieces.
- First Drafts: Kids come up with an idea, assemble their ideas, and then start writing their first draft.
- Edit & Redraft: I corrected these first drafts, made suggestions, and gave them back to the kids. I quickly looked over their second drafts, and then, finally, the kids typed up their finished pieces and displayed them in the classroom. It took a long time to get them to this final step, but I was really proud of the pieces they came up with in the end!
Oral Language: This is the perfect opportunity to bring in some oral debates. Keep the groups small, don’t let them pick ridiculous topics, and give them Post-it notes instead of refill pads so they can’t write the whole thing out!
Drama – TV Commercials: To mix up the monotony of all that writing, you could do a drama activity where groups have to make a one-minute advertisment to persuade you to buy a new product. This could be integrated into SPHE/Drama very easily on placement (there’s a whole strand unit for ‘Media Education’. Here are some good examples to show!
- Coca-Cola – ‘Brotherly Love’
‘Persuasive Prize!’ Buy a bar of chocolate or other prize, and encourage students to write you a piece persuading you to give it to them. The most creative/best written piece wins the prize!
I hope this gives you plenty of ideas on how to approach persuasive writing in your own class. I will post up the sample pieces I used and more resources on Mash/TPT in the next week – I’m working hard on them!
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please get in touch on Instagram @irishguyteaching or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading!