I open by explaining that we encounter persuasive writing everyday. Whether it's the radio announcer telling us why we should keep listening to his station, the television commercial showing us the results of a specific toothpaste, the magazine article examining the life of a favorite singer, 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.
I tell them that there are proven ways that we can write persuasive essays that have a greater influence on our audience. We review the Persuasive Strategies PPT lessons to refresh their memory of what important parts should be in their writing. I want them to get away from opinions and focus more on facts and examples in their argument writing and to get exposure to these terms in a simplistic with easy to understand examples.
After we watch the power point, I share the expectations for their writing and review the rubric they will use for their writing. I share that they will have 30 minutes to complete their work and then will have time to peer evaluate and revise their writing.
I project it on the board and read the great opener aloud and ask students, Who the audience would be for this piece? What did the author do to attract them? What reaction does he want from them? I share that before we begin our writing we need to think about our audience and our purpose for writing. We then need to attract our readers strating from the very first sentence because its going to be their first impression of our writing. They will either like it and want to read some more - or dislike it and decide to read a different paper.
Students take out their Persuasive graphic organizer (Blank template: Persuasive Writing Graphic Organizer) and their rubric. We do a quick review of each of these and the expectations for their writing using the Persuasive writing chart we made yesterday. I also have them move around the classroom to their "best" writing areas - this helps students who have difficulty concentrating and makes them realize this is a silent, consistent writing block of time.
I circulate to help with getting students started with their writing and to answer questions.
I have my struggling student writers meet with me individually and first talk through their thinking before they begin their writing. I prompt them with asking, What is your community service plan? Why is this a good plan? Why should other students help in this way, too? What statements or questions could help convince them of this?
I remind them that writing is like talking and that this is their first draft and that it can have mistakes that they correct later. This helps the to write their ideas more quickly and to not focus so much on the "how" of their writing than the "what" they are writing. If their drafts have many errors, I first have them self edit/ then peer edit/ then revise/ then peer edit and revise a second time. This helps them to practice their revising strategies and to create stronger sentences with each conference - two areas that they tend to struggle in.
Students now get the opportunity for peer review of their writing. Students get to work with two people in reviewing of their writing. The first I call sticks to match students randomly (I do make adjustments secretly for those who need specific partnering for support of their learning)
Before I call names we review how to peer edit their peers papers. Students are taught to use constructive feedback: compliment something they did well, suggest a way for them to improve their writing, make the corrections suggested. We review the Persuasive writing peer evaluation checklist together and answer questions from students.
I tell them that they will have 20 minutes to meet, share and correct and that their goal is to complete at least one rotation with a peer. Those who finish early put their names on the board and are chosen by others as they complete their work.
I let all students meet at first (so that none feel singled out and all benefit from the sharing), but circulate to see which ones need additional revision and either meet with them now or at a later point in the day to help them make the revisions. This group often gets additional time and meet with me again the next day to revise their writing so that they can improve this skill.
I review the expectations for revising their writing and give students time to revise and to make the corrections noted by their peers. Those who complete it early or have few corrections move to the computers and begin typing their title page, author's page or an illustrated drawing to add persuasion to their report.
This is also a time I can pull struggling students to the back table to help them identify and correct areas that need revising.
When the timer signals they take their writing home for homework and to have it reviewed/ edited by their parents. I like to involve the parents in their writing to not only help me with the revision process but also to involve them in their student's learning and abilities.
Their motivation to complete this comes from the fact that we are going to not only post them on the outside wall for others to read and see, but also sending out a challenge to other schools to take on this same unit and continue the "wave" of helping others for as long as we can.
Here is an overview of my wall where I posted their final writing. I also included a interview with one student who decided to end the "bully cycle" by getting a list of student names and saying or doing something nice for them each day to show how simple project ideas can make an impact on others and themselves.