Believe Me! A One Way Trip to Mars is a BAD Idea! Persuasive Writing

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SWBAT compose a persuasive letter addressed to Mars One Mission candidates.

Big Idea

The students will learn the elements of a great persuasive letter as they compose a letter to a prospective Mars astronaut persuading the astronaut to either carry out the mission or to rethink their decision about the mission.


The Power of Persuasion

15 minutes

In this lesson we will be writing a persuasive letter to a prospective Mars One astronaut.  We will be using a video clip on four Utah candidates for the Mars One Mission, which we used in this lesson during our Mars one unit.  Here is a link to that lesson: 

 In order to introduce the students to the idea of persuasion, I show the following video clip.  As we watch the commercials in this video clip, we will pause after each one and breifly discuss the elements the producers of the commercials used to try to persuade us to purchase their goods or services.

Mars One Project Finalists

15 minutes

After the students have an idea of persuasion from our discussion on commercials, I will inform the students that we will be writing persuasive letters to the perspective Mars One candidates persuading them either to reconsider their decision or to go for it. We will view the video clip of the four prospective astronauts for the second time.  (The first time we viewed it was during the Mars One unit.) This time as we watch, I will encourage the students to listen carefully as they tell a little about each of the prospective astronauts. At the end of the video clip, they will need to choose which astronaut they would like to write to. One of the other fourth-grade teachers at my school is friends with the wife of the news reporter in this clip. We thought it might be fun to send the letters to the reporter with a letter explaining the assignment asking them to please forward the letters if possible to the prospective astronauts.  The video clip is found here:

Persuasive Letter to Prospective Astronauts

30 minutes

Before the students begin the letter they will be writing to the perspective Mars One Project astronauts, I will pull the kids to the carpet at the front of the room and reviewed with the students elements of a good letter. We'll talk about how to open and close look at letter as well as the fact that a persuasive letter should be backed with facts to persuade the reader to feel the same way you do.  I will also remind the students that we do actually plan on sending these letters to the reporter. They need to be careful and remember that these are actual people. I have heard several students may comments such as, "What?! Are they stupid!"  We will talk about how that kind of verbal attack would not be a good form of persuasion.  :)  I will then get the students the remainder of the time to compose their persuasive letters.