Who Should We Help?

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SWBAT...write a persuasive essay on where we should send our funds after reading articles on children in poverty in Africa and in the United States

Big Idea

We need to evaluate all the facts and opinions before we commit to a cause.

Creating the Purpose

5 minutes

I open the lesson by reading the passage about world hunger to my students. This is a bit shocking so I ask them to share how it makes them feel? What we can do to help? 

I want students to feel the enormity of the poverty issue before they read the articles so that they can make more of an emotional involvement. What I discovered was that many did not know what the word poverty meant - good lesson to teach them before they begin to read about this issue:) I need to answer more questions than I had anticipated on this subject before I give them the lesson materials to ensure they understand the concept of poverty and why people can't get out of the cycle. The positive was that they had a deeper connection with the hunger these children feel on a regular basis which really boosted their involvement in the research and writing assignment.

I share with them that our objective is to evaluate two articles on children in poverty and then to write a persuasive piece convincing their readers which one they should give their money to. 

Guiding the Learning

15 minutes

I now can give out their reading passages and persuasive writing graphic organizer. I review the passages and generalize the who, what, where and why of each.

I then review the organizer we used in the previous lesson and ask students to contribute their understanding to each of the sections. We conduct a shared discussion of the expectations for each section. We have just completed a previous lesson on community service using these organizers, but if your students are not familiar with them I would practice with a shorter piece to show them how to log information and facts from the articles read.  

I leave my graphic organizer posted as a reference for students. We begin reading the article on Africa and add details as we read to the organizer. I project a master copy on the board for those who need a visual reference. We read the first article together adding details to our worksheet.

I then have them partner up and complete the second article on poverty in America with their elbow partner and a second graphic organizer. (you have two choices - have them complete both organizers with each article, or chose an article after they take margin notes to complete one organizer on) I circulate and help those who were struggling with this section.    

There are some vocabulary words I need to review: stingiest, affluent, malnourished and illiterate. I would strongly suggest asking students for words they do not know and then creating a vocabulary area on your board or chart for use during reading. 

Independent Learning

20 minutes

For this section students have their completed graphic organizers in front of themselves and are ready to address one side of the issue in their persuasive writing. I give them the rubric and we review the expectations for each section.

We then review ways to begin essays with interesting leads and transitional words. I give them these pages as references while writing. 

I remind them that they are required to chose only one area to help - U. S. or Africa and that they need to give the facts that support their opinion. They are also to address the counter argument and retaliate with a strong rebuttal. I keep using as many big terms as you can to build their knowledge for future years.

Students now begin writing their persuasive pieces and use their graphic organizers to organize their writing into paragraphs. I keep the chart posted with the paragraph areas identified. This really helps them in formulating breaks in their writing.

Early finishers can read and evaluate each others writing and then help partners make revisions.  

Closing the Loop

5 minutes

Students now get to share their writing and to defend their positions taken on the poverty issue. The following video shows a few students who are debating with facts from their writing


I close by asking students how we can solve the problem of whom to give our money to? I get responses such as give half to both, collect more money from the rich, alternate years of help, etc. which makes me realize that they have developed a personal involvement in the issue. Yeah! love when they take learning to heart.