I open by having students come to the carpet with their whiteboards. I ask my students "Do you usually win arguments?" "What helps you win an argument?" I call on a few students to share.
I ask students to draw three columns on their boards and label one side “no” and the other side “yes” and the middle "maybe". I tell them that I am going to ask them some questions and they will circle the side that responds to their answer. I start easy with simple response questions to get them use to the process - "Are you having hot lunch today?, Did you take the bus to school today? "Did you read last night? (this one often gets some maybe responses) I then tell them that the next question is a little harder to answer and one they will need to support with reasons. I ask "Do you think students should wear uniforms to school?"
I now ask students to write down three reasons in the box on the response side of the board they chose that explain why they marked the yes, maybe or no answer. Maybe responses are asked to give a reason for why it would and wouldn't be a good idea. I give students two minutes. I want them to do this independently so, that we have some variations in their responses. This helps support the next section.
Students are directed to move to two sides of the room where they will share ideas and add to their list of supporting points. One corner is for those who marked “yes” on their board and the other is for those who marked the “no” and those who marked "maybe" stay on the carpet.
I call three random names from each side to debate their reasons for their responses (Student debaters). Their goal is to try and persuade the middle "maybe" group to come to their side of the issue. I tell the middle group they must decide a side by the last reason given.
Students debate, middles choose (so much excitement and fun!) and now I have them where I want them to introduce the objective of the writing assignment and share, Today you used persuasion to convince someone to think like you do by giving reasons for your ideas. We are going to use this same process to write a persuasive essay that gets your readers to believe in helping with our community service idea.
Before I put up the chart I project the Persuasive Strategies PPT on the board and review the information and reasonings for each slide.
I now put up a Persuasive writing chart that shows the graphic organizer and my thesis statement - "We should all keep our classroom clean."
I share with students that before we write, we need to plan our thinking. I know my topic or thesis statement so now I need to think about reasons I can give to win the "argument". I think aloud and share that a lot of students have been sick lately and that cleaning the classroom would help to get rid of germs. I add this to the first reason box "less germs".
I ask students to think-pair-share another idea for why it is important to keep our classroom clean. I call on students to share and add "looks nice" and "organized" to the chart.
I tell them that now we need to explain why these are good ideas so that our readers understand our reasons for feeling this way. To do this we also need to think about who may be interested in this topic - or who our audience will be? I think aloud and say I know Mrs. Fachner, our principal, and Mr. Leo, our janitor, would be interested but they would not be the ones cleaning the classroom. I share that when we think of audiences for our writing we need to think about who we would want to help with our ideas. I ask - Who would help clean the classroom - Students!
I go back to the chart and explain that I need to add three statements that explain each of the three reasons I have for my service idea. I want to give my opinions but I also want to support them with facts too. I also want to write reasons students would agree with because they are my target audience. I model thinking and adding "less students will get sick", "studies show that washing hands before eating is the best way to avoid being sick", "washing desks often is similar to washing hands"
I ask students to think of ideas and any facts they have heard to respond to the second two reasons and add these to the chart (facts might be harder for them to come up with - can prompt with "There are many advantages to being organized that include reduced stress, saving time, and working more efficiently" or "survey finds that cleanliness is key for student concentration"
I explain that some students may not want to spend the time or energy cleaning the classroom every day so they would not agree with my service idea. I ask students what they would say to these students? I write "too much work to clean" in the opposition box and then write student responses underneath.
I tell students we are almost ready to begin our persuasive writing but we need the most important part -a great opener and a strong closing! I ask students to think of a great way to get their friends attention for this idea. I take responses and add them to the chart under a great beginning section. (you may need to review the strategies for great beginnings here)
I then tell students that our ending paragraph should restate the three reasons and sell our idea with a strong closing statement, question or catchy phrase to make sure our audience knows what we feel and why. You can take ideas here or rephrase their opening statement here - I was running out of time so I wrote "A clean classroom is a happy classroom"
Here's a video explaining and demonstrating the components of the chart we made together
Students take out their community service plan worksheets. They are given the Persuasive Writing Graphic Organizer worksheets. They are instructed that they will have 20 minutes to plan their ideas just like we did on the class chart.
I share that early finishers can begin researching for facts to support their reasons on the class computers or library books.
I ask for questions and then set the timer for 20 minutes.
I circulate the classroom and help students where needed. Due to the fact that I need all students planning their topics I do not partner my struggling students, but rather have them meet me at the carpet to work as a small group on their worksheets. They have the sample chart right in front of them for reference and they are in easy range for me to help when needed and still monitor the rest of the students work.
Early finishers can begin researching for facts on the computer using the Fact collection worksheet. They can then partner with another fast finisher to share ideas and edit each others work. They can also be used as peer tutors for the struggling students
In that this was a longer unit I did not have much time left to share ideas. I close by asking students "How does using persuasion help you win an argument?"
I then close with the statement that persuasion is all around us - from what the commercials on t.v. want you to buy, to how you convince your parents to let you stay up late, to even the ways you even the magazine articles about a new favorite singer. I ask students to put their worksheets in their folders (unfinished ones are taken home for homework) to be used in the next lesson where they will write a persuasive essay on their community service idea.
After the questioning I have students turn in their Persuasive graphic organizer so that I can evaluate their levels of understanding. This is an example of a student who showed higher understanding of the sections of the Persuasive graphic organizer.