How to Teach Persuasive Writing in First Grade
How to teach first graders about persuasive writing.
Teaching persuasive writing is not easy, and getting kids excited about doing it — especially first graders — is even harder! But not when there are leprechauns involved….
Now you might be thinking, “This lady is crazy! Look at that mess! Why would anyone purposely ransack their own classroom for the sake of a persuasive writing lesson?” And maybe you’re right. But in our little first grade classroom, reading and writing activities provide the perfect “playground” for adventures like these! Knowing the Secrets empowers my kiddos (many of whom are ELL) to read what they love and write the stories that they want to tell! And unlike average first graders midyear, they aren’t the least bit reliant on sight words to read and write, as they OWN the code!
My name is Renee McAnulty, and I am a first grade teacher at Cottonwood Elementary School in Hesperia California, and you may remember me from previous guest posts on Katie’s Blog.
Increasing Student Engagement with Persuasive Writing
I am that teacher who is constantly trying to come up with creative ways to get my kids completely engaged in our lessons. When it comes to teaching beginning readers and writers, the first (and most important) step is to ensure that they have the tools they need to read write with! And that’s not easy, given how little of the code (i.e. phonics skills) the average first grader has of the code at this point in first grade, as per the grade level scope and sequence in our reading series.
Add to that the constant pressure of trying to compete with video gaming, YouTube, high energy tv shows, etc., focusing students’ attention on reading and writing tasks can be challenging! My special recipe includes the “4C’s” — Creativity, Critical thinking, Collaboration , and Communication…. along with a “sprinkling” of Secrets! Combining all of these ingredients has completely transformed what reading and writing looks like in our classroom. We have actually become so strong in our abilities, that we sometimes have to use writing to get ourselves out of sticky situations, like the one that happened last week.
Before I explain the chaos, keep in mind that we are first graders, and as such, we have very BIG imaginations!
—We believe in magic. —We believe in fairies (and actually have one living in our classroom at the moment) —We believe in elves (and host an Elf-exchange program with the North Pole each December) —And we believe in leprechauns.
In fact, did you know that leprechauns are responsible for messing up classrooms all over the world? If you don’t believe me, Google it, as their mayhem is well-documented. This is why I had my munchkins create leprechaun traps. We even put on a “leprechaun exhibit” for the entire school to show off our creative traps, and to encourage others to do the same.
So, after making and setting our traps, we left them out overnight. When we returned to our classroom the next morning, it was pure chaos! The leprechauns had not only escaped from our traps, but they trashed our room, leaving us to clean up their mess…..and it was a BIG mess!
Still in shock, but with a full day of learning ahead of us and no time to waste, my little munchkins started cleaning the giant mess as fast as they could. Then, without any warnings, our principal entered the room (which I will admit, “may” have been pre-planned! ;-)
His face showed his shock….and his disappointment. How could these precious first graders, who love their school, treat their classroom like this? He was speechless. The kids immediately tried to explain what had happened, “We didn’t do it! It was the leprechauns!”
The look on his face said he was not buying it. (Our principal had some theatre training and is a very good actor!) The kids could tell that he was thinking, that WE really did this! They tried their best to explain, but to no avail.
Our principal is a very busy man, and he just doesn’t have time to listen to nonsense. However, despite his busy schedule, he is also very reasonable and very fair. So, he gives the kids their most important assignment to date, to explain to him, IN WRITING, why they are not responsible for the mess. If they can prove that the leprechauns were the real culprits by citing evidence and research, as well as the reasons that they believe that it was them who did this, then he might be convinced to believe us.
The kids wasted no time. They thanked him and then went to work cleaning the classroom. They un-flipped the tables, sharpened the pencils, and began writing.
Not Your Typical First Grade Writing
Now was not the time for, “How do you spell Leprechaun?” Our reputation was on the line! It’s moments likes this when basic kid-writing simply with simple sight words just will not do. We were not going to be able to convince our principal that we were innocent with: “I like leprechauns.” “Leprechauns are cool!” “I really really really like them.” “Leprechauns are fun!” Thankfully, we were armed with our Secret Stories and could write exactly what we wanted, no needed to say!
How incredible is that? We know how to write! In fact, our writing is being requested by our principal! Why? Because he can read it!
One of the many perks of kids knowing the letters’ “Secrets” is that they can not only read almost anything, they can write almost anything too! And so without any hesitation at all, the kids started to write….and write….and write.
Why did they write so much? Because they could, and because it was fun!
This awesome (albeit messy) writing adventure was the perfect mixture of play, passion and skills! It wasn’t just fun, it was exciting! Who would think that words like these would ever be used to describe a first grade writing assignment?!!
Our First Grade Persuasive Writing
When the last of the writers finished up, I sent our class reps to the office to schedule a meeting with Mr. Mauger so that we could read our letters and plead our case. It was just after lunch that he called us in. The kids gave him their letters and showed him some of the research they had done online.
Then he read all of our letters.
After some persuasive conversation, our principal finally said that he believed us. The kids were so relieved, and so very proud that they had once again written their way out of another sticky situation! (You can read about our trauma over Rocky, the school mascot, here !)
When we got back to our classroom, we sat down and chatted about everything that had happened. I told them how proud I was of them. “Munchkins, because you are officially readers and writers! You wrote exactly what you wanted to say, and didn’t even have to ask me how to spell anything! You had the power and the confidence to write your own thoughts down on paper!” (A quick side note here— If you use Secret Stories, but don’t know about/use the “Zoo Keepers & M&M” strategy, you need to watch this and then download it NOW ! It’s free, and really help kids understand that they must “capture” as many letters (and Secrets!) that they hear in the words they are trying to write. It’s a great tool for ensuring Secret Stories skill-transfer to writing. It also makes beginning writing much easier to read, and to enjoy! You can read more about writing with Secret Stories here .)
Download the FREE “Zoo Keeper/M&M Quizzes” Pack
You might be thinking that such a huge production for a silly little writing lesson is unnecessary. And sure, I could have just passed out a worksheet with a couple of leprechauns on it and a few lines for writing, while listening to the sighs and moans as I explained what the writing topic was and how many sentences they “had to write” in order to be “done.”
The whole lesson probably would have taken no more than twenty minutes and then we could have moved on to something else….all the while keeping our classroom neat and clean! But where is the fun in that?
The truth is that by next year, these kids won’t even remember learning to read and write, just like they don’t remember how they learned to walk and talk. These are tasks that they perform automatically with no effort at all.
Reading and Writing Fluency
And this is my goal for them as readers and writers—that every day, they will become more fluent! They may not recall the actual learning process, but they will never forget the day that a crazed group of leprechauns tore up their classroom, and how they had to rely on their writing abilities to persuade the principal that they were innocent of the crime!
The Importance of Play in Learning
I hope you enjoyed this peek into our first grade persuasive writing adventure, and I hope it inspires you to infuse more “play” into reading and writing activities in your own classroom!
Secret Stories is the missing piece to our “1,000 piece” puzzle! Weaving “play” into literacy learning is so critical at the early grade levels, and Secret Stories transforms every reading and writing experience into a virtual playground! The Secrets are are play as far as kids are concerned! They can’t stop talking about them and actively “hunt” for them in words throughout the day. They role-play their sound behaviors to get the sounds/spellings they need to read/write.
This may sound odd to those who don’t use the Secrets, but it almost feels like my class and I are on an endless vacation of reading and writing adventures! I say “vacation” because we’ve long since surpassed all of our “required” first grade reading level objectives—with most of the kids reading (and writing) far above grade level, and those who would normally struggle, performing strongly on-grade level.
Our little first grade classroom has become a reading and writing playground where deep learning and critical thinking opportunities abound! (I actually saw a video clip of a kindergarten teacher trying to explain the same thing, and it’s exactly the way that I feel.)
When kids know the Secrets, they “own the code” and have everything they need to read and write what they want. And this is so important, as standard curriculum leaves so many holes. Before I started using Secret Stories, my first graders struggled to read and write anything, aside from the sight words they had memorized.
Teachers need tools, and so do kids! It drives me crazy when I hear teachers who are struggling to teach their kids their kids to read that they “don’t have time for one more thing!”
The Secrets aren’t one more thing . They are EVERYTHING that kids need to read and write, and everything that teachers need to teach them how to do it. They answer all of the questions about why letters make the sounds that they do when “jump off our alphabet chart and into the real words” that we see every day.
Kids can’t help but ask “Why?” anytime they spot Secrets in a word they cannot read. They literally “beg” to hear them, and this is when you realize that you are no longer driving the learning train. The kids are. They have taken over and are seated squarely in the driver’s seat and leading the way in their own learning!
We have time to relax and take literacy lessons to new heights that were never possible before in first grade. I know I sound like a broken record when I say that I cannot imagine teaching in a world without Secret Stories, and when I look back, I honestly have no idea how I ever did.
Renee McAnulty (a.k.a.”Mrs. Mac’s Munchkins”)
PS I wanted to share a quick “techie-tool” that we use to tie in our technology component, called Flipgrid . The kids recorded themselves reading their letters to Mr. Mauger, and then he recorded his response. The kids love it, and we can even share the links with our parents!
And here is a rough screen recording of one of my littles reading her letter to Mr. Mauger along with his response. (The sound isn’t great, as the kids were all recording at the same time and so there is a lot of background noise.)
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Persuasive writing is a form of nonfiction writing that encourages careful word choice, the development of logical arguments, and a cohesive summary. Young children can be guided through a series of simple steps in an effort to develop their persuasive writing skills.
Appropriate group size, why teach persuasive writing.
As children mature as writers, it’s important to give them the opportunity to write using a variety of formats. Persuasive writing helps students formulate specific reasons for their opinions, and provides an opportunity to research facts related to their opinions. As students develop an understanding of how writing can influence or change another’s thoughts or actions, they can begin to understand the persuasive nature of the marketing they are exposed to through television, the Internet, and other media.
How to teach persuasive writing
- Have students listen to or read examples of persuasive writing. Together, listen and look for words, phrases and techniques that helped the writer persuade the listener.
- Brainstorm something that is important to an individual child or the group. Is it extra recess? Another chapter of the read aloud? The potential closing of a library? The more authentic the issue, the more passionately your students will write.
- Once the important privilege is chosen, have the child (or class) start to list reasons why they should be allowed this privilege. “Just because,” and “because I like it” should not be considered valid reasons. Students can work together to generate at least three good reasons to support an argument. This list of persuasive words and phrases from the site Teaching Ideas may help get students started.
- Have students do some research to gather facts or examples that support their reasons.
- Have students summarize their position.
Here’s a persuasive letter written by an elementary school student from Crozet, VA:
Watch: Bubble gum letters
Create an authentic writing opportunity that motivates students to write persuasive letters to a target audience. (From the Balanced Literacy Diet : Putting Research into Practice in the Classroom)
This persuasive writing lesson (opens in a new window) from ReadWriteThink uses the Beverly Cleary book Emily’s Runaway Imagination as the springboard for kids to write letters to a librarian urging the addition of certain titles to the library. A Persuasion Map Planning Sheet guides students through steps similar to what is described above.
This resource shows the lifecycle of writing a persuasive letter to a child’s parents about where to vacation for the summer. The PDF begins with the brainstorming, moves through drafting, editing, and publishing of the final letter.
From Writing Fix, here’s a speech writing lesson (opens in a new window) that uses the mentor text Otto Runs for President in conjunction with the RAFT strategy. In this lesson, students assume to the role of a talking fruit or vegetable. Pretending that there’s a “Fruit/Vegetable of the Year” election, the students will create a campaign speech that explains why their fruit/veggie is the best candidate for the job.
For second language learners, students of varying reading skill, and younger learners.
- Have students work in small groups to generate their ideas and do the research.
- Offer various suggestions for how students can share their argument: e.g., a debate format, a “soapbox” in the classroom, or letters to the editor of the newspaper.
See the research that supports this strategy
Wollman-Bonilla, J. (2000). Family message journals: Teaching writing through family involvement . Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.
Children’s books to use with this strategy
Martin Luther King Jr. grew up fascinated by big words. He would later go on to use these words to inspire a nation and call people to action. In this award-winning book, powerful portraits of King show how he used words, not weapons, to fight injustice.
Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Farmer Brown has his hands full when the cows on his farm get a typewriter. Duck, however, negotiates successfully for all parties in this very funny farm story of very clever animals. Be prepared to talk about typewriters or take a trip to a museum to see one!
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type
This is the story of librarian Pura Belpré, told through the eyes of two young children who are introduced to the library and its treasures just before Christmas. Lulu Delacre’s lovely illustrations evoke New York City at the time of the Great Depression, as well as the close-knit and vibrant Puerto Rican community that was thriving in El Barrio during this time. Bilingual Spanish-English text.
The Storyteller’s Candle
How Oliver Olsen Changed the World
Otto Runs for President
Emily Bartlett lives in an old farmhouse in Pitchfork, Oregon at a time when automobiles are brand-new inventions and libraries are a rare luxury. Can Emily use her lively mind to help bring a library to Pitchfork? ReadWriteThink (opens in a new window) offers a persuasive writing lesson plan featuring this book.
Emily’s Runaway Imagination
Liked it share it, topics this strategy is especially helpful for.
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Susan Jones Teaching
How to Teach Persuasive Writing in K-2
Susan Jones January 10, 2021 2 Comments
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If you are wondering how to teach persuasive writing in kindergarten, first grade, or second grade, then this blog post is for you! I have three easy tips I am going to share with you that will help you and your students.
Before I dive in, I want to clarify two little things. First, when I teach students how to write persuasive pieces, I have already taught them how to write an opinion and provide some reasons. I like to teach students what an opinion is, how to share it, and provide reasons for it using a unit like this one: opinion writing unit , before asking them to persuade someone! Second, when teaching persuasive writing to my youngest students, I like to do this through letters. I find that when we can identify a real audience and write them a letter, students can think of better ways to persuade them. Okay, let’s dive into the three tips.
If you want to watch/listen to this content, feel free to press play on my YouTube video below where I share all the same information! While you are there, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to see all my teaching videos:
To read the three tips, just keep scrolling!
Tip 1: Use Mentor Texts
These books are specifically for persuasive writing and one of my absolute favorites is Can I Be Your Dog? by Troy Cummings. In this book, a little dog named Arfy writes letters to different people to try and get them to adopt him. I particularly like this book because based on his audience, he uses different reasons to persuade. This is something we talk about in one of the later tips as well!
Another text I love to use to showcase persuasive letters is I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff. This is a popular one! In this book, a little boy named Alex writes letters to his mom trying to persuade her to let him have a pet iguana. The entire book is written back and forth with letters between Alex and his mother and each letter provides reasons why he should or shouldn’t be allowed to own a pet iguana. This one is also fun because in the end, (spoiler alert) Alex ends up getting the iguana he wanted! This shows students the power of persuasion and lets the dream of something they really want and come up with ways to get it.
The last mentor text I want to share is a different one. This is one I use at the end of our unit. It is called, Olivia’s Birds: Saving the Gulf and it is written by an 11-year old girl named Oliva Bouler. When I teach persuasive writing in a K-2 classroom, our letters tend to be pretty self-serving. This isn’t a bad thing at all! In fact, that’s why writing the letters can be so much fun – to try and get what we want. This text, however, lets students see how powerful our words can be and how we can try to persuade people to make the world a better place.
In Olivia’s Birds , the author shares all sorts of interesting facts about different birds with her illustrations and how some human acts are destroying the birds’ habitats. In the end, she writes a persuasive letter to the Audubon Society and ends up single-handedly raising over $150,000 to help her cause! I love this book because it is inspiring and gets students thinking of ways they can change the world with their voices!
Please note: all books shown above are Amazon affiliate links
After we read Olivia’s Birds, we can use her ideas as an extension to write our own class book. Here are some of the ideas we use to brainstorm our own class persuasive letter:
Tip 2: Have your students Identify Persuasion in a Mentor Text
When using mentor texts, not only do I like to have students see persuasive writing in action, but I like to have them identify the persuasion in the texts. We do this using a think-aloud sheet like shown below.
As we read one of the mentor texts, we identify what the character wants, who the audience is, and then some of the reasons the character uses to persuade their audience. When doing this, I model this think-aloud with the class first and I use some student input as we gather reasons to persuade. I like having students walk through this process before we actually write our letters because it gets them used to brainstorming what they want, their audience, and some reasons to persuade. I also like this sheet because we can use it over and over again with different mentor texts!
You can grab this think-aloud sheet FREE here >> Persuasive Writing Activity and try it out in your own classroom!
Tip 3: Connect Reasons to their Audience
Unlike when we write opinions and share our reasons for them, persuasive writing has us making our reasons more personal. If we are trying to persuade someone, we need to think more in-depth about our audience! When doing this, I love to use a think-aloud and the mentor text, Can I Be Your Dog? which was shown above. Using a chart like shown below, we think about the different reasons Arfy uses to persuade his different audiences.
As we re-read the mentor text, we talk about how Arfy uses different reasons to persuade the people in the yellow house than the reasons he uses to persuade the fire station. This gets students not just thinking about what THEY want, but also how THEIR AUDIENCE could be persuaded!
I re-emphasize this as I model planning out my own persuasive letter to my principal! I like to use a fun example. I explain that when I speak to my son, I might use “baby voice” but I wouldn’t use that same baby voice with my boss! We need to speak differently and think of reasons that connect with each of our own audiences in order to effectively persuade them.
Those are the 3 tips I have to help you teach your students write persuasive letters! If you have other mentor texts or ideas that you love using with your kindergarten, first grade, or second-grade students, please drop them in the comments!
If you want to see more videos with ideas for teaching writing in a K-2 classroom, just click my writing workshop playlist below:
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July 18, 2021 at 2:54 pm
Very useful lessons of writing Thank you
October 1, 2021 at 9:06 pm
I just finished watching your first writing video and found it very educational. I have recently started to homeschool my fourth-grade son. I am noticing he finds it very difficult to think of information to write when he is writing from a prompt or a book. I am thinking about starting at a lower level of writing perhaps maybe first grade or kindergarten in order to build his writing confidence. I am open to any suggestions, please.
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Welcome to Susan Jones Teaching. When it comes to the primary grades, learning *All Things* in the K-2 world has been my passion for many years! I just finished my M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction and love sharing all the latest and greatest strategies I learn with you through this blog and my YouTube channel! I hope you'll enjoy learning along with me :)
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Can You Convince Me? Developing Persuasive Writing
- Resources & Preparation
- Instructional Plan
- Related Resources
Persuasive writing is an important skill that can seem intimidating to elementary students. This lesson encourages students to use skills and knowledge they may not realize they already have. A classroom game introduces students to the basic concepts of lobbying for something that is important to them (or that they want) and making persuasive arguments. Students then choose their own persuasive piece to analyze and learn some of the definitions associated with persuasive writing. Once students become aware of the techniques used in oral arguments, they then apply them to independent persuasive writing activities and analyze the work of others to see if it contains effective persuasive techniques.
From theory to practice.
- Students can discover for themselves how much they already know about constructing persuasive arguments by participating in an exercise that is not intimidating.
- Progressing from spoken to written arguments will help students become better readers of persuasive texts.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
- 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
Materials and Technology
- Computers with Internet access
- LCD projector (optional)
- Chart paper or chalkboard
- Sticky notes
- Persuasive Strategy Presentation
- Persuasion Is All Around You
- Persuasive Strategy Definitions
- Check the Strategies
- Check the Strategy
- Observations and Notes
- Persuasive Writing Assessment
- Work in cooperative groups to brainstorm ideas and organize them into a cohesive argument to be presented to the class
- Gain knowledge of the different strategies that are used in effective persuasive writing
- Use a graphic organizer to help them begin organizing their ideas into written form
- Apply what they have learned to write a persuasive piece that expresses their stance and reasoning in a clear, logical sequence
- Develop oral presentation skills by presenting their persuasive writing pieces to the class
- Analyze the work of others to see if it contains effective persuasive techniques
Session 1: The Game of Persuasion
Home/School Connection: Distribute Persuasion Is All Around You . Students are to find an example of a persuasive piece from the newspaper, television, radio, magazine, or billboards around town and be ready to report back to class during Session 2. Provide a selection of magazines or newspapers with advertisements for students who may not have materials at home. For English-language learners (ELLs), it may be helpful to show examples of advertisements and articles in newspapers and magazines.
Session 2: Analysis of an Argument
Home/School Connection: Ask students to revisit their persuasive piece from Persuasion Is All Around You . This time they will use Check the Strategies to look for the persuasive strategies that the creator of the piece incorporated. Check for understanding with your ELLs and any special needs students. It may be helpful for them to talk through their persuasive piece with you or a peer before taking it home for homework. Arrange a time for any student who may not have the opportunity to complete assignments outside of school to work with you, a volunteer, or another adult at school on the assignment.
Session 3: Persuasive Writing
Session 4: presenting the persuasive writing.
- Endangered Species: Persuasive Writing offers a way to integrate science with persuasive writing. Have students pretend that they are reporters and have to convince people to think the way they do. Have them pick issues related to endangered species, use the Persuasion Map as a prewriting exercise, and write essays trying to convince others of their points of view. In addition, the lesson “Persuasive Essay: Environmental Issues” can be adapted for your students as part of this exercise.
- Have students write persuasive arguments for a special class event, such as an educational field trip or an in-class educational movie. Reward the class by arranging for the class event suggested in one of the essays.
Student Assessment / Reflections
- Compare your Observations and Notes from Session 4 and Session 1 to see if students understand the persuasive strategies, use any new persuasive strategies, seem to be overusing a strategy, or need more practice refining the use of a strategy. Offer them guidance and practice as needed.
- Collect both homework assignments and the Check the Strategy sheets and assess how well students understand the different elements of persuasive writing and how they are applied.
- Collect students’ Persuasion Maps and use them and your discussions during conferences to see how well students understand how to use the persuasive strategies and are able to plan their essays. You want to look also at how well they are able to make changes from the map to their finished essays.
- Use the Persuasive Writing Assessment to evaluate the essays students wrote during Session 3.
- Calendar Activities
- Strategy Guides
- Lesson Plans
- Student Interactives
The Persuasion Map is an interactive graphic organizer that enables students to map out their arguments for a persuasive essay or debate.
This interactive tool allows students to create Venn diagrams that contain two or three overlapping circles, enabling them to organize their information logically.
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- Kindergarten K
Persuasive Writing Unit of Study
This free persuasive writing unit of study is designed to fit into your 1st, 2nd or 3rd grade writing workshop.
Download this persuasive writing unit of study to help you plan an engaging and effective unit in your classroom.
This unit contains anchor charts, graphic organizers and lessons to help you create the perfect unit for your students.
This is another free resource for teachers and homeschool families from The Curriculum Corner.
This persuasive writing unit of study is just what you need to make your planning easier.
Within this newly updated unit, you will find both colorful and black and white anchor charts. This will help you conserve color ink if needed.
The unit contains anchor charts, graphic organizers & more. All resources are provided in a single PDF download.
What is persuasive writing?
Persuasive writing can be an important part of the primary writing curriculum. It encourages students to use their opinions and knowledge to influence others.
Persuasive writing can be thought of as extension of opinion writing. It differs in that the author’s opinion is followed by reasons for the opinion along with an attempt to persuade the reader.
This unit on teaching children to write persuasive pieces was designed with second grade in mind. However, you will find many mini-lessons that can be used for other grade levels.
This unit was written with the help of Cathy’s student teachers (Joel Larrison, Kellie Wood and Amanda Rush.)
A writing workshop typically begins with a 10 to 15 minutes mini-lesson.
Some of the ideas for lessons below could run beyond the 15 minutes. Because of this, you might choose to spread some of the lessons over multiple days.
You will want to reinforce some of your mini-lessons with reviews or follow-ups as needed. The types of writing being done by students will often times require more than one day to complete.
Persuasive Writing Mini-Lessons
- The first two days of this unit are designed to expose children to different types of persuasive writing. It is important to have a good stack of mentor texts so children can explore the unique features of this type of writing. This stack is different than other mentor stacks you might have created for other units because not all of your texts will be books. You can add book & movie reviews and other types of persuasive writing that fit.
- We start many of our units by having our students “notice” various things about certain types of texts.
- In this case give small groups of two or three students two mentor texts.
- Then provide post-it notes and ask them to “notice” features of the writing by recording their observations on the post-its. You may also choose to use our Group Noticings graphic organizer.
- After students have time to explore, gather them together and share their observations. Discuss the texts and their similarities.
- You can use the blank chart so that you can create your own anchor chart with your students. You will find an already completed anchor chart to help you start.
What is Persuasion?
- Read aloud the book I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff.
- After reading, discuss the term “persuade” and what it means. Talk about how the main character in the story is trying to persuade another character in some way.
- Use the Persuasive Text Story Map to show what is happening in the book. After completing the story map, discuss the Persuasive Writing Anchor Chart.
Choosing Persuasive Language
- Younger students often need help choosing the correct persuasive language.
- A lesson where you create an anchor chart with powerful word choices for this type of writing can be helpful. We have an anchor chart with some possibilities you can introduce. Your students might also think of new words to add to it.
Supporting Our Opinions
- Read the book aloud and then complete the Persuasive Text Story Map (same as from lesson 2) as a class.
- Next, give the students a chance to create their own supporting details for a persuasive piece. Together, choose a topic of high interest. Perhaps it could be “Why the class should have a longer recess” or “Why teachers should give less homework”.
- Fill out the Persuasive Planner with the class to help guide children in creating strong supporting details for the opinion topic.
- Doing this will also give the students a model for planning when they begin to create their own opinion pieces.
Writing a Persuasive Paragraph
- Model how to write a persuasive paragraph using the Persuasive Planner the class created in lesson 4.
- You can show and discuss the Opinion Sentence Starters anchor chart and use it to help you begin your writing in front of the class.
- Be sure to “think aloud” as you write in front of the class. This will help them understand how you are using your planner and making writing choices as you go.
- Next, show the students the list of 16 persuasive writing topics provided. You can have each choose their own topic from the list of ideas (or think of a new one).
- Pass out Persuasive Writing Planners to everyone. Students can begin by writing their opinion topic at the top, and thinking of three supporting details to add below. Once students have completed their planner, they can begin to write their own persuasive paragraph. This is where the previous modeling comes in handy! You will find a lined page in the download for students to use. Some students might need more guidance so be sure to conference with students during independent writing.
Introduction to Persuasive Letters
- For this lesson it is best to read aloud a book that has persuasive letters within the story itself.
- Discuss with students what the animals want in the book and the supporting arguments they give.
- As a class, pick a topic that students could use to write a letter. They might write to the principal, cafe manager or other important adult in the building.
- Write a class letter trying to persuade the adult of the class’ opinion. (A letter writing template has been provided if you wish to use it.)
- For example, students might try to argue that they should be allowed to watch a movie because of their hard work and good behavior. Another idea is persuading the cafe that they should serve a new favorite food.
- As the class participates in this guided writing activity, be sure to point out punctuation that letters should have.
Writing a Persuasive Letter
- Begin this lesson by gathering students to reread and discuss the letter that was written in lesson 6.
- Once again, emphasize the importance of supporting their opinions with details. Also remember to review punctuation.
- Next begin brainstorming topics and audiences to whom they might write a persuasive letter.
- As students are thinking, briefly meet with each one to discuss what topic and audience they choose to write for. They should be working to complete the Persuasive Writing Planner.
- As they finish their planners, have students meet with peers to talk about their supporting opinions before they begin to write their actual letters.
- We have provided a simple letter template if you would like for your students to use one.
Introduction to Commercials & Ads
- Your students will probably love this lesson! Start by sharing some of your favorite commercials with your class from your computer screen, SmartBoard, or tablets.
- After each commercial, discuss what was being advertised, as well as one fact and one opinion from each commercial.
- Discuss the purpose of commercials and ads – to persuade people to purchase a product or service. Emphasize that commercials and ads are most definitely a form of persuasive writing in our every day life.
- We have created a recording page, Finding Facts & Opinions in Commercials” to accompany this lesson. Students can record their ideas as they work if you would like.
Planning a Class Commercial & Ad
- For this lesson you will need to bring in a product that you think the students will enjoy creating a commercial and advertisement for. (The crazier the product the more fun the class will have!)
- Show your students the product and discuss its characteristics and strengths.
- Together fill out the Commercial Advertisement Planning pages to fit the specifics of the product you brought in.
- We have provided two types of planners for each one so that you can choose which works best.
- These will serve as the model for students to plan their own commercials or advertisements in the next lesson.
Writing Individual Commercials or Ads
- Using the planning pages from lesson 9, model for or explain to the students how you would like them to write their own commercials or design their advertisements.
- Refer back to the Words for Persuasive Writing anchor chart to remind students of persuasive language they will can use in their writing. Also be sure to include specifics about opinions and facts within the advertisements that you want them to include.
- Then, have students choose one form of persuasive writing they would like to do – a commercial or an advertisement. You might even decide to have them work with partners.
- Have students brainstorm products (or give them an extra day to bring something in) and fill out their respective planners.
- We have created pages where students can draft a commercial script and/or design an ad. After a few days of writing and working, have students act out their commercials or create a hallway display of the advertisements they create.
- Discuss the persuasive nature of the ads and point out the facts and opinions contained in each.
Introduction to Writing a Book Review
- Another form of persuasive writing is a book review. Students will attempt to persuade their peers to read a particular book they have enjoyed.
- First spend some time reading book reviews as a class. You will find some great examples (mentor texts) of book reviews here: Spaghetti Book Reviews .
- Read some aloud with the entire class and also provide some time for students to read a few with partners. Gather students to discuss the purpose of a book review – persuading others to read or not to read a particular book.
- Spend time discussing the importance of providing strong opinions and reasons so that the piece will truly persuade the reader.
Writing a Class Book Review
- Use a book that you have already read aloud to the class to model for students how to fill out the Book Review Planner.
- Once the class has completed the planner together, model how you would like for them to format their actual book reviews.
- There are many formats that book reviews can take – written reports, brochures, posters…even the commercials and ads your students learned in the previous lessons.
- You make the decision on the format for the book reviews based on the standards you are teaching. If you choose a writing-only format, we have several different styles of papers to choose from at the end of the download.
- Again, be sure to “think aloud” as you are writing so students know what to include and why it is important. This also allows you to model good grammar, punctuation and other rules (book titles, indenting, etc).
Writing Individual Book Reviews
- Students now have the tools and knowledge to write their own book reviews.
- After choosing and reading a book they would like to write a review on, have students fill out Book Review Planners.
- You may want to choose one format for all of the students to use to write their reviews. Or you can show several options (models) and let students use their own creativity to write the book review.
We always suggest some type of writing celebration at the ends of writing units of study. The celebration for the persuasive writing unit can simply be a gathering of people for students to share their writing with. Or, you could have students present their commercials, ads and book reviews. The intent is to make students feel proud of their learning and the writing process.
You can download this free unit of study here:
Writing Unit Download
Below we have included links to our favorite books to use when teaching a persuasive writing unit of study (contains affiliate links)
Looking for other free resources to add to your study? Try these:
As with all of our resources, The Curriculum Corner creates these for free classroom use. Our products may not be sold. You may print and copy for your personal classroom use. These are also great for home school families!
You may not modify and resell in any form. Please let us know if you have any questions.
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Friday 27th of May 2016
I love it~ do you think this will be appropriate for 3rd grade?
Jill & Cathy
Tuesday 31st of May 2016
Hi Kathy! We try to create most of our resources so that they can be adapted for the range of grades the website is intended to address, so our immediate answer is yes, but of course it will depend on your particular students and their capabilities - as with all of our resources. Hope you are able to use some of the persuasive unit ideas & resources in your 3rd grade class! If you have other ideas, don't hesitate to email us!
Sunday 1st of November 2015
Your site is amazing! I could spend the entire week on this site and still not get through all the amazing units! I am currently working on Persuasive writing with my students and your resources have been beneficial. Unfortunately I am unable to see the list of mentor texts that you mentioned were at the bottom of the page. All I can see is an advertisement. Any possible way you can send me your list of texts? Thank you!
Monday 8th of February 2016
Hi Lou! We had some troubles with Amazon links, but are working on getting them all fixed. If you click on the book titles within the post text it should take you to the Amazon links of the books we suggest. Sorry about that!
4th Grade Emergency Sub Plans
Friday 13th of February 2015
[…] so you can write in your own prompt. (You will find additional persuasive writing resources here: Persuasive Writing Unit of Study. This post includes an anchor chart and list of words used in persuasive […]
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35 Strong Persuasive Writing Examples (Speeches, Essays, Ads, and More)
Learn from the experts.
The more we read, the better writers we become. Teaching students to write strong persuasive essays should always start with reading some top-notch models. This round-up of persuasive writing examples includes famous speeches, influential ad campaigns, contemporary reviews of famous books, and more. Use them to inspire your students to write their own essays. (Need persuasive essay topics? Check out our list of 60 interesting ideas here! )
- Persuasive Speeches
- Advertising Campaigns
- Persuasive Essays
Persuasive Speech Writing Examples
Many persuasive speeches are political in nature, often addressing subjects like human rights. Here are some of history’s most well-known persuasive writing examples in the form of speeches.
I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Sample lines: “And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
Woodrow Wilson’s War Message to Congress, 1917
Sample lines: “There are, it may be, many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts—for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free.”
Chief Seattle’s 1854 Oration
Sample lines: “I here and now make this condition that we will not be denied the privilege without molestation of visiting at any time the tombs of our ancestors, friends, and children. Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as they swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people, and the very dust upon which you now stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch.”
Women’s Rights Are Human Rights, Hillary Rodham Clinton
Sample lines: “What we are learning around the world is that if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish. And when families flourish, communities and nations do as well. … If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all.”
I Am Prepared to Die, Nelson Mandela
Sample lines: “Above all, My Lord, we want equal political rights, because without them our disabilities will be permanent. I know this sounds revolutionary to the whites in this country, because the majority of voters will be Africans. This makes the white man fear democracy. But this fear cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the only solution which will guarantee racial harmony and freedom for all. It is not true that the enfranchisement of all will result in racial domination. Political division, based on color, is entirely artificial and, when it disappears, so will the domination of one color group by another. … This then is what the ANC is fighting. Our struggle is a truly national one. It is a struggle of the African people, inspired by our own suffering and our own experience. It is a struggle for the right to live.”
The Struggle for Human Rights by Eleanor Roosevelt
Sample lines: “It is my belief, and I am sure it is also yours, that the struggle for democracy and freedom is a critical struggle, for their preservation is essential to the great objective of the United Nations to maintain international peace and security. Among free men the end cannot justify the means. We know the patterns of totalitarianism—the single political party, the control of schools, press, radio, the arts, the sciences, and the church to support autocratic authority; these are the age-old patterns against which men have struggled for 3,000 years. These are the signs of reaction, retreat, and retrogression. The United Nations must hold fast to the heritage of freedom won by the struggle of its people; it must help us to pass it on to generations to come.”
Freedom From Fear by Aung San Suu Kyi
Sample lines: “Saints, it has been said, are the sinners who go on trying. So free men are the oppressed who go on trying and who in the process make themselves fit to bear the responsibilities and to uphold the disciplines which will maintain a free society. Among the basic freedoms to which men aspire that their lives might be full and uncramped, freedom from fear stands out as both a means and an end. A people who would build a nation in which strong, democratic institutions are firmly established as a guarantee against state-induced power must first learn to liberate their own minds from apathy and fear.”
Harvey Milk’s “The Hope” Speech
Sample lines: “Some people are satisfied. And some people are not. You see there is a major difference—and it remains a vital difference—between a friend and a gay person, a friend in office and a gay person in office. Gay people have been slandered nationwide. We’ve been tarred and we’ve been brushed with the picture of pornography. In Dade County, we were accused of child molestation. It is not enough anymore just to have friends represent us, no matter how good that friend may be.”
The Strike and the Union, Cesar Chavez
Sample lines: “We are showing our unity in our strike. Our strike is stopping the work in the fields; our strike is stopping ships that would carry grapes; our strike is stopping the trucks that would carry the grapes. Our strike will stop every way the grower makes money until we have a union contract that guarantees us a fair share of the money he makes from our work! We are a union and we are strong and we are striking to force the growers to respect our strength!”
Nobel Lecture by Malala Yousafzai
Sample lines: “The world can no longer accept that basic education is enough. Why do leaders accept that for children in developing countries, only basic literacy is sufficient, when their own children do homework in algebra, mathematics, science, and physics? Leaders must seize this opportunity to guarantee a free, quality, primary and secondary education for every child. Some will say this is impractical, or too expensive, or too hard. Or maybe even impossible. But it is time the world thinks bigger.”
Persuasive Writing Examples in Advertising Campaigns
Ads are prime persuasive writing examples. You can flip open any magazine or watch TV for an hour or two to see sample after sample of persuasive language. Here are some of the most popular ad campaigns of all time, with links to articles explaining why they were so successful.
Nike: Just Do It
The iconic swoosh with the simple tagline has persuaded millions to buy their kicks from Nike and Nike alone. Teamed with pro sports star endorsements, this campaign is one for the ages. Blinkist offers an opinion on what made it work.
Dove: Real Beauty
Beauty brand Dove changed the game by choosing “real” women to tell their stories instead of models. They used relatable images and language to make connections, and inspired other brands to try the same concept. Learn why Global Brands considers this one a true success story.
Wendy’s: Where’s the Beef?
Today’s kids are too young to remember the cranky old woman demanding to know where the beef was on her fast-food hamburger. But in the 1980s, it was a catchphrase that sold millions of Wendy’s burgers. Learn from Better Marketing how this ad campaign even found its way into the 1984 presidential debate.
De Beers: A Diamond Is Forever
A diamond engagement ring has become a standard these days, but the tradition isn’t as old as you might think. In fact, it was De Beers jewelry company’s 1948 campaign that created the modern engagement ring trend. The Drum has the whole story of this sparkling campaign.
Volkswagen: Think Small
Americans have always loved big cars. So in the 1960s, when Volkswagen wanted to introduce their small cars to a bigger market, they had a problem. The clever “Think Small” campaign gave buyers clever reasons to consider these models, like “If you run out of gas, it’s easy to push.” Learn how advertisers interested American buyers in little cars at Visual Rhetoric.
American Express: Don’t Leave Home Without It
AmEx was once better known for traveler’s checks than credit cards, and the original slogan was “Don’t leave home without them.” A simple word change convinced travelers that American Express was the credit card they needed when they headed out on adventures. Discover more about this persuasive campaign from Medium.
Skittles: Taste the Rainbow
These candy ads are weird and intriguing and probably not for everyone. But they definitely get you thinking, and that often leads to buying. Learn more about why these wacky ads are successful from The Drum.
Maybelline: Maybe She’s Born With It
Smart wordplay made this ad campaign slogan an instant hit. The ads teased, “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline.” (So many literary devices all in one phrase!) Fashionista has more on this beauty campaign.
Coca-Cola: Share a Coke
Seeing their own name on a bottle made teens more likely to want to buy a Coke. What can that teach us about persuasive writing in general? It’s an interesting question to consider. Learn more about the “Share a Coke” campaign from Digital Vidya.
Talk about the power of words! This Always campaign turned the derogatory phrase “like a girl” on its head, and the world embraced it. Storytelling is an important part of persuasive writing, and these ads really do it well. Medium has more on this stereotype-bashing campaign.
Editorial Persuasive Writing Examples
Source: New York Daily News
Newspaper editors or publishers use editorials to share their personal opinions. Noted politicians, experts, or pundits may also offer their opinions on behalf of the editors or publishers. Here are a couple of older well-known editorials, along with a selection from current newspapers.
Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus (1897)
Sample lines: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.”
What’s the Matter With Kansas? (1896)
Sample lines: “Oh, this IS a state to be proud of! We are a people who can hold up our heads! What we need is not more money, but less capital, fewer white shirts and brains, fewer men with business judgment, and more of those fellows who boast that they are ‘just ordinary clodhoppers, but they know more in a minute about finance than John Sherman,’ we need more men … who hate prosperity, and who think, because a man believes in national honor, he is a tool of Wall Street.”
America Can Have Democracy or Political Violence. Not Both. (The New York Times)
Sample lines: “The nation is not powerless to stop a slide toward deadly chaos. If institutions and individuals do more to make it unacceptable in American public life, organized violence in the service of political objectives can still be pushed to the fringes. When a faction of one of the country’s two main political parties embraces extremism, that makes thwarting it both more difficult and more necessary. A well-functioning democracy demands it.”
The Booster Isn’t Perfect, But Still Can Help Against COVID (The Washington Post)
Sample lines: “The booster shots are still free, readily available and work better than the previous boosters even as the virus evolves. Much still needs to be done to build better vaccines that protect longer and against more variants, including those that might emerge in the future. But it is worth grabbing the booster that exists today, the jab being a small price for any measure that can help keep COVID at bay.”
If We Want Wildlife to Thrive in L.A., We Have To Share Our Neighborhoods With Them (Los Angeles Times)
Sample lines: “If there are no corridors for wildlife movement and if excessive excavation of dirt to build bigger, taller houses erodes the slope of a hillside, then we are slowly destroying wildlife habitat. For those people fretting about what this will do to their property values—isn’t open space, trees, and wildlife an amenity in these communities?”
Persuasive Review Writing Examples
Source: The New York Times
Book or movie reviews are more great persuasive writing examples. Look for those written by professionals for the strongest arguments and writing styles. Here are reviews of some popular books and movies by well-known critics to use as samples.
The Great Gatsby (The Chicago Tribune, 1925)
Sample lines: “What ails it, fundamentally, is the plain fact that it is simply a story—that Fitzgerald seems to be far more interested in maintaining its suspense than in getting under the skins of its people. It is not that they are false: It is that they are taken too much for granted. Only Gatsby himself genuinely lives and breathes. The rest are mere marionettes—often astonishingly lifelike, but nevertheless not quite alive.”
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Washington Post, 1999)
Sample lines: “Obviously, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone should make any modern 11-year-old a very happy reader. The novel moves quickly, packs in everything from a boa constrictor that winks to a melancholy Zen-spouting centaur to an owl postal system, and ends with a scary surprise. Yet it is, essentially, a light-hearted thriller, interrupted by occasional seriousness (the implications of Harry’s miserable childhood, a moral about the power of love).”
Twilight (The Telegraph, 2009)
Sample lines: “No secret, of course, at whom this book is aimed, and no doubt, either, that it has hit its mark. The four Twilight novels are not so much enjoyed, as devoured, by legions of young female fans worldwide. That’s not to say boys can’t enjoy these books; it’s just that the pages of heart-searching dialogue between Edward and Bella may prove too long on chat and too short on action for the average male reader.”
To Kill a Mockingbird (Time, 1960)
Sample lines: “Author Lee, 34, an Alabaman, has written her first novel with all of the tactile brilliance and none of the preciosity generally supposed to be standard swamp-warfare issue for Southern writers. The novel is an account of an awakening to good and evil, and a faint catechistic flavor may have been inevitable. But it is faint indeed; novelist Lee’s prose has an edge that cuts through cant, and she teaches the reader an astonishing number of useful truths about little girls and about Southern life.”
The Diary of Anne Frank (The New York Times, 1952)
Sample lines: “And this quality brings it home to any family in the world today. Just as the Franks lived in momentary fear of the Gestapo’s knock on their hidden door, so every family today lives in fear of the knock of war. Anne’s diary is a great affirmative answer to the life-question of today, for she shows how ordinary people, within this ordeal, consistently hold to the greater human values.”
Persuasive Essay Writing Examples
From the earliest days of print, authors have used persuasive essays to try to sway others to their own point of view. Check out these top examples.
The American Crisis by Thomas Paine
Sample lines: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.”
Politics and the English Language by George Orwell
Sample lines: “As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug.”
Letter From a Birmingham Jail by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Sample lines: “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was ‘well timed’ in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait!’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’ We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied.'”
Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
Sample lines: “Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.”
Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Roger Ebert
Sample lines: “‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime.”
What are your favorite persuasive writing examples to use with students? Come share your ideas in the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook .
Plus, the big list of essay topics for high school (100+ ideas) ..
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