Now that your students have mastered opinion writing, it’s time to dive into persuasive essay writing. One way to begin is to look at all the examples of persuasive writing in the world around us.
Copywriting is Persuasive Writing
Have you received any sales letters or emails lately? Copywriters have persuasive writing honed to a fine edge. Their one and only goal is to get you to part with your money, join their email list, program, or whatever it is they’re selling. That can be a good thing when it’s something you need or you’ve been searching for.
Professionally written sales copy can be a source for mentor texts to guide students in the process. Mentor texts don’t only have to be books, it can be articles, letters, even persuasive Instagram posts.
Honestly, I’ve bought several things on Instagram, thanks to the stellar persuasive writing in the post! Have you?
Who Uses Persuasive Writing?
Everyone who wants something can use persuasive writing. This includes young students in elementary school, older students in middle and high school, and absolutely adults in the business world.
Some people have a natural ability to persuade people to their point of view. Other people need to work harder at it. But everyone can benefit from practicing persuasive writing.
Lesson Plan for Writing a Persuasive Essay
Introduce and Engage:
The first thing you want to do is hook your already captive audience of students in your classroom. Engage them by asking them if they would like something. Make it something juicy and engaging.
Some ideas to engage your students and introduce reasons for persuasive writing could be:
- Would you like extra recess time on Friday?
- Would you like to have an afternoon snack at school?
- Would you like to sit next to your best friend in class?
Tell them they need to persuade you in order to get what it is they want. I purposely started with simple requests like this because you can easily give them what they want.
If they can persuade you.
Believe me, students will pay close attention to how to persuade you to let them sit next to their BFF.
Graphic Organizers for Persuasive Writing
In other posts, I’ve mentioned that it makes sense to choose one type of graphic organizer for each type of writing. That way students don’t have to learn how to use the graphic organizer, they can just get started doing the task. In this case, an organizer for opinion writing is fine for persuasive writing.
I’ve created one that works well for both. You can grab a graphic organizer packet for persuasive writing in the Member Vault, along with other resources. I also have a rubric for persuasive writing there. Then just come back here to finish your plan.
Have students brainstorm the reasons they want the thing. More importantly, have them brainstorm the objections they’ll receive from their audience. (In this case that’s you.) You can use the acronym WRAP to help students remember this. (Read more about WRAP further down in this post.)
With the reasons for their desires and the objections, they should include some details, evidence, facts, examples.
Prebunk, Not Debunk the Objections
Their next step is to prebunk the objections. I call it prebunking because we debunk things after they’ve occurred. In this case the students are anticipating an objection and trying to overcome it. So they’re going to prebunk your objections.
Finally, in the conclusion, they’ll want to restate and summarize the benefits and desirability of (name your topic here.)
Have students pair-share or group share their ideas. This way they might reveal more counter arguments or more ideas in favor.
Once they’ve clarified, refined, and organized their ideas, it’s time to write. Follow the same writing strategies as they use in other essays. Depending on the age of your students, it could be eight sentences, three paragraphs, or five paragraphs in elementary and middle school.
WRAP Up Persuasive Essay Writing
One acronym that helps to remember all of these things is WRAP. You can grab the Pinterest sized image and save it to your board so you can use it as an anchor chart in class.
W – What is it that is the want
R – Rebuttals the audience might make
A – Argument in favor of the desired thing
P – Positive benefits to persuade the audience
These are very simplistic, designed to help students understand the process. Learning different types of persuasive techniques can be taught when students are ready to go deeper into the process of persuasive writing.
Use a Rubric to Grade the Writing
I use rubrics for several reasons. The most important reason is because you can grade objectively with a rubric. It’s fair to all students. Second, it saves you time. You can quickly read an essay and look for the specific items you have in your rubric. Third, you can choose one they did well and commend them on it. Choose another area where they did less well and give them one strategy to move forward in that area.
I go into more detail and depth about this process in my course, Building Strong Writers With Simple Systems.
15 Topics for Persuasive Essays in Elementary Grades
I think your students are going to love these. Students will answer yes or no to the question. Then they should write to persuade others to join them in their opinion.
- Should teachers stop giving homework?
- Should students be allowed to have their phones on during class?
- Should students be allowed to bring pets to school on certain days?
- Should students have a limit on technology time?
- Should students be allowed to have a social media account before the age of 13?
- Should schools have a dress code?
- Should there be a limit on how much money parents can spend on a child’s birthday party?
- Should students get a break for free time every hour during the school day?
- Should students be allowed to swap food with each other during school lunch?
- Should school start later?
- Should endangered animals be kept in zoos?
- Should children be required to join an organized sport?
- Should music lessons be mandatory in elementary school?
- Should students get to choose their teachers for the school year?
- Should junk food such as soda and candy be banned in school?
These 15 topics could work equally well as opinion writing prompts. The difference between opinion and persuasive essays is that in the opinion essays, students are just stating their thoughts. In the persuasive essays, they’re trying to convince someone to agree with them. This comes in handy when they get older and want to run for student government!
Would you like a quick refresher on how to teach essay writing to elementary students? Then check out this post, 5 Simple Essay Writing Tips to Use With Beginning Writers, by my friend Sarah over at Sarah’s Writing Spot.
Extensions for Persuasive Essay Writing
This is a fun way to take this lesson even further.
- You can have students create posters similar to public service announcements to persuade others to their way of thinking.
- Students can create an infographic using an app or with paper and markers.
- One student can do a video interview with another classmate. One classmate provides the reasons for, and the other provides the counterarguments. If your students are comfortable doing so, it can be very engaging to share the videos in class. We used Flip to record videos in my class.
I hope these ideas and this lesson plan helped! Let me know how it goes. If you’re on my email list, just send me a note!