- Describe and then refute the key points of the opposing view.
- Restate and reinforce the thesis and supporting evidence.
2. Drafting the Persuasive Essay
When writing the initial draft of a persuasive essay, consider the following suggestions:
- The introductory paragraph should have a strong “hook” that grabs the reader’s attention. Open with an unusual fact or statistic, a question or quotation, or an emphatic statement. For example: “Driving while talking on a cell phone, even hands-free, is the equivalent of driving drunk.”
- The thesis statement should leave no doubts about the writer’s position.
- Each body paragraph should cover a separate point, and the sentences of each paragraph should offer strong evidence in the form of facts, statistics, quotes from experts, and real-life examples.
The Secret to Good Paragraph Writing
- Consider various ways to make the argument, including using an analogy, drawing comparisons, or illustrating with hypothetical situation (e.g., what if, suppose that…).
- Don’t assume the audience has in-depth knowledge of the issue. Define terms and give background information.
- The concluding paragraph should summarize the most important evidence and encourage the reader to adopt the position or take action. The closing sentence can be a dramatic plea, a prediction that implies urgent action is needed, a question that provokes readers to think seriously about the issue, or a recommendation that gives readers specific ideas on what they can do.
3. Revising the Persuasive Essay
In the revision phase, students review, modify, and reorganize their work with the goal of making it the best it can be. Keep these considerations in mind:
- Does the essay present a firm position on the issue, supported by relevant facts, statistics, quotes, and examples?
- Does the essay open with an effective “hook” that intrigues readers and keeps them reading?
- Does each paragraph offer compelling evidence focused on a single supporting point?
- Is the opposing point of view presented and convincingly refuted?
- Is the sentence structure varied? Is the word choice precise? Do the transitions between sentences and paragraphs help the reader’s understanding?
- Does the concluding paragraph convey the value of the writer’s position and urge the reader to think and act?
If the essay is still missing the mark, take another look the thesis. Does it present the strongest argument? Test it by writing a thesis statement for the opposing viewpoint. In comparison, does the original thesis need strengthening? Once the thesis presents a well-built argument with a clear adversarial viewpoint, the rest of the essay should fall into place more easily.
4. Editing the Persuasive Essay
Next, proofread and correct errors in grammar and mechanics, and edit to improve style and clarity. Having a friend read the essay helps writers edit with a fresh perspective.
5. Publishing the Persuasive Essay
Sharing a persuasive essay with the rest of the class or with family and friends can be both exciting and intimidating. Learn from the experience and use the feedback to make the next essay even better.
Time4Writing Teaches Persuasive Essay Writing
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Step 1: Begin the lesson by asking students to recall the names of some of their favorite fairy tales. After generating a brief list, ask students what all fairy tales have in common
Step 2: Ask students to summarize one of the classic fairy tales, The Three Little Pigs. Afterwards, tell students to keep that story in mind as you read The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka.
Step 3: Following the story, discuss it with the class. Compare and contrast it with the classic tale. Talk about the main difference (character point of view) and take of poll of who believes the wolf’s sad story. Generate a list of reasons that favor the wolf’s innocence and a list of reasons that seem to stack up against him.
Step 1: Tell students the wolf in the story, Alexander T. Wolf, is about to have his day in court and they are going to be attorneys in the courtroom. They will need to decide to be lawyers for the prosecution, meaning they do not believe the wolf, or lawyers for the defense because they believe the wolf has a plausible case.
Step 2: Before beginning, review some of the reasons from Step 3 on Day 1. Distribute the Persuasive Paragraph Outline printable to each student. Explain how it should be completed. Allow students time to complete the organizer. Afterwards, students may begin to write their persuasive essay using the graphic organizer as an aid. Remind students to write with voice, remembering that their imaginary audience for this essay is a courtroom judge just waiting to hear the “facts.”
Step 1: Ask the students to edit their own Persuasive Paragraph and that of at least one more student. Have a brief conference with each student regarding their paper before they proceed to publishing.
Step 2: Students complete a final draft of their paper. I prefer they do this on a copied paper I have created to look like an official court document, as described in Set Up and Prepare.
Students with limited English proficiency, along with less mature readers, may not understand the concept of satire or irony that is often present in fractured fairy tales. Take the time to explain the author’s purpose and the meaning that is intended.
Some students may have limited background knowledge of the American court system and the role lawyers play on both sides. Before proceeding with the assignment, make sure all students understand their purpose is to present story details that support whether they believe the wolf is guilty or not.
Inform your parents in a note or through your class newsletter whenever you begin a new unit in language arts. If you like, ask parents to help either in the classroom or at home to help proofread student papers before publishing.
- Complete the Persuasive Paragraph Outline printable.
- Write a persuasive essay using the steps of the writing process.
- Were the students able to understand the author’s intent?
- Did the students take a stand when they completed the graphic organizer?
- Were the steps of the writing process followed?
- How well did students work together on revising and editing? Were they offering constructive suggestions?
- Did students complete the graphic organizer correctly?
- Did you have a wide enough variety of fairy tales?
- Are there any titles you would like to add to your collection for next year?
- Did you provide adequate time for each step?
- Did you brainstorm enough ideas together?
- Did you model enough for students to complete the assignment independently?
- Were all learners able to complete this lesson successfully?
- What would you do differently next time to improve this lesson?