Writing Workshop Series: Post #6 - Persuasive Writing

Persuasive writing is one of my all-time favorite writing units!!  There are so many fun activities to do and persuasion comes so naturally for the kids (you know they try to persuade their parents for things ALL the time!)  I begin this unit by having students "Take a Stand" and make a choice between several pairs of options - McDonald's or Burger King, Disney or Nickelodeon, etc.  Once they've made their choice they have to support it and tell why that is the better option.  This is a great way to kick off the unit.  Once we've modeled several together, I partner them up for writing discussions, give them a set of "Take a Stand" cards and let them continue practicing.  After discussions, they're ready to move to the writing stage and we learn to write opinion pieces with supporting reasons and then on to lots of other persuasive pieces.

Some of my FAVORITE books to use during this unit include...
I told you that I LOVE this book and double dip with it in my letter writing and persuasive writing units.  We especially focus on the closings of the letters and notice how the word choice was carefully selected to help with the persuasion.  Immediately after this book we also read...
After reading this book, students think of an unusual animal that they would like to have as a pet.  They brainstorm ways their animal could be useful/helpful and then write a persuasive letter to their parents to convince them to let them have the pet.  They turn out SO CUTE!!  Students turn their letters into the animal they chose for a display....precious!!
 Some of the other books we read during this unit are...
This is a GREAT book to read and then have your students write from the perspective of the "bad" character from a fairytale having him/her convince readers that he/she was just misunderstood and is not a bad guy after all!

Speaking of perspective, I also have my kids write a persuasive letter to THEMSELVES from an inanimate object.  I model doing this using my purse (it tries to persuade me to keep it neater) or my high heels (they try to persuade me to give them a break and wear tennis shoes for a day).  With a lot of modeling and brainstorming they really get the hang of this and GO ALL OUT with creative ideas and voice galore!

Some of my other favorite activities in this unit include...

Book Persuasions
Students create new book covers for one of their favorite books and try to persuade their friends to read the book.

Persuasive Animal Dialogues
After reading Hey, Little Ant students are paired as ants/anteaters and write persuasive dialogues where the ant is trying to persuade the anteater not to eat him and the anteater is trying to persuade the ant that he must!  After modeling these, students select another pair of animals (predator/prey) to create original persuasive dialogues to perform for the class.

Classroom Mascot
Students choose an animal they think would best represent our class and write a persuasive speech on why it should be our mascot.  They present these speeches to the class and then the class votes for a mascot!

This unit integrates with our social studies Economics unit for the celebration.  Students create products (I require them to make something that only uses PAPER to make it fair for all students) that they will sell at our class store.  Then they write commercials to persuade their classmates to buy their products.  Before writing these commercials, we watch lots of examples of cereal and toy commercials from the 80s/90s at http://www.retrojunk.com/content/sort/commercial/list/category/1/cereal and discuss persuasion techniques used in them.  I film students presenting their commercials individually, create a mini-movie of them and we watch them all together!  We then hold our store and students actually purchase products (with Madden Money, of course!)  Afterwards, they hold reflections about supply/demand and how their commercials affected their sales.
 Find these Persuasive Writing activities at Teacher's Clubhouse.

What are your favorite activities or books to use for teaching persuasive writing?

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  1. I love this! I was so glad to see something besides narrative writing. I was also thrilled to see that I have most of those books! I guess I should have put "more writing" on my resolutions. It's something I really want to stress this year more than ever. Thanks for this wonderful post!

  2. These are AWESOME ideas.....can't wait to incorporate some of them this year. One of my favorite persuasive writing activities takes place in February during Adopt a Pet Month. I print pictures of the dogs and cats up for adoption at our local animal shelter and then give one to each student (I give them a choice of dog or cat, but then I chose the picture they get). They pretend they are the animal and then write letter attempting to persuade me to adopt them. We hang them on a bulletin board with hearts and a little dog house I made with the adopt a pet title. It is the cutest thing and the students LOVE it! We've even managed to get a couple of pets adopted with our letters.....that's the best part, showing kids that persuasion can work!!

  3. I have been teaching for a long time but find your posts very helpful. I am planning to use all of the writing genre activities this year. Looking forward to the rest of the writing posts.

  4. Thanks, all! Lisa...I LOVE that idea!! I just hope their teacher wouldn't end up trying to adopt them ALL!!! ;)

  5. Love this post! You have such great ideas.

  6. How is it I have been around blog-land for nearly a year and am just now hearing about your blog??? I ADORE your ideas and blog design! I have only looked around a little, but am very impressed:) Thanks for stopping by my blog and introducing yourself to me! That made my day...and I found a new blog to obsess over:D! Have you ever used the OREO writing for opinions/persuasive writing? I'm thinking about using that with my firsties this year...but I like your ideas & ties to children's lit!
    Synonym Rolls & Antonym Moments

  7. Thanks for continuing to blog about writers workshop! I'm learning so much!

  8. I have to say, I think your Writing Workshop posts are my absolute favorite! If I had to choose my biggest area to improve in teaching, I would choose writing, hands down! You have the best ideas. :) Thanks for being such an inspiration!

    Mrs. Heeren's Happenings

  9. Love love love your ideas!!.... I can't wait to try them!!... I do a perspective writing at Halloween that comes out cute .... being the door mat,door bell, door, candy that noone likes, etc


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