Monday, February 27, 2012

Some of the First Steps for Teaching Persuasive Writing in the 21st Century English Classroom

Most writers I teach find that the harderst part about persuasive writing is just getting started. Writer's block, uncertainty, or doubt, plague them and convince them that they will fail. So part of what I like to do is to give them loads of examples. I even encourage them to model their writing after the examples- steal the idea and make it their own!

One fantastic free resource for persuasive writing introductions is "The Writing Teachers Strategy Guide" by Steve Peha at Teaching that Makes Sense: The Writing Teacher's Strategy Guide Steve has a whole site full of best practices for teaching writing, but this is one of my favorite resources because it has loads of specific examples for attention getting introductions and powerful endings. I highly recommend all of Steve's stuff. He is fantastic.

 One of the most important parts of the introduction, after the attention getter, is the position statement- which is the thesis statement of the persuasive essay. I teach my students to outline the main points that they want to use to argue their position. Then, use those things like a list in a sentence to create the position statement. For example, if the topic is going green, and the main points are recycling, conserving water, and using fuel efficient vehicles, the statement might look like this: Recycling, conserving water, and using more fuel efficient cars are just a few of the ways that you can help keep our planet healthy.

The position or thesis statement is then a basic outline of the three main ideas that will be addressed in the persuasive essay. This is a fairly basic way to construct a position statement. With begining persuasive writers, it is sometimes best to keep it as simple as possible. Give them a formula that they can wash and repeat. Also, with the postion statement, I model, model, model. It may seem redundant, but there is often a lot of confustion that comes with writing a position statement. I show them examples, we write some together, and then they try it on their own. Photo Credit

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