Our genre-inspired teacher workshops include discussion topics for all of the six writing traits, but with each class we offer we try to focus in on one. With persuasive writing, our natural focus becomes voice.
To help our teacher participants design something that has the potential to transform their classrooms, Corbett Harrison, one of the presenters at our Persuasive Writing Workshop, shares ideas from one of his favorite original trainings: . He challenges the workshop's attendees to consciously design a lesson that--at the very least--makes use of five of the seven elements he discusses. To learn more about Corbett's trainings and workshops, you can visit .
What do we do? As our class begins, participants brainstorm persons and things that persuade us using this ; they do this in small groups. Next the groups brainstorm verbs that the nouns they've listed would use to persuade us with this . Finally, each participant chooses one verb and creates a piece of "verb art." Their drawings must illustrate/demonstrate the big idea behind their persuasive verbs, and they must surround their verb with nouns that they associate with the verb.
Why do we do this? An important element when teaching persuasive writing is to ask students to think about different perspectives on interesting issues. Some students think that "Well, I am right about this and you are wrong!" is a valid argument, but it persuades no one. As student debaters learn, when persuading one must predict an opponent's next argument before he/she has ever spoken it aloud. To do that, you need to have thought about others' possible viewpoints.
Participants in our Persuasive Writing Workshops always receive a complimentary copy of the NNWP's 2008 publication, the Going Deep with Compare and Contrast Thinking Guide. This guide is available for purchase from the , should you be unable to enroll and enjoy our popular Northern Nevada workshop.
Even though our students learn basic persuasive writing skills long before they come to school ("I'll be really quiet if you buy me that toy"), they don't come to us knowing how to write persuasively. Writing is different than speaking. To persuade through writing, students need to analyze how they successfully convince others through speaking, then combine those skills with solid writing instruction.
Earn a free copy of the Barry Lane book our class uses: One important theme in our Persuasive Writing Across the Curriculum workshop is teaching voice with lessons that allow student to use a sense of humor. To promote this theme, each teacher participant receives a complimentary copy of Barry Lane and Gretchen Bernabei's awesome book, . In exchange for this book, teacher participants propose an original lesson that we consider posting on this page. Below, you will find several original lessons that were proposed by class participants who are now enjoying their personal copies of Barry and Gretchen's book.
What we've learned is that there must be a strong foundation of other writing skills in place before asking students to write something persuasive. Without the foundation, the persuasive writing your students will do will be flat and uninteresting. The foundation that we stress in our persuasive writing is as follows:
Why a class specifically on persuasive writing? First of all, here in Nevada, the state writing test for eleventh graders must be passed by every student planning to graduate, and the prompts given to our juniors can be either expository or persuasive. Second, we believe persuasive writing is a neglected genre, even though it is clearly embedded in our state standards. Too often, persuasive writing lessons are taught only by our language arts teachers, who only have limited time to focus on this genre because they are teaching so many other genres and modes. We believe persuasive writing is a type of writing that can be practiced in every curriculum area, and we believe with repeated exposure to persuasive writing tasks that our students will be that much more prepared for their high school writing tests. Our new inservice workshop was designed to help teacher participants design thoughtful persuasive writing lessons that would engage students to use their written voices when writing in all curriculum areas.
Find several content-appropriate columns by these two writers, both of who have strong opinions about contemporary topics. Read them aloud with your students. Analyze the stylistic elements in the writing and challenge your students to "try on" these styles the next time they do a quick-write. When it is time to write something persuasive, challenge your students to remember Pitts and Reilly's styles.
Rob's students write both passionately and persuasively. Rob has learned how to inspire them. When he presents at our Persuasive Writing Workshop for teachers, he shares insight, but he also shares skillfully-crafted lessons that he created to let his students know they have a valuable voice.
The Northern Nevada Writing Project--sponsors of this WritingFix website--hosts an annual workshop on the topic of persuasive writing. 3rd-12th grade teachers join us to discuss research-based ideas that teach persuasive skills alongside voice skills. This resource webpage has been specifically designed for not only teachers taking our workshop but also for any teacher interested in improving their classroom skills and resources for teaching these two important topics. We hope you find our workshop's resources useful, even if you're not taking our inservice class.