Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Workshop 4: Teaching Persuasive Writing

Jack Wilde's Persuasive Unit

Jack Wilde and his student review an early draft of a persuasive piece in an informal conference.
Jack Wilde and his student review an early draft of a persuasive piece in an informal conference.

Each spring, Jack Wilde spends four to five weeks teaching his fifth-grade students to write their first persuasive essays. The pieces the students write concern things they would like to change at their school. Not only does the topic put them on familiar ground, the audience is always the school principal, someone whom they can readily analyze. In this way, Jack limits the students' concerns about content so they can concentrate on what is new to them: developing and organizing an effective persuasive piece.

When the students complete their pieces, the entire class decides which essays are the most persuasive. These pieces are submitted to the principal, who visits the classroom to talk with the students about implementing their suggestions. Often, an idea that originated with a student becomes a reality at the school, underscoring for the children their ability to implement change through their writing.

Persuasive Unit (pdf)

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