Writing Persuasive Essays For Middle School

  • Describe and then refute the key points of the opposing view.

Concluding Paragraph

  • 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

Time4Writing essay writing courses offer a highly effective way to learn how to write the types of essays required for school, standardized tests, and college applications. These online writing classes for elementary, middle school, and high school students, break down the writing process into manageable chunks, easily digested by young writers. Students steadily build writing skills and confidence with each online writing course, guided by one-on-one instruction with a dedicated, certified teacher. We first introduce essay writing to students at the elementary level, with our Beginning Essay Writing course, where they will have an opportunity to write their first five-paragraph essay. Our middle school online writing courses, Welcome to the Essay and Advanced Essay, teach students the fundamentals of writing essays, including the persuasive essay. The high school online writing class, Exciting Essay Writing, focuses in depth on the essay writing process with preparation for college as the goal. Time4Writing’s online writing classes for kids also cover how to interpret writing prompts in testing situations. Read what parents are saying about their children’s progress with Time4Writing’s online writing courses.


Student Objectives

Session 1: The Game of Persuasion

Session 2: Analysis of an Argument

Session 3: Persuasive Writing

Session 4: Presenting the Persuasive Writing

Extensions

Student Assessment/Reflections

 

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will

  • Work in cooperative groups to brainstorm ideas and organize them into a cohesive argument to be presented to the class

  • Gain knowledge of the different strategies that are used in effective persuasive writing

  • Use a graphic organizer to help them begin organizing their ideas into written form

  • Apply what they have learned to write a persuasive piece that expresses their stance and reasoning in a clear, logical sequence

  • Develop oral presentation skills by presenting their persuasive writing pieces to the class

  • Analyze the work of others to see if it contains effective persuasive techniques

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Session 1: The Game of Persuasion

1.Post the chart you created where students can see it (see Preparation, Step 3). Distribute sticky notes, and ask students to write their names on the notes. Call students up to the chart to place their notes in the column that expresses their opinion.

2.After everyone has had a chance to put their name on the chart, look at the results and discuss how people have different views about various topics and are entitled to their opinions. Give students a chance to share the reasons behind their choices.

3.Once students have shared, explain that sometimes when you believe in something, you want others to believe in it also and you might try to get them to change their minds. Ask students the following question: “Does anyone know the word for trying to convince someone to change his or her mind about something?” Elicit from students the word persuade.

4.Explain to students that they are going to play a game that will help them understand how persuasive arguments work.

5.Follow these rules of the game:

  • Have students get into their groups.

  • Explain that sometimes when you play games the winner gets a reward and that at the end of this game the winning team will get the reward you have chosen (see Preparation, Step 1).

  • Have each team choose a recorder, or designate a recorder for each team yourself. The recorder's job is to write down the team's arguments.

  • Tell students that they must work together as a team for 15 to 20 minutes to come up with the best reason why the class should award their group the prize. Their reasons can be serious or playful.

  • Use a signal to let them know when to begin and when time is up.

  • Have students present their arguments. Students can either present as a group or choose one person to be their speaker.

  • Have the judge decide on a winning group or ask students to vote for a group other than themselves that had a convincing argument.

Note: While students are working, there should be little interference from you. This is a time for students to discover what they already know about persuasive arguments. Use the Observations and Notes handout as you listen in to groups and make notes about their arguments. This will help you see what students know and also provide examples to point out during Session 2 (see Step 4).


Home/School Connection: Distribute Persuasion Is All Around You. Students are to find an example of a persuasive piece from the newspaper, television, radio, magazine, or billboards around town and be ready to report back to class during Session 2. Provide a selection of magazines or newspapers with advertisements for students who may not have materials at home. For English-language learners (ELLs), it may be helpful to show examples of advertisements and articles in newspapers and magazines.

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Session 2: Analysis of an Argument

1.Begin by asking students to share their homework. You can have them share as a class, in their groups from the previous session, or in partners.

2.After students have shared, explain that they are going to get a chance to examine the arguments that they made during Session 1 to find out what strategies they already know how to use.

3.Pass out the Persuasive Strategy Definitions to each student. Tell students that you are going to explain each definition through a PowerPoint presentation.

4.Read through each slide in the Persuasive Strategy PowerPoint Presentation. Discuss the meaning and how students used those strategies in their arguments during Session 1. Use your observations and notes to help students make connections between their arguments and the persuasive strategies. It is likely your students used many of the strategies, and did not know it. For example, imagine the reward for the winning team was 10 extra minutes of recess. Here is one possible argument:

“Our classmate Sarah finally got her cast taken off. She hasn’t been able to play outside for two months. For 60 days she’s had to go sit in the nurse’s office while we all played outside. Don’t you think it would be the greatest feeling for Sarah to have 10 extra minutes of recess the first week of getting her cast off?”

This group is trying to appeal to the other students’ emotions. This is an example of pathos.

5.As you discuss the examples from the previous session, have students write them in the box next to each definition on the Persuasive Strategy Definitions sheet to help them remember each meaning.


Home/School Connection: Ask students to revisit their persuasive piece from Persuasion Is All Around You. This time they will use Check the Strategies to look for the persuasive strategies that the creator of the piece incorporated. Check for understanding with your ELLs and any special needs students. It may be helpful for them to talk through their persuasive piece with you or a peer before taking it home for homework. Arrange a time for any student who may not have the opportunity to complete assignments outside of school to work with you, a volunteer, or another adult at school on the assignment.

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Session 3: Persuasive Writing

1.Divide the class into groups of two or three students. Have each group member talk about the persuasive strategies they found in their piece.

2.After each group has had time to share with each other, go through each persuasive strategy and ask students to share any examples they found in their persuasive pieces with the whole class.

3.Explain to students that in this session they will be playing the game they played during Session 1 again; only this time they will be working with a partner to write their argument and there will be a different prize awarded to the winning team.

4.Share the Persuasive Writing Assessment with students and read through each category. Explain that you will be using this rubric to help evaluate their essays. Reassure students that if they have questions or if part of the rubric is unclear, you will help them during their conference.

5.Have students get together with the partners you have selected (see Preparation, Step 1).

6.Get students started on their persuasive writing by introducing them to the interactive Persuasion Map. This online graphic organizer is a prewriting exercise that enables students to map out their arguments for a persuasive essay.

  • Have partners enter their names and topics on the opening screen.

  • The goal or thesis is the claim or stance that they are taking on the issue.

  • Students should then brainstorm three reasons to support their claim, and facts and examples to support each reason.
Challenge students to use the persuasive strategies discussed during Session 2 in their writing. Remind students to print their maps before exiting as they cannot save their work online.

7.Have students begin writing their persuasive essays, using their printed Persuasion Maps as a guide. To maintain the spirit of the game, allow students to write their essays with their partner. Partners can either write each paragraph together taking turns being the scribe or each can take responsibility for different paragraphs in the essay. If partners decide to work on different parts of the essay, monitor them closely and help them to write transition sentences from one paragraph to the next. It may take students two sessions to complete their writing.

8.Meet with partners as they are working on their essays. During conferences you can:

  • Ask students to show you the persuasive strategies they are using

  • Guide students to use a variety of persuasive strategies

  • Make sure students are using their Persuasion Map as a guide

  • Check their supporting facts and examples for accuracy

  • Help groups write an interesting beginning and ending

  • Encourage partners to read their paragraphs to and provide feedback for each other

  • Edit for grammar and mechanics

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Session 4: Presenting the Persuasive Writing

1.During this session, partners will present their written argument to the class. Before students present, hand out the Check the Strategy sheet. This checklist is the same one they used for homework after Session 2. Direct students to mark off the strategies they hear in each presentation.

2.Use the Observations and Notes sheet to record your observations.

3.After each set of partners presents, ask the audience to share any persuasive strategies they heard in the argument.

4.After all partners have presented, have students vote for the argument other than their own that they felt was most convincing.

5.Tally the votes and award the prize to the winning team. To end this session, ask students to discuss something new they have learned about persuasive arguments and something they want to work on to become better at persuasive arguments.

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EXTENSIONS

  • Endangered Species: Persuasive Writing offers a way to integrate science with persuasive writing. Have students pretend that they are reporters and have to convince people to think the way they do. Have them pick issues related to endangered species, use the Persuasion Map as a prewriting exercise, and write essays trying to convince others of their points of view. In addition, the lesson “Persuasive Essay: Environmental Issues” can be adapted for your students as part of this exercise.

  • Have students write persuasive arguments for a special class event, such as an educational field trip or an in-class educational movie. Reward the class by arranging for the class event suggested in one of the essays.

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

  • Compare your Observations and Notes from Session 4 and Session 1 to see if students understand the persuasive strategies, use any new persuasive strategies, seem to be overusing a strategy, or need more practice refining the use of a strategy. Offer them guidance and practice as needed.

  • Collect both homework assignments and the Check the Strategy sheets and assess how well students understand the different elements of persuasive writing and how they are applied.

  • Collect students’ Persuasion Maps and use them and your discussions during conferences to see how well students understand how to use the persuasive strategies and are able to plan their essays. You want to look also at how well they are able to make changes from the map to their finished essays.

  • Use the Persuasive Writing Assessment to evaluate the essays students wrote during Session 3.

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