Monday, October 21, 2013

Persuade Me!

My students are working thoughtfully to learn persuasive writing techniques. We started this endeavor about a month ago with baseline essays.  Then we taught the children self regulation mnemonics such as TREE (topic, reason, example, ending) and OREO (opinion, reason, example, opinion).  After that we practiced using linking words and discussed and practiced the five-paragraph essay format in order to give their arguments some structure.

Today was the mid-unit assessment. Almost every child wrote a five paragraph essay with a bold opinion and three reasons in the topic paragraph, three detail paragraphs with discrete reasons and examples, and an ending summary paragraph.  Many had voice, several demonstrated evidence of craft, and lots left the reader with something to think about.  It was a satisfying mid-point achievement for these young authors. One I will congratulate them on tomorrow.

Now for the next step. In the next step I want to develop greater commitment to their topics, thought, and detail.  Many only included one fact or detail to support each reason, and often, even though they may have written three sentences, all the sentences were essentially one detail.  Hence I want to stretch the depth of their thinking, and the types of detail they use.  I read a number of articles about persuasive technique tonight and came up with the following exercise to begin the stretch. I'm hoping this exercise will help them to come up with a greater variety and depth of detail to support specific reasons related to their opinion.

After practicing this skill, students will have the chance to continue writing new persuasive essays about topics of their choice. They'll also have the chance to analyze another exemplar of a fine persuasive essay. We may even turn some of the essays into speeches as another way to build voice and detail, perhaps we'll even have a debate to foster enthusiasm for the unit goal and focus. All the work we do will be posted on this website for easy reference.

What are your most powerful persuasive techniques?  How do you teach this unit well to young children?  Thank you in advance for sharing your ideas.