This persuasive writing unit of study is designed to fit into your primary classroom writing workshop.
The mini lessons within this persuasive writing unit of study are newly updated (as of 1/4/17)! We have redone the printables and provided them in one easy download. Includes anchor charts, graphic organizers & more.
Persuasive writing can be an important part of the primary writing curriculum as students learn to use their opinions and knowledge to influence others. Persuasive writing can be thought of as perhaps an extension of opinion writing and differs in that the author’s opinion is followed not only by reasons for the opinion, but persuasive text that attempts to get the reader to feel or believe the same way.
This unit on teaching children to write persuasive and opinion pieces was designed with second grade in mind. However, you will find many mini-lessons that can be used for other grade levels. This unit was written with the help of Cathy’s student teachers (Joel Larrison, Kellie Wood and Amanda Rush.)
A writing workshop typically begins with a 10 to 15 minutes mini-lesson. You will find that many of the ideas for lessons below could run beyond the 15 minutes. Because of this, you might choose to spread some of the lessons over multiple days. Also keep in mind that you will want to reinforce some of your mini-lessons with reviews or follow-ups and that the different types writing being done by students will often times require more than one day to complete. The timeline for these lessons will also depend upon whether or not you wish your students to revise and edit one or all of the persuasive pieces you will teach.
***Below you will find the descriptions of all the resources which can be found in ONE download at the very bottom of this post.
Immersion – The first two days of this unit are designed to expose children to different types of persuasive writing. It is important to have a good stack of mentor texts so children can explore the unique features of this type of writing. This stack is different than other mentor stacks you might have created for other units because not all of your texts will be books. You will also need to find book & movie reviews and other types of persuasive writing that fit.
We start many of our units by having our students “notice” various things about certain types of texts. In this case give small groups of two or three students two mentor texts. Then provide post-it notes and ask them to “notice” features of the writing by recording their observations on the post-its. You may also choose to use our Group Noticings graphic organizer. After students have time to explore, gather them together and share their observations. Discuss the texts and their similarities. We have provided a blank chart so that you can create your own with your students. However, we thought it would be helpful for you to see one that has already been filled in to give you some ideas. Display one or both of them in your classroom for the duration of the unit.
What is Persuasion? – Read aloud the book I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff. After reading, discuss the term “persuade” and what it means. Talk about how the main character in the story is trying to persuade another character in some way. Use the Persuasive Text Story Map to show what is happening in the book. After completing the story map, discuss the Persuasive Writing Anchor Chart and display it in your classroom near your noticings chart(s).
Choosing Persuasive Language – Younger students often need help choosing the correct persuasive language. A lesson where you create an anchor chart with powerful word choices for this type of writing can be helpful. We have provided an anchor chart with some possibilities you can introduce along with a discussion about why they are appropriate. Your students might also think of new words to add to it.
Supporting Our Opinions – Students may not know how to effectively support their opinions without practice so you may want to give them a chance to practice this skill. A perfect read aloud for this is Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (Big Book Edition) (Pigeon Series). It is a simple text with clear supporting details. Read the book aloud and then complete the Persuasive Text Story Map (same as from lesson 2) as a class, in small groups or individually. Next, give the students a chance to create their own supporting details for a persuasive piece. Together, choose a topic of high interest. Perhaps it could be “Why the class should have a longer recess” or “Why teachers should give less homework”. Fill out the Persuasive Planner provided with the class to help guide them in creating strong supporting details for the opinion topic you chose. Doing this will also give the students the framework & model for planning when they begin to create their own opinion pieces.
Writing a Persuasive Paragraph – Model how to write a persuasive paragraph using the Persuasive Planner the class created in lesson 4. If needed to help students understand that they need to begin their persuasive pieces with opinions, show and discuss the Opinion Sentence Starters anchor chart and use it to help you begin your writing in front of the class. Be sure to “think aloud” as you write in front of the class so they will understand how you are using your planner and making writing choices as you go. Next, show the students the list of 16 persuasive writing topics provided and have each choose their own topic from the list of ideas (or think of a new one). Pass out Persuasive Writing Planners to everyone and have students begin by writing their opinion topic at the top, and thinking of three supporting details to add below. Once students have completed their planner, they can begin to write their own persuasive paragraph based on the modeling you provided earlier in the unit (a lined paper has been provided should you choose to use it). Some students might need more guidance so conferencing with those who are struggling will be key.
Introduction to Persuasive Letters – For this lesson it is best to read aloud a book that has persuasive letters within the story itself. Some suggestions are Dear Mrs. La Rue: Letters From Obedience School or Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type. Discuss with students what the animals want in the book and the supporting arguments they give. As a class, pick a topic that students could use to write a letter to the principal, cafe manager or other important adult in the building. Write a class letter trying to persuade the adult of the class’ opinion. (A letter writing template has been provided if you wish to use it.) For example, students might try to argue that they should be allowed to watch a movie because of their hard work and good behavior, or that the cafe should serve a new favorite food. As the class participates in this guided writing activity, be sure to point out the specific punctuation that letters should have.
Writing a Persuasive Letter – Begin this lesson by gathering students to reread and discuss the letter that was written in lesson 6. Once again, emphasize the importance of supporting their opinions with details, as well as briefly reviewing the punctuation involved in writing a letter. Next begin brainstorming topics and audiences to whom they might write a persuasive letter. As students are thinking, briefly meet with each one to discuss what topic and audience they choose to write to and get them started with the Persuasive Writing Planner. As they finish their planners, we suggest you have them meet with peers to talk about their supporting opinions before they begin to write their actual letters. We have provided a simple letter template if you would like for your students to use one.
Introduction to Commercials & Ads – Your students will probably love this lesson! Start by sharing some of your favorite commercials with your class from your computer screen, SmartBoard, or tablets. After each commercial, discuss what was being advertised, as well as one fact and one opinion from each commercial. Discuss the purpose of commercials and ads – to persuade people to purchase a product or service. Emphasize that commercials and ads are most definitely a form of persuasive writing in our every day life. We have created a recording page, Finding Facts & Opinions in Commercials” to accompany this lesson in case you would like to write the class’ answers or have them work in small groups on different commercials.
Planning a Class Commercial & Ad – For this lesson you will need to bring in a product that you think the students will enjoy creating a commercial and advertisement for. (The crazier the product the more fun the class will have!) Show your students the product and discuss its characteristics and strengths. Together fill out the Commercial Advertisement Planning pages to fit the specifics of the product you brought in. We have provided two types of planners for each one so that you can choose which works best, OR you might want to use both since one focuses on facts & opinions and the other focuses on audience and details. These will serve as the model for students to plan their own commercials or advertisements in the next lesson.
Writing Individual Commercials or Ads – Using the planning pages from lesson 9, model for or explain to the students how you would like for them to write their own commercials or design their advertisements. Refer back to the Words for Persuasive Writing anchor chart to remind students of persuasive language they will want to be sure to use in their writing. Also be sure to include specifics about opinions and facts within the advertisements that you want them to include. Then, depending upon your timeline, we suggest that you have students choose only one form of persuasive writing they would like to do – a commercial or an advertisement. You might even decide to have them work with partners. Have students brainstorm products (or give them an extra day to bring something in) and fill out their respective planners. We have created pages where students can draft a commercial script and/or design an ad. After a few days of writing and working, have students act out their commercials or create a hallway display of the advertisements they create. Discuss the persuasive nature of the ads and point out the facts and opinions contained in each.
Introduction to Writing a Book Review – Another form of persuasive writing is book reviews where students attempt to persuade their peers to read a particular book they have enjoyed. First spend some time reading book reviews as a class. You will find some great examples (mentor texts) of book reviews here: Spaghetti Book Reviews. Read some aloud with the entire class and also provide some time for students to read a few with partners. Gather students to discuss the purpose of a book review – persuading others to read or not to read a particular book. Spend time discussing the importance of providing strong opinions/reasons so that the piece will truly persuade the reader in a particular direction.
Writing a Class Book Review – Use a book that you have already read aloud to the class to model for students how to fill out the Book Review Planner. Once the class has completed the planner together, model how you would like for them to format their actual book reviews. There are many formats that book reviews can take – written reports, brochures, posters…even the commercials and ads your students learned in the previous lessons. You make the decision on the format for the book reviews based on the standards you are teaching. If you choose a writing-only format, we have several different styles of papers to choose from at the end of the download. Again, be sure to “think aloud” as you are writing so students know what to include and why it is important, as well as grammar, punctuation and other rules (book titles, indenting, etc).
Writing Individual Book Reviews – Students now have the tools and knowledge to write their own book reviews. After choosing and reading a book they would like to write a review on, have students fill out Book Review Planners. You may want to choose one format for all of the students to use to write their reviews or you may want to show several options (models) and let students use their own creativity to write the book review.
**Additional Resources – The download also includes some additional resources & writing pages to help supplement your teaching of persuasive writing. Use them throughout your lessons as you see fit if they are helpful.
Celebration – We always suggest some type of writing celebration at the ends of writing units of study. The celebration for the persuasive writing unit can simply be a gathering of people for students to share their writing with, along with some light refreshments & awards, or can be more elaborate as you have students present their commercials, ads and book reviews. The intent is to make students feel proud of their learning and the writing process.
**You will find the complete download of all the resources described above here: Persuasive Unit Resources**
If you are looking to avoid using color ink, we are providing the download in black and white here: Persuasive Unit in Black and White
Below we have included links to our favorite books to use when teaching a persuasive writing unit of study (contains affiliate links)
***Fact vs. Opinion – Before teaching this unit, you might want to do some mini-lessons dealing with the difference between fact and opinion to make sure all your students understand the difference. If you need some resources to teach fact vs. opinion you will find some things that we have created here:
You might also be interested in our Opinion Writing Unit of Study.