Educational experts require that all seventh graders learn about persuasive writing. Perhaps this is because persuasive writing can be such an effective tool for expressing oneself, for taking and representing a stand, and a vehicle for social responsibility. Whatever the reason, persuasive writing pieces are staples for students everywhere. The persuasive writing assignment focuses less on the final product and more on the pre-writing instruction that will allow students to practice and develop the thinking and communicating skills that they will need to effectively persuade a given audience. Though traditional writing emphasizes grammar, usage, and form, developing students' thinking skills better suggests and even fosters long-term success.
In Designing and Sequencing Prewriting Activities, author Johannessen (2007) emphasizes the importance of such activity-based instruction. He says, If writing were simply a matter of correct usage and mechanics, our jobs might be easier - but much less interesting. Implicit in the process of writing to communicate ideas to an audience is the process of thinking. Therefore, for prewriting instruction to be complete it must teach thinking strategies essential to effective written communication.
That means that teachers have the responsibility of teaching students how to think and communicate the persuasive concepts necessary for a solid persuasive piece. To do this effectively, we decided that the most important concepts to teach students about are the following: choosing a position (not wavering somewhere in the middle), assessing the needs of the audience and accounting for those, using.
Johannessen (2007) states that the objective of this document is to assist schools in developing a plan for a whole school focus on the teaching of persuasive writing. Although this document focuses explicitly on this genre, the ideas and strategies can be applied to the teaching of all genres. The strategies suggested here are by no means definitive but aim to provide examples to model and stimulate teachers' thinking and planning.
The primary purpose of persuasive writing is to discuss, express a point of view, analyses and evaluate, and can also be used to entertain and inform. The style of persuasive writing can be formal or informal but does require the writer to adopt a sense of authority on the subject matter and to develop the topic in a rational way. A writer of the persuasive text may draw on their own personal knowledge and experience or on detailed evidence based on knowledge of a particular subject or issue. There are different types of persuasive writing: a one sided point of view through to a text that expresses both sides of a debate concluding with the author's stance on the topic.
Smith, M. W. Reducing Writing Apprehension (2007) was to establish an environment where students feel comfortable and confident to express their own opinions, teachers should provide regular practice, both explicitly and incidentally, to develop this skill. In many cultures it is not appropriate nor practiced within the culture to express an opinion, so this form of oral language needs to be explicitly encouraged and taught. Students will need to understand the purpose and process involved when expressing their own personal viewpoints.
When encouraging students to express opinions, teachers should consider providing a safe classroom culture that allows everyone to share viewpoints on issues without criticism. Socio-cultural understandings must be taken into consideration and need to be addressed at the beginning of any program of this nature. It is advisable to begin to explore persuasive text types through school based contexts that are not confronting.
Johannessen (2007) view on writing activities in this unit will involve students' engaging the reader by establishing a context, creating a persona, and otherwise developing reader interest. Students will state clear positions in support of a proposal, supporting their position with relevant evidence. They will create an organizing structure appropriate for their purpose, audience, and context. Students will also learn to exclude extraneous details and inappropriate information. They will also provide a sense of closure to their writing and raise their level of language using such strategies as word choice. Students will plan and draft independently, revise to improve meaning and focus, and edit to correct errors.
According to Smith (2007) reading activities will include students' location of facts to support a position and use of common textual features (e.g., paragraphs, topic sentences, concluding sentences, glossary) to enhance their knowledge and written and oral expression. Students will identify and use common graphic features such as charts, maps, diagrams, captions, and illustrations. They will also use common organizational structures (i.e., chronological order, logical order, cause and effect, classification schemes) to organize opinions and positions. Students will relate new information to prior knowledge and experience, making connections to relate topics and information.
Listening, speaking, and viewing emphasis will involve students' giving reasons for the opinions they express. Students will also learn to offer opinions forcefully without domineering. They will also clarify and illustrate, expanding responses when asked to do so. They will also evaluate the role of the media in focusing attention and in forming an opinion.
Johannessen assessment view was that the student produces writing that establishes an appropriate organizational structure, sets a context and engages the reader, maintains a coherent focus throughout, and provides as satisfying closure.
- Selects a focus, an organizational structure, and a point of view based on purpose, genre expectations, audience, length, and format requirements
- Supports statements and claims with anecdotes, descriptions, facts and statistics, and specific examples
Smith: The student produces a multi-paragraph letter in the form of a persuasive essay.
- States a clear position in support of a proposition
- Describes the points in support of the proposition, employing well-articulated, relevant evidence
- Creates an organizing structure appropriate to a specific purpose, audience, and context
- Anticipates and addresses readers' concerns and counter-arguments
- Provides a sense of closure to the writing
It is imperative that schools prepare students with the knowledge, skills and vocabulary to be successful writers in the persuasive form. Teachers working together to build up skill sets across the year levels is a critical element of this process. The planning of this is the responsibility of all teachers across all areas of the curriculum. Consequently a whole school plan is essential. Building in reflection and assessment time for teachers to discuss experiences in the classroom and develop a shared understanding of the processes across the year levels, will assist in creating a seamless system that enables teachers to support student learning.
Teachers must consider oral language as a basis for structuring their programs. Explicit instruction in oral language development provides students with the foundation for communicating effectively in all areas of the curriculum. The early years' focus of this genre relies heavily on oral language activities which can be recorded in a variety of forms. These activities should be embedded into teaching programs across all areas of the curriculum as they provide authentic and relevant purposes for students to engage in the persuasive genre.