Writing to Persuade

6, 7, 8

Students learn effective techniques and complete prewriting activities for writing a persuasive essay. As a culmination of the unit, students choose one of the three styles of writing--news article, personal narrative, or persuasive essay--to write, edit, and publish about their experience with giving time, talent, or treasure for the common good. 

Lesson Rating 
Two 50-minute class periods; plus time to write, edit, and publish stories

The learner will:

  • use a graphic organizer to identify the parts of a persuasive piece of writing.
  • list three pros and cons to support the main thesis.
  • complete Attachment One: Supporting Facts and Statistics to recognize good supporting details in an argument.
  • fill in a graphic organizer to plan the outline for a persuasive essay.
  • write either a news article, a personal narrative, or a persuasive essay about a philanthropic experience.
  • Student copies of Attachment One: Supporting Facts and Statistics
  • Student copies of Attachment Two: Rubric: Persuasive Writing



  1. Day One
    Anticipatory Set:
    Ask the students what techniques they use when they are trying to persuade their family members or a friend to do something. Listen to different methods of persuasion and write a few techniques down on the display board. Tell the class that today they are going to use their persuasive skills to convince others to give their time, talent, or treasure for the common good.

  2. Tell the students that persuasive writing isn't objective, but seeks to call the reader to action or to a point of view using facts, logic, and arguments. The op-ed page of a major newspaper is a good source for examples of persuasive writing. An op-ed is an article written by a guest columnist (opposite the editorial page) expressing an opinion and persuading readers to accept a point of view (sometimes with humor). Advertisements and political campaigning are other sources of persuasive writing.

  3. Use a graphic organizer (samples at http://www.eduplace.com/graphicorganizer/) on the display board to tell the students about the parts of a good piece of persuasive writing: central theme (clearly stated purpose), opposing viewpoint, supportive arguments, evaluation, and call to action.

  4. Read aloud a persuasive piece of writing such as an op-ed and have the students identify the elements. Fill in the graphic organizer on the display board with details the students identify. See Bibliographical Resources for persuasive articles to read aloud.

  5. Tell the students that they are going to plan to write a persuasive piece about their philanthropic experience. The writing will inform about the service and try to persuade readers to get involved in addressing the same or a related need.

  6. Help the students choose their focus with a prewriting activity. At the top of the paper, students write a statement that they are going to support in their essay. Then have them list pros and cons in a T-chart under the statement. This will form the arguments and help them see another point of view.

  7. The most common format for persuasive writing is the five-paragraph essay. Paragraph one is the introduction. The next three paragraphs are three arguments, each supported with specific facts, examples, and statistics. The fifth paragraph is the conclusion and call to action.

  8. Tell the students to avoid opinions and generalizations as supporting arguments. To provide practice in identifying good supporting arguments, give students copies of Attachment One: Supporting Facts and Statistics.

  9. Have each student (or pairs of students) create a graphic organizer like the one on the display board. They will brainstorm the elements of their persuasive piece as a prewriting activity. Give students copies of Attachment Two: Rubric: Persuasive Writing to use a guide for planning their writing.

  10. Day Two

  11. Ask the students to take out their folders of their saved prewriting activities. Have them look over their planning work from the three lessons and review the three types of writing styles. Review the three styles of writing: news article, personal narrative, and persuasive essay. Tell the students that their final assignment for the unit is to choose one of these styles for writing a final article about their service experience. They should use the appropriate rubric to guide them as they write their piece.

  12. Brainstorm with the class appropriate places they can publish their writing. Some ideas include a school or community newspaper. Students can create a special edition of a class newsletter, printing copies to share with families and other students (audio and visual). Encourage them to think about where they will publish their writing so they understand their audience as they write.

  13. After students finish writing their articles, pair students for peer editing. Then have them edit and revise before they hand in their final drafts to the teacher.

  14. Guide students in getting their articles published in a public forum.


Use students' work on Attachment One: Supporting Facts and Statistics to assess whether they recognize a good argument for their persuasive essays. Review the graphic organizers and T-charts to assess whether they are ready to start writing the persuasive essay.
Assess students' final writing by using one of the three rubrics provided in the unit.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify and research public or social issues in the community, nation or the world related to the common good. Form an opinion, and develop and present a persuasive argument using communication tools.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Analyze information to differentiate fact from opinion based on the investigation of issues related to the common good.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define and give examples of the motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.
      3. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Identify specific learning objectives from the academic core curriculum that are being applied in the service-learning project.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the goals of the project and their impact.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Describe the task and the student role.
    4. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Explain in a case statement why resources (volunteers and money) are needed.
    5. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Identify outcomes from the service.

Academic Standards

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