Freedom Isn't Free
  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Explain and give examples of how a democratic constitution requires and protects philanthropic behavior as a democratic principle.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Utilize the persuasive power of written or oral communication as an instrument of change in the community, nation or the world.

In a persuasive essay learners will describe responsibilities of American citizenship and determine the cost of freedom. They will determine whether philanthropic giving is a part of those costs.

PrintFive Fifty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • describe and give examples of the characteristics of persuasive writing.
  • demonstrate the writing process for a persuasive essay.
  • identify Core Democratic Values that describe the privilege and responsibilities of citizenship.
  • determine the cost of freedom.
  • Core Democratic Values and Where They Originate in Our Founding Documents (Handout One), for Teacher Reference
  • Essay Rubric (Handout Two)
  • Evaluation Sheet (Handout Three), student copies
Home Connection: 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:None for this lesson.


The Veterans of Foreign Wars, “Voice of Democracy” Essay Competition.

The Voice of Democracy is an annual national audio essay contest that is designed to foster patriotism by giving high school students in grades 9 through 12 the opportunity to voice their opinion about their personal obligations as an American and address their responsibility to our country. Created in 1947, the scholarship program annually provides more than $3 million in scholarships. Contestants write and record a three to five minute essay on an annual theme.

  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Put the term “persuade” on the chalkboard. Ask the learners to define the term and describe what “persuasion” sounds like.

    Explain that persuasive writing is used to convince; it relies on reasoning and clear logic, and is used all the time (to convince someone to vote for a specific candidate or issue, to hire us, to accept our point of view). In general, a persuasive argument has the following characteristics:

    • deals with a debatable subject
    • assumes that the reader does not agree
    • anticipates the reader’s concerns and opposing point of view
    • refutes opposing arguments
    • presents supporting details using statistics, examples and/or evidence
    • clearly places the topic or thesis sentence at the beginning or end
    • follows an organizational plan which anticipates objections by the reader
    • relies on logical reasoning
    • uses subtle emotional or psychological appeals
    • depends in large part on the writer’s credibility for acceptance
    • avoids a second-person point of view to avoid antagonizing the reader
    • avoids a first-person point of view to help the reader focus on the subject, rather than on the writer
    • uses effective transitions to move the reader smoothly through the evidence
    • concludes with a logically reasonable statement of what the reader should do or think.
  2. Ask the learners for examples of each item to clarify the characteristics.

  3. Have the learners select “light” topics for a practice exercise on writing a persuasive paper. Work the learners through the process of writing a persuasive practice paper using the following steps:

  4. 1. Focus on the Subject:

    The subject for a persuasive paper must be debatable. There must be a reason for writing.

    • In order to focus on the subject, first write a sentence that indicates what you want the reader to think.

    • Think of the following in choosing the topic: I want to write about this topic because...; I have enough supporting ideas such as ...; I should keep this topic because...

  5. 2. Studying the Reader’s/Speaker’s Position

    Since you assume that the reader is antagonistic, put yourself in that person’s place.

    • Anticipate his or her concerns by answering the following questions:

    • What is the reader’s position on this issue?

    • What information does the reader have/not have which is relevant to the issue?

    • What objective does the reader have toward your position, if any?

    • How will the issue affect the reader personally, if at all?

  6. 3. Thinking Through the Arguments

    Answer the following questions about your point of view:

    • What information can I give the reader to make his/her current position uncomfortable?

    • What facts, statistics, examples or illustrations will help the reader see the importance of changing his/her position?

    • What information can I include that will negate the reader’s counterarguments?

    • What personal appeal will most likely cause the reader to take action?

  7. 4. Doing the Research

    Seek out facts and arguments to support your argument.

    • Look for authorities who support your point of view.

    • Read about opposing arguments as well as to understand the opposition’s point of view and to be able to refute it.

  8. 5. Getting the Arguments on Paper

    The writer must somehow appeal to the reader in order to change his or her position or opinion. (Use logic, emotional appeal or being credible.)

    • Begin with the topic sentence and provide supportive arguments.

  9. 6. Revising/Analyzing the Content

    After writing the first draft, ask:

    • Have I included a clear topic sentence, either at the beginning or the end?
    • Is the content easy to follow with clear, concise sentences?
    • Have I refuted the major opposing arguments and given additional supporting arguments?
    • Is my subject debatable?
    • Do I show an understanding of both points of view?
  10. State, “For every right of citizenship, there is a corresponding duty.” Using an American history or government textbook, have the learners turn to the Constitution, and other documents, and list the rights citizens have. See Core Democratic Values and Where They Originate in Our Founding Documents (Handout One). Now have them look for the duties of citizenship. (Many of these are not written and can only be inferred, without penalties if not completed.) Ask, “Since most of the duties are not included in the Founding Documents, do we really have duties of citizenship?” Discuss. Can philanthropy be considered a duty of citizenship?

  11. Write the following statement on the board or on a large sheet of paper:

    Freedom isn’t free. It passes on an enormous debt to the recipient.

    Using this as the topic, assign a persuasive essay on this topic to the class.

  12. Distribute Essay Rubric (Handout Two). Go over the essay requirements, emphasizing the importance of including Core Democratic Values and philanthropy.

  13. Instruct the students to write a first draft. Explain that a first draft is necessary for developing content and transferring ideas to paper. Do not be concerned about errors and appearance in a first draft.

  14. Revision: In small groups or as pairs, instruct the students to read each other’s papers and complete an Evaluation Sheet (Handout Three) for the paper read.

  15. Direct students to revise the first draft of their essay based on the peer(s) evaluation and suggestions. This should result in a second, revised draft of the essay. The students’ essays should then be edited for errors.

  16. Instruct the students to produce a final copy of the essay. Preferably this is a computer generated copy, but ink and paper are acceptable.

  17. As a resource for others, let the learners select three to five essays which best exemplify the essay theme. Tape the essays or display the completed copies in the Media Center. An attractive display may encourage other learners to listen to or read the essays.


Learning may be assessed through the completed final copy of the essay.