“Getting our Paws into the Cause”

9, 10, 11, 12

In this lesson the learners will identify a specific local, state, and/or national animal welfare organization. They will research their identified organization and develop a planned intervention strategy to help persuade others to take up the “cause(s)” of this group/organization using a letter-writing style or other advocacy type of their choice.

PrintTwo 45 to 50 minute class periods

The learner will:

  • state the need for advocacy.
  • select, research, and identify “a cause” of a local, state, and/or national animal welfare group.
  • develop a persuasive, effective intervention addressing “the cause” of the identified local, state, and/or national animal welfare group utilizing editorial letter-writing as the advocacy strategy (or other type of advocacy).
  • evaluate the effectiveness of their advocacy strategy based on self and group assessment.
  • Learner copies of Handout One: Advocacies
  • Learner copies of Handout Two: Poem: Not to Hurt…
  • Learner copies of Handout Three: Animal Welfare Groups: Editorial/Letter Writing Rubric
  • Learner copies of Handout Four: Editorial/Letter Writing Rubric

For additional related topics and materials see: 


  1. Day One: Anticipatory Set: Prior to the start of this class, reproduce enough copies of Handout One: Advocacy Scenarios so that when cut apart each learner will receive one of the scenarios. Randomly hand each learner one of the scenarios. Review advocacy (types and styles) and common good from Lessons One and Two. Assign areas in the room for each group to meet. Have the learners go to their assigned number area with their scenario, read their scenario and respond as a group, to the questions posed at the end of each scenario. Have each group identify a spokesperson to read their group’s scenario and responses to the questions. Allow the whole class time to discuss each scenario. Be sure that the learners understand that often advocacies are prompted by 1) a sense of injustice, 2) by individuals or groups who are passionate about their cause, usually because they have encountered the injustice, 3) by individuals or groups who are compassionate; they feel that someone needs to speak for those who have “no voice.”

  2. While still in their groups, distribute Handout Two: A Poem to students and have them read the poem and respond to the questions on the handout.

  3. After an appropriate amount of time to complete this group assignment, have a spokesperson from each group read their responses to the questions and allow for group discussion.

  4. Write the term animal welfare on the display board and take a minute to review its meaning. Tell the learners that they will be given an opportunity to speak for animals that have no voice. They are being asked to select and advocate for an animal welfare cause using the editorial/letter writing method of advocacy. (Students may choose to use a different strategy such as creating a presentation from their research, creating a pamphlet, and/or publishing a newspaper-style article in the school newspaper. See the Extensions below.)

  5. Assess prior knowledge about editorials. Lead the learners to an understanding that editorials are writings intended to provide information as well as a point of view. They are often written in a way to persuade the reader to agree with the writer’s point of view and/or take action.

  6. Share this scenario with the learners: The local newspaper has asked for informational and persuasive editorial “Call to Action” letters to be placed in the newspaper encouraging its readership to become more involved in animal welfare issues. As a class we have agreed to respond to this request. (Prior arrangements with the local newspaper to have selected letters actually published would add authenticity to this assignment.)

  7. Have the learners use the Internet and/or print resources to research local, national or international animal welfare organizations. They should select and plan a persuasive editorial to encourage the readers to become involved in the organization they have chosen.

  8. Distribute copies of Handout Three: Animal Welfare Groups: Editorial/Letter Writing Rubric review this rubric, respond to any questions, and instruct the learners to use this rubric to guide their “Call for Action” editorial letter writing.

  9. Assign a due date for the completion of the research and the “Call to Action” editorial letters.

  10. Day Two:

  11. On the day that the “Call to Action” editorial letters are due, have each learner take 2-4 minutes to share their written editorial letters (or other advocacy project).

  12. If part of the regular language arts curriculum writing process, allow 1-2 minutes for a peer-review and/or question/answer time. Tell the “class audience” that they need to be sure that the proposed advocacy is clearly established and that the letter contains persuasive qualities.

  13. Following the readings, peer review and the overall discussion of the proposed letter, tell the learners that they will need to make the adjustments that they choose as a result of the peer review and hand these letters to you prior to or at the start of the next class period in order to get full credit.

  14. Conclude this unit by having the learners engage in a dialogue that reflects their understanding of these two quotes: Ben Franklin’s quote: “The pen is mightier than the sword.”, and Paulo Freire’s quote: “Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.”


Learner involvement in the classroom discussions as well as the depth and accuracy of the research and an evaluation of the editorial letter writing based on Handout Three: Editorial Letter-Writing Rubric will form the basis for the assessment of this lesson. Consideration could also be given to assessing the learner’s oral response to the two quotes: Ben Franklin’s quote: “The pen is mightier than the sword.”, and Paulo Freire’s quote: “Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.”

Cross Curriculum 

The learners will use their growing understanding of the nature and necessity of advocacy to seek support for a “cause." In this lesson, editorial letter-writing is given as an example of what students may choose to do. The learners will supply information to their peers and seek their support for animal welfare cause(s).

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.6 Describe how the civil society sector is often the origin of new ideas, projects and innovation and social renewal.
      2. Benchmark HS.7 Describe how the civil society sector provides mediation for individuals and governments.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Describe and give examples of characteristics of someone who helps others.
      2. Benchmark HS.5 Describe civil society advocacy organizations and their relationship to human rights.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give an example why conflict may exist between individual freedom and the community.
      2. Benchmark HS.10 Discuss the results of private citizen voluntary action intended for the common good on public policy changes.
      3. Benchmark HS.9 Explain the role that public interest groups play in public policy formation.
    3. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the community, state or nation, such as petitioning authority, advocating, voting, group problem solving, mock trials or classroom governance and elections.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    3. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Describe a detailed action for service.
    4. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.
      2. Benchmark HS.3 Identify outcomes from the service.