Persuasive Writers

9, 10, 11, 12

Through persuasive writing, the learners will build awareness and invite action for change in their school, the community or the world about an issue of concern.  Typical forms may include essays, editorials, feature articles, or speeches.



PrintThree to five 50 minute class periods depending on the amount of class time needed for research and writing

The learner will:

  • define community.
  • identify motivations for volunteering/giving.
  • identify the elements of a quality piece of persuasive writing.
  • use a variety of resources to research an issue.
  • use the persuasive writing techniques to create a piece that builds awareness of a need and calls for action.
  • work with peers to revise and edit writing pieces.
  • select the most appropriate and effective venue to publish writing.
  • Learner copies of Handout One: Motivations of Giving
  • Learner copies of Handout Two: Top Ten Reasons for Youth to Volunteer
  • Examples of persuasive writing
  • Learner copies of Handout Three: Are All of the Elements There? Where’s the Evidence?
  • Learner copies of Handout Four: Issue or Concerns Brainstorming Worksheet
  • Learner copies of Handout Five: Rubric.
  • Learner copies of Handout Six: Unit Pre-Test
  • Teacher copy of Handout Seven: Unit Pre-Test - Answer Key
  • Optional: Media center for research, computer access for word processing
Home Connection 

Encourage learners to work with peers and family members on researching their chosen community need. Encourage learners to ask their peers and family members to give feedback on their essays to determine whether their writing is persuasive.

  • Bullock, Richard.  The Norton Field Guide to Writing. W.W. Norton.  (ISBN 978-0-393-97776-9)
  • Crusius, Timothy W., and Carolyn E. Cannell. The Aims of Argument:A Text and Reader. 5th Ed. McGraw-Hill. (ISBN 0-07-320957-0)  
  • Lunsford, Andrea and Robert Connors. The New St. Martin’s Handbook. Boston:  Bedford/St. Martins, 1999. (ISBN: 0-312-16744-X)
  • Motivated to Give /units/motivated-give-12th-grade/motivated-give-12th-grade
  • Quindlen, Anna.  Thinking Out Loud. New York:  Random House, Rept. in Trimmer, Joseph F. Writing with a Purpose.Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1995.
  • Romano, Tom. Crafting. Authentic Voice. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann, 2004. (ISBN:0-325-00597-4)
  • Trimmer, Joseph F.  Writing with a Purpose. Boston:  Houghton Mifflan, 1995. (ISBN: 0-39534246-5)


  1. Day One: Teacher Note: Before the class period begins, write the words and definitions of community and social action on the display area. Community: A group of people living in the same area and under the same government; a class or group having common interests. Social action: The process of acting for the general welfare of all.

    Anticipatory Set: Give each learner two sticky notes (two different colors). Ask them to think about someone who gives their time, talent, and treasure for the common good by volunteering or taking social action. Challenge the students to infer what motivated that person to act philanthropically. On one sticky note have them write what they think motivates adults to be philanthropic. On the second sticky note have them write what might motivate them (or other teens) to get involved in volunteering/giving activities.

  2. Distribute Handout One: Motivations of Giving and instruct the learners to read the article.

  3. As they are reading, list the seven motivations from the handout as column headings on the display area. After they have finished reading, briefly discuss the seven motivations. Read the following statements aloud and ask the students to tell which motivation each one represents.

    • “Hey, one good turn deserves another, I always say.” Giving Back
    • “I’d rather give locally than to a similar national organization” Being Part of a Community
    • “I guess I never really thought about it. It’s just something I’ve always done.” Family Tradition
    • “I give when my accountant says it would be in my best interest.” Good Business
    • “If the world is going to improve, we all need to pitch in.” Selfless Concern
    • “Some of my best friends throw great fundraising parties.” Social Function
    • “Aren’t we told to 'Do unto others as we would have them do unto us'?” Religion/Spiritual
  4. Have the learners look at their first sticky note that tells what motivates adults to give. Tell the students to bring their sticky notes up to the display area and place them under one of the seven columns that best matches their explanation. When all the adult-motivation notes are up, have them look over the chart and see their classmates' ideas. Discuss any new ideas or observations.

  5. Now distribute and have the learners read Handout Two: Top Ten Reasons for Youth to Volunteer. While they are reading, place the ten reasons across the top of a chart on the display area.

  6. Have the learners reread their second sticky note (student motivations) and come to the display area to place their comment in the column that best matches their personal motivation to give.

  7. Discuss the similarities and differences between adults and teens in the motivations for volunteering.

  8. Tell the learners that in the next few lessons they will be using persuasive writing to promote social action and motivate others to give time, talent, or treasure for the common good.

  9. For homework, assign Handout Four: Issues or Concerns Brainstorming Worksheet. Ask the learners to brainstorm a list of local community, state, national, or international concerns or issues for which they would like to advocate taking action. Suggest that they consult with their peers, family members, and community members to create the list and bring it to the next class session. Have them fill in as much of the table as possible.

  10. Day Two: Anticipatory set: Before learners enter the room, write the following quote on the board: “The pen is mightier than the sword” (Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1939). Ask students to share with a partner what they think the quote means and whether they agree with the quote. After a few minutes of peer discussion, ask for a few volunteers to share what they think the author meant. Take an informal class poll about whether or not the students agree or disagree with the quote.

  11. Introduce the concept that young people can be arbiters of change through writing.

  12. Discuss people who have advocated for change through their writing. (Two examples are Temple Grandin and Rachel Carson. Background information maybe found at: Temple Grandin /resources/grandin-temple Rachel Carson /resources/carson-rachel

  13. Explain that there are specific techniques writers use to persuade their audiences. Review the techniques of building a persuasive argument for action/change.

    • Consider the audience. Who are the learners trying to persuade or ask for help?
    • Create the thesis or proposition. After choosing an issue to address, develop the reasons why the action/change is needed.
    • Document evidence for the proposition. Include facts to support the proposition. These should be explained with logical reasoning.
    • Explain the opposing viewpoint. Include reasons why others might think that the action/change can’t happen.
    • Explain faulty reasoning. Using facts of support for the action, explain how an opponent’s reasoning may be faulty.
    • Outline argument by deductive/inductive reasoning, grouping, or alternating points. Deductive reasoning works from generalizations about a topic to more specific ideas about a topic. Inductive reasoning works in the reverse.
    • Consider using different appeals of logic and emotion. Choose appeals that are specific to the audience.
    • Conclude forcefully.
  14. Have the students read an example of a persuasive essay.

  15. While reading the essay, students identify the persuasive techniques using Handout Three: Are All of the Elements There? Where’s the Evidence? as a guide. After the students have worked for ten minutes, discuss and compare the evidence they found for each of the elements.

  16. Review the information students gathered as homework on Handout Four: Issues or Concerns Brainstorming Worksheet. Ask the class to share some of the issues and challenges they came up with. Produce a list of ideas on the display area.

  17. Each learner chooses an issue from the brainstormed list (or one of their own choices) on which to write a well-researched, persuasive advocacy piece. Before beginning the writing, they need to research the subject, decide on the audience, and choose the most effective persuasive writing techniques. The class may agree to all write about the same issue.

  18. Homework: Have the learners research their issue or concern and write the first draft of a persuasive piece at home. Give the learners a copy of Handout Five: Persuasive Essay Rubric and tell them that this is how their writing will be evaluated. (If time allows, the research and writing may be done as an in-class activity.)

  19. Day Three: (Begin Day-Three activities after the learners have had adequate time for research and writing.)

  20. Ask the learners to form groups of two or three students and read aloud to their group the first drafts of the persuasive essays. Ask the learners to peer edit each other’s writing, using Handout Five: Persuasive Essay Rubric.

  21. Help learners decide where, when, and how they will publish their work.

  22. Homework: Assign revising and publishing the persuasive writing piece as homework or plan an additional class sessions for this purpose. Establish a date for completion and protocol for documentation of how the piece was published.

Cross Curriculum 

Learners will “publish” their persuasive writing pieces as acts of advocacy in a forum that will create understanding of community needs and encourage active involvement in solutions.

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. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.8 Explain how a robust civil-society sector supports civil society.
    2. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Describe how the common good was served in an historical event as a result of action by a civil society sector organization.
    3. 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.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss a public policy issue affecting the common good and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Cite historical examples of citizen actions that affected the common good.
  4. 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.