Writing for Action

9, 10, 11, 12

Students will identify causes that they care about and use writing as a tool to make a difference, using the persuasive writing techniques that they identified in previous lessons, by either writing to a lawmaker or a letter to the editor of a newspaper.

Lesson Rating 
PrintThree to Five Fifty-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • use a variety of resources to research an issue about which he/she cares deeply.
  • use the techniques of persuasive writing to write a letter to a lawmaker or to the editor of a newspaper advocating change regarding the issue that he/she researched.
  • work with peers to revise and edit letters.
  • Media Center for research
  • Computer for word processing
  • Writer's INC (or another writing resource book)
  • student copies of the handout: Rubric for Letters 
Home Connection 

Students may involve other adults in this assignment, researching with them at home or having others help revise and edit their letters.


Sebranek, Patrick, Dave Kember and Verne Meyer. Writer's INC: A Student Handbook for Writing and Learning. Wilmington: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001.
ISBN: 0-669-47186-0


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    As a class, brainstorm a list of social issues that students feel need attention. Lead students to discover their role in public advocacy.

  2. Tell students that they will be writing letters either to the editor of a local newspaper or to lawmakers, advocating change regarding an issue that they care about.

  3. Identify how they can find out the web address or office location of their state, local, federal elected Representatives or Senators.

  4. Review persuasive writing techniques, using Writer's INC or another resource.

  5. Give students time to research their issue in the library, making sure that they pay close attention to opposing view points, and that they get information from a variety of sources. (Make note that while a bibliography is not necessary, if they use specific information from a source, they must cite it within the letter.) As they research the issue, students should begin thinking about the most effective person to whom the letter could be sent.

  6. Once students have decided where their letters are going, they should get addresses. Look in the “Letters to the Editor” section of the newspaper for the protocol for sending those, and names and addresses of lawmakers can be found on-line. (Look up State Assembly, State Senate, US Senate, House of Representatives, etc.)

  7. Review business letter style, and have students write their letters, going through all stages of the writing process. This is especially important since the letters will be used for a purpose.


Assess letters according to rubric in Attachment One: Rubric for Letters .

Cross Curriculum 

Students will write well-researched, persuasive letters to their lawmakers, or letters to the editor, concerning issues that need to be changed.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. 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.
      2. Benchmark HS.4 Analyze and synthesize information to differentiate fact from opinion based on the investigation of issues related to public policy. Discuss these issues evaluating the effects of individual actions on other people, the rule of law and ethical behavior.
  2. 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. Benchmark HS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, 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.