Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Persuasive Writing Lessons and Videos

In April you are going to take part in the Assessment For Learning Writing Evaluation. This assessment will be conducted provincially, and results will be collected by the Ministry of Education. You will be assessed on 2 of the 3 forms of writing: Narrative, Expository and Persuasive. We have explored Narrative and Expository forms in most of our writing. So now I want to devote more of an indepth study into the Persuasive form. If you are comfortable with the persuasive form, you will be comfortable with expository writing. Narrative comes very naturally, as it relates to telling a story or retelling a significant event in a person's life...

The following prompt relates to what we are doing right now in ELA. I will guide you through the process of persuasive writing, but I know that some students will want a head start to prepare.

The following are notes on how to write a persuasive essay.

In persuasive writing, a writer takes a position FOR or AGAINST an issue and writes to convince the reader to believe or do something.
Persuasive writing is often used in advertisements to get the reader to buy a product. It is also used in essays and other types of writing to get the reader to accept a point of view. In order to convince the reader you need more than opinion; you need facts or examples to back your opinion. So, be sure to do the research!
Persuasive writing follows a particular format. It has an introduction, a body where the argument is developed, and a conclusion. After writing an essay, like any other piece of writing, you should read, revise,conference and revise, before publishing the final product. 

The introduction has a "hook or grabber" to catch the reader's attention. Some "grabbers" include:

1. Opening with an unusual detail: (Manitoba, because of its cold climate, is not thought of as a great place to be a reptile. Actually, it has the largest seasonal congregation of garter snakes in the world!)
2. Opening with a strong statement: (Cigarettes are the number one cause of lighter sales in Canada!)
3. Opening with a Quotation: (Elbert Hubbard once said , "Truth is stronger than fiction.")
4. Opening with an Anecdote: An anecdote can provide an amusing and attention-getting opening if it is short and to the point.
5. Opening with a Statistic or Fact: Sometimes a statistic or fact will add emphasis or interest to your topic. It may be wise to include the item's authoritative source.
6. Opening with a Question. (Have you ever considered how many books we'd read if it were not for television?)
7. Opening with an Exaggeration or Outrageous Statement. (The whole world watched as the comet flew overhead.)

Thesis Statement
The introduction should also include a thesis or focus statement.
There are three objectives of a thesis statement:

Through the thesis, you should say to the reader:
"I've thought about this topic, I know what I believe about it, and I know how to organize it."

Example Introduction:
[GRABBER-OPENING WITH A STRONG STATEMENT] Of all the problems facing the environment today, the one that bothers me the most is global warming. Some scientists say that the earth is getting warmer because of the greenhouse effect. [THESIS STATEMENT] In this paper I will describe the greenhouse effect and whether the earth's atmosphere is actually getting warmer.

  1. It tells the reader the specific topic of your essay.
  2. It imposes manageable limits on that topic.
  3. It suggests the organization of your paper.

The Body: 
The writer then provides evidence to support the opinion offered in the thesis statement in the introduction. The body should consist of at least three paragraphs. Each paragraph is based on a solid reason to back your thesis statement. Since almost all issues have sound arguments on both sides of the question, a good persuasive writer tries to anticipate opposing viewpoints and provide counter-arguments along with the main points in the essay. One of the three paragraphs should be used to discuss opposing viewpoints and your counter-argument.

Elaboration: Use statistics or research, real-life experiences, or examples. 

  • Generating hypothetical instance: Used particularly when creating an argument and you want the reader to see a different point of view. Use cues for the reader. (eg.: suppose that, what if...)
  • Clarifying a position: Think about what needs to be explained and what can be assumed.
  • Thinking through a process: Think through the procedure from start to finish. Most often the sentence will begin with a verb. Provide background information a reader may need. Illustrate whenever appropriate. Define special terms used. Use cues for the reader. (e.g..: first, second, next, then etc.)
  • Drawing comparisons: Choose something similar to what is being explained. Use one of two patterns: Opposing or Alternating. End with a conclusion. Use cues for the reader.
  • Making an analysis: You can analyze a problem by looking at the parts and therefore help the reader to understand.
  • Drawing an analogy: Use an analogy to explain or elaborate and idea by identifying significant likenesses between two objects or ideas when otherwise they are quite different. This is helpful when the comparison is made to something that is familiar to the reader.
  • Generating hypothetical instance: Used particularly when creating an argument and you want the reader to see a different point of view. Use cues for the reader. (e.g..: suppose that, what if...)

The Conclusion
A piece of persuasive writing usually ends by summarizing the most important details of the argument and stating once again what the reader is to believe or do.

  1. Restate your thesis or focus statement.
  2. Summarize the main points: The conclusion enables your reader to recall the main points of your position. In order to do this you can paraphrase the main points of your argument.
  3. Write a personal comment or call for action. You can do this:

    • With a Prediction: This can be used with a narrative or a cause and effect discussion. The conclusion may suggest or predict what the results may or may not be in the situation discussed or in similar situations.
    • With a Question: Closing with a question lets your readers make their own predictions, draw their own conclusions.
    • With Recommendations: A recommendations closing is one that stresses the actions or remedies that should be taken.
    • With a Quotation: Since a quotation may summarize, predict, question, or call for action, you may use a quotation within a conclusion for nearly any kind of paper.

As a general guideline, when writing a persuasive essay:

  • Have a firm opinion that you want your reader to accept.
  • Begin with a grabber or hook to get the reader's attention.
  • Offer evidence to support your opinion.
  • Conclude with a restatement of what you want the reader to do or believe.

Persuasive Writing: General Tips:

  • Make your argument clear right away. This will be your thesis. (e.g. Dogs are better than cats.)
  • Have at least two good, strong reasons to support your side of the
  • Develop each of the reasons with different types of evidence.
  • Evidence can be facts and details that support those reasons.
  • Anticipate your readers’ objections and address them in your paper.
  • When you include an objection someone might have to your side (such as “Cats are better because they require less attention.”), show why your point is stronger than your opponent’s objection.
  • End with a good, clear, strong conclusion in which you re-state your main point or thesis again.

Persuasive Essay Outline

I. Introduction:
  1. Get the readers attention by using a "hook."
  2. Give some background information if necessary.
  3. Thesis or focus statement.
II. First argument or reason to support your position:
  1. Topic sentence explaining your point.
  2. Elaboration to back your point.
III. Second argument or reason to support your position:
  1. Topic sentence explaining your point.
  2. Elaboration to back your point.
IV. Third argument or reason to support your position:
  1. Topic sentence explaining your point.
  2. Elaboration to back your point.
V. Opposing Viewpoint: (This is optional, however highly recommended, so that the reader will know you have considered another point of view and have a rebuttal to it.)
  1. Opposing point to your argument.
  2. Your rebuttal to the opposing point.
  3. Elaboration to back your rebuttal.
VI. Conclusion:
  1. Summary of main points or reasons
  2. Restate thesis statement.
  3. Personal comment or a call to action.


25 Rules on Writing a Persuasive Essay. This video was based on a powerpoint and transitions quickly between slides. Get ready to pause, so you can process and think about the rule presented. Oh and try not to get too over-energized by the music. For some people I imagine the music fits persuasive writing. For me... I wanted to quickly grab a piece of paper and start brainstorming! Wait a second... maybe this might be good for using in the classroom...


A really good persuasive writing video... I selected it for the format that the teacher also explores regarding how to write using the writing process...

How to write an essay... I love the graphic organizers. We will use one that is similar to this!

Persuasive Writing Video - A cute video on how to do Persuasive Writing. This girl knows what she is talking about!! Listen to her video on how to write a persuasive essay...

Persuasive Paragraph Example

Visit Brad's Personal PageParagraph illustrating how to write persuasion with supporting facts. Sources for the paragraph follow.

     Although many of us find fast food convenient when we are in a rush, it is a bad idea to eat it too much or too often. Recently, McDonald’s in Canada has had the two dollar deal: a Big Mac and small fries. This is a very big temptation, and even my son (who doesn’t normally eat at McDonald’s) bought this meal last week. But what did he eat when he ate a Big Mac and fries? First, in the hamburger he got 570 calories, with almost half of them (280 calories) coming from fat. Ten grams of this fat is saturated, the most dangerous kind, the kind which is harmful to our heart. The Canadian Food Guide recommends that we "choose lower-fat foods more often." Now, remember that my son also gets a small fries! Unfortunately, there are another 210 calories in the fries, with 10 more grams of fat (1.5 grams of it saturated). I’m sure he bought a drink as well, which adds another 150 calories (small size). Now, imagine he eats this dinner more than once a week! A two dollar meal contains a lot of fat. So, although it is very convenient (and cheap) to buy fast food, it is quite alarming to see just how much fat we are eating—I think I’ll go and eat an apple, instead! (Written as an example of persuasive writing, using facts to support opinions)
Sources for the Paragraph
Information on nutritional content of fast food:
Fast Food Facts

Canadian Food Guide(Information on fat in diet)

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
 (A book on the fast food industry)

Fast Food? Be Careful What You Eat!