Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Original Lesson 22: Younger years persuasive writing topics that worked

In addition to explanation texts, I have also recently been teaching persuasive writing in a 1/2 class. The three following topics resulted in a good quantity and quality of writing across the various ability levels of that class:

We are learning to persuade in our writing.

Success criteria:
  • You told me what side your were on at the start
  • You gave reasons why and examples/stories about those reasons
  • You concluded your writing creatively and reminded me what side you were on

1. Which toy is better: Bear v Ball

This topic was the idea of the 1/2 teaching team, not myself. I was fortunate enough to have another adult in the room for this lesson and so we had a mini debate in front of the class, each of us holding our preferred toy and expounding its features and functionalities.

I think the main reason that this topic worked so well and resulted in an abundance of writing, with very few students becoming stuck for ideas, centred on the students' ability to relate to it. Many talked about their own favourite teddies and jumping on the trampoline or having picnics with their toys.

After this lesson, many students were able to consistently explain that the nature of a persuasive text is to convince someone which thing is better.

2. Convince the principal: PE v Art

I made sure to inform students that the story I was telling them was pretend at the commencement of this lesson as I feared that otherwise I would be left with many crying children at its conclusion.

So, after delivering that caveat, I told the following story:

This morning when I came in from the car park, I had a chat to Mrs .... (principal). Mrs ... said that there is an extra specialist class available in term 3 and because 1/2... is the best behaved class in the whole school, we are going to receive that extra specialist!!! But, we need to persuade Mrs ... which specialist we want: an extra PE or an extra Art class?

I choose a few volunteers to briefly argue their side to the class on an impromptu basis to get some ideas flowing. The students then began persuading the principal to choose their specialist.

3. Hey Little Ant
This picture book fit in excellently with the integrated studies topic for the term, which was life cycles. It is a picture book about a boy who is considering squishing an ant. Taking turns, the boy and the ant argue their respective sides: to squish or not to squish. I discovered it through this blog.

All the students chose not to squash the ant, but their reasons were very creative and I think this was the result of the book's brilliant text and pictures that really inspire students to think beyond predictable arguments.

For example, a student who had been struggling with persuasive writing prior to this came up with the reason: The boy shouldn't squash him because he is a talking ant. Another student who hadn't prior to this demonstrated profound creativity wrote: How awesome would it be if the ant took you back to its home and showed you around the nest like a friend.

What persuasive writing topics have you thought of or used in your classroom?

No comments: