This resource explores instructional practices for persuasive essay writing in English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies classes.
This resource uses original content from the Texas Adolescent Literacy Academies: Focus on Writing (TALA Writing) professional development. Any handout numbers in this resource refer to the original TALA Writing handouts.
Download and print the handout packet for this resource by clicking the button below.
Persuasive essay writing is a formal writing activity that can be used in all content areas. Persuasive essays are written to influence the attitudes, thinking, or actions of the reader about debatable issues.
To write an effective persuasive essay, students need a basic understanding of the general structure of essays, including the following:
- Every type of essay has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
- The focus should always be on the development of ideas related to the topic, rather than a predetermined number of paragraphs (e.g., the five-paragraph essay).
- The topic, purpose for writing, and audience drive an essay's structure.
Content area teachers also need to provide explicit instruction on the unique characteristics or elements of the persuasive essay.
Locate Handout 30: Persuasive Essay Elements and Handout 31: Persuasive Essay Elements Mini-Chart from the handout packet.
Read the handouts. The mini-chart can be posted in a classroom or placed in students' writing folders or notebooks.
Use mentor persuasive texts and explicit teacher modeling to introduce these elements to students. It is important, however, to introduce only one or two elements at a time—more can overwhelm students.
When selecting a mentor text, keep in mind that it should align with the content you are teaching and should illustrate the specific elements, patterns, and forms of writing that you want your students to emulate in their own writing. When possible, use texts that students have previously read. The familiar content allows students to more fully concentrate on how the texts are written.
Locate the Analyzing Persuasive Writing Tool handout from the handout packet.
Read the questions posed for each persuasive essay element.
As you can see, this tool is similar to the one for expository essays. The questions guide an analysis of a mentor persuasive text. With this tool, students learn to read like writers as they interact with a mentor text and notice how it is written.
Next, use the questions on the Analyzing Persuasive Writing Tool to help you select a mentor persuasive text that would be a strong model to introduce and teach the elements of persuasive essays. In your teaching journal, write the title of this text and explain how it aligns with your curriculum.