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A Quick Guide to Teaching Persuasive Writing, K–2

1. Persuasive Writing in the Primary Grades
2. Writing Persuasive Letters
3. Writing Persuasive Reviews
4. Delivering Persuasive Writing to an Audience
Works Cited
Books Recommended by This Author

Sample Chapter: Persuasive Writing in the Primary Grades

Model Texts and Other In-Text References Bibliography of Cited and Recommended Titles

I grew up in a small midwestern community but I wanted to know the world. I woke up early and rushed home after school to watch the national network news because we did not have cable or the Internet. I had to catch the news when it was actually on television. I loved listening to Secretary of State George Schultz tell about the foreign countries he visited, and I was a huge fan of Tip O'Neil's. I would listen to George talk about the people of Russia as I pulled on my snow pants and moon boots, preparing to brave the long walk to the bus. I admired the way Tip swung the gavel. I watched the news to learn about other places in the world and became aware of all the people I wanted to meet, help, and understand. I was inspired by the labor movement in Poland and was concerned for Libya. I talked about all of this with friends at recess and tried to persuade them to think like me. Yes, right there on the playground, I was talking about trade unions and solidarity and arguing for peace on behalf of the Libyan people. These may have been one-sided conversations, but I thought it was important for my friends to know about these issues. I wanted to persuade them to care as much as I did and do something to make life better for other people.

As I work in classrooms in New York City and across the country, I am reminded each day of the reason I decided to teach—our children have voices that need to be heard. Even five-, six-, and seven-year-olds can learn to be advocates for issues they care about—whether those involve world events, video games, or classroom life. Children can advocate for more pencils or books for their classroom. They can advocate for others too. The seniors at the local senior center may need more magazines. It makes sense, then, to teach a unit of study on persuasive letter writing so students can see their words making a difference. Also, a new version of Monopoly is the best yet, a new restaurant down the block gives free markers while you wait, and the latest Magic Tree House book is unbelievable!

It makes sense, then, to teach a unit of study on persuasive review writing so students can see readers believing in and agreeing with their words.

This book is organized to help teach units of study on persuasive writing. The first chapter describes the reasons to try a persuasive writing unit of study. The next two chapters provide two possible persuasive writing units of study for primary classrooms. The final chapter includes tips and ideas to help young writers get their persuasive writing out into the world.

The units described here are written in such a way that they stand on the shoulders of other units in Units of Study for Primary Writing (Calkins et al. 2003). As you read, you might take notes and plan to rally some colleagues to teach these units with you. You will find helpful photos and stories from actual classrooms to help you work through the hard parts.

The units stand on the shoulders of books by Katherine Bomer, Katie Ray, Stephanie Parsons, and Janet Angelillo. In addition, Lucy Calkins and Cory Gillette's work with persuasive essaying for older writers helped me see a line of growth for students.

I wrote this book knowing that most of you reading it already teach in classrooms with ongoing writing workshops and know the ebb and flow of a writing workshop unit of study. The way the lessons are described, with connections, teaching points, active engagements, and links, will feel familiar. However, if you are new to workshop teaching, I invite you to come along on the journey. Read the stories of the teachers and children. I hope you will be persuaded to join us in the writing workshop!


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