I'm here to share a lesson that we use when we are introducing persuasive/opinion writing. We use this super cute book:
Summary from Amazon:
"On weekends, redheaded Tillie climbs trees and teaches her little brother how to skip. During the week, of course, she goes to school. Her principal, Mr. Keene, is the kind of gung ho leader any school would be lucky to have. That is, until he goes a little over the top. "Oh!" he says. "Aren't these fine children? Aren't these fine teachers? Isn't this a fine, fine school?" And then this exuberant administrator decides five days isn't nearly enough for such a fine school. "From now on, let's have school on Saturdays, too!" The teachers and students are not thrilled, but no one is willing to burst Mr. Keene's bubble. Soon their well-meaning principal has done away with weekends, holidays, and summer vacation. It's time for someone to take action... gently, though. Young Tillie has just the right amount of subtlety and tact--and motivation--for the job."
So, how do we use this book?
Well, I tell the students that I have read them this book because I wanted to prepare them...our principal is thinking about having us come to school on Saturday!!!!
Of course there are moans and groans and usually some outrage, which is exactly what I am looking for.
Now, this book does a great job of sharing the students' side of why we should NOT have school on weekends and holidays, and so this is why I usually use this as one of our first persuasive writing pieces. I know that the students are going to use a lot of the ideas from the book, which is fine because they will be successful (and I want to set them up for success on one of their first pieces).
So, we brainstorm lists of pros and cons of coming to school on Saturday.
Then, I write a letter to our principal from my perspective, as a teacher, to model for them what I am looking for. We talk about arguing a point, but also knowing both sides of the situation. So, I model sentences like, "I know it would seem like teaching students for an extra day each week would seem to help them learn more information faster. However, I think students will be tired having to come to school 6 days a week, plus they may be distracted by the fun they are missing out on by being at school (ball games, birthday parties, etc.). It's very difficult to teach students who are tired and distracted and that means we would actually get behind because I would have to reteach everything."
And so on.
Then, students decide which side they want to take (and yes, I had a student this year who loves school and wants to be a teacher when she grows up, plus her sisters annoy her, so she wanted to come to school on Saturday!!!).
Then, they decide on 2-3 main points that they want to argue and work on building solid arguments with a lot of details to back themselves up!
They set their letter up like a normal letter and have an opening paragraph stating the issue at hand and their opinion. Then they write their 2-3 paragraphs supporting their opinion, and conclude the letter by appealing to our principal and rephrasing their opinion.
I have to make sure I explain that they don't want to sound angry in their letter because the principal will not listen if you say something like, "I think it's ridiculous that you are thinking about making us come to school on Saturdays! What are you thinking?" We talk a lot about mood and tone of our letters. We want to be sugary sweet and really lay the guilt trip on her that we don't want to come to school on Saturday without just disagreeing with her.
Once all of the letters are finished, of course, I tell them that I was just kidding. I've even emailed parents ahead of time and told them what I'm doing so when the kids come home upset about it, they understand what the students are talking about. At least, that's how I did it in third grade. In 4th, some of them catch on that I'm not serious so then I have to tell them to pretend and still try to channel that inner concern and anger about it.
So, this is just one of many books that I use to teach/model persuasive/opinion writing! There are so many great ones out there!
Make sure you head to Jessica's blog to check out all of the other great persuasive writing ideas for
Do you think I'm mean for tricking my students?? ;O)
PS- Sorry there aren't very many pictures in this post!