Friday, December 26, 2008

Teaching Persuasive Writing

For the first time first grade teachers in our county are being asked to add a new genre of writing to our curriculum - persuasive writing. The unit is planned for about three weeks at the end of the third nine weeks, so one of my goals for this break was to find resources that are practical and exciting for my teachers as they delve into this new genre.

I have just finished Sarah Picard Taylor's Teaching Persuasive Writing. Sarah is part of Lucy Calkin's Teacher College Reading and Writing Project so her lessons fit easily with the Units of Study for Primary Writing and Stephanie Parsons' First Grade Writers that we already use. This pocket sized book is an easy read and more than that, a common sense guide to making persuasive writing relevant to our young writers by showing how easy it would be to deliver their writings to a real audience. Taylor suggests a unit of signs and posters that affect people's lives for kindergartners, persuasive letter writing for our first graders to help them make our world a better place, followed by writing reviews of movies, food, books and video games in second grade!

These are some of the things that really sparked my interest for a first grade unit of persuasive letter writing:
  • Designing special writing paper for persuasive letters that could be part of an art lesson and could be copied for all students to use.
  • Launching the unit by reading Click, Clack, Moo which is the story of how a group of barnyard animals used letter writing to change their world.
  • Mini-lesson to raise the level of writing such as providing reasons in order to persuade, using a particular incident to persuade, using transitional phrases (This is important because... Another reason is... For example,...), revising to add details, imagining your audience, how and when to use a writing partner, and using the word wall to spell conventionally.
  • One of the most exciting ideas was to actually send out the letters into the world. There is no better way to teach a child that his writing can make a difference than to actually send out some letters and have the children receive responses! It also would help a student internalize the idea of author's purpose - why do author's write what they write.
There are so many things that our young children feel passionate about from changing their bed time to why we can't recycle the Styrofoam plates in the Dining Room! They talk about the things that matter to them on a daily basis. I can just see the "power of the pen" that these young writers could feel. What a gift to give writers so early in their writing careers! Suddenly, I can't wait for this writing genre!


debrennersmith said...

I wrote about this on my blog. Something I wrote might help. deb

Mrs. McLeod said...

Of course being a 1st grade teacher at heart, I was very excited to read this post. I am interested to see what ground work the 1st grade team can lay this year for this new unit of study. I would also love to borrow this book from you to read about the 2nd grade ideas. Thanks for sharing!

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