Thursday, March 25, 2010

Writing Persuasive Lessons

The state has mandated in Florida that we teach persuasive writing as a new genre in writing in kindergarten and first grade. However, as usual, the resources to go along with the mandate are limited. Our own county offers a handful of very weak lessons so our Kindergarten group, as usual, turned to Lucy Calkins at Teachers College and used her A Quick Guide to Teaching Persuasive Writing as our learning text. It's a tiny little book full of ideas.
On our school's Pacing Guide we teach persuasive writing for three week when we return from Spring Break. Last year a group of Kindergarten teachers wrote 15 lessons for first grade on persuasive writing. After the lesson were taught a group of K-1-2 teachers met and decided, after looking at the Sunshine State Standards, what would be the focus of each grade for persuasive writing and what books we needed to order to support the work. We also wrote a rubric for the writing in each grade since we wanted to have the end in mind before writing the lessons. So... as the Kindergarten writing group (Haley Alvarado, Debbie Harbour, Julia Lewis and Maria Mallon) assembled this year, much of the framework had been laid. The focus of today's group was to write the 15 lessons (3 weeks) to be used in persuasive writing for kindergartners.
The Sunshine State Standard is simply to select a person, pet or thing and write what you like and why. This is very similar to the children selecting a favorite Eric Carle book and telling about their favorite part of why a particular book is their favorite. This is a skill we have practiced as part of the Eric Carle Author Study we are just completing so it was the perfect place to start this persuasive unit.

Our goal in Kindergarten is simply to introduce the children to writing a letter and addressing an envelope. The end-of-unit content is to choose an opinion about something and then to support the opinion with details. Along the way there are some drafting, pre-writing type activities and some editing skills to be taught.

The teachers collaborated all day. At the end of the day they put the lessons on a Google doc so the group today can see all of the lessons together and edit them before the teaching begins. After Spring Break the 14 Kindergarten teachers will be able to pull up the edited lesson in their Google docs and will be able to make additional edits and revisions as they teach the lessons. Finally after all 14 Kindergarten teachers have had the opportunity to teach and work on the lessons and the lessons have been edited, they will be housed on the Kindergarten wiki for teachers in future years to use and revise. Not only is it fun to envision a unit and write the lessons, but you learn so much by working with your peers. Maybe it's a good thing that the resources and lessons offered are so weak. It gives us a chance to turn that into a strong professional development opportunity... and it's FUN!


Mrs.Mallon & Mrs. Dillard said...

Can't wait to try out all of the great lessons. What a great way to give the fourth quarter of the school year some persuasive pizazz.MM

Deb said...

Hi! I am 4-6 resource teacher in ct. I love your blog and enjoy the book of the month(have used quite a few of them!)I also use the wikis k&1st and pass the info to our k-3 resource teacher. I was wondering if any higher grades had wikis? thank you so much and keep sharing!

Suzanne said...

Hi, Deb. I am the Instructional Coach at Chets Creek and wanted to answer your question about the wikis. We do have others, though the 2-5 are not as developed as the K or 1 wikis. However, the others are private and not public wikis, and are used only for our teachers in house. Our K and 1st kids do not receive traditional grades on their report cards, but our 2-5 kids do. With that comes much more assessment in all subject areas. Right now, there is no way on a wiki to protect a folder-either the whole wiki is open or closed. We have 2-5 closed because we house diagnostic, formative, and summative assessment there. We don't want parents having access. We also have them closed, because much of the information we house there has copyright issues. Our state has many more resources for third, fourth, and fifth grade in terms of test preparation but others do not have access.

I am glad we are able to open the K/1 wikis so others have a template as a springboard to build their own in the other grades. It really have been extremely beneficial.

dayle's blog is very informative for K/1. I also have a blog that covers mostly 2-5. And, you should definitely become a part of our Setting the Standard ning ( which has many 2nd through 5th grade videos posted on it.

If you have any questions, or would like to ask for particular things, feel free to email me at

Suzanne Shall