Saturday, January 7, 2012

Writing a Persuasive Essay Unit

I finally completed the full unit for writing a persuasive essay! It's amazing that it takes me as long as it does, because everything there is what I already use in the classroom. I'm learning that I'm not nearly as organized as I think I am. When units develop over time, I have a file here, a file there, and most of the files in my head! I make these units to benefit other teachers, but I probably benefit more than anyone, because now all my stuff is in one place.

I used the pre-writing exercise in my class last night for a slightly different purpose, but it was as fun as ever. Even my students who are terrified to speak in front of the class participated enthusiastically. I told them they were about the be shipwrecked on an island and could only grab one bag of supplies. I laid out three items for each of three bags, and told them the problem was that two other people were with them and they each wanted a different bag. The task was to convince the other two, using ethos, pathos and logos, why they should choose the bag you wanted. It was hilarious, especially when they tried to establish pathos, or using emotion.

I asked one guy, who I know has serious anxiety issues about speaking in front of the class, how it was for him, because he seemed perfectly calm and he said, "Well, the subject matter was so interesting, and I wanted to have my say, so I just didn't think about being nervous." Score.


  1. I love this idea! Could you give some examples for what you had in the bag? Like, did you mix practical (bandages) with fun (chocolate) to make each bag distinct, or was it more jumbled together?

  2. Bag 1: toilet paper, 3 cans tuna fish, red blanket
    Bag 2: ipod, large can of baked beans, sunscreen
    Bag 3: saucepan, 3 granola bars, bottle of water

    I tried to make it not obvious which they should pick. It's surprising how inventive they are. For example, many pointed out the TP would be good for starting fires and the can of baked beans could double as a much fun.

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