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Persuasive Writing

One never can tell what will come out of the minds of kids. I love that unpredictability! In the assembly, teams of kids will write ideas on index cards that will be randomly combined into a topic for developing pros and cons.

Once we have our topic (in this case, "cowboys" and "begging in boxes"), I bring three kids up from the audience to invent reasons for and against. The audience then votes for which side was more convincing.

I then draw a picture of the most fun reason from the winning side. This is drawn right on my computer and projected onto the screen -- easy for everyone to see!

Later, at lunch, I add the details so that it can become a document you can print off and give to every student, if you wish.

In the workshops, we take the remaining idea cards from the assembly to make more randomly-combined topics for discussion. Then we toss my Persuasobox to decide what kind of persuasive article we're going to focus on.

The Persuasobox has six typical applications for a persuasive argument, pictured to the right: a travel brochure, a book review, an essay, a letter to the editor, a movie review and an advertisement.

For instance, in one school we had the following combinations of cards and random application:

  • a big ex-football player with skateboarding applied to an ad
  • a fancy-dressed woman with exploring applied to a letter to the editor
  • a superhero playing outside applied to a book review

We'll imagine the basic narrative behind the combination. Having a story behind the persuasive article we're going to discuss does two things: 1) it gives depth and interest to the topic, making it more involving for kids; and 2) it reinforces narrative elements, which is an added bonus for schools.

Then we brainstorm the top ten reasons pro and con.

So in the story on the right, we created an elegant woman explorer who discovered a subterranean town in the Sahara where time travelers stay. We invented a newspaper for the town, then came up with the topic, "Should non-time-travelers be allowed in the town?" Kids then gave me ten reasons for and against. I circled my favorite three. The kids voted.

I finish the workshop by drawing a scene depicting the topic. The one from this workshop is on the right. The school gets to keep all the drawings I make.

"I would highly recommend Bruce to schools who are interested in any or all of the following: encouraging creativity, finding enjoyment in writing and enhancing classroom instruction in the aspect of persuasive writing....I am very glad we asked him to come again!"

Barry Ferguson
principal, South Lebanon Elem.

"Both the students and the teachers enjoyed your motivating, entertaining, and educational assembly and classroom presentation. I have not seen another author capture the students' attention and interest the way you did!.. This day was one of the best workshops we have had at our school! Your enthusiasm and passion for writing were contagious!"

Barbara Yetter, Grade 5
Hatfield Elementary,
Hatfield, PA

Your students will never look at persuasive writing the same way again!

Book a day or get more information. Help your students get ready for the state tests!

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