Twist My Arm

Tuesday, March 4, 2014
from the curly classroom of Suzanne

"If you listen to me, I can help you get grades, jobs, and dates."  That, my friends, is how I introduce persuasion.  Trust me- they care MUCH more about the last two.  

Our handy dandy essay frame is strikingly similar to our expository one.  I'm a-okay with this because persuasive writing is expository writing.  If students have a feel comfortable with the expository structure, the shift to persuasion should be pretty easy.  

The power to this structure lies in a T-Chart.  We talk about how a persuasive prompt can work two ways:
  • Example 1: (Two stated options) State your position on whether it is better to live in a big city or a small town.  
  • Example 2: (Implied yes or no option) State your opinion on whether it is necessary to sometimes take a chance. 
Either way, have students brainstorm by creating a T-chart.  I encourage students to come up with three points for each side.
It looks like I have more to say about small towns, so that should probably be my position.  Now I need to choose my two best, very different reasons.  Now we're ready to kernel sentences 1-3.
Kerneling is about getting ideas (logically) down on paper.  There should be teach pieces on ways to jazz them up.  For example, Gretchen Bernabei's renaming strategy is needed here to reduce the small town, small town, small town repetition.  Here is a brief description of this strategy from her book.
Fun-Sized Academic Writing for Serious Learning
Also, as you work, students should feel comfortable moving away from the sentence stems.  

Sentence 4 touches on the counter-argument.  Fun fact: a counter-argument is only mentioned in the Score Point 4 portion of the STAAR rubric.  It's not mandatory but couldn't hurt.  

In drafting sentence 4, students start by acknowledging one positive about the side you didn't pick. They finish this sentence by restating their position.  We're hoping that they pick up some points for touching on the C-A.  In 26 lines, no one has space to develop it, and you keep students from seeming wishy-washy.

As a parting gift, I made this persuasive checklist to remind students of structure and jazzy tools they have as a writer.  Hope this takes some pain out of the arm twisting!


  1. The link to the checklist is disabled :(

    1. Thanks for letting us know! It's just been fixed.