Teaching…Persuasive Essay Writing

The Situation

Your students need to write a persuasive essay.

The Solution

There are many aspects to writing an essay. For this reason, I have condensed this section into:

  1. Unpacking the essay question
  2. Choosing the persuasive techniques
  3. Making a plan
  4. Organising the structure
  5. Begin writing

Unpacking The Essay Question

  1. The obvious start is to show students the essay question. Have it recorded clearly on the page, highlighted is even better.
  2. At this point, you will want to unpack what the question is actually asking you. Often, essay questions are jam packed with specialised language and require analysis before the writing process. Encourage students to work and identify the key terms in the essay question.
  3. Consider the key terms in the question: Consider what you know about the film, Up. Convince an audience that they should/should not watch this film. Clearly outline your argument in a persuasive essay. We can say that the key terms are: Up, audience, should/should not argument, persuasive essay. Have students circle these terms.
  4. Once the terms are circled, you are now ready to analyse what the question is asking students. For example,
    1. What are the key themes of Up?
    2. Who is the audience?
    3. Why should an audience be interested in this film? Is it an important film to experience?
    4. What arguments to support your ideas?
    5. What are the persuasive techniques we might see in a persuasive essay?

Choosing The Persuasive Techniques

Encourage students to record all of their ideas around the essay question itself. At this point, students will likely have a clear idea about what they might write about in their essay – at least, the types of ideas. Now they’re ready to move onto persuasion. For the sake of arguments, let’s assume you that you have already taught persuasive techniques and students are already familiar with the techniques listed. Students should now go through the PERSUADER list and identify four to five different techniques they would like to use across their essay. Encourage them to chose ones that they are confident using and can work in a practical way. For example, use of authority, statistics and facts and rhetorical questions are always good fundamental persuasive techniques to begin with. For students who need extension, anecdotes and strategic repetition might be fantastic to use.

Making a Plan

Now, students are ready to plan out their essay. They can use the analysis of their work to identify and breakdown the reasoning and arguments to their essay. Encourage students to capture their ideas here. The table may be a little too small, so get to write their ideas in their book if necessary. Their is space for their three central arguments, rationale for each reason.

Organising The Structure

Once students have planned their essay, they are ready to drop in the central headings for each body paragraph. Ask students to record the topic and persuasive techniques of each body paragraph next to the headings. This will allow them to keep track of their work if there are absences etc.

Begin Writing

Writing Introductions (Hook, Thesis and Reasons)

In the following introduction, I have used Rhetorical Questions, Personal Pronouns and Emotive Language

How do children learn to deal with their emotions? It is an odd question as the answer might appear to be simple: from their parents and the values that are instilled upon them in the household. However, this is not always the case. As a teacher, I see a wide range of students who deal with their emotions in a variety of ways. Often, this is a positive experience and students are able to clearly express their emotions. However, sometimes I meet students who are unable to communicate what occupies their mind and they deal with their emotions violently and act on impulse. Through film and storytelling, we can teach children that their emotions are complex and need to be handled with care. The Pixar film, Inside Out, explores the complex relationship that we all have with our emotions. Using this film as a resource, we can collectively showcase to students the complex nature of the human mind and the unique manner that we see the world. There are three central lessons that the viewer can learn from Inside Out: the film explores how sadness is an essential part of our emotions, that we should not suppress our emotion and that children need to learn about how they feel. Through each of these lessons, the viewer develops a deeper understanding of how we can manage our emotions.

Writing the Body Paragraphs

In the following paragraph, I have used Use of Authority and Rhetorical Question

Imagine going through your entire life without experiencing fear? It seems a little crazy, but you would have an interesting and dangerous life. You would likely make unnecessary risks. It is unlikely that you would experience impulse control. Experiencing is an essential part of being a human and Sadness is an essential part of these emotions. We experience emotions on a spectrum. On this spectrum, we can jump from one area to another. It is essential that we experience all ends of this spectrum as human being are meant designed to. Dr Tom Morse from the University of Monstropolis reminds us that “cavemen had to experience emotions to understand what might be harmful. Imagine not experiencing fear when encountering a new animal or fire for the first time. You would never survive!” Emotions allow us to know how to respond to particular situations. At the end of the film, Joy and Sadness are desperate to get back to the main headquarters and join the other emotions in regulating Riley. Initially, Joy attempts to reject Sadness and attempts to reject her from returning. However, before arriving back at headquarters, the viewer learns that Joy needs Sadness to exist. Riley needs to face how she actually feels If we analyse the colours of the film, we can see a number of different layers to how they have been used. The filmmakers have used yellow to represent Joy; however, blue is also included in her attire and colour of her eyes to indicate a connection. This suggests that Joy cannot exist without a little sadness as they exist at polar ends of the spectrum. Nearing the end of the film, Joy realises that Sadness helps Riley regulate her emotions.

Writing the Conclusion (Thesis, Reasons, Call to Action)

In the following conclusion, I have used Emotive Language.

Inside Out is an essential film for parents and children, alike, to reflect on their own relationship and develop a stronger understanding of how to deal with complex emotions. It teaches us that children that is perfectly acceptable to feel sad and that sadness is an essential part of being human. It teaches us that we should not suppress our emotions but develop strong coping mechanisms to deal with problems. Furthermore, the film explores the importance of children learning how to understand the way they feel. When selecting a film for your child, please choose carefully. With Netflix and other streaming services, it is far too easy to select a random film without carefully considering how it may teach your child. Inside Out, much like many other Pixar films, has the capacity to have a life-altering impact on your child. Take the time to sit with your child and generate a positive conversation with them over the dinner table. It will bring you together.

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