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Coding Persuasive Writing

Description 

This activity teaches students about the genre and structure of persuasive writing. Students examine exemplars of persuasive texts and use a code to identify key elements of the text. This activity helps students to become both sophisticated readers and adept writers of persuasive writing. It can also help students to learn about rhetorical strategies, and about the views characteristic of a time period.

Author 

Catherine Ullman-Shade

Learning Strategies 

  • Determining Importance
  • Inferring

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Launching Into New Content

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Learning Strands 

  • Reading

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Balancing Informative and Literary Texts
  • Staircase of Complexity
  • Text-Based Answers

Preparation 

Create a handout and/or display of the following codes:

  • IP: Introduction of the position

  • MP: Main point of the position

  • SE: Supporting evidence for the position

  • T: Transition sentences

  • PL: Examples of persuasive language

  • CP: Conclusion about the position

Select at least two good, short exemplars of persuasive writing. You may want to select texts that relate to topics of study. Code the texts ahead of time.

Activity Steps 
  1. Teacher introduces the genre of persuasive writing and the key parts of a persuasive writing text. Class discusses the purpose of a persuasive text, and the meaning of the word “persuade.” Teacher displays and/or distributes code.

    Code should include the following:

    • IP: Introduction of the position

    • MP: Main point of the position

    • SE: Supporting evidence for the position

    • T: Transition sentences

    • PL: Examples of persuasive language

    • CP: Conclusion about the position
  2. Teacher models reading aloud a short persuasive text, and thinks aloud while coding it.

    For the model, select a short text in which the coded elements are very clear. It is helpful to select a text about a familiar topic.

  3. Teacher distributes new persuasive writing text to students. Students prepare to work individually or in pairs.

    You can differentiate the difficulty of the task by giving more difficult texts to more advanced students.

  4. Students read the text, and use the code to mark where they see the structural elements of a persuasive text.

    Circulate as students are working, asking them about what they are noticing and pushing their thinking.

  5. Students get into a larger group and compare their responses. They discuss any differences in what they coded and the overall meaning of the text.

    Circulate among groups, listening to their thinking and asking them questions.

  6. Whole class discusses the meaning and purpose of the text. Who wrote it? Why? Who was the intended audience? How did the structure of it help it to be persuasive?

    You can also ask students if the text is persuasive, and why or why not.

  7. In writing, students answer questions such as:

    Synthesis:

    • What is the main point of this text?  

    • How did the writer use the structure of a persuasive text to make their point?

    Reflection:

    • What strategies did you use to identify the structure of this text?

    • How can coding a text help you to become a better reader?

    • How can coding a text help you to become a better writer?
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