For the Sake of Argument: Another Common Core Shift
Depending upon the grade you teach, you may already teach persuasive writing in your Writer's Workshop. You can probably continue to do much of what you have done in the past. (In fact, many of the resource links we share in this article come from sources related to the persuasive essay.) There is a subtle difference between argumentative essays and persuasive essays, however, which is highlighted in Appendix A. Argument relies on making reasonable claims and supporting them with evidence, while persuasive essays appeal to the emotions of the reader or rely on the perceived character or authority of the writer. Some persuasive strategies might be used in an argument, but the evidence is the major distinction. This emphasis on evidence in Writing Standard One is mirrored in the emphasis on evidence in Reading Standard One.
The good news is that you can begin your instruction around opinion and argument writing right away. No special equipment or extra texts are required. Take what you know about best practices in writing and continue to model, to explicitly teach in a workshop setting, to give students lots of time to practice and receive feedback, and build upon skills. A great deal of rich teaching can happen when preparing students for writing this type of text, including mini-lessons about:
- Choosing a format to present an argument
- Deciding on your audience
- Point of view
- Writing a strong lead and a strong conclusion
- Making a reasonable claim
- Developing reasons based upon evidence
- Developing a persuasive voice and authoritative stance (sounding like an expert)
- Using precise vocabulary
- Language considerations: Formal or informal? Positive, negative, or neutral?