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Persuasive writing

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Last updated by Jill Hammonds



Persuasive writing is intended to present a point of view on an issue being debated, or to market a particular product, process or line of thought.  The author sets out to state their view in a way that will influence others. The language therefore needs to be active, promotional and, where possible, supported by evidence.  In thinking about the style of writing, the author needs to have in mind his/her particular intended audience, and how they can manoeuvre the reader toward their point of view or towards the product they are promoting. Knowing the intended audience is important in selecting both the language and the ideas that will sway the reader.  For example, if seeking to persuade a local government member the language would be quite formal, but if hoping to sell cakes at a school gala, the language needs to be much more emotive and invitational.  In teaching persuasive writing it is important to include this defining of the audience and appropriate choice of language.

In addition to the writing, consideration should also be given to the inclusion of graphics and data that will support the idea or product to be promoted.  In a formal letter, email etc to persuade on an issue, the argument could be well supported by graphs or illustrations that show the likely result of a particular action.  In this age of using the internet, sound and video can also be added to support the written proposal, advertisement or argument.  In meeting the needs of the today's learners, it is important to factor this into the persuasive writing process, so that student are aware of the impact that adding these forms of media will have on selling their product or point of view.  
Remember that we are preparing students for their future where marketing themselves and their ideas is often done via the virtual world.

Topics for persuasive writing could include:

  • Pleading a case - letters to the school principal / local council etc with regard to current issues.
  • Promoting/selling goods and services - advertisement writing to promote the school concert/sports etc.
  • Putting forward an argument for a debate e.g. School uniforms should not be compulsory at ourt school.

 Features of Text including Language features

Persuasive writing features
Click to download this image

  • The writer uses repetition of words, phrases and concepts deliberately, for effect.
  • Verbs are used when expressing opinions, eg. I think ___ are the best! We believe students should not be stopped from eating junk food.
  • Strong effective adjectives are used.
  • Thought provoking questions are used. These may be asked as rhetorical questions. (Rhetorical questions: a question asked only for effect, not for information, eg. Would you give your pre-schooler matches to play with?)
  • Use of passive verbs to help structure the text.
  • Written in the timeless present tense.  This might change to the past if historical background to the issue was being given. If predictions are being made the tense might change to the future.
  • Use of pronouns (I, we, us) is used to manipulate the reader to agree with the position argued. eg. We all know that smoking causes cancer so we do not smoke.
  • Use of emotive language ie. words that will appeal to the reader's feelings, eg. concern, unreasonable, should.
  • Use of passive voice ie verbs in which the subject is acted upon and not doing the action. This helps structure the text, eg. We would like to suggest that an enquiry be held into the running of the steel mills. Water is being polluted.
  • Conjunctions that can exemplify and show results - they are usually used in concluding statements to finalise arguments

(These features were presented in the Features of Argument writing section of English Online) 

Planning Guide

Click picture to download a copy

Planning Persuasive Writing

 Exemplars (Cross Curricular)

 Use of repetition repetition exemplar

Snippet of persuasive writing from a sample of Yr 8 student writing - National standards Illustration

Persuasion to use fair trade coffee

Persuasive writing snippet form Yr 5 Water Quality writing - National standards illustration

Yr % persuasive writing snippet

Yr 8 writing decrying advertising - National standards illustration
No advertising  

e-asTTle has specific exemplars for persuasive writing included on their Marking resources section in downloadable pdf format.

NZC Exemplars for Argument Writing

 Links to resources

Sample Lesson Plans using e-Learning tools

e-asTTle resources for argument writing
e-asTTle marking resources - see specific exemplars on persuasive writing

Generic National Standards Writing Illustrations Yr 1-8

Read, Write, Think - Persuasive Writing - while there do a search for persuasive writing as there are several other good resources in this site.

 e-Learning Tools to Support

Brainstorming tools to develop the arguments/persuasive statements (free)
Popplet web 2.0 tool and Popplet Lite iPad app
CMap Tools download
Mindmeister (free trial only)
InFlowchart Lite - see App store

Poster/Website tools to capture the power of images
Best 8 tools to make posters in the classroom

Graphing tools for making your own graphs
Maths is Fun - Make Your Own Graphs
Excel in MS Office Suite
Numbers in iWorks Suite

Sample Lesson Plans

 Junior Class – Making our playground a healthy environment

Technology required – set of iPads/iPods – 1 between 3 students minimum.
Suggested Free iPad App –Pic Collage

 Work with the class to discuss 

  • ¬ What makes a healthy playground?
  • ¬ What do they need to do to make/keep their playground healthy?
  • ¬ Features of Persuasive Writing – sentence starters, verbs, punctuation

 Activity – go out into playground with the iPads/iPods and to look at the health of the playground and to take photos (1 per child) of making/keeping the playground healthy e.g. picking up rubbish, keeping off grass in wet weather, planting flowers and trees etc.

 Return to class and introduce Pic Collage by showing a completed Pic that has photos overlaid, text overlaid and separate shapes with overlaid text.  Guide them through discovery of how to use the app by asking them questions!

  • ¬ What would I do if I wanted to make a new Pic?  Can you see a button that would take me to a new page?
  • ¬ How could I add a photo on this page?
  • ¬ Do I have a photo on the iPad that I want to use or will I take a new one?
  • ¬ How can I make it bigger/smaller or turn it around?
  • ¬ What else can I add to the page?
  • ¬ Can I put the text over the photo or the shape?  What do I do if the shape goes in front of the text?  (Hold finger briefly on what you want at the front)

Make a list of strong emotive verbs e.g.

  • ¬ Trample, destroy, protect, damage, litter, preserve, save,

Students to use Pic Collage to write about how the students in the school should look after their playground.  Remind them of the sentence starters they discussed that work well for persuasive writing:

  • ¬ You should / should not . . . !
  • ¬ Don’t . . . !
  • ¬ Always . . . !
  • ¬ Remember to . . . !

Students to write, using Pic Collage, a bold persuasive poster about keeping their playground healthy.  Display these and discuss their effectiveness and how it could be improved.  Use post it notes for the suggested improvements.

Middle Class – Save our School! 

A member of the local city council arrives at the school to tell the class that their school is going to be bulldozed to make way for a new motorway.  This council member (teacher wearing a dress up item e.g. hat, wig or tie) brings information to persuade the school that this motorway is more important than their school.

Technology required – iPads, desktop or laptop computers as available in the classroom – preferably at least 1 between 3.
Free app suggestions – Popplet Lite and Pic Collage

The dressed up visitor (teacher) comes into the class to tell the students about the proposed motorway that is going to be built where their school currently stands.  Use a graphic that models the features of persuasive writing.

Save our school example

When the “visitor” leaves (removes the dress up features e.g hat & tie), work with the class to prepare a campaign to save the school.  Discuss and record on Popplet Lite or other brainstorm programme

  • ¬ Why their school is worth saving
  • ¬ Why the council see the motorway is more important and possible alternatives
  • ¬ Features of persuasive writing – see /groupcms/view/845343/persuasive-writing 

Activity – students to work in pairs (or 3s) to plan using Popplet Lite and then write “letters to the council” incorporating text, graphics and graphs – Pic Collage or any word processing programme can be used for this.  Graphs can be made on Excel, Numbers or Maths is Fun - Make Your Own Graphs

Senior Class – Save the people of the Philippines 

The class have had a visit from NZ Red Cross to ask them to help organise a campaign to help the victims of the typhoon in the Philippines. 

Technology required - set of iPads, desktop or laptop computers as available in the classroom
Suggested free iPad apps – Pic Collage, Write About This 

Discussion to include

  • ¬ What information would they need in order to prepare a campaign?
  • ¬ What ways other than cash could NZers help the people of the Philippines?
  • ¬ Features of persuasive writing – as per above link

Record using Popplet Lite on the iPad or other free brainstorm web 2.0 tools such as Bubbl.us, or CMap Tools

Activity - The students need to quickly research what help is needed, collect a picture off the internet and prepare a newspaper article using Pic Collage or Write About This to raise awareness of how a typhoon has devastated a nation leaving it in desperate need of help from NZers.  The emphasis of their writing is on persuading people to support the campaign rather than just writing a report of the situation.

Use the features of persuasive writing graphic and the planning graphic from above.