Alice R. Smee
Persuasive writing is a tool that students will use in and out of school. Arguments are the "predominant communication mode of our contentious times."
If this is the case, then we must prepare students to be able to make an effective argument.
Everyday students are bombarded with visual stimuli. They watch TV, movies, music videos, use the internet and play video games. A good number of students integrate these activities with their school work on a daily basis, whether in school or while at home doing homework.
Most of these activities are done outside of the classroom and are sometimes seen as a threat to learning. Instead of working against these activities these stimuli can be used as a tool in the classroom to help the students. Since students spend over a quarter of the day doing these activities
visual stimuli can be used as a tool to aid in student writing, specifically persuasive writing.
If teachers were to incorporate these activities into student writing maybe students would enjoy writing more. Hopefully by the end of the unit the students will move beyond the no-fail formula writing, a standard five paragraph essay which lacks creativity, which they have become accustomed to. In this unit students will work on creating a persuasive writing piece that goes beyond just giving reasons why people should agree with them, and make their writing more creative and enjoyable for them and their readers.
One of the main objectives of this unit is to have students write a persuasive essay using visualization and elaboration, while still meeting district and state standards. Some of the ways that this task will be completed are by getting students to think outside of their school box, and allowing them to incorporate some of the visual activities that they enjoy doing into their classroom and home activities. If students could take something that they do every day, and relate it to their writing, hopefully it will bring some enjoyment to student writing (and hopefully not make watching TV less enjoyable).
On a daily basis students watch and see what is going on around them; middle school students are at an age where they see literally and are starting to be perceptive to what is going on around them. We also ask them to start to show us this perceptiveness when we ask them to make connections beyond "the girl in the story had a dog and so do I." When it comes to persuasive writing we ask students to write an essay that has a clear position with specific and elaborate support for their position. What we are asking is for them to show us their opinion on paper. Wouldn't students produce better show writing if we allowed them to bring their literal and perceptive vision into their writing?