Persuasive paragraph perfection can be achieved. Just teach in four chunks: structure, ideas, sentences, and words. For best results, model the process. Don’t be afraid to write in front of your students!
Ms. Sneed Writes with Her Students for Persuasive Paragraph Perfection
Our favorite fourth grade teacher, Ms. Sneed, was ready to teach persuasive writing. “Hmm, where should I begin?” she wondered.
Her students were researching characters in Greek mythology. Maybe she could work with that. “What can my students persuade others to do?” Just then, an idea popped into her mind. “That’s it! They’ll convince others to vote for a certain mythological character for president!”
The following week, Ms. Sneed was ready to write. Yep, she would write for her kids to model persuasive paragraph perfection.
“Okay everybody, let’s get started,” said Ms. Sneed. “Today, we’ll be learning about persuasive writing. What does that term mean?”
A boy near the door shyly raised his hand. “Like when you try to talk somebody into something?”
“Exactly,” smiled Ms. Sneed. “Let’s take a look at our prompt.”
Excited chatter broke out in the class. Ms. Sneed’s students all had opinions on which Greek god would make the best president.
Model Like a Kid
“Before you write, I’ll write,” said Ms. Sneed.
“Yay!” responded her students. They loved seeing Ms. Sneed write. She always wrote like they would. The modeling began on their level. Then, as she continued the process, Ms. Sneed took them to new heights. Somehow, she included whatever she thought the best writer in your room could handle. But, on the other hand, it was simple enough for all to learn and grow.
Persuasive Paragraph Structure
“Persuasive paragraphs have a strong but simple structure,” said Ms. Sneed. “Write the opinion first. Follow it up with three strong reasons. Finish with a call to action.”
Ms. Sneed displayed an organizer. “Personally, I think Gaia would be president,” she said. Of course everyone had something to say about that.
“Why? She cares about all creatures, is big and strong, and is popular with the other gods.” Ms. Sneed wrote as she talked.
“Persuasive writing is stated in second person. Speak directly to the audience. Use the word ‘you’ and give commands (especially in the call to action).”
Ms. Sneed thought about this. Then she crossed out her opinion and changed it to “You should vote for Gaia.”
Persuasive Paragraph Ideas
“As you can see, this structure doesn’t really give enough details. Now we need to elaborate to give more information. Fill in the gaps. Instead of adding what interests you, consider what the audience needs to know.”
Ms. Sneed whipped out another organizer. “Of course, my audience needs to know who Gaia is. They probably haven’t been studying mythology like us. And I also want to explain my statements.” Ms. Sneed filled out the extra details as she went on.
“Now I think about the whys and hows.”
Persuasive Paragraph Sentences
Once she had elaborated, Ms. Sneed pulled out a sheet for sentences.
“Shake up your sentences!” she exclaimed “This really makes writing shine.
- Add a hook to the beginning. Maybe ask a question. Or make a surprise statement. Or even onomatopoeia. Just pull the audience in.
- Vary sentence types. For lively writing, sprinkle in commands, exclamations, or questions.
- Use long sentences to explain. Put the reader in the flow. To achieve this, add clauses or combine sentences.
- Punctuate with short sentences. Call the audience to attention with a short sentence or two. Or use an interjection, like ‘What?’
- Begin every sentence in a different way. Every writer can do this. You’ll be surprised how much it improves writing.”
Again, Ms. Sneed modeled as she talked.
Persuasive Paragraph Words
For her fourth and final point, Ms. Sneed worked on word choice. “As always, use wow words. This is a no-brainer.” She gabbed on about her paragraph and what she wanted to accomplish. Along the way, she jotted down some specific nouns and verbs.
“Don’t forget to add transitions,” Ms. Sneed reminded her class. “As you all know -”
“Yes, Ms. Sneed,” called a voice from the back of the room. “They make our writing flow.”
The Final Draft
“Take a look at the difference between these two drafts. The draft on the left uses only the structure. The draft on the right includes ideas, sentences, and words.”
As Ms. Sneed read the final draft, her class could really see the improvement. But, naturally, they were anxious to get started on their own writing.
Persuasive Paragraph Perfection in Your Classroom
In reality, no paragraph is perfect. Kids – and adults – always have room for improvement. But using these four steps helps. If you’d like to watch this lesson as a video, it’s posted here for free. (Writing templates are also included.)
This prompt is part of Opinion & Persuasive Paragraphs Featuring Characters from Myths. It includes two prompts, organizers, and rubrics.
When our friend, modeled this process for her students, their writing improved. Upon reflection, she realized that modeling connected her to her class in a special and meaningful way. That made her enjoy teaching even more.
Over the course of her career, Ms. Sneed realized that there were 6 steps to enjoy teaching. In order to survive, she had to organize, plan, and simplify. Then, to thrive, Ms. Sneed needed to learn, engage, and finally – dive in! Follow the Fabulous Teaching Adventures of Ms. Sneed and learn how you can enjoy teaching too.