Teaching Persuasive Writing – Organize, Elaborate, Improve!

Teaching persuasive writing to third or fourth graders? Begin with a simple graphic organizer. Then elaborate, improve word choice, add transitions, and vary sentences. Before you know it, kids writing will shine!

Ms. Sneed Loves Teaching Persuasive Writing

On Monday morning, our favorite fourth grade teacher welcomed her class. “As I take attendance, think about books you have read. Which character would make the best president?

The class buzzed as kids began sharing with their neighbors. Ms. Sneed finished the lunch count and took a seat in the front of the classroom. Then she clapped a snappy beat, the class clapped back, and she smiled at them intently. “So? Have you picked a character?”

As she watched the kids nodding their heads, she continued. “You will write a one-paragraph persuasive essay. It will have two purposes. First, of course, you want to convince your audience to vote for that character for president. But it will also get other kids interested in the book you read.”

Beginnings & Endings

“Let’s review the structures of persuasive writing. Unlike other types of writing, persuasion uses second person. That means you’ll directly address the audience using the word ‘you.’ At the beginning, you’ll state your opinion. And at the end, you’ll call the audience to action. Actually, you’ll be giving them a command, like, ‘Do this now!'”

Begin persuasive writing with an opinion. End it with a call to action.

Are you feeling “pinspired”? Feel free to pin images from this post.

Ms. Sneed projected a poster. “Here you see some sample beginnings and endings about the circus.”


Then she pulled up a different poster.

The structure of persuasive writing is simple: opinion, reason, reason, reason, opinion.

“Here you see its simple structure. As I said before, you begin with an opinion. Then you add three factual reasons and end with a call to action.”


The next poster showed kids how to elaborate.

Elaboration improves persuasive writing. Kids can elaborate with details, lists, and examples.

Elaboration makes your writing meatier,” Ms. Sneed said. “For example, I can improve my writing by adding details. Here, the author uses a list. She can also use examples.”

Choosing Wow Words
Word choice can really spruce up persuasive paragraphs. Help kids choose specific nouns and active verbs.

“I don’t need to remind you,” Ms Sneed said with an intent smile, “about the importance of word choice.”

The kids sighed and laughed weakly. True, their teacher preached this all the time.

“As usual, choose specific nouns and active verbs. For this form of writing, it’s even more important. When you sound like you know what you’re talking about, your audience will trust you. It gives you credibility.”

Adding Transitions
Add transitions that tell how, where, and when. They move the audience through the text smoothly - and give more information.

“And, of course, add transitions.”

As a few students rolled their eyes, Ms. Sneed went on. “This poster goes a little deeper. To make your essay a little more vivid, tell how, where, and when.”

Varying Sentences

Improve writing by varying sentence beginnings, types, and lengths.

Ms. Sneed pointed to the next poster. “You’ve seen how varying sentence beginnings improves your writing. For this piece, we’ll also vary types and lengths. Your writing will be awesome!”

Enjoy Teaching

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.

Previous Post
Writing Constructed Response with Text Evidence – Hamburger Style!
Next Post
Teaching the Five-Paragraph Essay with an Example