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Persuasive Letter Writing Unit Overview

Grade Level: 7th Grade Language Arts Time Frame: 2 Week Unit Rationale:
The art of persuasion is a skill that will have immediate and future applications for students. The ability to make a claim, present evidence, and consider counterarguments in a formal piece of well-organized writing will help students get what they are seeking (e.g. a job.) This unit requires that students consider and adapt their writing to fit the needs/expectations of their audience by considering their tone, style, and sentence/paragraph structure. Specifically, students will learn to write to an audience that isn¶t a teacher, peer, or themselves. These skills can be transferred to other scenarios outside the realm of formal writing (e.g. considering counterarguments before asking their guardians for something.) Communicating effectively involves considering multiple perspectives on an issue, logically structuring one¶s argument, changing tone and style based on audience/situation, and having a purpose for writing. This unit gives students the opportunity to do all of these.

Included in this Unit: Understanding by Design Unit Plan (3 stages) Unit Calendar 4 lesson plans (first 4 days of the unit) ³State Your Position´ Anticipatory Activity ³Persuasive Unit Graphic Organizer´


³Parallelism Writing Activity´ ³Persuasive Writing Paragraph Structure´ Business Letter Example/Explanation Summative Assignment (Creating a Persuasive Letter in Business Format) Unit Reflection

7th grade Language Arts: Persuasive Writing Unit Stage 1 Desired Results Established Goals
Iowa Core Writing Standards

1.) Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

Students will understand that .

Essential Questions
Students will keep considering




Introduce claim(s), acknowledge alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically. Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant evidence, using accurate, credible sources and demonstrating and understanding of the topic or text. Use words, phrases, and clauses to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among claim(s), reasons, and evidence.

y y

Writing is a powerful tool and can be used for persuasive purposes. Authors must consider and respond to possible counter arguments when writing.

y y

How do authors use their writing for persuasive purposes? What are possible counterarguments to my claim and how can I address them?

Acquisition Students will know y
Key vocabulary important for writing effective

Students will be skilled at y
Creating and structuring an argument (persuasive piece) to

d. e.

Establish and maintain a formal style. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.

y y y

persuasive pieces (e.g. style, tone, audience, claim, evidence, parallelism, topic sentence, etc) Parallelism and its impact in writing. Formal business/professional letter writing format. Formal style and tone in persuasive writing.

y y

support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence. Critiquing peer writing constructively and with relevant feedback. Considering and addressing potential counterclaims to their argument

7th grade Language Arts: Persuasive Writing Unit Stage 2 Evidence Performance Task(s):

Students will show how they really understand by evidence of:


Creating a persuasive/argumentative letter - Formal style and tone (business/professional letter) - Provide evidence for their claim - Consider and respond to counterclaims - Drafted and sent to a real audience (e.g. principal, parent, congressperson, etc.)

Other Assessments:
Students will show they have achieved Stage 1 goals by:

y y y y y

Pre-writing activity 2 rough drafts Peer critique worksheets Reflections Meetings with me during workshop time (required for each student)

7th grade Language Arts: Persuasive Writing Unit Stage 3: Learning Plan y Hook: The hook for the unit will be the State your Position anticipatory activity. This will give students the opportunity to decide their opinion on some fun issues (e.g. SpongeBob or Bugs Bunny?) See lesson plan one s anticipatory set for further explanation.

Learning Activities:

Formative Assessments:


State your Position anticipatory activity




Persuasive Unit Graphic Organizer Parallelism Writing Activity Persuasive Writing Paragraph Structure


Exit slips Entrance slips Sharing whip TPS TIPS

Resources: (e.g., texts, technology etc.)

Computer (internet), projector, Elmo, student whiteboards, dry-erase markers, computer lab or classroom set of laptops, individual student whiteboards.

Persuasive Writing Unit Calendar Week 1: Day 1 State your Position writing activity, explicit instruction on constructing an argument, considering counterarguments, vocabulary instruction (style, tone and audience.) Writing strategies that bring an argument to life parallelism Structuring an argument The Professional/Business Letter Pre-writing for final project. Begin first draft (finish over weekend)

Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5

Week 2

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5

Peer critique Begin 2nd draft Continue 2nd draft/meetings with individual students Continue 2nd draft/meetings with individual students Turn in final draft. Class sharing time. Send letters.

*Lessons included are from the first 4 days of the unit.

Persuasive Writing Unit Day 1
Introduction to Persuasive Writing Understanding Both Sides of an Argument 7th Grade Language Arts Rationale:
The ability to persuade an audience through writing is a skill that effective communicators need to master because it helps one get what they want/need (e.g. a job.) Understanding both sides of an argument and responding to explicit or potential counterclaims makes one¶s claim even stronger.

Elmo Student Whiteboards


Dry-Erase Markers Graphic Organizer (attached) Computer (internet) Projector ³State Your Position´ activity

Students will be able to: Define tone, style, audience, claim, and evidence. Create a claim and provide relevant evidence. Anticipate and respond to potential counterclaims.

Anticipatory Set:
Students will work through the writing activity that has been attached to this lesson. There will be five scenarios (e.g. Dogs or Cats?) giving students the opportunity to choose a position and defend why they chose said position. Students will then share their responses with their partners and we will have a sharing whip about one of the topics. I¶d like the topic that we share with the entire class to be close to a 50/50 split for later grouping. I¶ll achieve this by remaining active during this activity so I can gauge which scenario will fit best. This will be important later for grouping. (10-15 min)

Instructional Input: Students will be placed in groups of 4 based on their response to one of the scenarios in the anticipatory activity (e.g. 2 students who picked vanilla and 2 students who picked chocolate will be placed in the same dyad.) There will be a brief PowerPoint presentation that details what considerations need to be made when setting up and defending an argument, considering and addressing counterarguments, and vocabulary for the unit (style, tone, claim, evidence and audience.) (10 min)

Modeling: Using a different scenario used for grouping (for this case, I will use cats or dogs) I will model how to make a claim with supporting evidence, address counterarguments, implement appropriate style and tone, and consider my audience. This will be done on the elmo with a think-aloud. Students will be provided with a graphic organizer for their arguments and I will fill out this organizer during my think-aloud. I will take the position of ³cat´ and have a student volunteer who chose ³dog´ join me. This will be a different topic than what students will be writing about but because of the hypothetical nature of this scenario, I¶m not sure which topic will have closer to a 50/50 split. The student will share her/his response to the anticipatory activity. I will turn these into claims and together, we will provide evidence for their claims. I will do the same for my, pro-cat, viewpoint. I will then take one of the student volunteer¶s claims and put it in my counterclaim box and provide a rebuttal. Attached is a graphic organizer that I would fill out during this step. Students will be given a blank one to work with afterwards. (15 min) Check for Understanding: I will have students work with individual whiteboards during this step. So far, I have provided 2 pro-cat claims with corresponding evidence and a rebuttal to a pro-dog counterclaim. Also, the student volunteer has provided 2 pro-dog claims with corresponding evidence. Students, on their whiteboards, will now consider a pro-cat counterclaim (already provided) and create a rebuttal. (3 min) Guided/Collaborative Practice: Students will work with a partner that has the same viewpoint on the issue in their group (students should already be seated in groups of 4 with 2 students sharing similar views.) Working together, they will expand on the anticipatory activity by completing 2 claims and provide evidence for each. Afterwards, they will change partners (without leaving groups) and provide a rebuttal to one of their new partner¶s arguments. (10 min, 5 min with each partner) Independent Practice: Students will work independently on their choice of three scenarios (we have already covered 2 of the 5 from the anticipatory activity.) They will go through the same process but will have to anticipate counterarguments. This skill is covered during the instructional input step. Students will begin this task in class and will complete whatever isn¶t finished for homeplay. (10 min)


Students know that whatever isn¶t completed independently will be homeplay. They will also be informed that it will be an entrance slip for the next class and I will share some student samples. Students will also be informed that there will be a participation grade for completing the graphic organizer and bringing it to our next class.

Persuasive Writing Unit Day 2
Persuasive Writing Strategies (Parallelism) 7th Grade Language Arts Rationale:
Using parallelism in one¶s writing makes the writer¶s purpose clear and can make the speaker seem more confident. This is an especially important skill when attempting to persuade an audience.

Resources: Elmo Computer (internet) Projector Student whiteboards Dry-erase markers ³Parallel writing activity´ worksheet (attached)

Students will be able to: Define parallel structure and the rationale for its implementation in persuasive writing.


Identify incorrect uses of parallel structure. Suggest ways to modify sentences to achieve parallel structure. Create sentences using parallel structure.

Anticipatory Set:
Before the anticipatory set for this lesson, students will turn in their graphic organizers from that they were to complete as their entrance slip. I will share some student examples of claims, evidence, counterarguments, and rebuttals. This should lead nicely into today¶s lesson as we learn about how to strengthen our arguments using parallel structure. Students will be shown pairs of sentences (on a worksheet) that say the same thing but use different styles. Individually, students will pick which sentence ³sounds better´ to them. All of the examples will be grammatically correct but will be different stylistically. Also, each pair will have one example of faulty parallelism and one example of ³good´ parallelism (e.g. ³I like to eat rich deserts, playing fast card-games, and riddles´ or ³I like to eat rich deserts, to play fast card games, and to solve difficult riddles.´) Students will then do a think-ink-pair-share after they have chosen which sentences they prefer. The prompt will be ³how did the structure of the sentences affect which ones you chose?´ (10 min)

Instructional Input: This will be done with a PowerPoint presentation that is example-based instead of overly informational. We will revisit the examples from our anticipatory set throughout the presentation and there is space for students to take notes on the worksheet from the anticipatory set. Of course, definitions of parallelism will be provided but I feel that working with examples of faulty and ³good´ parallelism will increase the comfort level of students and give them the opportunity to ³own´ the material. Also, the rationale of why students should include parallel structure in their own writing will be stressed by dissecting examples. Our examples of faulty parallelism will show how the writer can seem undecided or timid whereas effective uses of parallelism can make the writer seem confident (which is paramount in persuasive writing.) I will also make connections to the mathematical concept of parallel lines and how students can make their sentences parallel. (10 min) Modeling:

On the Elmo, I will work through some examples of parallel structure involving a series. I will do a think-aloud while working through the examples so that students can ³see´ my thinking. I will break down the elements of the series so that I can see if they ³line up.´ Afterwards, I will restructure each sentence using parallel structure. (10 min) Check for Understanding: While still using the Elmo, I will post another sentence that needs to be edited to achieve parallel structure. On their individual whiteboards, students will break the series down and then create a sentence using parallel structure. (3 min) Guided Practice: Students and I will work together on the first question on the ³parallel writing activity´ worksheet (see attached.) (5 min) Collaborative Practice: Students will work in dyads to complete the second question on the ³parallel writing activity´ worksheet. I will stay active during this time to scaffold as necessary and provide additional support. I will also find a dyad that seems to ³get it´ share their answer and how they arrived at said answer. (5 min) Independent Practice: Students will work independently on the third question of the ³parallel writing activity´ worksheet. They will also take 2 or 3 of their claims from yesterday¶s graphic organizer and create a sentence using parallel structure. Afterwards, they will raise their hands so that they can share their work with me. If they are on the right track, I will have them move on to the reflection. Students will turn in their reflections as an exit slip. (10-15 min)

Students will be reminded about the advantages of parallel structure and why it is imperative that it manifests in their persuasive writing for this unit. I will let them know that tomorrow we will introduce how to structure an argument now that we know how to state a claim, provide evidence, anticipate and respond to counterarguments, and write using parallel structure. All of these are building up to structuring an argument (which will be our lesson for tomorrow.) Student will also be encouraged to begin brainstorming ideas for their audience and topic for next week¶s professional letter assignment. I will hand out copies detailing the

assignment (see attached) and will give a brief explanation. Assessments for this lesson were the anticipatory activity worksheet and the ³parallel writing activity´ worksheet. If students attempted both and completed the reflection, they will receive full credit.

Persuasive Writing Unit Day 3
Structuring an Argument 7th Grade Language Arts Rationale:
Students will use business format when drafting letters in several real-world situations. Learning how to organize an argument will make these letters more effective and impactful for the reader.

Elmo ³Persuasive writing paragraph structure´ worksheet

Students will be able to: Organize an argument into paragraph form with topic and concluding sentences. Create a paragraph that includes a claim, evidence, counterclaim, rebuttal, topic sentence, and concluding sentence.

Anticipatory Set:

Students will sit with their 6 o¶clock partners (this has already been established) and will remain in pairs for this lesson. Individually, they will do a quickwrite responding to the prompt ³we ended last class mentioning that organizing one¶s argument can make it more impactful and effective. Why or why not do you believe this is true?´ Students will do a TIPS and we will have a sharing whip afterwards. (5 min)

Instructional Input: After highlighting some student ideas about why we should structure our arguments to make them more effective I will transition into direct instruction about how this can be achieved. I will review techniques that have already been covered about sentence structure (e.g. parallelism) and transition into how one can structure a paragraph so that it is more effective. I will encourage students to take notes and together we will define topic sentence and concluding sentence. Using the Elmo, I will display the ³persuasive writing paragraph structure´ worksheet (see attached.) At this point, all of the boxes: topic sentence, claim, evidence, counterclaim, rebuttal, and closing sentence, have been defined. Students will fast-map each definition to their partner and then a volunteer will give me a definition to write in the box. (10 min) Modeling: Using a clean ³persuasive writing paragraph structure´ worksheet, I will model how I create and structure a paragraph while doing a think-aloud. I will expand on our first lesson by using the topic of wanting to get a cat. My audience will be my girlfriend and my goal is to convince her that we should get a cat. I will fill out the worksheet in complete sentences while explaining my thought processes. (10 min) Check for Understanding: I will check for understanding with signaled answers (thumbs up, thumbs down, thumbs sideways) to see if they feel that they understand what is expected of them when filling out the worksheet on their own. The only new material covered today was topic sentence and concluding sentence and the importance of structuring a paragraph so I don¶t anticipate too many issues so the check for understanding portion for this lesson is abridged. I will revisit the modeling step if students need extra help. (2 min) Guided/Collaborative Practice:

Students will be given a topic and audience in their dyads that is chosen out of a hat (I want to avoid taking up too much class time picking topics for this activity.) They will work together to create a topic sentence, a claim, and one piece of evidence. I will remain active during this time to provide additional support to those dyads that need it. (5-10 min) Independent Practice: Students will work independently to complete the rest of the worksheet. Again, I will remain active to provide support to any students that need it. (10-15min)

I have planned about 5 minutes of extra time to go over the summative assignment for next week (students received a copy at the end of last class but without explanation.) I will stress that they should spend tonight brainstorming topic ideas (including audience) and bring those ideas to class. It will be made clear that there will be pre-writing time and writing time during this unit but not time for brainstorming topic ideas. It will be their responsibility to have their topic and audience prepared before we begin pre-writing next week. Assessment for today¶s class will be done by reviewing student responses to the worksheet provided. I will close by letting students know that this is a general outline for creating a paragraph and doesn¶t need to be followed exactly in the order suggested as long as they cover everything in a clear and coherent way. More time will be spent on this issue during our workshop next week. (5 min)

Persuasive Writing Unit Day 4
The Professional/Business Letter Differentiated Lesson Plan (Product) 7th Grade Language Arts Rationale:

Creating a letter in business format is a skill that students will need to know in the real-world (e.g. job interviews, college applications, etc.)

Elmo Computer lab or class set of laptops (internet) Projector Business Letter Format Handout (see attached)

Students will be able to: Describe the proper professional/business letter format. Create a letter using business letter format or« Create a graphic organizer detailing how to create a letter in business format or« Create a reflection detailing how, why, and when one would use business letter format.

Instructional Input: There will be a brief PowerPoint presentation detailing business letter format and the rationale behind using business letter format when drafting formal, persuasive letters. This content has several real-world applications and these will be made clear at the beginning of the presentation to show students that this content is important (e.g. job interviews, college applications, etc.) Students will be given the business letter format example handout (see attached) and together, we will through how to create a letter using this format. (5 min) Modeling:

On the Elmo, I will use lined paper (so students can see where I am skipping lines) to create a letter to our principal. I will pick a topic out of a hat in the same way that students did yesterday when learning how to structure their body paragraph(s). The letter will be abridged because students already understand the content that needs to go in their letters but not the format. (10 min) Check for Understanding: This will be done through signaled responses: thumbs up, thumbs down, or thumbs sideways. (2 min) Guided/Collaborative Practice: We will move to the computer lab or use our classroom set of laptops to complete the rest of this lesson. Students will work in groups of 3 creating a Google Doc That shows their ability to create letters in business format. Each member of the group will be assigned a portion of the letter. This will be a ³skeletal´ letter, just meaning that there won¶t be a true opening, closing, and body paragraph (mock sentences for each will be provided) because we are working on formatting for this lesson. I will remain active during this time to provide support where it is needed. (10 min) Independent Practice: Student will have multiple products they can choose from to demonstrate their learning for this lesson. Using the computer, students have the choice of creating a letter in business format using their topic from yesterday (they will only have to create a body paragraph; which they already outlined last class), writing a reflection describing how and why one would use business format, or creating a graphic organizer that details how and why one would use business format. It is here that I attempt to differentiate for product why giving students 3 choices as to how I will assess their learning. (25 min)

I will use the last two minute of class to stress that students must come to class tomorrow with a topic and audience for our summative assignment. They were asked to start brainstorming ideas at home over the last two days so this will give students 3 evening to come up with a topic. During this week I will detail student topic and audience ideas and give feedback as to how well I think their topic would work for this assignment. We begin pre-writing and our first drafts tomorrow so every student must have a topic by then. Assessment for today¶s lesson will be looking over and providing feedback to student creations during independent practice. (2 min)

Parallelism Writing Activity
Directions: For each example, look at the structure of the sentence. Remember, just like parallel lines in math, we need to make sure our sentences line up. First, break the sentence down in the way the example suggests and then rewrite the sentence using parallel structure. 1. Jack was trying to decide between driving, running, and to walk to the store. What actions (verbs) is Jack considering? 1. (driving) 2. (running) 3. (to walk) How can you rewrite the sentence using parallel structure? Remember, we want all of our action words (verbs) to line up. Jack was trying to decide between driving, running, and walking to the store. 2. The Native Americans, the French, English, and Germans were in conflict What are the members of this series? 1. (The Native Americans) 2. (The French) 3. (English) 4. (Germans) How can you rewrite this sentence using parallel structure? Remember, we want the article (the) to apply to all members of the series. The Native Americans, the French, the English, and the Germans were in conflict.

3. I don t mind running in spring, summer, or in winter. When does the speaker like to run? (hint: don t forget to include the preposition in ) 1. In spring 2. Summer 3. In winter How can you rewrite the sentence using parallel structure? There are multiple answers here. Remember, we want the preposition ( in ) to either apply to all members of the series or just the first member. I don t mind running in spring, in summer, or in winter. I don t mind running in spring, summer, or winter.

Now let s put your knowledge of parallel structures to use! Using 2-3 of your claims from yesterday s activity create a sentence that uses parallel structure. Raise your hand when you can share your example with me.

Reflection: Why would you, as a proficient writer, want to use parallel structure when writing an argument? How can you implement parallelism in your writing?

Day 1 Anticipatory Activity State Your Position Directions: For each statement, choose one extreme position or the other. Write 2-3 sentences about WHY you chose that position. YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE ONE! 1. SpongeBob OR Bugs Bunny?

2. Pop Music OR Country Music?

3. Cold weather OR Warm weather?

4. Video games OR Sports?

5. Dogs or Cats?

Persuasive Letter Writing Final Project

Directions: Create a letter in business format in which you attempt to persuade your audience to agree with you. I want this to be an authentic experience for you so pick a topic and audience that interests you (remember when I wanted to convince my girlfriend to get a cat?) This letter is going to be sent to your audience so make sure you pick a topic and audience that is meaningful to you.

Considerations: Remember to use business letter format when constructing your letters and keep your audience in mind; you aren¶t writing to yourself! You will need to maintain a formal tone throughout your letter. Your body paragraph(s) must contain a topic sentence, claim, two pieces of evidence for you claim, possible counterargument, rebuttal (why is the counterargument wrong?), and concluding sentence. You also must include introductory and concluding paragraphs (look at your handout for further details if you forgot what to include here.) Also, think about how you are constructing your sentences. Did you use parallel structure? Do you seem confident? These are important to consider when attempting to persuade your audience.

Timeframe: You will have 4 days next week to continue working on your draft. Monday will be a peer critique day and you will give and receive feedback from your classmates. You will also be required to schedule a meeting with me on Wednesday or Thursday of next week to review your 2nd draft. The project is due on Friday so if you don¶t get your work done in class it is your responsibility to make sure you have a complete and polished letter to share with the class on Friday. Make sure you to bring an envelope and stamp with you on Friday so we can address and send your letters. I¶m really excited to work with all of you to create the best persuasive letters possible! As always, let me know if you have any additional questions.

Persuasive Unit Graphic Organizer
(This is my example that I will fill in during the modeling section of my first lesson plan) Directions: You and your partner have two different viewpoints. Your goal is to persuade your partner that you are right and they should change their perspective on the issue. Make two claims that support your viewpoint and provide evidence for those claims. Share your ideas with your partner then use your partner s ideas against them! Take one of your partner s counterarguments and provide evidence that will make them reconsider their opinion.

My Viewpoint: Cats are way better than dogs! Audience: An amazing class of 7th grade students! Tone: Informal
Claims: Evidence:

Dogs require much more work than cats.

Dogs need to be taken on walks and need to be let outside to go to the bathroom. Cats go to the bathroom in one area (litter box) and it is easier to clean.

Cats do less damage to the house than dogs.

Dogs, especially larger dogs, tend to bite and damage things in the house. (What could an argument for dogs be here? What about cats and their claws?)

Counterclaim: (Why does my partner disagree?) Cats can use their claws to hurt people and tear up furniture.

Rebuttal(s): (Why is my partner s counterclaim wrong?) My cat is trained to scratch her post. or maybe My cat is declawed.