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Persuasive Essay Lesson Plans 8th Grade

Title – How ’bout a Little Persuasion?
By – Brittany L.
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Grade Level – 5-8

Summary and Rationale:

    In this unit, students will learn different types of persuasive writing and identify an author’s purpose through examples and group practice. The purpose of this unit is to teach students to read subjectively. It will increase their reading comprehension while adding the skill of determining the pros, cons, biases, and any other aspects related to an author’s position. The lesson will span from one to two weeks depending on how students understand the information. This is an introduction to the concept of persuasion.


    The student will identify an author’s persuasive position when reading persuasive texts.

State Standards Covered:

      5th Grade Reading – C3P01
    Reading Strand 3 – Concept 3 – Principal 1
      Determine an author’s position regarding a particular idea, subject, concept, or object, using supporting evidence from the text.


      Check for understanding:
        Students will all be given the same article, which persuades readers towards a specific topic. Students will be given the article accompanied by a worksheet asking them to identify the author’s position, evidence of the author’s position, and how they feel about the author’s position.

Lesson assessment:

        Each individual student will be given a persuasive text. Students will read the text and create a visual (poster, slideshow, pamphlet, etc.) based on the text that shows what the author is persuading and evidence supporting their persuasion. This assessment will be a summative one in which students will be graded by the use of a rubric. Students will be given the rubric at the start of the assignment.

Ex1: A student given an essay on the importance of school uniforms could make a poster illustrating the author’s position. The poster could include pictures of people in school uniforms looking happy, bold print of phrases such as ” Everyone at school is equal” and bright colors making the poster appealing.

Ex2: A student with an essay opposing uniforms could make a poster with dreary dark colors, pictures of unhappy uniformed students, and phrases such as “uniforms are boring”.

This lesson assessment will be used to determine if students understand the concept of persuasion. The assessment calls for students to not only read a persuasive text, but to also show that they understand the author’s viewpoint.

How students will be graded:

      The posters and visuals students create to represent the persuasive text they have read will be graded by the use of a rubric. Students will be given the rubric beforehand. Their understanding of the skill of recognizing persuasion will be apparent in their visual representations of the persuasive text. I believe this is a good way to assess the students’ understanding of the concept and hope that this is just as effective of a measurement as a simple multiple choice or paper test.

Terms to Clarify:

  • Persuasion – to influence a point of view by means of argument or reasoning
  • Persuasive text – any writing in which an author is expressing facts or opinions to try to convince the reader
  • Supporting evidence – facts, details, statistics or examples that help to form judgments
  • Author’s position – a standpoint or attitude that the author holds towards an idea
  • Main Idea – the central topic of a piece of writing
  • Fact – something that is true
  • Opinion – a personal belief

Materials Used:

  • Projector – connection to my laptop in order to project commercials from you tube onto the pull down screen; also needed for power point.
  • Laptop – needed to show students the commercials as well as power point
  • Commercials –
  • Essays – a class set of persuasive essays (There is No Such Thing as Too Much BBQ) are needed, found here: This will be edited for content and shortened for understanding.
  • Worksheets – a class set of worksheets that correspond to the group activity
  • Graphic Organizers – class set needed for students to take notes on during the lecture.
  • PowerPoint – power point presentation on the terms to clarify

Teaching Procedures:

  • Anticipatory Set:

    Time: 15-20 minutes

    • The word PERSUASION, the student friendly objective “I WILL IDENTIFY AN AUTHOR’S PERSUASIVE POSITION” and the lesson agenda will be written on the board.
    • Lesson agenda:
      • Commercials.
      • What is Persuasion?
      • BBQ Essay.
      • Group Essay Dissection.
      • Poster Parade.
    • To begin the lesson, the students will be shown two different commercials. One commercial will advertise Cheerios; the other will advertise a new gaming system. The students will then be asked what they think the commercial is trying to tell the audience. How is the commercial getting the audience’s attention? What kinds of things are shown that make the viewer want to buy their product? Should a person always believe what a commercial is saying? Why?
    • The students will then be told that commercials are ultimately trying to persuade the viewer. This will be the lead into the instructional input.
    • After the commercials are discussed, the attention will be directed to the board for a brief overview of the agenda for the lesson.
    • Guiding Questions:
          “What is persuasion?”
          “What should you keep in mind when a person is trying to persuade you?”
          “What is your opinion?”
          “Is this a fact?”
          “Is this an opinion?”
  • Instructional Input:

    Time: 45 minutes

    • This will be presented to the students in the form of a PowerPoint. Students will also be given graphic organizers to follow along with the PowerPoint.
    • Intro Slide:
      • main idea
      • fact
      • opinion
      • persuasion
      • persuasive text
      • author’s position
      • supporting evidence
    • Slide 1:

      main idea

          ? The central topic of a piece of writing. It is what the writing is all about.
      • Students will be asked to give examples of a main idea in stories we’ve read together.
      • Students will then be directed to fill in these examples on their graphic organizers as well as the definition of a main idea.
    • Slide 2:


          ? A fact is something that is true. (Ex: My hair is black. My eyes are brown.)
      • Students will be asked to give examples of a fact about themselves or the world they live in.
      • Students will be directed to fill in examples into their graphic organizer, along with the definition of a fact.
    • Slide 3:


          ? Something that is a person’s own belief or a personal viewpoint. (Ex: My hair is beautiful. My eyes are beautiful.)
      • Students will be told, “What is beautiful to me may not be beautiful to someone else; it is a matter of opinion .”
      • Students will then be asked to give examples of opinions
      • Students will be directed to write in their graphic organizer those examples of opinion as well as the definition.
    • Slide 4:


          ? Persuasion is the act of influencing someone to believe or consider a certain point of view by using an argument or reasoning.
      • Students will be asked, “How were the commercials we just viewed persuading?”
      • Students will be asked for examples of instances in which people try to persuade us.
      • Students will be directed to fill in examples on their graphic organizer, as well as the definition of persuasion.
    • Slide 5:

      persuasive text

          ? Persuasive text is any writing in which an author is expressing facts or opinions to try to convince the reader. (Ex: opinion columns in the newspaper, student essays asking for a change in school policy, etc.)
      • Students will be asked to give examples of why they, or anyone else, would have to write to persuade.
      • Students will be directed to fill in examples on graphic organizer.
    • Slide 6:
      Author’s position: what the author believes. (Ex: If the commercials we viewed were “written texts,” the author’s position would be, “Cheerios are good and good for you. You should buy cheerios.”)
      • Students will be directed to write the definition on their graphic organizers.
    • Slide 7:
      Supporting Evidence: facts, details, statistics or examples given by the author that help the reader form judgments. (Ex: In the Cheerios commercial, there was “supporting evidence” of why Cheerios are good for you – they make your heart healthy.)
      • Students will be asked to give examples from the game commercial that are supporting evidence. “What is being shown to make you believe it is a cool game system.”
      • Students will be directed to fill in examples and write a definition of supporting evidence.
    • Slide 8:
        • main idea
        • fact
        • opinion
        • persuasion
        • persuasive text
        • author’s position
        • supporting evidence
      • Students will be asked to think/pair/share for every other bulleted term. This will be a review of what was just taught. For example: “So, what is a main idea? We’re going to think, pair, share for this.”
      • For the other terms, students will simply be asked to volunteer their definitions and examples.
  • Check for Understanding:
    • Throughout the instructional input, I will be asking students to give examples and definitions to the terms taught as a way of checking their understanding of the concept.

      Examples: What is a…

      • main idea
      • fact
      • opinion
      • persuasion
      • persuasive text
      • author’s position
      • supporting evidence
    • Students will be given the essay,

      I Believe in barbecue
      . We will read this as a class. I will start the reading and ask for students to “popcorn read” (after a student reads a section they call on another student to read the next section). As we read, I will ask the students, “What does the author mean by this? Is this a fact or opinion about barbecue?”

      After the essay is read, the students will then be given a worksheet to complete independently that asks the following questions about the essay:

      • What is the author’s position?
      • Is the author stating facts or opinions about barbecue?
      • What evidence shows the author’s position?
      • In your opinion, why does the author think this way?
      • How do you feel about the author’s position?
    • As the students independently work on this worksheet I will be walking around and helping as needed, taking note to the kinds of answers given.
    • The students will hand in this work.
  • Guided Practice:
    • Students will be placed in groups of 3-4 and given a short persuasive essay written by students in their grade level. All of the grade level persuasive essays that the students read will be purposefully one-sided so students will have a vivid picture of persuasion. Groups will read the essays and fill out corresponding worksheets.
    • The worksheets will simply ask the student:
      • What is the author’s position?
      • What evidence shows the author’s position (must provide at least gour examples).
    • After groups have completed the worksheets, their findings will be discussed with the class.
  • Guided (Supervised) Practice: Essay Dissection
    • Students will be placed into groups of 3-4. Each group will have one “advanced” student, one average student, and one student who may need extra help with reading or even understanding English.
    • Each group will be given a short persuasive essay and worksheets that correspond (all essays will be grade level appropriate and written by students of their age group). Each group will have a different essay and each member of the groups is responsible for filling out their own worksheet.
    • The worksheets will ask the following questions:
      • What is the author’s position?
      • What evidence shows the author’s position? (Must provide at least 4 examples.)
      • Does the author use facts, opinions or both? Give examples.
    • I will be walking around the room, keeping the students on task, and asking them questions about their essays as well as taking note of things that many students do not understand, and the things that students grasp very well.
    • After the groups have finished reading their essays and filling out their worksheets, they will then come back together.
    • Each group will be called to the front of the class and share what their essay was about and discuss the answer to each of the questions. (Ex: “Okay, Marcos, Heidi, and Joe’s group, can you please come to the front of the class?”)
    • Each group member must speak at least once. I will call upon the first student, “Joe, can you tell us what your essay was about?” Then, “Heidi, what does your group believe is the author’s position?” “Joe, what evidence did your group find that led you to understand the author’s position?” Then, “Marcos, does the author use facts or opinion.” (I have called upon Marcos twice because he is most comfortable with speaking.)
    • When the first group is done presenting, they will then call upon the group they would like to go next, and that group will call upon the next group and so on.
  • Extended (Independent) Practice:
      As extended independent practice, students will be asked to complete another worksheet that corresponds with their group essay (from the guided practice assignment) as homework. The worksheet will ask:
      • Do you agree with the author’s position?
      • What facts or opinions make you agree or disagree?
      • In your opinion why might the author have written the essay?

        Students will demonstrate their understanding of the essay as well as their understanding of the topic of persuasion.

  • Lesson Closure:

    Time: 1 hour

        The lesson will be closed with a “Poster Parade”. Each student will have 5 minutes maximum to present their visual representation of the essay they were assigned. The class will discuss each poster/movie/slideshow, etc. Students will be asked:
        • How is the author’s position illustrated?
        • Is the author presenting a fact or opinion?
        • What supporting evidence is shown in the visual?

    When all students have presented, I will close the lesson by sharing with the students the importance of being able to understand persuasive texts. Not only should they be able to just read, but actually understand what they have read. The visuals that they have made are illustrations of their understanding of a persuasive text. To bring the lesson to a complete close, I will ask students to pull out their graphic organizers from the PowerPoint lecture. I will then ask the students each of the key terms from our lesson, and ask for examples for each. I will then ask for feedback on what students enjoyed about the lesson and things that they did not understand. This will be time for clarification.

Differentiated Instruction:

  • English Language Learners (ELL):
      ELL modification:
        Students who are learning English can complete the same activities, but with print material that is more to their ability level. Students who have harder times comprehending grade level print material can be given the same readings, but with highlighted texts in which the key concepts are highlighted, as well as texts with marginal notes written and highlighted by myself. This modification can be beneficial to not only ELL students but students who read below grade level.
  • Students with Gifts/Talents:
        According to the theory of multiple intelligences, students can be linguistically and spatial intelligent. The texts being read will play to those who are linguistically intelligent by offering chances to express thoughts verbally as well as in writing. For those students who are spatially intelligent, the assessment assignment of creating a visual to represent a persuasive text plays to their abilities. Students who are spatially intelligent can be very creative with this portion of the lesson.

    Gifted student modification:

        Gifted students can complete the extended practice worksheet with the following higher level thinking questions:
        • What evidence supports the author’s viewpoint?
        • Do you agree with the author’s position?
        • What other possible supporting evidence could the author argue?
        • What is a possible counter argument to the author’s viewpoint?

E-Mail Brittany L.

Student Objectives

Session 1: The Game of Persuasion

Session 2: Analysis of an Argument

Session 3: Persuasive Writing

Session 4: Presenting the Persuasive Writing


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Work in cooperative groups to brainstorm ideas and organize them into a cohesive argument to be presented to the class

  • Gain knowledge of the different strategies that are used in effective persuasive writing

  • Use a graphic organizer to help them begin organizing their ideas into written form

  • Apply what they have learned to write a persuasive piece that expresses their stance and reasoning in a clear, logical sequence

  • Develop oral presentation skills by presenting their persuasive writing pieces to the class

  • Analyze the work of others to see if it contains effective persuasive techniques

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Session 1: The Game of Persuasion

1.Post the chart you created where students can see it (see Preparation, Step 3). Distribute sticky notes, and ask students to write their names on the notes. Call students up to the chart to place their notes in the column that expresses their opinion.

2.After everyone has had a chance to put their name on the chart, look at the results and discuss how people have different views about various topics and are entitled to their opinions. Give students a chance to share the reasons behind their choices.

3.Once students have shared, explain that sometimes when you believe in something, you want others to believe in it also and you might try to get them to change their minds. Ask students the following question: “Does anyone know the word for trying to convince someone to change his or her mind about something?” Elicit from students the word persuade.

4.Explain to students that they are going to play a game that will help them understand how persuasive arguments work.

5.Follow these rules of the game:

  • Have students get into their groups.

  • Explain that sometimes when you play games the winner gets a reward and that at the end of this game the winning team will get the reward you have chosen (see Preparation, Step 1).

  • Have each team choose a recorder, or designate a recorder for each team yourself. The recorder's job is to write down the team's arguments.

  • Tell students that they must work together as a team for 15 to 20 minutes to come up with the best reason why the class should award their group the prize. Their reasons can be serious or playful.

  • Use a signal to let them know when to begin and when time is up.

  • Have students present their arguments. Students can either present as a group or choose one person to be their speaker.

  • Have the judge decide on a winning group or ask students to vote for a group other than themselves that had a convincing argument.

Note: While students are working, there should be little interference from you. This is a time for students to discover what they already know about persuasive arguments. Use the Observations and Notes handout as you listen in to groups and make notes about their arguments. This will help you see what students know and also provide examples to point out during Session 2 (see Step 4).

Home/School Connection: Distribute Persuasion Is All Around You. Students are to find an example of a persuasive piece from the newspaper, television, radio, magazine, or billboards around town and be ready to report back to class during Session 2. Provide a selection of magazines or newspapers with advertisements for students who may not have materials at home. For English-language learners (ELLs), it may be helpful to show examples of advertisements and articles in newspapers and magazines.

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Session 2: Analysis of an Argument

1.Begin by asking students to share their homework. You can have them share as a class, in their groups from the previous session, or in partners.

2.After students have shared, explain that they are going to get a chance to examine the arguments that they made during Session 1 to find out what strategies they already know how to use.

3.Pass out the Persuasive Strategy Definitions to each student. Tell students that you are going to explain each definition through a PowerPoint presentation.

4.Read through each slide in the Persuasive Strategy PowerPoint Presentation. Discuss the meaning and how students used those strategies in their arguments during Session 1. Use your observations and notes to help students make connections between their arguments and the persuasive strategies. It is likely your students used many of the strategies, and did not know it. For example, imagine the reward for the winning team was 10 extra minutes of recess. Here is one possible argument:

“Our classmate Sarah finally got her cast taken off. She hasn’t been able to play outside for two months. For 60 days she’s had to go sit in the nurse’s office while we all played outside. Don’t you think it would be the greatest feeling for Sarah to have 10 extra minutes of recess the first week of getting her cast off?”

This group is trying to appeal to the other students’ emotions. This is an example of pathos.

5.As you discuss the examples from the previous session, have students write them in the box next to each definition on the Persuasive Strategy Definitions sheet to help them remember each meaning.

Home/School Connection: Ask students to revisit their persuasive piece from Persuasion Is All Around You. This time they will use Check the Strategies to look for the persuasive strategies that the creator of the piece incorporated. Check for understanding with your ELLs and any special needs students. It may be helpful for them to talk through their persuasive piece with you or a peer before taking it home for homework. Arrange a time for any student who may not have the opportunity to complete assignments outside of school to work with you, a volunteer, or another adult at school on the assignment.

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Session 3: Persuasive Writing

1.Divide the class into groups of two or three students. Have each group member talk about the persuasive strategies they found in their piece.

2.After each group has had time to share with each other, go through each persuasive strategy and ask students to share any examples they found in their persuasive pieces with the whole class.

3.Explain to students that in this session they will be playing the game they played during Session 1 again; only this time they will be working with a partner to write their argument and there will be a different prize awarded to the winning team.

4.Share the Persuasive Writing Assessment with students and read through each category. Explain that you will be using this rubric to help evaluate their essays. Reassure students that if they have questions or if part of the rubric is unclear, you will help them during their conference.

5.Have students get together with the partners you have selected (see Preparation, Step 1).

6.Get students started on their persuasive writing by introducing them to the interactive Persuasion Map. This online graphic organizer is a prewriting exercise that enables students to map out their arguments for a persuasive essay.

  • Have partners enter their names and topics on the opening screen.

  • The goal or thesis is the claim or stance that they are taking on the issue.

  • Students should then brainstorm three reasons to support their claim, and facts and examples to support each reason.
Challenge students to use the persuasive strategies discussed during Session 2 in their writing. Remind students to print their maps before exiting as they cannot save their work online.

7.Have students begin writing their persuasive essays, using their printed Persuasion Maps as a guide. To maintain the spirit of the game, allow students to write their essays with their partner. Partners can either write each paragraph together taking turns being the scribe or each can take responsibility for different paragraphs in the essay. If partners decide to work on different parts of the essay, monitor them closely and help them to write transition sentences from one paragraph to the next. It may take students two sessions to complete their writing.

8.Meet with partners as they are working on their essays. During conferences you can:

  • Ask students to show you the persuasive strategies they are using

  • Guide students to use a variety of persuasive strategies

  • Make sure students are using their Persuasion Map as a guide

  • Check their supporting facts and examples for accuracy

  • Help groups write an interesting beginning and ending

  • Encourage partners to read their paragraphs to and provide feedback for each other

  • Edit for grammar and mechanics

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Session 4: Presenting the Persuasive Writing

1.During this session, partners will present their written argument to the class. Before students present, hand out the Check the Strategy sheet. This checklist is the same one they used for homework after Session 2. Direct students to mark off the strategies they hear in each presentation.

2.Use the Observations and Notes sheet to record your observations.

3.After each set of partners presents, ask the audience to share any persuasive strategies they heard in the argument.

4.After all partners have presented, have students vote for the argument other than their own that they felt was most convincing.

5.Tally the votes and award the prize to the winning team. To end this session, ask students to discuss something new they have learned about persuasive arguments and something they want to work on to become better at persuasive arguments.

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  • Endangered Species: Persuasive Writing offers a way to integrate science with persuasive writing. Have students pretend that they are reporters and have to convince people to think the way they do. Have them pick issues related to endangered species, use the Persuasion Map as a prewriting exercise, and write essays trying to convince others of their points of view. In addition, the lesson “Persuasive Essay: Environmental Issues” can be adapted for your students as part of this exercise.

  • Have students write persuasive arguments for a special class event, such as an educational field trip or an in-class educational movie. Reward the class by arranging for the class event suggested in one of the essays.

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  • Compare your Observations and Notes from Session 4 and Session 1 to see if students understand the persuasive strategies, use any new persuasive strategies, seem to be overusing a strategy, or need more practice refining the use of a strategy. Offer them guidance and practice as needed.

  • Collect both homework assignments and the Check the Strategy sheets and assess how well students understand the different elements of persuasive writing and how they are applied.

  • Collect students’ Persuasion Maps and use them and your discussions during conferences to see how well students understand how to use the persuasive strategies and are able to plan their essays. You want to look also at how well they are able to make changes from the map to their finished essays.

  • Use the Persuasive Writing Assessment to evaluate the essays students wrote during Session 3.

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