W 4 Write persuasive letters or compositions



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A personal essay is an expository article that explains the writer’s opinions, reflections, or feelings. To expound means to write with a purpose in mind.

  • 5th Grade Theme 2

You will be working to achieve these writing strategy standards:

  • W 1.2 Create multi-paragraph expository compositions:
    • W 1.2a Establish a topic, important ideas, or events in sequence or chronological order.
    • W 1.2b Provide details and transitional expressions that link one paragraph to another in a clear line of thought.
    • W 2.2c Offer a concluding paragraph that summarizes important ideas and details.

In addition, a personal essay has many of the hallmarks of a persuasive essay, so you will be working toward those standards as well.

  • W 2.4 Write persuasive letters or compositions:
    • W2.4a State a clear position.
    • W2.4b Support a position with relevant evidence.
    • W2.4 c Follow a simple organizational plan.
    • W.1.6 Edit and revise work to improve meaning

Look at examples of personal essays on Eduplace. http://www.eduplace.com/cgi-bin/schtemplate.cgi?template=/rdg/hme/benchmark/index.thtml&grades=k_5&alt=K-5

  • Of course it is important to look at fifth grade papers, but sometimes looking at fourth, third, and even second grade essays evaluated as a “4” is helpful. In each case, ask:
  • What do you notice about these effective essays?

You’ve just finished reading Michelle Kwan: Heart of a Champion.

  • Perhaps you came to the OPINION that a
  • competitive skater has a very difficult life.
  • Reread page 147 to find three reasons that
  • support this opinion.

Did you find some of these reasons?

  • A busy training schedule.
  • Constant practice creates sore muscles.
  • Many major competitions each year.

Notice how the author supports each of these main ideas with additional facts or examples.

The constant practice creates sore muscles.

        • Bottom
        • Shoulders
        • Legs

There are many major skating competitions each year.

    • At least once a month
    • National and World Championships

If you were writing this piece on the difficulty of competitive skating, how would you begin?

  • Competitive skating is not easy.

This is simple and effective – but it does not help the reader see where your essay is going. For all they know, you are going to talk about how hard it is to do triples and spread eagles.

Remember our three main points. Let’s form each of these into a sentence.

  • Skaters have very busy training schedules.
  • Every part of a skater’s body may ache after a long practice.
  • A skater must prepare for many competitions each year.

Competitive skating is not an easy sport. Because of the tough training schedule, the wear and tear on body parts, and the frequent skating competitions, it takes hard work and perseverance to succeed. Skaters have very busy training schedules. Every part of a skater’s body may ache after a long practice.A skater must prepare for many competitions each year.

  • Competitive skating is not an easy sport. Because of the tough training schedule, the wear and tear on body parts, and the frequent skating competitions, it takes hard work and perseverance to succeed. Skaters have very busy training schedules. Every part of a skater’s body may ache after a long practice.A skater must prepare for many competitions each year.
  • This isn’t a bad start on a personal essay,
  • but it lacks evidence. Let’s look closer.

After each sentence, ask yourself: What evidence, example, explanation or elaboration can I provide?

  • Skaters have very busy training schedules.
  • Elite skaters practice with their coaches for at least forty-five minutes each day. They also spend another hour in the gym working on building muscle power. They are still not done. Often they also work at floor exercises or on new programs with their dance instructors.

Every part of a skater’s body may ache after a long session.

  • You can imagine that after a practice routine like this, the skater’s shoulders, legs, and even bottom hurt. I know mine would.

A skater must prepare for many competitions each year.

  • A skater must develop programs and practice for the really big competitions like the Olympics and the World and National Championships. In addition monthly competitions and exhibitions are big time commitments as well.
  • Competitive ice skating is not an easy sport. Because of the tough training schedule, the wear and tear on body parts, and the frequent skating competitions, it takes hard work and perseverance to succeed.
  • Skaters have very busy training schedules. Elite skaters practice with their coaches for at least 45 minutes each day. They also spend another hour in the gym working on building muscle power. They are still not done. Often they also work at floor exercises or on new programs with their dance instructors.
  • Every part of a skater’s body may ache after a long practice. You can imagine that after a routine like this, the skater’s shoulders. legs. and even bottom may hurt. I know mine would.
  • A skater must prepare for many competitions each year. A skater must develop programs and practice for the really big competitions like the Olympics and the World and National Championships. In addition there are monthly competitions and exhibitions.
  • Now this is beginning to look and sound like an essay!
  • It may need transitions. Let’s read it aloud to hear how it sounds.
  • Competitive ice skating is not an easy sport. Because of the tough training schedule, the wear and tear on body parts, and the frequent skating competitions, it takes hard work and perseverance to succeed.
  • One reason skating is so grueling is because skaters have very busy training schedules. Elite skaters practice with their coaches for at least 45 minutes each day. They also spend another hour in the gym working on building muscle power. They are still not done. Often they also work at floor exercises or on new programs with their dance instructors.
  • As a result, every part of a skater’s body may ache after a long practice. You can imagine that after a routine like this, the skater’s shoulders. legs. and even bottom may hurt. I know mine would.
  • A skater must also prepare for many competitions each year. A skater must develop programs and practice for the really big competitions like the Olympics and the World and National Championships. In addition there are monthly competitions and exhibitions.

Time to wrap up this essay with a good conclusion. The conclusion needs to remind the reader of the main points of the essay.

  • So you can see skating and preparing for skating competitions takes lots of practice and creates sore muscles.
  • Well, this does the job – but it is not very exciting.

Let’s jazz it up!!

  • So you can see the life of an elite skater takes intense practice and a willingness to endure sore muscles in preparation for never-ending competitions. It’s not the life for everyone. You must have a real passion for the sport. For me, I’d rather just have fun on the ice!
  • Competitive skating is not an easy sport. Because of the tough training schedule, the wear and tear on body parts, and the frequent skating competitions, it takes hard work and perseverance to succeed.
  • One reason skating is so grueling is because skaters have very busy training schedules. Elite skaters practice with their coaches for at least 45 minutes each day. They also spend another hour in the gym working on building muscle power. They are still not done. Often they also work at floor exercises or on new programs with their dance instructors.
  • As a result, every part of a skater’s body may ache after a long practice. You can imagine that after a routine like this, the skater’s shoulders. legs. and even bottom may hurt. I know mine would.
  • A skater must also prepare for many competitions each year. A skater must develop programs and practice for the really big competitions like the Olympics and the World and National Championships. In addition there are monthly competitions and exhibitions.
  • So you can see the life of an elite skater takes intense practice and a willingness to endure sore muscles in preparation for never-ending competitions. You must have a real passion for the sport. It’s not the life for everyone. For me, I’d rather just have fun on the ice!

This essay wasn’t as personal as some. Let’s try one that really expresses your opinion.

  • Think about a career you think you might try as an adult. What elements, or parts, of this career are attractive to you?

Maybe you’d like to be a nurse.

  • Think about what you would like about this career choice.
  • Helping people stay healthy
  • Feeling of satisfaction when sick people get well
  • Working with doctors to find cures for diseases

Maybe you’d like to be a newspaper journalist

  • Why would this career be attractive?
  • Cover exciting stories
  • Go to all kinds of sporting events to write about them
  • See your name in print

Perhaps you’d like to be a veterinarian. What would be the benefits of this job?

Decide what career you will write about.

  • Now think of three elements or parts of this career that you would like or find exciting.

Think about how you will start your essay?

  • You could begin with description by asking your reader to picture the job – or you in this job.
    • Picture this:
    • The sirens are screeching, and the huge red engines round the corner. Everyone gets out of the way of the fire trucks. I’m the captain and I control a battalion of fire fighters ready to do their job. I’d like this career for several reasons. I’d be doing a job people really need. I would work outside and it would never be dull or boring

Now you try it. Write an introductory paragraph which begins by asking the reader to picture you in your chosen career. End the paragraph with a preview of the three reasons you will give for selecting this job.

Another way to start a personal essay is with a bold opinion.

  • Although being a teacher or a fireman might be considered an important job, I think being a nurse is really the most essential job in the world. A nurse actually holds the life of his patient in his hands. Being a nurse is the career for me because you work to help keep people from getting sick or you work to make them better. Both of these activities give you a huge sense of satisfaction. In addition, you might even work with doctors to find cures for diseases.
  • Bold opinion
  • Preview of your important points

Now you try it.

  • Write an introductory paragraph that starts with a bold opinion about the career you have selected. Next follow up with several sentences that tell the main reasons for your selection.
  • It may seem like only a remote vision, but I know I will be one of the few dreamers who actually becomes a major league basketball player.
  • _____________________
  • _____________________
  • _____________________

Look at the two introductory paragraphs you wrote. Select the one you would like to use. Don’t toss that other paragraph. With just a little revision, it might make a wonderful conclusion.

Now that you have selected your introductory paragraph, return to the reasons you noted for selecting this job.

  • Nurses help keep people healthy.
  • It is satisfying to be able to make people well when they are sick.
  • You might even be able to work with doctors or scientists to find cures for diseases.
  • For each of these you will want to find evidence to back up what you say.

When I think about how nurses keep people healthy, I think about…

  • Giving vaccinations.
  • Helping to design nutritious diets.
  • Teaching first aid.

Now I need to form these thoughts into a good paragraph. Don’t forget a transitional expression.

  • One reason I want to be a nurse is because they are so vital in keeping people healthy. Even though I don’t like shots, I know that when the nurse gives me a vaccination she is keeping me from getting polio or chicken pox. Nurses also recommend good healthy diets to keep us slim and trim. One of the most important things a nurse can do is teach first aid classes. The information he gives might save a person’s life.

Write a paragraph like this for each of your main points. Speak from your heart about why this career is appealing to you.

Now look back at that discarded introductory paragraph. Could it be used as a conclusion?

  • Picture me as a nurse. I stride confidently into the office in scrubs with a Batman print all over. This makes my little patients feel good. Whether I am providing a vaccination to ward off disease, curing an ear infection, or working with other professionals to find cures for devastating diseases, I feel wonderful and useful in my chosen career.

Before you turn in your essay, edit carefully. Keep these skills in mind.

  • Use capitals at the beginning of sentences and for all proper nouns.
  • Use complete sentences.
  • End each sentence with a period, question mark, or exclamation point.
  • Use strong action verbs.
  • Use an apostrophe to indicate possession.
  • Use correct and consistent verb tense.

Read your essay aloud to a partner. Are you able to put a check next to each item?

  • The introduction states my opinion in an interesting way.
  • My reasons are strong and are supported with details.
  • This essay really sounds like me!
  • The conclusion sums up the important points.
  • There are no mistakes in capitalization, punctuation, or spelling.

Now you are ready to try an “on-demand” essay on your own.

  • Suppose you were principal of your school for a day. What three important changes would you make in your school for this day?

Some students may need additional scaffolding to get started. Others may be able to work independently at this point.

  • Remember the idea of asking our reader to “picture” us in a situation. Let’s use that for the opening paragraph.
    • Can you picture this? I’ve been asked to be “ principal for the day”! I’m wearing ________, _________, and ________. Instead of taking the bus, ______________
    • _______________________________________________As I open the door to my office, I think about the three things I will change at school today.

Let’s think. What will I change?

  • A longer recess or lunch?
  • No homework?
  • More time for art or science or music?
  • All class work can be done in colored gel pens and no cursive writing?
  • Movies shown in the cafeteria at lunch time?
  • ??????????

Select 3 ideas. Form each idea into a complete sentence.

  • Be sure to use a transitional phrase in each sentence.
  • One way I will change the school is to ____
  • ___________________________________
  • Another part of school I will change is ______
  • _______________________is the last change I will make.

For each of the changes you are going to make, you will need to add some examples or elaboration.

  • For example, if you say you are going to make recess longer, your example might be that recess will last from right after the pledge until lunch.

What would be good evidence to support the statement that you are going to include more art in the school day?

    • Can you picture this? I’ve been asked to be “principal for the day”! I’m wearing ________, _________, and ________. Instead of taking the bus, ___
    • _______________________________________________As I open the door to my office, I think about the three things I will change at school today.
  • One way I will change the school is to _____________
  • Example:
  • Another part of school I will change is _______________
  • Example:
  • ______________________is the last change I will make.
  • Example:

You will wrap up your essay with a conclusion that summarizes your important ideas. These are the ideas in orange on the previous page.

    • Being in charge of the school for a day will be awesome. I will be able to make the changes I have always wanted like __________________________,
    • _______________________, and ___________________________.
    • Can you picture this? I’ve been asked to be “ principal for the day”! I’m wearing ________, _________, and ________. Instead of taking the bus,_____________________________________________. As I open the door to my office, I think about the three things I will change at school today.
  • One way I will change the school is to _____________
  • Example:
  • Another part of school I will change is _______________
  • Example:
  • ______________________is the last change I will make.
  • Example:
    • Being in charge of the school for a day will be awesome. I will be able to make the changes I have always wanted like_________________,
    • ___________________________________________________, and _______________________________________.

Well done!

Another practice prompt

  • After listening to your teacher read Boy Invents Toys, write a personal essay describing the three best toys ever invented. Be sure that you opinion paper includes reasons and examples of why these toys are the best.

One more chance to try your hand at a personal essay

  • After reading Mae Jemison, Space Scientist, think about what aspects of being an astronaut you would most enjoy. Write a personal essay to express your opinion.

In Social Studies, you may have been studying explorers. Think about the characteristics of some of these early adventurers. They may have been: risk takers seeking riches curious courageous brave seeking fame bored imaginative

In a personal essay describe the characteristics you have that would make you a good explorer.

  • History Social Science Standards 5.2.1


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