Newly hatched sea turtles are always in danger, and measures to protect them are urgently needed. How can people help?

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Unit 13

Writing to Persuade

Newly hatched sea turtles are always in danger, and measures to protect them are urgently needed. How can people help?


Gary Soto has a problem in his neighborhood. Here's how he persuaded his neighbor Terry to solve the problem. What does he want Terry to do?

Chiming In on Wind Chimes

by Gary Soto

You can walk away from the rattle of the jackhammer. You can hold your breath when a taxi screeches its brakes. You can wait for a dog to stop barking and finally settle into sleep. You can even outlast the howl of a leaf blower until the gardener goes away. With wind chimes, however, the sound is with you every day. And on days when the wind picks up and slaps the trees around, the clanking chimes destroy world peace.

Recently, while I was writing a letter to a friend, I made out a tiny sound that was interesting for about five seconds and then intensely irritating—like the old scraping of fingernails down a blackboard. I looked out the window and saw that monster metal wind chimes were hanging from my neighbor's roof. "Oh, no," I thought. And then I thought, "How can I convince Terry to take them down?"

Before I approached Terry, I came up with a tidy list of reasons for my complaint. First, wind chimes are irritating. Their sound is unpredictable—not like a song, in which you know the melody runs its course. Then, I added to my list, wind chimes ruin my concentration because I'm aware that at any moment they'll start clanging. I may be writing at my desk, but instead of concentrating on my work I'm thinking, "When will it start?" In short, I'm at the mercy of the wind.

Some might ask, "Do you have a problem with church bells, too?" No. I know they'll sound only on the hour or half-hour or when someone is getting married.


The third reason I wrote on my list was this: wind chimes are unnecessary. To refresh my mind during the day, I often take short walks. What I've discovered on those walks is that people with wind chimes are never at home. No, they're off to their offices or somewhere, leaving us poor noise-sensitive folks at home to suffer. What is so necessary about these contraptions if the person who hung them is not even around to hear them?

I was at first hesitant to approach my neighbor and ask him, politely of course, to please take down his wind chimes. But I had no choice when I saw that his wife had added yet another one by their bird feeders. "Terry," I said when he opened his door, "we have a problem."

His face expressed concern. "Was there a break-in in the neighborhood? Is anyone hurt?"

I nodded my head. "Yes," I said sadly, "your wind chimes have broken my concentration and are hurting my ears." I asked him to take them down because they were irritating, an obstruction to concentration, unnecessary, and, finally, contrary to nature. Couldn't we just enjoy the birds when they fly down to feast? Now that's music!

By the way, Terry is a scientist who works for an oil company. I knew he was a reasonable man. Would he think I was weird? a grumpy neighbor? He listened to my complaints, and the next moment the wind chimes were gone, presumably tossed in a box that now sits in his garage.


Reading As a Writer

Think About the Persuasive Essay

What does Gary Soto want his audience to do? Tell his goal.

Look at the third paragraph. What is the first reason that the writer gives to support his goal?

What possible objection does the writer introduce in the fourth paragraph?

How does he answer this objection?

In the fifth paragraph, Gary Soto writes that wind chimes are unnecessary. What facts and examples does he give to support this reason?

Think About Writer's Craft

In the second paragraph, what comparison does the author use to describe the sound of wind chimes? How does this comparison support his goal?

Think About the Picture

Look at the picture on page 482. How do you think Gary Soto feels about being so close to wind chimes? Use details from the photograph to support your answer.


Write responses to these questions.

Personal Response Describe a time when someone you know did something that bothered you. What did you do to solve the problem? How was your experience different from Gary Soto's? How was it similar?

Critical Thinking Suppose Terry disagreed with the writer. What reasons might Terry give for leaving his wind chimes up? How might he answer the writer's reasons for him to take them down?


What Makes a Great Persuasive Essay?

In a persuasive essay, a writer tries to persuade an audience to do something.

Remember to follow these guidelines when you write a persuasive essay.

Start by telling your goal, what you want your audience to do.

Support your goal with strong reasons that appeal to your audience.

Support your reasons with facts and examples.

Answer objections your audience might have.

Order your reasons from most to least important or from least to most important.

Use positive, confident language.

End by summing up your reasons and repeating your call to action.


Be sure that each pronoun clearly takes the place of only one noun.



Michael Le likes everything about karate, and he wants his friends to take karate lessons with him. He knows many good reasons why they should learn karate, so he wrote this draft of a persuasive essay.


Reading as a Writer

What questions did Sal ask? What revisions might Michael make?

Which of Michael's reasons is most convincing? Why do you think so?

What questions would you like to ask Michael?



Michael revised his persuasive essay after discussing it with a classmate. Read his final version to see how he improved it.

Join Karate!

by Michael Le

Karate can help you with everyday things and with dangerous people. It's also a lot of fun! You should join karate. There are many good reasons for joining.

First of all, karate makes you a better person. We call our teacher sensei. My sensei tells stories about how to be respectful. He says that respect for other people is what karate is all about. When I make a mistake, my sensei helps fix it. For example, I was not doing a strike right. My sensei showed me how to do it and then told my dad to work on it with me. Practicing and going to class help me with five things: effort, etiquette, character, sincerity, and self-control. Karate will help you with these things too!

Second, karate builds up your strength, stamina, and agility. Karate does this by teaching you how to move like animals. These are such animals as the crane, the monkey, the tiger, the leopard, the dragon, and the snake. You learn


different forms from them. A form is a movement that includes many techniques. The crane teaches you balance, and the monkey teaches you how to use your strength. The leopard and tiger both teach speed, the dragon teaches balance and strength, and the snake teaches twisting out of a grapple move. These animals all certainly help you in self-defense.

Last and most important is the fun part. Karate will teach you how to break boards! Yes, you heard me. You focus all of your strength into your body part, such as your hand, and use it to break the board. This proves your strength is building. If you think you're ready, you can go for more boards or maybe even bricks!

So you think karate is cool. I hope so. All that practice can be boring, but remember that it definitely does help you. Karate gives you more honor and makes you a better person. It builds up your strength, stamina, and agility. It's also a lot of fun! Well, that's all you need to hear from me about karate. Join a karate class soon!

Reading as a Writer

What changes did Michael make in response to Sal's questions?

What facts and examples did Michael add to support his reason that karate can make you a better person?

What did Michael think was his most important reason? How do you know?


Write a Persuasive Essay

Start Thinking

Make a writing folder for your persuasive essay. Copy the questions in bold type, and put the paper in your folder. Write your answers as you think about and choose your topic.

What will be my purpose or goal? What do I want to persuade someone to do? Why is this action important to me?

Who will be my audience? Do I want to convince my parents? my classmates? my teacher? a leader in my city or town?

How will I publish or share my essay? Will I reach my audience through a magazine or newspaper? in a flier? on a poster?

Choose a Goal

Drawing a Blank?

Complete these sentences for goal ideas.

My principal should change

My city or town should fix the

My parents should allow me to

See page 501 for more ideas.

1. Make a chart to help you come up with ideas. List five actions someone should take. These are your goals. List the people who should take each action. This is your audience. Part of Michael's chart is shown below.

2. Discuss each goal with a partner.

Is each goal clear? Will your audience know exactly what to do?

Is any goal too large for your audience to do?

What reasons will you use? Will these reasons convince your audience?

3. Ask yourself these questions. Then circle the goal you will write about.

Do I really care about this goal?

Will this goal interest my audience?

Can I think of facts and examples to support my reasons for this goal?


Focus Skill

Supporting Your Goal

Your reasons are like a tabletop. Your facts and examples are like the legs that hold it up. Without their support, your goal would go crashing to the floor.

Support your goal with reasons. Each reason must tell why it is important for your audience to do what you ask. Don't just restate your goal.

Goal: persuade town officials to add a traffic light near my house

Weak Reason: Restates Goal

You have to put a traffic light on that corner!

Strong Reason: Supports Goal

Driving through that intersection is dangerous.

GRAMMAR TIP Reasons are statements. They usually end with a period.

Get ready for disagreement. How might your audience object to your goal? Answer their possible objections with your reasons.

Imagine yourself having a friendly argument with your audience.

Goal persuade my parents to buy me a new bike

Objection My parents will say that I won't take care of a new bike.

Objection answered I know you're worried that I won't take care of a new bike. Well, I will. I won't just drop it on the driveway, and I'll always put it away in the garage.

Think and Discuss Look at Michael's working draft on pages 485-486.

What objection does Michael introduce? How does he answer it?


Support or elaborate your reasons with facts and examples. A fact can be proven. An example tells something that has happened or might happen.

Reason: Driving through that intersection is dangerous.

Weak Support

Opinion: There must be many accidents at corners without traffic lights.

Opinion: Corners without traffic lights are frightening.

Strong Support

Fact: Two car accidents happened at that corner in the past month.

Example: I saw two drivers swerve to miss each other at the last second.

Think and Discuss Look at the published model on pages 481-482.

Find three facts or examples that Gary Soto uses to support his reasons.

Explore Your Goal

1. Start a web like the one below. State your goal in one short sentence. Add as many reasons as you can think of to your web.

2. Discuss your goal and reasons with a partner. Think of possible objections. Answer each objection. Add each answer to your web.

3. Add facts and examples to elaborate each reason.

If you can't list at least three strong reasons, try another goal.

Part of Michael's web

See page 14 for other ideas for exploring your topic.


Focus Skill

Evaluating Your Reasons

Your essay needs at least three strong reasons to be convincing. Which of your reasons are the most persuasive?

Be sure each reason has enough support. Choose reasons that you can explain. Supply names, dates, or numbers whenever possible.

Be sure each reason is accurate. Don't exaggerate.

Goal: persuade town officials to add a traffic light near my house

Weak: Not an Accurate Reason

Adding a traffic light will save hundreds of lives.

Strong: Accurate Reason

Adding a traffic light will make crossing that street less dangerous.

Be sure each reason is right for your audience. We all care about different things. Choose reasons that matter to the people you want to convince.

Goal: persuade the class to watch a documentary about a journey to the Arctic

Reason for Classmates

The documentary is so exciting! It's almost like watching an action movie!

Reason for Teacher

The documentary is full of facts about the explorers. We'll learn a lot of history.

Try It Out Work with a partner.

Think of two strong reasons to persuade your teacher to give little or no homework one night a week.

Think of two strong reasons to persuade your classmates not to watch television or listen to the radio while doing their homework.

Explore Your Reasons

1. Reread your web. Which reasons are supported by the most facts and examples? Which reasons will matter most to your audience?

2. Choose at least three persuasive reasons. Put a star beside them.


Focus Skill

Organizing Your Essay

Order your reasons. Do you want to start with a bang or end with one?

You can tell your most persuasive reason first. Arranging your reasons from most to least important gets your readers' attention.

You can tell your most persuasive reason last. Arranging your reasons from least to most important builds interest throughout your essay.

Keep to your topic. Leave out reasons that do not support your goal. Leave out facts and examples that do not support your reasons.

Make each of your reasons a paragraph. The reason itself will be your topic sentence. The facts and examples will be the supporting sentences.

Use transitional words. Transitional words link your reasons and paragraphs. They can also link the facts and examples within a paragraph.

Transitional Words

first, finally, also, too, another, next, because, therefore, thus, however, although, similarly, besides, better, best

Transitional Phrases

to begin with, first of all, in the first place, my second reason, in the third place, last of all, in addition, in conclusion, for example, above all, most important, as a result

Think and Discuss Look at Michael's final copy on pages 487-488.

Which reason did Michael tell first? second? third?

What transitional words and phrases did Michael use to link his reasons? to link his facts and examples?

Plan Your Essay

1. Reread your web. Cross out reasons, facts, or examples that don't support your goal.

2. Number your reasons in the order you want to write about them.


Focus Skill

Introductions and Conclusions

Grab your readers and clearly state your goal in your introduction. What can you tell your audience to make them interested in your goal?

This introduction asks questions. You can also start with dialogue or a surprising statement.

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