The Art of Persuasive/Argument Writing Opinion vs. Argument vs. Persuasion

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Writing the Thesis Statement

  • First, you’ll take your three main focus points and summarize them. Put your completed thesis statement at the end of your first paragraph.


    • (I believe) Fast food is harmful because it rapidly increases weight, causes high blood pressure, and leads to lethargy.


    • (I believe) Fast food has negative health effects because it rapidly increases weight, causes high blood pressure, and leads to lethargy.

    • Thesis and Forecast

    • A thesis statement is always one sentence that states your assertion (belief) about a topic. A thesis statement usually includes a forecast (brief preview of your arguments). The “I believe” part is understood – you won’t actually write it.

    • (I believe) ____________________ because of argument 1, argument 2, and argument 3.

    • Which of the following is a good thesis statement?

    1. I believe we must stop wasting food now!

    2. The problem of food waste can easily be solved by implementing three simple steps: reduce, reuse, recycle.

    3. If you aren’t reducing, reusing, and recycling, you should.

    4. I believe wasting food is a huge problem. We need to reduce our food waste. For example, make a shopping list before you go to the store, and only buy things you truly need. You shouldn’t buy a gallon of milk if you are only going to drink a quart of it during the week. Who cares if the gallon size is on sale?

    • A persuasive essay convinces readers to agree with the writer’s opinion. It does this through:

    • The lead/hook captures the reader’s attention

    • The thesis states the writer’s assertion (belief) about the topic, AND…

    • The supporting arguments (logos, pathos, ethos) convince the reader that the thesis is correct

    • Counter arguments respond to reader concerns and objections

    • The conclusion restates the thesis (comes back to the point), calls the reader to action, and reflects back to the hook to show a finality to the argument.

    • Body Paragraphs: Elaboration is necessary!

    • Elaboration is like the skeletal system of the body. Without it, your paper is just a blob of an idea.

    • Types of Supporting Arguments:

    • Logical Appeal (Logos)—an appeal to logic and reason

      • Does the author’s proposal make sense?

    • Ethical Appeal (Ethos)– an appeal to do the “right” thing morally

      • Is the author’s proposal the right thing to do?

    • Emotional Appeal (Pathos) - an appeal to the emotions - Not all emotional arguments are sad!

      • Will accepting the author’s proposal make me feel better?

    • Three Supporting Paragraphs:

    • Use each of the main arguments you used in your introductory paragraph and expand on each giving facts and reasons.

    • In our example, you would write one paragraph on how fast food increases weight, one paragraph on how it causes high blood pressure and one on how it leads to sluggishness.

    • Textual Evidence:

    • Now record the textual evidence that will be used to support the argument for each paragraph.

    • Then, explain the relevance/connection between the reason and the supporting evidence.

    • The Other Side of the Story: AKA Counterargument or Antithesis

    • How many of you have been in a discussion with someone and you remember saying, “Yeah, that’s true, but…” This is called a counter-argument. It’s the “other side” of the argument. You’ll need to tell your reader what the counterargument is and prove why it shouldn’t matter. Counterarguments address reader objections before they even have time to mention them!

    • For example: A fast food company wouldn’t agree with the points in this essay. They would have lots of reasons why fast food is good. They may say, “It’s convenient” or “It’s fine if eaten in moderation.” However, these arguments just don’t hold up when you take all the facts into consideration!

    • Conclude or End Your Essay…

    • What makes a good conclusion?

    • Wraps up the writing and gives the reader something to think about.

    • Summarizes your main point, calls the reader to action, and wraps the thought process back to the beginning to demonstrate a well-planned argument.

    • Strategies for Conclusions

    • Call to Action

      • Ask the reader to do something or to make something happen. “I challenge you to watch what you eat and to avoid fast food.”

    • Provide a solution

      • Provide an answer to the problem. “Fast food doesn’t have to be “bad food.” Make better choices like salads, fruit and low fat treats.”

    • Make a Prediction

      • Explain what might be the consequences of action or inaction. “If people continue to eat lots of fast food, they put their health at risk. If kids don’t make better choices today, they won’t grow into healthy adults.”

    • Concluding Paragraph:

    • First, restate your thesis, using the “flip” method to state the same thing in different words.

    • Then, provide one of the following:

      • A call to action – Encourage your reader to act on the knowledge they now have

      • Provide a solution - Provide an answer to the problem

      • Make a Prediction - Explain what might be the consequences of action or inaction

    • End with a clincher statement that wraps back to the hook, providing evidence of a well-planned argument.

    • Review: The Persuasive Essay:

    • A Catchy Title

    • Introductory paragraph with a “hook”, three main arguments and a thesis statement with your belief about your topic and the forecast.

    • One paragraph for each of your three arguments.

    • Address the “counter-arguments” in each paragraph.

    • Closing paragraph that re-states your thesis and challenges the reader to think about it, ending with a call to action!

    • Don’t Forget…

    • Make sure to read over your work and edit for mechanics and spelling.

    • Use transitions for fluidity.

    • Include detail and great vocabulary (strong verbs & vivid adjectives).

    • Follow MLA formatting! (TNR, 12 pt, double space, no extra space between paragraphs, formal tone, no slang or text-speak, Works Cited page, etc.)

    • Let’s Review!

    • What are the purposes of argument writing?

    • To change the reader’s point of view

    • To bring about some action on the reader’s part

    • To ask the reader to accept the writer’s point of view on a concept, issue, or problem

    • Text Structure of a Persuasive Essay – Remember the Audience and Author’s Purpose

    • When writing persuasively, always remember the interaction between the writer and the reader. Specifically,

    • The writer is trying to persuade a reader who may be enthusiastic or resistant or simply disinterested. Therefore,

    • Persuasive writing must be well organized, but it must also hook the reader, and then keep him or her engaged with creative and authentic word choice.

    • Argument Essay Model: Should schools stop serving chocolate milk to their students?

    • Schools should keep serving chocolate milk because kids like it, it gives vitamins, and it gets kids in good habits. Many kids are happy to see it in the cafeteria, their lunch boxes, at their kitchen tables. Research shows that, overall, chocolate milk is pretty good for kids.

    • It’s especially important that kids like chocolate milk. It turns out that more kids drink milk, when they can get chocolate milk. When you interview a lot of parents, like Katie Couric did, they’ll say that their kids only drink milk if they can get chocolate milk. So at least they’re drinking milk. In a survey of students in this school, 84% said that they would drink more milk if they had chocolate milk available. Of those same students, 28% said that they wouldn’t drink any milk at all unless it were chocolate.

    • Surprisingly, chocolate milk turns out to have vitamins. A nutritionist from the Dairy Association, demonstrates that chocolate milk is a good source of vitamin A, D, E, and calcium. That’s a lot of vitamins and they’re in something kids actually like to drink! In her information session, the nutritionist is with kids who drink chocolate milk. Their bright teeth and glossy hair illustrates that kids who love chocolate milk will be that healthy.

    • There’s one more reason why chocolate milk should be served in schools. A famous nutritionist argued that chocolate milk has a lot less sugar and carbohydrates than soda and power drinks like Gatorade. So if kids get in the habit of drinking milk in school, then they’ll probably skip the sodas outside of school. The chocolate milk that is served in our school, for instance, is low fat. So it is a lot better for kids than soda.

    • It’s true that Jamie Oliver, a chef and enemy of chocolate milk, argued that chocolate milk does have added sugar. Jamie is a famous English chef who is involved with lunch for kids in schools in Los Angeles. In a shocking video, Jamie shows a school bus filled with sugar to show how much sugar school kids get from chocolate milk. But there are a lot of school kids in the US, and if you divide that busload up between all the kids, it will not be such a shocking amount. And if you put next to it a bus filled with the vitamins A,D,E and calcium that kids get, the picture might seem very different.

    • Clearly, schools should keep serving chocolate milk: it gets kids to drink milk, it gives them vitamins, and it builds good habits. Personal insider experience supports this claim. As a seventh grader, this investigator was part of an experiment to ban chocolate milk in his cafeteria. Seventh graders, though, are allowed to go out for lunch. With no chocolate milk, this luncheon seeker started going out for pizza and coke. Gone were all the vitamins and calcium. Jamie Oliver doesn’t necessarily know what happens inside schools. When something is taken away at lunch that is even a little good for students, it’s not always replaced by something better, or worse, anything at all. In fact, the vitamins from chocolate milk may possibly be the only ones some kids get in school lunch. So keep chocolate milk, kids’ main source of vitamins, good habits, and happiness.

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