Writing a persuasive essay Purpose

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Writing a persuasive essay


Voicing our opinion and giving reasons to support our opinions is something we do all the time. Convincing others (parents, teachers, friends, prospective employers) is an important life skill. The end goal of this project is for you to be able to write a persuasive essay that is clear, convincing, and that will make your audience think more deeply about the topic.

In this unit, I will learn what a persuasive essay looks like, and how to write one of my own.

Driving Question:

How can I effectively convince others that I am right?


Your task is to create and share a persuasive essay. You will study persuasive essay exemplars and build criteria for an excellent persuasive essay. You will learn about writing an introduction with a hook, writing a thesis, writing an essay body, and a conclusion. You will also learn how to link your thoughts by using transition words and phrases. You will also have the opportunity to share your essay with classmates, your teacher, your family, and others (i.e. Castanet, or Facebook).

Checklist of project content:


Personal Checklist

Topic brainstorming

  • Essay planning sheet (outline)

  • 3 body paragraphs - draft

  • Transitions worksheet (practice)

  • Introductory paragraph draft

  • Concluding paragraph draft

  • Good copy

Lesson Overview:

Note: this plan is subject to change.

Lesson #1: What IS an essay? Look at examples, brainstorm possible topics, determine criteria.

Lesson #2: Plan your essay – use an outline. Write a clear, convincing thesis statement. Get your plan approved.

Lesson #3: Read (and study) an example five-paragraph persuasive essay. Using your outline, begin writing your three body paragraphs. Use correct paragraph structure – topic sentence, several supporting sentences, and a concluding sentence.

Lesson #4: Continue writing your essay body. Conduct some research – try and find expert opinions that support your arguments. Learn how to properly cite a reference. Try to find at least one or two references (statistics, facts, expert opinions) for each of your three body paragraphs. Use transitional words and phrases to link your ideas (body paragraphs) together.

Lesson #5: Writing an introductory paragraph is the focus. Different types of hooks are shown and discussed, and students will write their introduction.

Lesson #6: Writing a concluding paragraph is the focus. Using the essay example(s), students will re-state their thesis (in different words), and then sum up, leaving their audience with a final thought or question.

Lessons #7 and #8: Students will form a peer reading and revision circle, and using the rubric, they will help each other improve their essays. The good copy (with a draft copy, the outline, and the rubric attached) is due at the end of Lesson #8.

For more help, try Mr. Davies' Essay-Writing playlist, found here https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLo5TvhCxH7VSLR236xqzJ8eKf5A6bPCUJ. It can also be accessed via www.mrdavieswebsite.weebly.com , for helpful how-to videos and some that are just for laughs.

Example of a five-paragraph persuasive essay

Killing Our Kids

The World Health Organization has announced that for the first time in one hundred years, the world’s current generation of children may not outlive its parents, and unlike historical reasons, this is due to obesity. The National Center for Health Statistics says that sixteen percent of children and adolescents (ages 6-19) in America are now overweight, an increase of 45% in the last two decades. Many medical professionals are calling for preventative measures rather than treatments, saying that it is less expensive and more effective to prevent obesity that it is to treat it. It seems clear, then, that junk food should not be sold in the school cafeteria, because not only does it cause weight problems, it isn’t good for the teeth, and it is a waste of money.

Schools should not sell junk food in their cafeterias because it causes weight problems. Junk food is defined as food that is high in calories and fat while low in nutritional value. This would include things like French fries, doughnuts, cakes, cookies, white breads, croissants, candy, soda pop, etc. While it is o.k. to eat these foods occasionally, they should not be eaten on a daily basis, as they provide a lot of calorie intake without much nutrition, which is a formula for uncontrollable weight gain. Unfortunately, these foods tend to be the ones widely available in school cafeterias, mainly because they are easy to prepare and store and are popular with kids. They also tend to be inexpensive to produce. Given a choice between broccoli or French fries, kids will inevitably choose the fries. Since they are however, foods that contribute to weight gain and obesity, they should not be readily available to kids who are looking for a quick food fix on a daily basis.

In addition, junk foods are bad for the teeth. They often contain large amounts of sugar, and are made of soft, spongy materials that do not help to clean the teeth, but rather stick into the small spaces between them. Doughnuts, aside from the sugar they already contain, often come dipped in a sugary glaze, or covered in sprinkles or chocolate. Fizzy soft drinks contain huge amounts of sugar, and by consuming two or three of them a day, a person is bathing his or her teeth in a sugary bath more times than is healthy. Most foods that are considered to be “junk” contain little or no calcium, a mineral that is essential for healthy teeth. Our teeth already take quite a beating, with being ground in frustration, or hit in sports, or having to last us a lifetime. Eating junk food only destroys our teeth faster, and thus, it should not be readily available to students in schools.

Last of all, junk food wastes money. Students spend their pocket money on sweet or fatty foods, when they could be using it for much more productive things, like saving for a car or for future education. It may seem like nothing at all to spend five dollars a day on pop, fries, or potato chips, but when you average that cost out over a month, or a year, you see that it adds up to a lot of money. The temptation of junk food encourages kids to buy it even when they’re not really hungry, or to buy more of it than they really need. Foods that are easier to resist do not encourage overspending. Towns and cities are already overwhelmed with fast food joints that separate kids from their money, so schools do not need to contribute to this problem by offering junk food to students on a daily basis. By providing these tempting foods in school cafeterias, schools are encouraging students to overspend on something that offers no benefit for the future.

Ultimately, every individual gets to choose what to eat and how much of it to consume. But students are not yet adults; they do not always make the best choices. Thus, junk food should not be sold in schools! They contribute to weight problems, cause tooth decay, and waste student’s money that could be spent on better things. A major part of a school’s function is to teach and encourage students to make good decisions, nutritionally or otherwise. They can only do that by offering the healthiest choices whenever possible, and the cafeteria is perfect opportunity to do that. We should set up our schools with affordable, tasty, and healthy choices so our students can more easily make healthy eating choices and live a healthier life – it’s that simple.

Writing a thesis statement

The most difficult part of writing an essay is formulating a thesis. A thesis is really only a statement of your opinion, so when you think about it, this should be the easiest step. For example, if your topic is, say, junk food, you might come up with the following thesis:

Sample thesis: Junk food should not be sold in the school cafeteria.

As long as you can provide at least three reasons to support this opinion, you should be able to construct a reasonable expository essay. You then need to outline your reasons in a plan of development. This provides a “roadmap” to reader of where you plan to go in the rest of the essay. In point form, it might look like this:

1. Junk food causes weight problems

2. It is not good for the teeth

3. It wastes money

Once you have brainstormed your reasons, link them to your thesis in a nice sentence. Let’s look at an example:

Junk food should not be sold in the school cafeteria because it causes weight problems, it’s not good for the teeth, and it is a waste of money.
Junk food should not be sold in the school cafeteria. Not only does it cause weight problems, it is not good for the teeth, and it is a waste of money.
The reader now knows that in the first paragraph of the body of your essay, you will discuss how junk food causes weight problems by giving specific examples. In the second, you will talk about how junk food is bad for the teeth, using examples. In your final body paragraph, you will explain how junk food wastes money, using specific examples.

Try formulating a thesis and a plan of development for each of the following topics:

  1. Topic: school uniforms

Thesis statement:

Plan of development: 1.)



  1. Topic: smoking

Thesis statement:

Plan of development: 1.)


My thesis statement:

Writing an introductory paragraph
The introduction is one of the most important parts of your essay, because it grabs your reader’s attention, and sets her (or him) up to follow your line of reasoning. It provides a context in which to situate your opinion. To write an effective introduction, you first need to find a way to attract the reader’s attention and to draw him or her in to your work. This is known as a "hook". Here are some of the common methods:

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