Writing a persuasive essay Purpose

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Startling information:

This information needs to be true and verifiable, but it doesn’t need to be totally new to your reader. It could simply be a pertinent fact or statistic that illustrates the point you wish to make. If you use a piece of startling information, follow it with a sentence or two of elaboration.

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 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 than 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.

  1. Anecdote:

An anecdote is a story that illustrates a point. Be sure that your anecdote is short, to the point, and relevant to your topic. This can be a very effective opener to your essay, but use it carefully.
Recently, while doing some volunteer work at a local school, I was asked to organize an afternoon of games and competitions for students in grades 5-7. I decided to have a mixture of games to challenge both the intellect and the body, so I arranged rounds of chess, brain teasers, sprint races and team relays. I was shocked to see that while the brain games seemed to pose no problem for the kids, many struggled to even complete the physical activities I had set out for them. I noticed that a large number of the students were out of shape, overweight and too slow to offer any challenge to the task. While I know that the reasons for these unhealthy children are many and varied, I believe that their diet is a major contributing factor. School cafeterias should not sell junk food to students, because it causes weight problems, is bad for the teeth, and wastes money.

  1. A Broad Statement:

Start with a broad statement about your topic, and then gradually work towards your thesis statement. In a literary essay, you could use a broad statement that relates to a text you are discussing.
These days, weight loss is a major preoccupation of many Americans. People seem obsessed with books like The South Beach Diet, and billboards, T.V. and radio are dominated with advertisements promising a new, thinner you. Even children seem to be concerned with staying thin, heading off to weight loss camps for their summer vacations. Unfortunately, schools seem to be working against both parents and children by selling poor quality foods in their cafeteria. Junk food should not be sold in school cafeterias because it causes weight problems, is bad for the teeth, and is a waste of money.

4.) Quotation:

A pertinent or appropriate quotation can spark interest in your topic. However, you may have difficulty finding a quotation that works with your topic. In a literary essay, you may be able to find a quotation in the text you are discussing. Follow a quotation with a sentence or two of elaboration.

If we're not willing to settle for junk living, we certainly shouldn't settle for junk food” states Sally Edwards, author and Ironman Triathlete. If we really stop and think about it, selling junk food at schools encourages students to eat unhealthy foods. Given all the furor over unhealthy, overweight kids, it doesn’t make sense to encourage unhealthy eating habits in schools. Junk food should not be sold in school cafeterias because it causes weight problems, is bad for the teeth, and is a waste of money.

You may then include more information, such as some facts, to continue to engage your reader.

Finally, you should end your introductory paragraph with your thesis statement (as in the example essay).

Writing body paragraphs
Each main idea that you presented in your plan of development will become one of the body paragraphs. Each body paragraph will have the same basic structure.

  1. Start by restating the reason in sentence form (topic sentence).

Schools should not sell junk food in their cafeterias because it causes weight problems.

  1. Provide specific examples to illustrate and clarify your point.

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 acceptable 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. Given a choice between broccoli and 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.

  1. Be sure to use a transition from paragraph to paragraph. For example,

Another reason that junk food should not be sold in school cafeterias is that it is very damaging to the teeth…
Some common transitional words and phrases are:
In addition furthermore moreover

First of all secondly as well as

On the other hand similarly in particular

Another namely next

Then after although

While in contrast therefore

Consequently as a result not only
4. Organize your supporting paragraphs. There are two main ways to do this:
1.) emphatic order: Choose the supporting paragraph you think provides the strongest evidence to support your opinion. You can place it last, and build up to the strongest argument with your weaker paragraphs, or you can place it first, and go on from there.
2.) time order: Depending on the topic and the angle you’re taking, you can organize the supporting paragraphs according to the order in which the evidence occurs. For example, if you are writing about a novel, you could use evidence from the beginning of the novel in the first supporting paragraph, evidence from the middle of the novel in the second, and evidence from the end of the novel in the third. If you are writing about a personal experience, you could put the first events in the first body paragraph, what happens next in the second, etc.


-link thoughts together

-used to connect paragraphs

-allows writing to flow smoothly

Use either at the end of a paragraph or the beginning of the next paragraph!


Not only do uniforms take away individuality, they also prevent students from expressing themselves.

Common Transition Words:

  • First (or second, third)

  • Furthermore

  • Another

  • Besides

  • Although

  • Consequently

  • Additionally

  • Not only

  • Next

  • In addition to

  • Instead of

  • Rather than

  • Similarly

  • Therefore

  • On the other hand

  • However

  • Finally

Practice: using transitions!

Body paragraph #1 is about how red is better than blue as it is more of a vibrant and cheery hue. Paragraph #2 is about how red is better than blue as it is the colour of love and passion.

Using a transition (word or phrase), join these two thoughts:


Practice #2: Using YOUR topic, and two supporting points, create a clear, smooth transition:


Writing a Concluding Paragraph

  1. Write your thesis below. Remember, your thesis contains three parts: your topic, your opinion on this topic, AND your 3 sub-topics that support your opinion of your topic.


  1. The conclusion sums up your report in 3-5 sentences. When writing a conclusion, you start with a specific focus – your thesis. Using your thesis, restate it (your key point and your sub topics) in different words below. Use a thesaurus to help you choose different words.


  1. Next, you support your thesis with the following:

    1. Finish telling the story (anecdote) from your introduction, and/or;

    2. Make a prediction, based on facts/statistics

    3. Use a new quotation that supports your thesis

    4. Give an opinion (do NOT use “I” statements, such as “I think llamas are remarkable creatures”. Simply state “Llamas are remarkable creatures”).

    5. Make an insightful comment, or ask a thought-provoking question to your audience.

Choose one or two of the above strategies and write about your topic using the strategy/strategies below:


4. Put #2 and #3 together and you have a conclusion to your essay! Read it for clarity, sense, and flow. Exchange with a classmate and read each other’s conclusion. Does it make sense? If this was ALL you read of their essay, would you know what it was about?

Persuasive Essay Writing Rubric Name: ________________________ Period: ________

Not Yet Within Expectations

Meets Expectations

Fully Meets Expectations

Exceeds Expectations



Minimal – Moderate




• ideas & information;

• use of detail;

• generalizations or connections



  • no clear sense of purpose or narrowed topic

  • insufficient or repetitive details or too many random thoughts.

  • reader must make inferences based on sketchy or missing details

    • reasoning difficult to follow

  • beginning to define topic, even though development is still basic or general

  • series of related ideas

attempted as support

  • generally accurate, clear

details but may not link to central idea

    • some difficulty going beyond general observations to specifics

  • clear purpose (thesis)

  • relevant, quality & accurate details go beyond obvious & develop central

idea (thesis)

  • clear & focused purpose (thesis)

  • engaging, relevant, accurate details enrich central idea (thesis)

  • maturity, individuality & insight; goes beyond obvious

  • builds convincing position (has at least 3 arguments/points to support thesis); may use sophisticated strategies

• beginning, middle, end

• organization & sequence

• transitions



  • problems with organization make it hard for reader to understand central idea

  • no real lead - often begins assuming that reader knows topic & context; lacks intro. or conclusion or both

  • sequencing needs work; lacks clear sense of direction

  • little or no evidence of paragraphing

  • no title

  • organization moves reader through text without too much confusion.

  • recognizable beginning, but middle may be undeveloped and/or ending weak, formulaic

  • related ideas together in paragraphs but ideas may be listed rather than developed

  • simple transitions with some logic

  • title is vague, off-topic

  • organization sustains central idea (thesis)

  • includes introduction & conclusion (could be formulaic or banal)

  • paragraphing effective with logical sequence of related ideas together

  • transitions connect ideas clearly in predictable sequence

  • title is on-topic

  • organization enhances & showcases central idea

  • includes effective introduction & satisfying conclusion

  • smooth & logical sequence; explicit, intriguing & effective paragraphing

  • natural, smooth, thoughtful transitions

  • title is on-topic and is engaging (interesting)

• clarity, variety, & impact of language





  • limited vocabulary and/or unimaginative phrases; may use clichés, jargon

  • writer seems uninvolved with topic & audience.

  • reader not inspired to read on

  • no sense of fluency or flow; sentences are often short & choppy or long and awkward

    • conversational & functional

language; generally

appropriate but lacks energy & colour

  • writer seems sincere, but not fully engaged or involved

  • some sentence variety & complex sentences; sentences mostly constructed in routine way

  • writing pleasant, but not compelling (engaging)

  • language appropriate, varied & often enhances meaning

  • awareness of audience & clear engagement with topic

  • uses variety of sentence types & lengths effectively

  • writing interesting but not consistently engaging

  • language enhances & clarifies meaning in precise, interesting, & natural way

  • speaks to reader in appropriate manner

  • variety of sentence types & lengths effectively create rhythm & cadence

  • compelling, engaging, & shows respect for audience

• complete sentences

•spelling; punctuation;



  • little control of standard writing conventions

  • frequent errors in spelling, punctuation, capitalization, usage & grammar and/or paragraphing repeatedly distract reader & often interfere with meaning

  • extensive editing required

  • some control over limited range of standard writing conventions

  • errors in basic words &

structures noticeable but do not obscure meaning

  • moderate editing required

  • reasonable control of standard writing conventions

  • errors in more complex language sometimes noticeable, but meaning clear

  • some editing required

  • good control of standard writing conventions

  • may include occasional errors in complex language but these do not interfere with meaning

  • very little editing required

Revised August 2011 from www.bced.gov.bc.ca & 6 Traits S. Graham, Kelowna, B.C. Second revision: J. Davies, 2013.

Possible essay topics:

  1. E-cigarettes should be banned.

  1. Students should be allowed to wear hats at school.

  1. The driving age should be raised.

  1. Canada should have the death penalty.

  1. Video games should not be rated.

  1. Music on the radio should not be censored.

  1. Physical Education should be mandatory from K to 12.

  1. Cities should regulate the size of soda pop sold to people.

  1. People who willingly use substances that are known to be harmful should not be covered under Canada's universal health care.

  1. Middle school students should be allowed to go off-campus at lunch.

  1. People should not have an official boyfriend or girlfriend until they are 16.

  1. If students do not pass a class, they should have to repeat that class.

  1. Homework should be banned.

  1. The school dress code is too strict.

  1. Cell phones should be banned from the classroom in middle school.

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