Teaching Students How to Write a Persuasive Paragraph

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Teaching students how to write a persuasive paragraph hero

You overhear one of your students trying to convince their classmates to watch that latest cartoon series on television. Sound familiar? At an early age, kids encounter messages from the real world that attempt to persuade them to take action or make a decision (such as convincing their parents to buy them a cool new toy that they saw advertised on TV).

Students must be able to spot these persuasive arguments from outside sources. They should also know how to be effective at persuasive writing to share their opinions and convince others to take a particular action. A persuasive paragraph attempts to get readers to accept a point of view or the writer’s position on a topic. Teaching students in Grades 3 and up how to write a proper persuasive paragraph (consisting of their opinion and strong supporting sentences) puts them on the right track to being an effective communicator. Once they master writing a persuasive paragraph, they will be ready to conquer writing a compelling essay.

Persuasive Paragraph Examples

Persuasive paragraphs usually consist of a topic sentence, body sentences, and a closing sentence. The topic sentence includes the writer’s opinion, and the body sentences support that opinion. Finally, the closing sentence restates the writer’s opinion. Reading examples of persuasive writing can help students as they write their drafts.

Read below for a persuasive paragraph example (where the student writer gives reasons for attending a school event):

The Cass School summer carnival in January is a special event everyone should attend. First of all, there are activities for everyone. This year, one classroom had a fishpond for little kids. Another room painted a clown with a huge mouth on a board for a beanbag toss. Other rooms had shoe scrambles and relay races. Secondly, each room gives prizes like yo-yos, bug-eyed glasses, and light-up pens. Winning a prize always adds a little excitement to each activity. The best part is the clown contest. It is pretty funny to see how students become clowns using old clothes, face paint, wigs, big clunky shoes, and wild ties. Adults and kids laugh and laugh at the clowns. For a little summer fun in January, the Cass School carnival is worth a visit.

Steps to Writing a Persuasive Paragraph

By teaching kids persuasive writing, they understand how their writing can influence other people’s thoughts and actions. Start on a small scale by having them write a persuasive paragraph before moving to an essay. The act of preparing to write a persuasive paragraph teaches kids how to conduct research, fact check, and choose supporting sentences to reinforce their position in the piece. Prewriting is the first stage of the writing process that consists of research and idea formation.

Then, after prewriting comes writing the first draft. Have your students follow these steps to write a persuasive paragraph:

1. Select a Topic

Have them select the topic for their persuasive paragraph. Have them think of an event or activity they enjoy at school to promote. Alternatively, here’s a list of engaging topics to write about:

  • Video games should be taught in school.
  • There should be no school on Friday.
  • There should be a “Bring Your Pet to Class” day every month.
  • Spring (or summer, fall, or winter) is the best season.
  • No one should litter.

2. Write an Opinion Statement

Next, they must form their opinion (something they believe) about the topic of their choice. The next step is writing an opinion statement using the following formula:

The Formula for Writing an Opinion Statement:

A specific subject

+ An opinion of that subject

= A good opinion statement

3. Gather Reasons

Your students will need to give good reasons to support their opinion. For a short persuasive paragraph, three strong sentences will do. The following sentence starters should get them on the right track:

  • First of all...
  • Secondly...
  • The best part...

4. Write the First Draft

After prewriting comes writing the first draft. The first draft of your students’ paragraph should start with their persuasive topic sentence, which states their opinion about the paragraph’s subject. Their drafts should also include body sentences that give their reasons along with details and examples. Finally, the closing sentence can restate their opinion.

Have your students think about their audience (or the readers of their paragraph). They will most likely be writing to persuade both adults and other students, so have them make sure they write in a voice that appeals to both parties.

5. Revise Work

After writing their first draft, your students must revise their work to improve their draft. When revising, they should check for: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, and sentence fluency. Also, have your students use the following questions as a guide when revising:

  • Does the topic sentence provide an opinion?
  • Do the body sentences support and give reasons for the argument?
  • Is the writing voice convincing?
  • Are the following used: specific nouns, strong verbs, and complete sentences?

6. Edit for Clarity

Finally, your students will make mistakes, so they must edit their draft. Editing means looking for errors in conventions. When editing, have your students ask themselves the following questions:

  • Does each sentence end with punctuation?
  • Are there any misspelled words?
  • Were the right words used (for example, threw vs. through or they’re vs. their vs. there)?

Next Step: How to Start a Persuasive Essay

Once your students master writing a strong persuasive paragraph, the next step is to write a more extended writing piece—the persuasive essay. An essay requires more organization and parts (such as the beginning paragraph, middle paragraphs, and the ending paragraph with a call to action). When starting a persuasive essay, or the process of prewriting, students should select a topic; gather supportive reasons; write their opinion statement, topic sentences, and call to action; and create an organized list of their opinion and reasons. Download the handout below for students that offers essential tips on how to write a persuasive paragraph and, afterward, an essay.


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