Sell Me This Pen.


How would you convince me to buy that?

When it comes to persuading someone to buy or do something, I’m reminded of this clip from Wolf of Wall Street.

There are several types of writing styles: Narrative, Persuasive, Expository, and Compare-Contrast. Each type is important and allows students to express themselves and their ideas in different ways appropriate to the topic at hand. Writing and reading make up the foundations of literacy, which in turn enables students to develop a deeper understanding and use of language.

Persuasive writing is a style in which the writer attempts to win-over the reader by using well-supported reasons and examples. It’s a very common style and easily taught. It’s important to teach the students the differences between facts and opinions, and how to correctly insert them into a piece.

Handyhandouts gives a nice, easy to understand explanation between the two:

A fact states something that:
  • Happens. (e.g., “A lunar eclipse happens when the moon aligns exactly with the earth and sun.”)
  • Has happened or is certain to be true. (e.g., “Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence.”)
  • Is real or exists. (e.g., “The sun is a star.”)
An opinion states something:
  • Believed to have occurred. (e.g., “The teacher gave us a pop quiz because she got mad at the class.”)
  • Believed to exist. (e.g., “The bus stop close to my house was built so I wouldn’t miss the bus again.”)
  • Believed to be true. (e.g., “Grandma and Grandpa love me the most.”)

Havefunteaching also provides a number of free worksheets to help teach students the differences, too!

How do I teach persuasive writing?

  • Step 1: Brainstorm. If you haven’t discussed the writing process, now’s the perfect chance to do so! Brainstorming can involve making mind maps, jotting down a list of ideas, open discussions, anything to get those ideas out of their heads and into reality! This step can be done individually, in a small group or pair setting, or as a whole class.
  • Step 2: Students should look at example essays and fill-out graphic organizers to get an idea of the structure of the essay. It’s important to read sample pieces because
    • 1) they need to see how formal argument or statement looks;
    • 2) they are exposed to different ideas, and supporting reasons;
    • 3) they develop critical thinking skills, and
    • 4) they can improve their reference skills, vocabulary base, and further develop their own ideas.
  • Step 3: Once students have decided on what they will argue for or against, they should list reasons supporting their opinion. These reasons should not sound like, “because I said so,” or, “just because“. They should be strongly worded, the point is to make the reader agree with the writer’s opinion! Here are some phrases that can be used:
    • “I believe that….”
    • “We can solve this by…”
    • “Surely ….”
    • “This will mean …”
    • Here is an excellent webpage for more phrases, words, and techniques to help students sound persuasive.
  • Step 4: Research, research, research! Now that your students have penned down three to four arguments with (hopefully) sound reasoning, they need to back them up! The should find facts that align with their reasons to make a strong case for their opinion (they’re like lawyers!).
  • Step 5: Students should then summarize their position, and give a closing statement.
  • Step 6: Once students are finished drafting their essay, they should edit mistakes and revise content to make the flow smoother. They should have a typed final draft that’s free from errors.

Finally, have the students present their essays in front of the class. The students can discuss the arguments and reasons presented. It’s a great way to get students who may not normally talk to participate.

Reading Rockets, and Readwritethink have some great resources to share, like this video:

Writing is a fundamental skill for students everywhere, and writing well comes from lots of practice!

Persuasion takes even more practice.


Sell me this pen.

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Filed under ELL, ESL, Essay, Persuasive, Tips, Writing

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