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STUDENT TASK

Persuasive Letters

Do Something
Grade Level

What?
Students write to a business, school or community leader to call for action in response to a social justice issue from the central text. Alternatively, students can write open, persuasive letters to their peers or family members.
 

Estimated time

One week
 

Why?

Drafting letters requires students to grow as writers by articulating their opinions, supporting their ideas with solid evidence and crafting their arguments for a target audience. Thinking creatively about possible solutions to real problems also helps students understand their agency to affect change.
 

How?

Get Ready

  1. Review with students the components of a formal persuasive letter. Be sure to include:
    • Greeting
    • Introduction to the issue
    • Supporting evidence
    • Proposed solutions
    • Possible counterarguments
    • Potential changes/impacts
    • Closing
    • Signature
  2. Brainstorm topics and themes related to the central text.
  3. Match topics with potential audiences. These may include:
    • Companies
    • Organizations
    • Community leaders
    • Government
    • Administrators
    • School community
    • Families
    • Peers
  4. Discuss methods for locating addresses (physical or e-mail).

Get Set

  1. Introduce students to the Do Something Student Planning Guide. Instruct them in mapping the steps necessary to complete their persuasive letters.
  2. Share the sample rubric or adapt it into a checklist for students. Refer to the rubric to define expectations.
  3. Review the list of brainstormed issues. Have students select the issue(s) they would like to address in their letter. Students can assess their interest and prior knowledge and can research topics further if necessary.
  4. Brainstorm possible audiences. Have students choose who their audience will be.
  5. Review the components of a formal letter.

Go!

  1. Have students create outlines of their letters.
  2. Have students compose drafts of their letters.
  3. Coach students to peer edit or independently revise their letter drafts.
  4. Have students complete their final letter drafts. Students should read and comment on one another’s letters.
  5. If they have not already done so, support students in finding the e-mail or physical mailing addresses of their letter recipient(s).
  6. Ask students to plan how they’ll share open letters with the class, grade, school or teacher (post them on a bulletin board, print them in a school newspaper, read them during announcements, etc.).
  7. Double check final letter or e-mail components.
  8. Have students send their persuasive letters.
  9. Organize a “publishing party.” Display letters so all students (and families, if invited) can read them. Readers can leave comments on sticky notes.


Reflection

  1. Facilitate a class discussion on the letter-writing process and final product using the rubric components referenced in pre-writing.
  2. Ask students to share how their letters connect to the themes present in the central text and why the issues resonated with them.
  3. Ask students to predict whether or not they will receive a reply and why.
  4. Share replies to letters (if received) with students and further discuss them.


English language learners

Graphic organizers can guide English language learners throughout the process of crafting their letters (for example, an organizer that breaks down the format and components of the letter with prompting questions and guiding visuals). Sentence starters can also help ensure students’ letters include important persuasive elements.


Connection to anti-bias education

Persuasive letters allow students to inspire others and create positive social change. Choosing an issue or opinion, supporting it with a strong written argument and brainstorming possible solutions provides students with experience addressing social issues. Students may feel particularly motivated to voice their opinions in the future if they receive a response.

TEACH THIS
Add to an Existing Learning Plan