Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Can You Convince Me?

Today was our first day of our Persuasive Writing Unit. This is one of my favorite lessons of the year! I got the idea from a wonderful teacher by the name of Marcie Belgard. It's a pretty simple premise, I place a prize item (today's was a bag of lollipop's) on a shelf clear for all student's to view. I then tell each student group that they will be writing persuasive arguments to convince their classmates that their group deserves the treat. They may use ANY persuasive strategy they can think of, there are no rules, but they should keep their AUDIENCE in mind when planning their argument. Oh boy do I get some creative responses! Strangely the most common middle school idea is to THREATEN their classmates. Apparently in other avenues of their lives this tactic works; but, not so with this competition! Many tried to play on the emotions of others, a very intelligent strategy! I heard comments of low blood sugar, students who had "never" tasted sugar before, and a very adorable Diego that simply asked, "How could you resist this face?" Taylor, Adrian, and Nicolle found a winning route by singing a persuasively-tailored version of the Littlest Pet Shop theme song. Ivan wanted nothing to do with the singing portion but benefited from his teammates courageous performance! It is always fun to watch just how creative middle school students can be!
Tonight's homework: Persuasion is Everywhere! Students must find and analyze a persuasive ad, whether it be a billboard, a commercial, or a magazine/newspaper advertisement.

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

Today's assignment in class was to analyze a Norman Rockwell print. Students first wrote their initial reactions to the print and shared with their new desk groups. Then we catalogued the story elements discussing the characters, setting, situation, and vocabulary. It was interesting to hear the students opinions as their unique background knowledge factored into much of what they saw. My students are becoming wonderful inferential thinkers who are prepared to support their thinking with evidence from the source and their own personal experiences and knowledge. From this assignment, students then chose to either write from the 1st person or 3rd person omniscient point-of-view and wrote a narrative piece regarding what was occurring in the print. Be sure to ask your child about their story!

That which I am thankful for...

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