Lesson at a Glance

Students learn the importance of selecting evidence that will be persuasive to their audience and apply this knowledge to their own pieces of writing. As part of this process, students add to their
arguments, as appropriate, and eliminate evidence that does not help them make a convincing case.

Prep & Tech

Technology: LCD projector, laptop, Internet access or Writing Editorials CD, student computers with Internet access
In Class Handouts: Student copies of the Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1a)(partially completed in Lesson 3.1)
Other Materials: Student folders, writers’ notebooks, evidence for the Teacher Model

Limited Tech Options

If there is no access to the technology needed for this lesson, try the following options:

  1. Mini Lesson: Continue to work with a model of the Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1) on chart paper. Instead of looking for additional information using online sources, model doing additional research with print resources.
  2. Writer’s Work Time: Allow students to use print resources to locate additional information.


Students will select evidence for their editorials that will be most persuasive to their audience.

Focusing Question

What evidence will be the most persuasive to your audience?

Mini Lesson (10 min)

Show lesson visuals, Use Evidence to Persuade Your Audience.

Explain to students that the purpose of today’s lesson is to identify the evidence that will be most persuasive to their audience and to refine their supporting arguments and evidence accordingly. Remind students that editorials aim to persuade readers to change their thinking or take action.
Explain that editorial authors always write with a specific audience in mind and therefore include evidence that will be persuasive to them.

Tell students that you will be looking at how one author used evidence to persuade his or her audience. Revisit a familiar mentor text from the Editorials Packet (Handout 1.1a), such as “High Price for Cheap Snacks,” or select another mentor text from Prof. P’s Office with persuasive evidence and a clearly defined audience. Name the intended audience of the editorial. Briefly analyze the reasons the author chose specific pieces of evidence in the editorial (e.g., to appeal to readers’ emotions, to prove factual basis for the argument, etc.) and how well they suit the editorial’s audience.

Explain that you are now going to look at the evidence listed in your notes and on your organizer once more to see if you can get the same kind of “fit” between evidence and audience. Clearly identify the intended audience for your editorial and reflect upon the pieces of evidence that will be most persuasive to this audience. Take out any unconvincing evidence and add appropriate evidence. Emphasize the importance of having enough evidence to back up each supporting argument.

After modeling, have students turn and talk to a classmate about their intended audience before they set out to evaluate the strength of their evidence in light of their intended audiences.

Teacher Model

  1. Remind students of the intended audience for your editorial.
  2. Think aloud about which evidence will best persuade this audience by reexamining your Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1a) as well as your notes. Ask the following questions:
    1. What do I know about my audience? (Who are they and what are they like?)
    2. How does my audience feel about my topic?
    3. What evidence will best persuade this audience and why?
  3. If any of your evidence is inappropriate for this audience, eliminate it from your organizer.
  4. As you review your evidence with the audience in mind, fill in the Possible Use section of your notes, determining which pieces of evidence will be best for your introduction, counterargument, and conclusion.
  5. Remind students that you need evidence that backs up each supporting argument.
  6. Think aloud about whether your supporting arguments are accompanied by enough evidence to back them up. If not, plan to look for additional information in your notes or to do additional research.


My most important audience is the people who are in charge of the subway. They are the ones who let the overcrowding get this bad, so my guess is that they think overcrowding is not an important problem or that they cannot afford to fix it. So I need to find evidence that will show this is a very important problem – that it is more than a just a nuisance for people. Or I need to find evidence that relates to money, that either shows the problem will be cheap to fix or that it might be expensive to let things stay the way they are. Now that I know what evidence is most appealing to my audience, I’m going to look at what I put on my Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1a).

I have this quotation from Mark Green that says when the subway is overcrowded, there are more accidents and people get hurt. That could be persuasive for my audience. It shows that overcrowding is a serious problem. Plus, if people get hurt they might sue the New York City Transit which will cost them money. Next, I have an anecdote about this poor lady with a foot injury who has to stand all the way from Grand Army Plaza to 96th Street everyday because there are no seats left when she gets on the train. I don’t think that kind of emotional story will be very persuasive to the people who run the subway. They are more concerned about money. They have to think about millions of people, not just one woman. I’m going to take that one out. I need to replace it with a fact or statistic to convince my audience.

Preparing for Writer’s Work Time

Ask students to:

  1. Review what they know about their audience.
  2. Think about the kinds of evidence that will be most persuasive to this audience.
  3. Turn and talk to a classmate about who their audience is and what evidence will appeal to them.
  4. Examine the evidence that they have in their notes and on their Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1), asking themselves:
    1. What do I know about my audience? (Who are they and what are they like?)
    2. How does my audience feel about my topic?
    3. What evidence will best persuade this audience and why?
  5. For each piece of evidence, decide if it should be included, emphasized or cut.
  6. Indicate where they plan to use particular pieces of evidence by filling in the Possible Use column in their notes.
  7. After eliminating unconvincing evidence from the outline, make sure that all of their supporting arguments still have enough evidence.
  8. Use the remaining time to find additional pieces of evidence to fill gaps.

Writer’s Work Time (25 min)

Students independently review their evidence in light of their audience. They eliminate any unconvincing evidence from their Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1), then check to make sure that each supporting argument is still backed up with enough evidence. Students fill in any gaps by searching for additional information if necessary. Students also determine possible uses of other pieces of evidence currently on the organizer. Circulate among students, prompting them to assess the persuasiveness of their arguments in light of their particular audiences.

Individual Conferences: Assist individual students in deciding whether or not their evidence will be persuasive to their audience. Refer to the mentor text “Dying Young” in the Editorials Packet and ask students to identify this article’s audience and examples of corresponding persuasive evidence. In light of the example, ask students to decide how to strengthen their own pieces. Some students may need to add more evidence to their arguments and others may need to eliminate certain evidence.

Differentiated Instruction Strategies

  1. Difficulty matching evidence to audience? Encourage students to put themselves in the position of their readers. Have them answer the questions you modeled as if they were the audience. Students can also look at DD and JT’s Notebooks in the Online Classroom to see how they completed the same activity.
  2. Struggling to determine persuasiveness of evidence? Allow students who have previously been working in a guided writing group to continue to work together to determine what types of evidence will be most persuasive to their audience.
  3. Unsure where to use evidence? Prompt students to think about whether they want a particular piece to go at the beginning, middle or end of their editorial.
  4. Ready for more? Encourage students to browse Prof. P’s Office to find articles that draw in their audiences. Instruct students to start to imagine the other side’s point of view in order to develop a counterargument. Students may also visit the Study Center for additional activities such as Opinion Space and Persuade Me.

Sharing and Lesson Summary (10 min)

Reconvene the class. By now, students should have responded to the posts from the Step 1 activity Share Your Opinion. At this point, students should go back to Step 1 to reread their original opinion statements as well as review their classmates’ responses. In their writers’ notebooks, students should jot down any opinions that differ from their own and make note of the reasoning for the disagreement. This review will enable students to more easily understand other points of view. Their classmates’ opinions can serve as the basis for their “other side” paragraphs which they will plan in the next lesson.


Review students’ revised Editorial Organizers (Handout 3.1a) to see if they have been able to select evidence that will be appealing and persuasive to their audience. Look to see that students have sufficient evidence to back each of their supporting arguments. Use the Teacher’s Checklist to identify what students have completed to this point.

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