Lesson at a Glance

Students work with a peer to sharpen the persuasiveness of their editorials by incorporating authoritative language into their writing.

Prep & Tech

Technology: LCD projector, laptop, Internet access or Writing Editorials CD, student computers with Internet access
Other Materials: Student folders, writers’ notebooks, and draft of your editorial with places to add strong language

Limited Tech Options

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

  1. Mini Lesson: If there are no student computers available, show JT’s Think Aloud: Revise for Persuasion during the mini lesson with speakers instead of asking students to watch it during Writer’s Work Time.
  2. Writer’s Work Time: Instead of directing students to use computers to share and revise their drafts, have them share their paper drafts and make revisions to those drafts.

Objective

Students will strengthen the persuasiveness of their editorials by using authoritative language.

Focusing Question

How can you use language to persuade readers to agree with your opinion?

Mini Lesson (15 min)

Show lesson visuals, Revise for Persuasion.

Explain that the purpose of today’s lesson is to strengthen students’ editorials by revising them to include forceful language. Tell students that they have already used several strategies to make their editorials more persuasive. They have repeated their opinion in several sections, appealed to the readers’ emotions, and written a powerful conclusion.

Tell students that they can also make their editorials more persuasive by including language that
sounds strong and confident, and that communicates their passion for their topic to a specific audience. Remind students that the purpose of an editorial is to change the readers’ thoughts, feelings and behavior. In order to do that, editorial writers need to seem certain about what they are saying. If a writer sounds uncertain, the audience will probably be uncertain too.

Explain that writers sound unsure when they use unnecessary “qualifying phrases” that make what the writer is saying sound like a possibility instead of a certainty. Common qualifying phrases are: “I think,” “In my opinion,” and “It seems like.” Tell students that most sentences beginning with a qualifying phrase will sound stronger if they eliminate the phrase. The audience already knows an editorial is someone’s opinion, so they do not need to be reminded. If the evidence proves the point, the writer should simply state the point.

Another strategy for being more persuasive is to omit wishy-washy words such as: “maybe,” “probably,” “sort of” and” kind of.” Instead, writers use decisive words such as: “must,” “should,” “definitely” and “absolutely.”

Display a portion of a mentor text from the Editorials Packet, such as “Capital Punishment,” or select another text from Prof. P’s Office with clear examples of strong language. Point out and mark specific ways in which this editorial uses strong, confident language to make the writing more persuasive.

Model removing one qualifying phrase from your editorial and adding one decisive word to strengthen the persuasiveness of your writing. Then instruct students to read a classmate’s editorial in order to suggest revisions that will strengthen its persuasiveness. Then they make revisions to their own writing accordingly.

Teacher Model

  1. Show students the first draft of your editorial using chart paper or a computer/LCD projector.
  2. Read aloud portions of your editorial, commenting on places that you can strengthen the language to persuade your audience.
  3. Make one revision where you delete a qualifying phrase or wishy-washy language.
  4. Make a second revision where you include a decisive word. Reread your revised text and reflect on the improvement.
  5. Resave your document in Step 5 of the Online Classroom to the assignment Submit Your Revised Editorial.
  6. Indicate that you will continue to read through your draft, looking for other sentences and phrases that require this type of revision.

Narrative

I am going to look at my own writing and see if there are any unnecessary qualifying phrases that I can delete. I think I see one. Right here I have written: In my opinion, the resulting improvement in on-time service would probably be worth the additional costs.

I can get rid of the phrase, “in my opinion.” I am the one writing this editorial so everyone knows this is my opinion already. I’ll just cut it out. I can also delete the word “probably.” That will make me sound more certain to NYC Transit. Now my sentence reads: The resulting improvement in on-time service would be worth the additional costs.

That sounds more persuasive. It sounds like I am sure about what I am saying. I can even make it sound more certain by changing it to: The resulting improvement in on-time service would absolutely be worth any additional cost. “Absolutely” is a strong and persuasive word.

Preparing for Writer’s Work Time

Distribute computers. Ask students to:

  1. Go to Step 5 of the Online Classroom and watch JT’s Think Aloud: Revise for Persuasion.
  2. Work with a classmate to revise each of their editorials:
    1. Open the most recent draft of their editorials.
    2. Tell each other their intended audiences.
    3. Read through one editorial together, looking for the following to delete:
      1. Qualifying phrases
      2. Wishy-washy language
    4. Revise their editorial to omit qualifying phrases and replace wishy-washy language with authoritative words based on their discussion.
    5. Save their drafts in Step 5 of the Online Classroom assignment called Submit Your Revised Editorial.
    6. Repeat the process with the other student’s editorial.

Writer’s Work Time (25 min)

Students begin by reading one another’s first drafts. They work with a peer to review the use of persuasive language within their editorials and make any necessary revisions. Circulate among students encouraging them to include as much authoritative language as possible. Look for examples of persuasiveness in student work that you can comment on during the Lesson Summary. When there are five minutes remaining in Writer’s Work Time, remind students to resave their documents in the Online Classroom.

Individual Conferences: Ask students to try to persuade you to agree with their opinion statements. Jot down some of the language they use when they talk to you, and suggest that they use that same decisive language in their editorials.

Differentiated Instruction Strategies

  1. Difficulty reading a partner’s draft? Encourage these students to ask their partner to read the draft aloud.
  2. Struggling to provide suggestions? Have students work in a guided group to focus on one section of the editorial at a time because sometimes it is overwhelming to comment on a lengthy piece of writing. The group can offer feedback after which students can work on their pieces independently.
  3. Ready for more? Students who finish revising their pieces can help struggling partnerships. Students can also visit the Study Center for additional activities such as the Editorial Feedback Forum, Opinion Space, or one of the Analyze This! exercises.

Sharing and Lesson Summary (5 min)

Reconvene the class. Share your observations about how students in the class completed this task. Discuss a particularly strong example of revision that you noticed during your conferences. Ask students to think about how they could apply the same strategy to their own writing. Have students write this strategy in their notebooks for use in the next lesson.

Assessment

Review students’ editorials in the Online Classroom. Compare students’ updated drafts to their drafts from the previous lesson and note the use of authoritative language and elimination of qualifying clauses and wishy-washy vocabulary. Use the Teacher’s Checklist to keep track of what students have completed at this point.

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