Students work with a peer to sharpen the persuasiveness of their editorials by incorporating authoritative language into their writing.
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
If there is no access to the technology needed for this lesson, try the following options:
Students will strengthen the persuasiveness of their editorials by using authoritative language.
How can you use language to persuade readers to agree with your opinion?
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.
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.
Distribute computers. Ask students to:
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.
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.
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.