Rationale for Assignment 2:
My second assignment is an introduction into persuasive writing to help prepare my students for the tenth grade STAAR Test. The assignment consists of many activities to reach the goal of writing a twenty-six line essay. When I first start researching for my second assignment I was actually looking for research on how to teach research projects. I found that my research didn’t really yield the results I was looking for but I stumbled onto an article about teaching ELL students’ persuasive writing. After looking at the article I changed my focus to persuasive writing. I realized pretty quickly that this assignment could hold a dual purpose for me because it could assist my juniors by reviewing the concepts of persuasion as well as introduce the concept to my sophomore students. I consulted multiple articles by Ferlazzo and Hull-Sypnieski, Cross, Fenton and an article about Deliberative Writing. As I read the chapter by Gardner, I considered how I wanted to approach this particular assignment. I decided that although the end goal is to teach them to write a persuasive argument, it is necessary for them to fully understand the concept of persuasion. “The details of the assignment depend upon my audience—the students I teach—rather than the end product I want them to compose” (Gardner 35). In this paper, I will show the strategies needed to help ELL’s learn persuasion, the argument process, positive approaches to teaching persuasion and the idea of deliberative writing.
So my research started with Ferlazzo and Hull-Sypnieski’s article on teaching ELL’s how to write argument or persuasive essays at multiple levels according to Common Core Standards. Although the strategies for the lower level ELL’s aren’t as applicable to regular students, the assignment idea for the advanced students was much more appropriate for all types of students. I decided that this week I would use an engaging reading selection to go along with my writing assignment. I plan to read the article with my students and have them annotate the article as we read. “Students should begin by reading more informational texts than they did before…” (Ferlazzo and Hull-Sypnieski 46). Another piece of advice from the article is that students need to have strong connections between reading and writing. “I’m not assigning an end product that appears miraculously, but an activity that calls for thinking and exploring and that also includes a written text of some kind” (Gardner 37). My assignment uses an informational article and it involves them making a writing connection to their reading which supports the ideas of Ferlazzo and Hull-Sypnieski and Gardner. I purposely chose a topic that would be potentially engaging to my students so that they would be more likely to engage in the assignment.
My second article was about the argument process by Cross. I can honestly say that this article wasn’t very helpful overall because it mainly listed questions from previous AP exams. “The very nature of the argumentative task calls for the “taking a stance” and first convincing one’s self of an opinion or interpretation and then persuading others that that opinion or interpretation can be reasonable and valid” (Cross 22). The quote expresses the definition that Cross shares in his article which is a great way to help students better understand the concepts of argument and persuasion. The STAAR test has created a type of essay that must be brief and concise in order to get credit. Students only have twenty-six lines to state their position, convince their audience, and present a call to action. The very idea that all these things can be accomplished in twenty-six lines just shows how ridiculous the STAAR test has become.
One of the major elements in Fenton’s article was the focus on teaching persuasive writing in a more positive manner. “This negative-virtue approach is reinforced by many of the texts we use, which mostly warn against the common logical errors, without giving much solid and practical instruction on what a writer can and should do to produce an effective persuasive essay” (Fenton 2). I think as teachers we forget how important it is to stay positive when we are teaching new concepts to students. Fenton’s approach involves providing students, “with the persuasive skills and tools they can apply elsewhere than just the composition classroom, not to indulge them only in topics in which they have personal interest, concern, or involvement” (Fenton 8). Persuasion is definitely a type of writing that can carry over to many other subjects in school. Students need to know how to state their opinion on an issue and be able to back it up with evidence. I am hoping that by using an article about the issue they are writing about, it will help them better support their opinions in their essay. I am using both guided reading and organizational tools to help prepare my students for the assignment. “The important thing isn’t how I put the information all together but that I assemble a collection of resources that will enable students to do their best work” (Gardner 38). Through the research I have been able to develop and acquire resources to assist my students through the process of writing persuasively.
The chapter on Deliberative Writing wasn’t exactly on the same page with my assignment but it did have some great thoughts about evidence based writing. “Deliberative writing always relies on evidence to support a position—people’s real experiences, recorded history, observations, the results of research” (Deliberative 144). This quote offers so many different avenues for evidence in writing. The STAAR test essays are written rather quickly so students don’t have an opportunity to look things up. I think it is great to remind them that they can use things they remember from history or articles they have read to help support their opinions. I also liked that people’s experiences are included as a form of evidence because we often teach students to include personal examples to help support their opinions. The major difference between deliberative writing and standard persuasive writing is the need for a solution not just stating the problem. My assignment doesn’t ask the students for a solution to their issue but simple asks them to support their opinion on the issue.
Persuasive writing and the tenth grade STAAR test fails to illicit passion in my soul but I think I have put together a very thorough lesson to assist my students in this very necessary task. The research I have found has given me multiple strategies and ideas to ponder. Although I may not have the passion for this particular topic I do feel like I have included all the necessary requirements according to Gardner. My writing task is defined because my students will be writing about whether or not texting is killing the English Language. My expectation is that they will get an understanding of persuasive writing so that we may continue to improve their twenty-six line essays. I have provided multiple resources such as a presentation, an article, and a graphic organizer to help them be successful on their assignment. Overall despite my stress and lack of motivation for the subject of this assignment, I feel like it is complete and beneficial for my students.
Cross, Jim1. “Looking at the Argumentative Process.” California English, vol. 20, no. 4, Apr/May2015, pp. 22-25. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.shsu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eue&AN=102650069&site=eds-live&scope=site.
“Deliberative Writing.” Strategies for Teaching First-Year Composition, by Duane H. Roen, National Council of Teachers of English, 2002, pp. 143–145.
“Designing Writing Assignments.” Designing Writing Assignments, by Traci Gardner, National Council of Teachers of English, 2008, pp. 35–47.
Fenton, Mary C. “Teaching Persuasion: A Positive Approach.” 01 Jan. 1983. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.shsu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=ED233396&site=eds-live&scope=site.
Ferlazzo, Larry and Katie Hull-Sypnieski. “Teaching Argument Writing to Ells.” Educational Leadership, vol. 71, no. 7, Apr. 2014, p. 46. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.shsu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=95379317&site=eds-live&scope=site.