Steal This Teacher's Plan for Opinion/Persuasive Writing

John Leonard

Editor’s Note: We provide many opportunities for writing in Storyworks, through our writing prompts, contests, and activity sheets. One of our most popular formats comes from our debates, where we guide students in writing an opinion essay. Teacher John Leonard told us exactly how he used the nonfiction stories in the January 2016 issue of Storyworks to help his students better understand the art of opinion writing. We’d love to hear how you do this in your classroom!

Our fifth-grade classes have been using Storyworks to assist us in writing persuasive essays. My students have persuasive-style book reports due this month, so we were on a hunt to practice the art of being convincing. Storyworks was the perfect tool. Here’s how we used it for this assignment:

Students could pick one of the four main features in the January issue: the nonfiction articles about Mt. St. Helens or malaria, the play about Henry Box Brown, or the fiction story about a card trick.


Then they had to read their article or story of choice and take notes on it. (There they are in action, above!) Next, they had to write a short persuasive paragraph or two telling me why I should read this article.

Then they had to use their laptops to research at least two other articles on the topic. Students were required to take notes on these articles.

Finally, they were to create a poster to convince others why their topic of choice was important.


Check out a few of them:



This made for some pretty interesting discussions, especially about how to write for different audiences. In their first basic paragraph writing, their teacher was their audience. In the persuasive posters, their peers were their audience. It was interesting to see how they approached the two assignments.

John Leonard is a fifth-grade teacher in Virginia.


Tell us how this worked for you or share your favorite approach in the comments below!


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