Sunday, May 18, 2014

Launching Persuasive Writing In Kindergarten

Can I persuade you to read this?
I sure hope so!

Here are my reasons why you should read this post:
1. You will see amazing writing from kindergarteners.
2. You will see how a little idea has the possibility of becoming a BIG event- kindergartners really do have the power to empower change!
3. You will learn about mentor texts for persuasive writing that are tried and true!

So... did I persuade you to read this post?!
If not, then I am apparently not as great of a persuader as my kindergaretners!
If so, I am so glad to have you lets get to it!

We follow Lucy Calkins' Writers Workshop units of study and are embarking on the 'Persuasive Writing' topic.   This is new to me this year- in previous years we used her K-2 kit and did not have a persuasive writing unit!  I was nervous, but excited, to try it out!

It suggests launching the unit by having conversations with the children about 'problems' that they think need to be fixed, and how they think they can be fixed.  I knew if I opened up that 'door' the 'problems' that would be detailed may be more than what I bargained for, so I guided their discussions just a bit!  I also chose to take a week to do persuasive writing using interactive and shared writing, rather than having my students dive in and try it independently.  I felt it important to take the time to truly model and explain persuasive writing so that my kinders would be more successful when we moved toward independent writing.  

I asked them to think of our playground and what they like about the playground.  From that we went to what we didn't like about it and then into what we could do/add that would make it better.  From that I got an overwhelming consensus...SWINGS!

The Pre-K/Kindergarteners in my building have a separate playground.  It is a lovely playground, and I am happy to say I was a part of the fundraising and building efforts for it over 10 years ago, but it doesn't have any swings.  The 'big kids' playground, on the other had, has swings.

So the children decided they wanted to write Mr. Davey (our principal) a persuasive letter convincing him that we needed swings on our playground too!

They came up with what they wanted and 3 reasons as to why it was a good idea:
and each signed it!

I was so proud of their writing, I invited Mr. Davey into our classroom so that the children could read him their 1st, yet very convincing, attempt at persuasive writing!

After reading our letter he had some questions he wanted us to answer:
1. Can I go on the swings too?
2. How many swings will we need?
3. How much will they cost?

He said to let him know when we had answers to those questions.  I am not so sure he thought we would really carry through with it...but they were adamant about these swings, soooooo.....

The next morning they each wrote a 'proposal!'

  They each answered Mr. Davey's 3 questions, as well as drew a picture of the proposed swings!   

Everyone said he could go on the swings...yet the numbers of swings and cost varied greatly!

We decorated a cover:

Stapled it all together:

And added a special message at the end of the book!

I invited Mr. Davey back in and he sat before the class and read each proposal!  When he was done he told them he needed the weekend to think it all over and will get back to us on Monday.  

He said he needed to ask 'his boss' (the superintendent) and asked to borrow our proposals and original letter!

So now we EAGERLY await Monday and the answer to our burning question... Will we get swings on the kindergarten playground?  Was our letter and proposals convincing enough to persuade the school to purchase them for us?  Only time will tell!   And if they do get them...I am personally purchasing a plaque to attach to those swings that they are here because of my 2013-2014 persuasive kindergarteners!

Do you want to know if we got the swings or not???
Come on by and read this post on The Primary Pack!

But that was not the end of our launching week with persuasive writing!
I used 
as our first 'mentor text' for persuasive writing.

If you are not familiar with the story, it is a conversation between a kid and an ant.  Each gives their reasons as to why to squish/not squish the ant.  At the end, the author leaves you with 
the 'raised up shoe' and lets you decide what the boy should do!

I polled the class and 18 of them decided they would not squish the ant and 2 said they would!  So my teaching assistant took the 2 'squishers' and I took the 18 others and we worked in groups to write persuasive letters to the kid to convince/persuade him as to what to do!

After the letters were finished we drew happy and sad ants to match the letters they belonged to!
And may I just say that both letters are equally as persuasive?!

From there we moved into working into even smaller groups- I want to wean them off the whole group writing so that they would be read for independent writing!

We were working in our 'plant' unit and had discussed both vegetables and flowers over the course of the week.  So, I read the following books:
And had them think about a farmer's decision- does he grow flowers or vegetables?  Why is one better than the other?  How do you get him to grow what you think is best?

Both books provided examples of why each is best- so I left it up to them to decide!
I polled them...and it was nearly split down the middle!
We broke into two groups again and got to work:

 Here they are side by side after we were all done!  
It surely is a hard choice...which persuades you more?

My veggie lovers:
and look at all the adorable veggies they created to make their letter even more a'peel'ing!

 My flower lovers:
and their beautiful flowers to distract and convince you that flowers are best were a great added touch!

I feel they are now ready to branch off and begin writing more independently!
They understand what 'persuasive' writing is and how to go about writing a persuasive letter!

I collected a bunch of mentor texts that I found from a post on Library Thing as well as other Google and Pinterest searches so I am all ready for next week!  These are just a few of the ones I found!  You can also find great ideas, anchor charts and examples of student work via Pinterest searches about persuasive writing!



And now that it was time to send them off on their own I was getting a big anxious/nervous, so I purchased Kim Adsit's Writing An Opinion pack from Teachers Pay Teachers as a supplement to the lessons and sessions Lucy Calkins lays out.

Kim's pack is phenomenal!  She has anchor charts all set for you- just print on cardstock, laminate and create together with your class!  I have used her Readers Workshop anchor charts with much success, so I assume these will be just as great!
I also LOVE her modeling chart to do with the students and all the 'choice' cards she provides. 
Just click the cover above for more information!

Next week we are learning all about bugs so I will be having my kinders use one of the bug pages from Kim's pack, as well, as this one I have created:
They will choose whether or not the caterpillar should stay as a caterpillar or change to a butterfly.  They will have to give 3 reasons to persuade the caterpillar to choose what they think is best!
I can't wait to see what they decide...and what they write!

Feel free to click to download it and use it with your class!
The adorable caterpillar and butterfly graphics are from Kari Bolt- and she has them for free!

So as this post comes to a close, I am curious to hear the answer?!!
I obviously persuaded you to the read this post...
1. Are you glad you read it?
2. Did you find it helpful?
3. Are you better equipped to launch persuasive writing with your class?
I am hoping the answers to all three are YES! 

Looking for more persuasive writing tips, mentor text and ideas?
I am linking up with The Reading Tutor for Mentor Monday and this week's topic is Persuasive Writing!
Click this link to see all the other bloggers that have linked up to share their experiences and expertise with persuasive writing:

I am truly excited to see how my students independent persuasive writing takes off!  I hope you will stop by again to check up on them too!  
Until next post,
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  1. Great post! I love the look of your interactive writing with the kids' drawings throughout!

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment! I am very proud of their work and drawings too!

    2. Thank you for the wonderful examples. In past years my kiddos chose to write a letter to the principal about more recess time. It is so much fun when they get excited about something that they feel strongly about. I am going to try and find the books you used as mentor texts. I have a few, but would like them all. Thanks again--- Dawn :)

  2. Awesomely informative post. I really enjoyed the work your class has done, and the mentor texts you have suggested. Thanks for the freebie download!

    1. THANK YOU! I am very proud of them! There are many more titles for persuasive writing- there were just a few of my favorites! You're very welcome and enjoy completing the activity with your class!

  3. Thank you for this wonderful post. I was so excited to see the work your little ones composed and now, I am sure, my littles can go to that next step, too.

    1. Thank you so much Betsy! I can't wait to hear how your little ones tackle this, as well!

  4. You guys did such a great job! I really loved reading this. Lucy Calkins owes you one! Thank you so much for sharing. This is one of the best posts I have ever read!

    1. WOW Pamela! Thank you so much for your super flattering comment!! I owe it all to my fabulous kindergarteners- they teach me what THEY need and inspire me! So glad you stopped by and I appreciate you taking the time to comment!

  5. I can't wait to hear your principal's opinion after all of this hard work! As always, you make me want to be a student in your class! :)

  6. WOW! This is a great post! We just got Pathways to the Common Core by Lucy Calkins this year. I wonder how similar it is to what you use. Thanks for sharing your ideas!


  7. Fabulous post! I feel like I had a front row seat in your class as I read it. Thank you for sharing your wonderful knowledge for teaching kinders persuasive writing. They sound like they had a blast with this lesson! :))
    Emily, TRT/OG

  8. I am a pediatric nurse, and I am regularly blessed with the opportunity to demonstrate the genius of children of this age as well as the ignorance of us, as adults to appreciate that genius. I have several questions I'd like to ask you, will you please email me? I'm not sure if you'll be able to see my email address through this post. If you are not, please post it in your reply and I will provide it to you in a response to this topic.

  9. What a wonderful post! They would persuade me any day! Love all the information!

  10. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!! Thank so much for linking up to the Ultimate List of Kindergarten Summer Reads! Great article with lots of ideas!!

    Jennifer with Simply Kinder

    1. Thanks so much Jennifer! Honored to be with so many amazing bloggers!

  11. Thank you so much for documenting your process and the work of your students. What an inspiration!

  12. Persuasive writing is what we should learn how to do, have a glimpse at essay writing to find some help in writing.

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