The Powers of Persuasion

Author: Jill Torrey Emmons

Time: 1 class period
10 minutes to make copies.
Materials: Article on persuasive writing, such as “Three Ways to Make Your Communication More Persuasive” by Robert Abbott


At this point students should have a good understanding of the many different techniques used in persuasive texts as well as in the media. Now students can use that background to begin to write their own persuasive texts for a variety of purposes. Most students have already had some experience using persuasion in various ways in their written and spoken language. This lesson will help students to reflect how they have used their persuasive skills in the past and how these skills can help them attain desired goals.

Purpose – The goal of this engagement lesson is to help students think about ways they have used their persuasive skills previously and how those skills have been and still are useful to them.

Students will be able to:
1. Write about ways in which they used persuasive skills in the past.
2. Evaluate what makes a persuasive argument successful.
3. List the ways in which persuasive writing can help us achieve desired goals.

National English Education Standard
Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

Teacher Background
Teachers should have a firm understanding of persuasive writing techniques and devices.

Related and Resource Websites

Three Ways to Make Your Communication More Persuasive” by Robert Abbott



1. Before students enter the classroom, have the following writing prompt on the board (or you may print it out on slips of paper to hand to students as they come in):
“ Have you ever tried to persuade or convince someone to do something? Has anyone ever tried to persuade you to do something? Choose one of these situations and write about a personal experience you had with persuasion. Make sure you include lots of details, and tell if you were successful in convincing your audience to do what you wanted them to.”

2. Give students 10-15 minutes to write about their experiences. Remind them that they should share only experiences which would be appropriate for a school setting. You may determine a length for this writing activity if you wish, such as a half or full page, etc. Ask a few students to share some of their experiences; this is a great way to continue building the social dimension of your class and to find out more about your students. During discussion, ask students to specify if they were successful or not in their persuading. Ask students to explain what made their persuasive argument successful, or what caused it to fail.

3. Hand out the article “Three Ways to Make Your Communication More Persuasive”, or another similar article on improving persuasive writing and speaking skills. Have the class read this article aloud or silently, which should take 5-10 minutes. When finished, ask the class to summarize the three main points of the article, and discuss the validity of these claims.

At the end of discussion, ask the students to list what they think makes writing persuasive. They may draw both from the article they have read and from their personal experiences. You may collect this list or have students keep it in their notebooks for later reference.

Have students write a letter persuading their parents to extend their curfew, or another desired outcome (attend a party or concert, etc.)

Embedded Assessment
In the engagement stage of the learning cycle, the instructor should ensure that students are generating ideas and exploring what they already know about persuasion. Assessment of this can occur during class discussion, and you may decide to evaluate the lists the students create in the closure segment of the lesson.



PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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