Mentor Monday! Persuasive Writing

Hello Fabulous People! I am feeling refreshed after a nice 3 day long weekend! We had Monday off for Queen Victoria Day. Here in Ontario we call this weekend May Two Four. The main reason we call it that is because there are 24 beers in a case here and there tends to be a lot of beer drinking on this weekend....especially among college/university students.

Either way, I get a day off!

I'm linking up with Emily from the Reading Tutor/OG for Mentor Monday to share some persuasive writing ideas.

One of my favorite books to introduce persuasive writing to students is Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School.


It's a funny book about a dog who was sent to obedience school. He writes letters home to his master to try to persuade her to let him come home.  At the start of the book he isn't very convincing which sparks a great conversation with students about what he is doing wrong and why they think he isn't being very persuasive. As the book goes on he gives more and more reasons for why he should be allowed to come home.

After I have read this book to students, I try to come up with an authentic purpose for us to do some persuasive writing.  We've always done, "Try to convince the principal to...." but I've been working on really making our writing more meaningful and also trying to get them to see that their writing can impact people beyond the walls of our school. I wanted my students to know that we are writing for an audience and it doesn't just have to be our parents, teachers, principals etc. I wanted them to see that their writing could help change the world.....and that YES even first and second graders can change the world.

So, we took a trip to our local landfill:



My students were shocked to see how much waste they saw. They were immediately making vows to reduce, reuse, and recycle. I loved hearing their passion to want to change to make a difference and I wanted to keep that going.

Just my luck, the next day my school received a package from Staples.




That's right! One binder...in a GIANT box with a ton of plastic air bubble wrap. I thought of my students immediately. I took the packaging down to our classroom to show them. They were appalled! They wanted to do something about it. They wanted to tell Staples that they were being wasteful. So we brainstormed how we could let them know that we weren't happy. We talked about how their parents might do that. One student mentioned Twitter...and I was glad they did otherwise I would have had to slip it in their some how.

We took pictures of the packaging, wrote Staples a persuasive letter, and then Tweeted it to see if we could make a difference. We wanted to see if we could persuade Staples to change their packaging.



We eagerly checked my Twitter account every 10 minutes after I posted it. Within a couple of hours we had a response from Staples saying someone would be in touch with us. By the next day we received this Tweet:


This is the letter that was attached to the Tweet from Staples Canada.


If you can't read it, it says:

Dear Mrs. Sproul and the Future Leaders of Room 2,

Thank you for your message. Our products are measured to determine box size. We have 4 box sizes in Canada. Your binder was too big for box 2 and (in our system it was incorrectly listed as a box #4). Thanks to you this has been changed to Box #3. Passion in action :)

Thank you for making a difference!

Staples

My students were FLOORED! They could not believe that our persuasive letter ended up making a difference.  As it turned out Staples is already committed to environmental responsibility so we didn't need to convince them of much...but our letter pointed out an error in their system that was fixed because they decided to be passionate about something.

Our students/children are never too young to learn that they can make a difference!

Their writing only benefits when they are passionate about what they are writing about. Giving them an authentic purpose for their persuasive writing (or any other writing) will bring out their best ideas, their hardest work, and their pride!

I hope my students have inspired you to make a difference too!

Happy Writing
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