Mad ramblings of a Literacy Specialist

Persuasive Writing Study: Grade 5 January 5, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — madhotliteracy @ 1:51 PM

Our reading/writing calendar from our district calls for a study of persuasive writing right now in Grade 5.  The problem is that we’ve just done a study of exposition and our students are still having difficulty with choosing their supporting details — and they’ll be required to write expository text on the state test next month.  (I know, the dreaded state testing).  So their teachers and I got creative.

We’re beginning a serious study of persuasive writing — but we’re honing in on 2 specific craft skills:  selecting strong arguments to support your position (hopefully that will carry over into the exposition work) and careful word choice to make your case.

We’re starting our work with the focus on word choice by using this billboard:

We’re guiding the students through a discussion on word choice.  Why did the creators of this billboard choose the word “murdered”.  We’ve drawn a list of possible terms from the thesaurus

X-out, annihilateasphyxiate,  assassinate, crucify,  dispatch,  do away with,  do in,  drowndump,  electrocute,  eradicate,  erase*,  execute, exterminate,  extirpate,  finish,  garrote,  get*, guillotine,  hang,  hit*,  immolate,  liquidate,  lynch, massacre,  murder,  neutralize,  obliterate,  off*, poison,  polish off,  put away,  put to death,  rubout,  sacrifice,  slaughter,  slay,  smother,  snuff, strangle,  suffocate,  waste*,  wipe out,  zap

Why this word?? What were the reasons for rejecting some of the other words?? Word choice is what makes this billboard (whether you agree with the billboard or not).  The billboard has been drawing lots of fire, lots of commentary, and lots of buzz around the community where it appeared.  Check out this article here to see what I mean.

We’re asking the students to generate topics about which they are passionate — whether they are large issues like drunk driving or global warming or smaller localized issues like cafeteria rules or snow day policies.  Then we’re playing around with word choice in our writers’ notebooks.  What are the trigger words? Which choices will make the most impact?? Which words are too much?? How do you choose?

It should be an interesting bit of work in our writing workshop.


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