writing seeks to influence the reader to take some action or bring about
change to an idea or opinion. It may contain factual information, such as
reasons, examples, or comparisons; however, its main purpose is not to inform,
but to persuade the reader to think or act in a certain way. Examples include
editorials or persuasive speeches, and advertisements.
persuasive topics in 1998 National Assessment of Educational Progress
writing assessment asked students to write letters to friends, newspaper
editors, or prospective employers, to refute arguments, or to take sides
in a debate. Many of the persuasive topics asked students to write in
response to information provided with the assessment, such as newspaper
articles, charts, photographs, and reported dialogues. The writing assessment
prompts presented students with a variety of tasks, such as writing
a letter to the editor of a newspaper.
Board of Education has decided to extend the school day for one hour
because the State of Illinois has increased the number of subjects students
must know about. Do you agree or disagree with making the school day
longer? Write an essay to the principal, and explain your answer.
teacher has decided to give exams in three subjects on one day. Persuade
your teacher to spread out the tests over several days.
- A leading
doctor has published a research paper which claims that all students
should be in bed by 8:00 p.m. in order for them to learn well in school.
She suggests that all televisions should be off and all lights turned
out by 8:00 p.m. so that students get a full night's rest. Your parents
are considering doing what the doctor suggests. Write an essay for your
parents and explain your position.
school board is debating on whether or not to mandate school uniforms,
write a persuasive essay either for or against the idea
a letter home to mom/dad trying to persuade them to grant permission
for something you want.
has been a problem in local schools with discipline and violence. Your
school board has decided to institute a school uniform policy in order
to cut down on these problems, based on the positive examples that they
have seen at other schools. What is your position on this issue? Write
a letter to the editor of your local newspaper stating your position
on this issue and supporting it with convincing reasons.
principal at your school has instituted random locker and backpack/book
bag searches to check for guns, knives, and other weapons. Anyone caught
with these weapons will be immediately suspended. The principal argues
that the random searches will not only guard against illegal weapons
at school but will also will help students feel safer. What is your
position on this issue? Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper
stating your position and supporting it with convincing reasons.
of the parents at your school have started a campaign to limit the homework
that teachers can assign to students. Teachers at your school have argued
that the homework is necessary. What is your position? Write a letter
to the editor of your local newspaper stating your position and supporting
it with convincing reasons.
- A litter
problem has developed on your school's campus. Students are throwing
trash on the ground, leaving empty soda cans and bottles outside on
benches, and dropping napkins and other trash on the cafeteria floor
rather than carrying them to the trash can. Your principal has asked
students to take more care, but the litter problem persists. The principal
has reacted by canceling all after-school activities until the problem
is taken care of. What is your position on this issue? Write a letter
to the editor of your local newspaper stating your position and supporting
it with convincing reasons.
part of a new technology initiative, your local school district is increasing
the number of computers in every school. The district plan provides
for two computers in every classroom. Teachers at your school are lobbying
instead to place all the computers together, creating two computer-based
classrooms so that all students in a class can work at the computers
together, rather than only one or two students at a time. The district
is worried about the additional cost of creating and maintaining these
special classrooms and is concerned about how access to the classrooms
can be provided fairly and efficiently. What is your position on this
issue? Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper stating
your point of view and supporting it with convincing reasons.
a reading of "The Gingerbread Man" children brainstorm ideas to persuade
the Gingerbread Man not to take a ride across the river with the fox.
Children will draw a picture and write sentences to show alternate ways
of crossing the river.
a unit on underwater creatures, the students will write a letter to
their PTA convincing the PTA members to make a donation to the Save
A Whale Foundation.
snow has melted from the playground. Much litter is now visible. Create
a poster to convince your schoolmates to stop littering.
season begins next week. You have observed a new student on the playground
who seems to be a good athlete. Write a note convincing him/her to join
fifth graders think they are old enough to decide how late they can
stay up at night. What do YOU think? Explain when you think kids are
old enough to set their own bedtimes. Give reasons that will convince
your readers to agree with you.
of a rule you would like changed. Try to talk an adult into changing
staff of Pioneer has applied for a grant to provide Pioneer
with a state-of-the-art computer system for the library. The grant will
be given to this school IF the students can convince the grant committee
that it is needed. Write a letter to the President of the grant committee,
Dr. David Johns, for or against this plan. Be sure to take note of your
opposition's point of view. Sign your arguing name, "B.D. Best."
know that many students begin smoking, even as young as students in
our class. Write a letter to your classmates convincing them not to
principal of your school has been asked to discuss with a parent group
the effect watching TV has on students' grades. Think about the effect
watching TV has on your grades and your friends' grades. Now write to
convince your principal to accept your point of view on the effect watching
TV has on grades.
President's Council on Physical Fitness has reported that 65 percent
of all elementary students are seriously out of shape. The Council has
recommended that elementary schools adopt a policy requiring physical
education classes daily for all students. Pioneer is considering
implementing this proposal. Write a letter to your principal expressing
your agreement or disagreement with this proposed policy. State your
reasons, and please consider the other side of the argument.
about where people live. People live in small towns, large towns or
even big cities. Some people live on farms or in houses in the country.
Think about where it is best to live and why. Choose the one place where
you would like to live and give reasons why you think it is the best.
newspaper is offering a prize for the Best Relative of the Year. Think
about which one of your relatives should win this prize. This relative
could be a parent, grandparent, sister, brother, aunt, cousin, or anyone
in your family. Think about the reasons your relative is the best. Think
about how you will persuade the judges to give your relative the prize.
Decide which relative should win the prize. In the beginning of your
paper, name the relative and give reasons he or she deserves the prize.
Explain the reasons in order to convince the judges that your relative
should win. These reasons may include what the relative is like or things
he or she has done.
has recently been much discussion about violence in the music, film,
and television that children enjoy. Some experts argue that the media
is one major reason crime rates are on the rise. They believe the violence
that youths hear and see through TV, film, and music leads them to behave
in violent ways. Write an editorial for your local newspaper convincing
readers of your point of view.
a resident of Arlington, you are quite concerned over plans to construct
a trash incinerator in your community/ Write a persuasive letter to
your town council stating and supporting your opinion.
have just found what you think will be a wonderful pet (dog, cat, bird,
dragon, tiger, rat). Now you must convince your parents to allow you
to keep it. Give several reasons and support your ideas with details
school has decided (to change the dress code, to stop assigning homework
on the weekend, to end summer vacations and go to year-round schooling,
etc.). Write a letter to persuade the school board to make the change
or to keep the policy.
you were to include an item in a time capsule for future generations,
what would it be? The item should exemplify the culture of the late
twentieth century. Convince the committee sponsoring the time capsule
to include your item, explaining thoroughly the item's use and significance
in the 1990's.
is the most important (invention, historical event, author, idea) in
this subject? As someone who has studied this subject, convince your
teachers to keep this part of the course.
that you are a political candidate for the Presidency, and you are asked
at a debate to agree or disagree with one of the following statements:
"All Americans are free," or, "All people are equal." Respond to the
are faced with the decision of whether or not to work while in high
school. Present an argument to your parents either for or against teen
is looking for a professional in (journalism, science, politics, medicine,
education) to travel aboard a space station. Who would you propose NASA
choose? Convince the administration to select your choice.
- A company
has just announced that they plan to build a chemical manufacturing
plant next to your home. Local officials have asked for input from nearby
residents. Write an editorial that convinces your leaders to welcome
or reject the company's plans.
station that carries your favorite TV show has just decided to cancel
it and replace it with reruns of a show for very young children. As
an avid viewer, write a letter that influences the station to continue
showing your program.
want to convince your parents to let you buy a very expensive item (TV,
computer, ski vacation, etc.). Write to persuade them to purchase the
item for you.
are made to advance our society, but not all inventions ultimately have
good effects. Identify one invention that has harmed society. Write
a newspaper editorial that convinces your community why we would be
better off as a civilization without that invention.
is often a better teacher than success." As someone who has experienced
both, write a letter to a younger student either agreeing or disagreeing
with this statement.
city council wants to pass an ordinance banning the use of bicycles
in the park. Write a letter to the editor of the local paper explaining
why this action should or should not be taken.
your science and math classes, you have studied both the English and
metric systems of measurement. Your science project team must now select
one of the measurement systems for use throughout the school year. Write
a composition urging them to choose the metric system.
that you learned that your neighborhood might be condemned so that the
property could be used for a new freeway. Your family would be paid
for your house and land, but you would have to relocate somewhere else.
What is your position on this issue? Write a letter to your local newspaper,
explaining your point of view and explain them completely.
of budget cuts, your school will have to drop either shop or chorus
classes. You are not involved in either of these programs, but you have
friends in both . Write a letter to your local newspaper discussing
both options. State your position on the issue and give good reasons
for your position and explain them completely.
states are considering changing the legal age for getting a driving
license from sixteen to eighteen. The people who are in favor of this
change base their views on the number of accidents that claim the lives
of teenagers as well as the number of accidents they feel are caused
by the reckless driving habits of young people. Your teachers has asked
you and the other students in your class to write essays in which you
explain your thoughts about this change in the legal driving age. Your
essays will be sent to a state commission that is considering a proposal
to raise the legal age for driving.
that your school had a full program of extracurricular activities. Now,
however, tax cuts have made it necessary to cut all but one of these
activities. Write a speech to be given at a public hearing of the school
board in which you tell which program you think should be saved. Remember
that to convince the board members you will need to support your opinion
with reasons and specific examples.
your pet peeve? Is it graffiti? Too many television commercials? Violence
in movies? Write an editorial for your school newspaper. Clearly state
what your gripe is and what you think should be done about it. Try to
persuade your readers to accept your opinion.
student will have the chance to work at a local television studio this
summer. This student will be expected to answer phones, run errands,
and do some library research. Above all, however, this person needs
to be responsible, reliable, and eager to learn. Write an essay to convince
the station managers that you are the ideal person for this job. Include
specific incidents and examples to support your statements.
class has decided to stage a mock trial. The defendant is the villain
from one of your favorite fairy tales. The lawyer for the defense is
you. Choose the villain you would like to represent. This might be the
wolf in Little Red Riding Hood, the stepmother in Cinderella, or any
other character. Then write down what you will say in your final remarks
to the jury. In this speech, you need to convince the jury to find your
defendant "not guilty." Therefore, be sure to support your points with
facts and examples and to answer important objections to your views.
amount of cultural diversity has increased in your school during the
last year. People are forming groups along ethnic lines. Nothing bad
has happened, but it is obvious that something needs to be done to make
everybody feel like part of the same school. Write an article for your
school newspaper clearly describing both this problem and your plan
for solving it. Try to write in such a way that you will convince your
readers (both students and teachers) that your ideas are worth trying.
Be sure to organize your ideas so they are clear to the reader.
people have said that the schools in the United States are not as good
as the schools in other countries because students do not spend enough
time in school. Your school district is trying to decide whether to
have students go to school on Saturday mornings in order to have more
time to learn. Your principal is asking students to write an essay giving
their opinion and reasons that there should or should not be school
on Saturday mornings.
a letter to your principal persuading him/her to buy pop and candy machines
for your school.
a newspaper article to the local newspaper about what your class has
has done something that he or she will remember. Before you begin writing,
think about a time you did something that you will always remember.
Now tell the story about the time you did something that you will always
your parents to let you have a special pet.
your parents to let you have a friend spend the weekend.
about a club, sport, or activity that you've enjoyed participating in.
What would you say to persuade other students to join your club? Write
a letter to your school newspaper urging students to participate in
the club, sport, or activity that you believe would be enjoyable for