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New York, NY
PK - 12
Class Size:
Less than 10
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  1. Chart paper or chalkboard
  2. Markers
  3. Transparencies
  4. Overhead projector
  5. Five 3x5 index cards for each student
  6. Class set of dictionaries (enough for students to use with a partner)
  7. Stapler or tape for adhering index cards to a Word Wall or bulletin board
  8. Powerful Words Printable [] (PDF) from Genre Writing Lessons Focused Step-by-Step Lessons, Graphic Organizers, and Rubrics That Guide Students Through Each Stage of the Writing Process []


Students will: 

  1. Work in small groups to brainstorm persuasive ideas and organize them into a cohesive argument they will present to the class.
  2. Learn vocabulary terms associated with persuasion.

Resource Instructions

Day 1

Step 1: Begin the lesson with this statement: "Raise your hand if you usually win an argument, any argument ? with your siblings, parents, friends, boyfriend/girlfriend, and so on." Ask those who raised their hands: "Why do you think you win? What do you do or what techniques do you use to win your arguments?" Generate a brief discussion. Include ideas like everyone doesn't think the same way and has different viewpoints of various topics. Give an example by stating your favorite season of the year or favorite flavor of ice cream and asking students to share theirs. Then ask: "What is the word for trying to convince someone to change his or her mind about something?" Elicit from students the word persuade. Write the word and the definition on chart paper or chalkboard.

Step 2: Explain to students that they're going to engage in an argument today in small groups. Each group will be given an argument and their job is to discuss and generate ideas for persuasion. Review the activity with the students:

  • Each group will have a recorder and a speaker. The recorder will write down the team's arguments and the speaker will present those arguments in order to persuade the audience to believe in the same way.
  • They must work together as a team to produce the best ideas for their scenario.
  • They will have 20 minutes to work together. The speaker will have 3 minutes to present.
  • A signal will indicate when the group time is up and when the presenter's time is up.

Step 3: Assign groups, recorders, and speakers. Allow 20 minutes to work. Upon completion, invite speakers to present their argument to the class. Afterwards, process the arguments by asking students what they learned while listening to each argument and whether or not they sided with the speaker's perspective. Why or why not?

Day 2

Step 4: Begin by reviewing the activity from the previous day and the concept of persuasion. Ask students to share some examples of when people tried to persuade them or times when they tried to persuade someone else. You may also want to point out the following:

  • Commercials and advertisements try to persuade you to buy things.
  • People running for an official position try to persuade you to vote for them by convincing you that they are the best person to meet your needs.
  • Your teacher tries to persuade you into doing your best in school by promising you that better things in life come to those who are educated.

Point out that some of the speakers from the argument activity used particular words that persuaded us to think a certain way. Have students recall some words or phrases that the speakers used. Tell students that they will learn some terms or "powerful words" that can be used for persuasion.

Step 5: Distribute the Powerful Words printable to each student. Using the Powerful Words transparency, review the vocabulary list with the students. Explain that these are "powerful words" that good speakers or writers would use to persuade other people to do something that they want them to do. Explain to students that they will be writing their own persuasive business letter in class, and that they will be required to use at least five "powerful words" in their letter. Ask students to draw a star next the five words they would like to use. They can add to or delete from this list later, if needed.

Step 6: Show your students the Word Wall with the 39 "powerful words" displayed. Distribute five index cards to each student. Ask them to write this information on each card clearly: their name, one of their words, its definition, and their own sample sentence using the word. Distribute dictionaries to each student or pair of students. Ask for volunteers to look up the definitions and write sentences for words that students have not chosen. Walk around the room, monitoring the students, and check to see which words have not been chosen. Assign those words to the volunteers. When all students have finished, review each word with the class by asking one student who chose that word to read their definition and sample sentence aloud. Have them staple their cards to the Word Wall.

Step 7: Throughout the unit, choose one of the words from the Word Wall and ask for a volunteer to come and read the definition and sample sentence out loud. This will help reinforce students' comprehension of the "powerful words."


  1. Repeat Day 1 and have the students come up with the opposite viewpoint from what they presented the first time. Swap the recorder and speaker roles. Encourage students to use "powerful words" in their arguments.
  2. Instead of using all 5 scenarios on Day 1, choose two or three and have one group support the argument while another group supports the opposite viewpoint. Introduce the idea of a debate. Have the class vote on which speaker was the most convincing.


Written Outcome: Check the sample sentence on each student's index card for understanding of the word.

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Posted by: S.Birnbaum

You could make this lesson plan more cross curricular and bring in current events by giving students op ed pieces from the paper to start their arguments. Stav