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WE 215 Responding to Persuasive Prompts

Teacher Tips and Answers


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Responding to Persuasive Prompts

Writing About Problems
© Thoughtful Learning 2024

A persuasive prompt asks you to present an opinion with reasons that convince others to agree. You might focus on a problem on the bus or one in the cafeteria. You'll have a limited time to respond to a prompt on a test.

This chapter shows you how to quickly analyze the prompt, decide on a topic, create an opinion statement, and get writing. You’ll also learn how to quickly revise and edit your work to score your best.

What’s Ahead

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Writing to a Persuasive Prompt

Many schools today use writing tests or prompts to measure the progress you’re making. You’ll find persuasive, explanatory, and narrative prompts. The first step is to analyze the writing prompt.

Prewriting Analyzing the Prompt

A prompt is a set of directions that tell you what to write. It’s very important that you read the directions carefully and consider the purpose of the writing, your audience, the subject you will write about, and the type of writing you need to do. To do this, you can use the PAST questions:

Purpose: Why am I writing? What is my goal? A persuasive prompt asks you to state an opinion and support it using reasons. Your goal is to convince readers to agree with your opinion.

Audience: Who will read my writing? Some prompts tell you who your audience is: “Write to convince your classmates about the type of classroom pet you should adopt.” If the prompt does not clearly identify an audience, you can assume that the tester or your teacher is the audience.

Subject: What should I write about? The prompt will give you a general subject area, but you will need to narrow your focus to a specific topic. Make sure you choose a persuasive topic that you feel strongly about.

Type: What type or form of writing should I create? The prompt will usually indicate the form your response should take (essay, letter, blog post). Organize your response to match the form.

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Sample Persuasive Prompt

Imagine that your school board needs to reduce costs and so will cut some classes next year. What subject should they definitely not cut? Write a letter to your school board arguing for the importance of this special class and why it should not be cut to save money.

Purpose: To persuade

Audience: School board

Subject: A class that should not be cut next year

Type: A persuasive letter

Sample Persuasive Response

Dear School Board Members,

The first paragraph leads to the opinion statement.
I’m a student at Jarvis Elementary, and I heard that you must cut some classes next year to save money. One class that you should definitely not cut is fourth and fifth grade choir.

Each middle paragraph presents a reason and supports it with details.
Choir lets students put down their pencils and open up their voices. We already spend enough time at our desks filling out worksheets. Choir lets us stand up straight and work together and listen to each other. It helps us breathe. It allows us to make art together. It gives us joy.

Fourth and fifth grade choir is also important because it prepares us for singing in middle school and high school. My older brother is in the middle school Jazz Choir, and my older sister is Winnifred in Once Upon a Mattress at the high school. They wouldn’t have learned to sing so well without Mrs. Wetterland’s choir when they were in grade school. I want to be in those groups when I move up, but how could I be if I didn’t have choir?

Specific details make the reason convincing. Choir also brings people together. We have concerts here in the gym, and our families fill the place. The high school choir goes caroling at nursing homes and in shops downtown. We have the Singabration at the high school, and the whole field house is full. Why do people gather to listen? Because music is important to all of us. When was the last time you spent a day without any music in your life?

The closing paragraph restates the opinion and tells readers what they should do.
So, choir is important. Of course, you can’t cut math or science or English because we have to learn those things. But if you cut choir, you’ll be removing a class that brings happiness to kids, their families, and the community. Please vote to keep choir at Jarvis Elementary!


Cecily Jones

Note Notice how this student sounds serious and polite, which is the appropriate voice to use in persuasive writing like this.

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Prewriting Planning Your Response

State Your Opinion 🟪 Once you carefully analyze the prompt, you need to form a personal opinion. You can do this by using the following formula:

Your Subject + Your Feeling =

A class that should not be cut +  Save fourth and fifth grade choir

Your Opinion

One class that you should definitely not cut is fourth and fifth grade choir.

List Your Reasons 🟪 Next, you need to jot down the reasons you plan to use to support your opinion. Put them in whatever order you think of them. Afterward, you can choose which reasons will be your main points and number them in order. The other reasons can be supporting details for your main points.

— Choir helps us listen to each other and work together.

— It helps us breathe and make art and feel joy.

— It prepares us for performing in middle and high school.

— I want to be in Jazz Choir and in the high school musicals.

— Choir brings the community together.

— Everybody needs music.

Think About the Time 🟪 Before you begin writing, think once again about how much time you have to complete your writing. You want to make sure that you get all of your points down before time runs out. You also want to leave a little time at the end to quickly revise and edit your response.

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Writing Creating Your Response

Once you’ve decided which reasons you are going to use (and in what order), you can begin writing.

Beginning 🟪 You need to state your opinion very near the beginning. You might begin with a few thoughts about the topic, and then clearly state your opinion.

Middle 🟪 Your reasons belong in the middle of your response. If you have two reasons, you will have two middle paragraphs. If you have three reasons, you will have three middle paragraphs. Follow your list as you write, but be ready to add details if you think of some good ones.

Ending 🟪 The last part of your response should bring everything together. You can remind your readers what your opinion is and encourage them to agree with you. You can also tell them what they can do to help.

Revising Improving Your Response

As soon as you finish, review your writing and ask yourself the following questions.

_____ Does the beginning clearly state my opinion?

_____ Do the middle paragraphs support my opinion with reasons?

_____ Do specific details support each of my reasons?

_____ Does the ending repeat my opinion and leave the readers something to think about?

Editing and Proofreading Polishing Your Response

Check for Careless Errors 🟪 If you have time, go back and look for missing words, run-on sentences, and incorrect punctuation. You want to make your response as clear and correct as possible.

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Responding Review

This quick summary can help you respond to a persuasive prompt.

1. Analyze the prompt. Use the PAST questions.

Purpose: What is the purpose of my writing?

Audience: Who will be reading my writing?

Subject: What should I write about?

Type: What form will my writing take?

2. Outline your response. Write down the main idea of your answer and list your supporting points. Keep your purpose in mind and choose a pattern of organization. (See pages 24–26 and 47.)

3. Write your beginning paragraph. Start with a few general comments about the topic and then state your opinion.

4. Add your middle paragraphs. Write a topic or controlling sentence that includes one of your reasons. Then add specific details that support it.

5. Write your ending paragraph. End your response by restating your main point and leaving the reader with a final thought.

6. Revise using the PAST questions. Use these questions to make sure you’ve answered the prompt accurately.

7. Edit your response. Check for errors in punctuation, spelling, and grammar.

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