My son (DS 9) has been learning how to write persuasive essays via a couple different writing programs (Mobymax, Writing Strands, and Institute for Excellence in Writing). My son gets to pick the topic.  In fact, he goes through a brainstorming activity first.  And, many times his ideas list is filled with “hot button” topics or “controversial” issues.  I let him choose and he does the research.  

Here are some samples of my son’s persuasive writing:

Stop Polluting!

    Imagine what the Earth would look like if it was completely polluted. Water would be dirty, air would be thick and smoky, and land covered in trash. This will happen if people never stop polluting.  People should stop poisoning our Earth because everyone needs clean water and pollution makes it difficult to live.

    As a matter of fact, everyone needs clean water. However, some of it is polluted with oil, garbage, or chemicals. Contaminated water can lead to risk of disease or death. Clean water is needed for drinking and eating.

    In addition, pollution will make it difficult for animals and people to live. Next, it can cause animal and insect population to greatly decrease. Second, air pollutants lead to difficulties breathing and trigger allergies. Pollution will affect all lives.

    Clearly, people must stop polluting because everyone needs clean air and water to live. Do you want to live in a clean or dirty world? If you choose clean, you should stop spoiling the Earth.

Stop Using Microbeads

    Did you know that our lakes and rivers are getting filled with tiny plastic beads? These beads came from some soaps or beauty products and are polluting our water. I believe that companies should not put plastic beads in their soap because they are toxic, not made naturally, and are not caught by water treatment plants.

   First of all, these plastic beads are made from toxic chemicals such as PCBs, fat-soluble compounds, and estrogen. These compounds can cause cancer and other health issues. They can contribute to plaque, tartar, and gingivitis when they get stuck in people’s gums. The toxins contribute to plastic pollution in our water systems.

   In addition, the tiny beads are not natural but made from polyethylene or polypropylene. However, there are natural alternatives such as jojoba beads from cacti, sand, apricot seeds, cocoa beans, and walnut shells. These materials are safer for water systems.

   Finally, the microbeads are not caught by water treatment plants because they are too small. They pass through the filtration systems and flush out with the clean water. Now, they are in the water supply and contribute to biomagnification. It enters the food chain because of its tiny size.

   Given these reasons, I believe that companies should not put plastic beads in their soaps. Companies must use natural alternatives instead. Please write to companies and tell them to stop putting plastic beads in their products.

The Dangers of Electronic Cigarettes

   King James I once said, “Smoking is hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, and dangerous to the lungs.” Electronic cigarettes are still smoking. I believe people should stop using electronic cigarettes because it contains nicotine and has no health benefits.

   For starters, electronic cigarettes contain nicotine just like traditional cigarettes. The nicotine in them is very addictive just like in traditional tobacco. In addition, liquid nicotine can burn your skin if it gets out of the container. It can kill babies and toddlers if they swallow it. Nicotine is known to affect brain development.

   Furthermore, electronic cigarettes contain harmful ingredients. Six of the 24 compounds used in them are part of a class of chemicals known to be lung irritants. The ingredient propylene glycol turns into formaldehyde when the electronic cigarette is on. This chemical is a known industrial biocide to cause cancer. The formaldehyde count is higher in electronic cigarettes than traditional cigarettes.

   Finally, there are no health benefits to using electronic cigarettes. The vapor released from them affects the respiratory tract and can cause asthma, allergies, and lung cancer. It can cause coughing, headaches, panic, nausea, tremor, fatigue, reflux, irritation, and elevated blood pressure.

   Given these reasons, people should not be smoking electronic cigarettes. These devices are clearly harmful. So, tell anyone who smokes electronic cigarettes about the dangers and have them included in no smoking bans.

Clearly, my son is opinionated and passionate.  However, persuasive writing is more than just sharing opinions.  Learning persuasive writing is an excellent skill in understanding rhetoric, argumentative writing, debating positions, learning how to research, and performing literary analysis.  Persuasive writing can be taught at any age.  Understanding persuasion is a great skill to have and can lead to excellent argument writing and debate.

Here are some links to help understand and teach persuasive writing:

Persuasive writing and the ability to understanding persuasive thinking is a life skill preparing children for social and political participation in our world.  In addition, our children are bombarded with persuasive writing in the forms of advertisements (radio, print, TV, and in games).  Thus, it is important to teach children this skill.  Persuasive writing helps with developing critical thinking skills and the ability to argue.  Persuasive writing can teach children how to be advocates for themselves.