I chose a bunch of fun Mentor Texts for this unit, including Click, Clack, Moo, by Doreen Cronin and I Wanna Iguana, by Karen Kaufman Orloff. Early in the unit, we were fortunate to go see the play version of "Click, Clack, Moo" which just happened to be touring with TheaterWorks USA right here in DC! It was so fun to see this wonderful book come alive on stage and I think it also helped the kids conceptualize how a persuasive letter could really make a difference.
We started by examining our Mentor Texts to develop an Anchor Chart for the "Features of a Persuasive Letter." The kiddos were quick to come up with most of these features. I was particularly impressed that they could articulate how a persuasive letter should include "what things are like right now." For instance, in Click, Clack, Moo, the cows begin by explaining that they are cold - which is why they need to electric blankets from Farmer Brown.
After the kiddos understood the components of a Persuasive Letter, they began brainstorming and drafting their own letters. I encouraged them to think about who would be an appropriate audience for their letters. They came up with such great ideas! Some kiddos wanted to write to their parents to request trips, toys, or pets; some kiddos wanted to write to the mayor about needs for our city; and still other wanted to write to me or our principal with requests for our school.
Once they had their appeal in mind, the kiddos had to think of reasons why someone would grant the request. Although, most of them eventually came up with at least 3 good reasons why their reader should give in to their demand, this was a very challenging task for most of first grade writers.
As we moved through drafting, we also talked about a number of ways to revise and enhance our arguments, including adding "if...then sentences," and asking questions. During editing, I created a second, more specific, Anchor Chart about what the kiddos needed to include in their letters.
Publishing for this unit was a little different than previous units because we didn't need to add a cover or think of a title for our writing. Instead, I took pictures of the kiddos with the item they requested. I'm planning to create a bulletin board with their adorable pictures and letters in the next month.