This month in many fourth grade classrooms, the genre of personal and persuasive essays is being taught. I have talked about the personal essay and how to form that in a few of my blogs this month. Since November is a short month with Thanksgiving vacation taking away days from the school calendar, the second part of the unit of study probably needs to be started the week of the 19th. That is just next week!
The format of the persuasive essay will be similar to the personal essay. In this essay the students will be asked to defend something they believe. Every day we are asked to explain ourselves or defend what we are thinking. That is why this genre is so important for our children. We want them to stand up for what they believe.
I would recommend going to the website: www.thisibelieve.org Under the section: Explore, you will find a list of essays by students 18 and under. Most of these essays are written by older students. However, there is one in particular that will help you with this genre. It is written by a five year old, Tarak McLain. His is simply a list of Thirty Things I Believe. There is an audio of him reading it also. After listening and discussing this list, it would be helpful for your students to take the time to make a similar list in their notebooks.
Using this list as a guide, the children can pick out something that means a lot to them. In a fifth grade classroom I worked in, a few students were writing about standing up to bullies. Another student wrote on why he believed you should be happy in any situation. After writing the thesis statement, they collected stories, quotes, examples of how this had worked for them or others they knew. These collections became the defense of their thesis. They became the paragraphs in the essay.
Of course, having a beginning paragraph that states the thesis statement and also grabs the reader, is important in this writing. Also, having a conclusion that summarizes the writer's thinking and shows how the thesis statement has been supported is important!
Having this website to begin your short time with this essay, along with writing the introduction and conclusion, will help you and your students to come away with interesting belief statements.