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The Art of Persuasion

First graders at W.L. Morse learned a valuable lesson in their recent writing lesson. The students discovered ways to write persuasively, a tool they can utilize throughout their lives.

Teachers including Jenne Mazzarella and Madeline Seguinot worked with their students to identify problems – first in their lives, then in their school and finally, the larger community. Students first noticed simple issues like siblings who might run too much or not help at home. Eventually, they discussed the need for mask-wearing and medicine for the community at large. The next step was to write about the problem. Some children designed signs, others wrote letters or came up with songs.

“There is ownership and intention in this project,” said Mazzarella. “Students learn that they have the power to make a change and that if there is a problem, ‘I can fix it.’”

The persuasive writing unit is part of Columbia Teachers College Writing Program and ms. Mazzarella suggested the students post letters and signs around the school. 

Their work is hanging throughout the school’s hallways. Other students see what their peers are thinking and writing about and better understand another person’s concerns.

Principal Torrance Walley encourages the concept of authentic writing, writing with real purpose.

The first graders brought about change in their cafeteria when they wrote a letter to staff and requested more ketchup. The students learn how to make their requests respectfully and politely.

“Persuasive writing gave our first graders a voice, and they felt empowered. They knew they would be heard, and it encouraged them to be more expressive,” said Seguinot.