Search form

English - Body Paragraphs in Persuasive Writing - Grade 8

Lesson Plan Outline

Subject: English

Grade: Eight

Lesson Objective: Body Paragraphs in Persuasive Writing

Common Core Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.2 - "Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content."

Materials: Select any body of work for the class to work on as a whole, or have each student select a topic they feel compelled to write on.

Teacher Preparation: The fundamental purpose of writing is to share ideas. Whether reading someone else's work or writing and trying to connect with someone, the ability to articulate thoughts is a life skill of the utmost importance. We're constantly trying to persuade others whether we think we are or not, from what movie is better to the all-time preferred flavor of ice cream.

Anyone can have an opinion. Everyone does have opinions, but being able to articulate that opinion is one thing. And being able to convince someone to see things differently, or at least consider them from another perspective, is another thing entirely. Just like how anyone can have an opinion, anyone can master persuasive writing with these simple steps. The following is a lesson plan to help students create meaningful body paragraphs in persuasive writing.

Starter: It isn't called brainstorming for nothing. Creating ideas on how to approach a particular subject and the different ways a student can approach it can result in an overwhelming bombardment of too many ideas. This is where research plays its part by assisting the writer with ideas about the subject in general. 

Even reading just a handful of papers, articles, and factoids can help students solidify the stance they want to take in their essay. Researching the topic as a whole, including resources from both sides of the spectrum, will help narrow down the stance a student wishes to take. This also helps eliminate bias in the essay as the writer sees information and can draw conclusions based on facts rather than solely on opinions.

Main: Once a student has taken a particular stance on the subject, formulating those ideas into at least three key points is essential to crafting a successful persuasive essay. One point is addressed in each body paragraph. It may be difficult for students to come up with three ideas, but starting with one topic they plan to address may lead to another that helps their stance. Or, if they only have one idea, suggest breaking that down into three manageable parts. This will allow each body paragraph to stand on its own and help the flow of the writing itself.

Outlining helps ensure that the flow of these ideas is organized to make sense and provides a road map for the student to follow when writing. Each point serves as a body paragraph, and the contents of that are made up of another three points consisting of ways the student will address the specific idea. Once the outline is created, the student has to combine the notes with grammar and punctuation, and it's off to the races.

For example, an outline for a persuasive essay about why dogs are better than cats may look something like this:

  1. Dogs are fun to play with.
    1. You cant play with a cat the same way you can play with a dog.
    2. Dogs and cats need exercise.
    3. Dogs are awake for most of the day; meanwhile, cats are nocturnal.
  2. Dogs are nicer.
    1. A common misconception is that dogs are bad.
    2. How dogs are raised determines their anger, not their breed.
    3. Cuddling with animals is clinically proven to reduce stress.
  3. Dogs are smarter.
    1. Dogs can be taught tricks while cats cannot.
    2. Dogs can be trained as service animals.
    3. Dogs can even be taught to use programmed push buttons to say phrases about what they want.

The easiest way to craft body paragraphs after the outline is drafted is by using transitional phrases. 'First,' 'furthermore,' and 'finally' are the only three tools needed to kick off body paragraphs. 

Wrapping up a paragraph that somehow ties into the next and introduces an idea that somehow ties into the last is probably the most tedious part of writing. Using transitional phrases helps students stay on the course of their outline without sacrificing content. 'First' is used to open the first paragraph, followed by 'furthermore' as it builds on the original thesis, and 'finally' begins the last body paragraph.

Reflection: Followed by a transitional phrase, a paragraph or an idea is introduced in the same way the overall essay begins: with a hook. Hooking readers goes back to that element of brainstorming. Students were encouraged to research the topic and find what makes it interesting, so they already have ideas as to what makes it interesting enough to write about in the first place. 

Creating a hook draws the reader in, but it has to be related to the subject and introduced as if it were the reader's first time hearing about it. It's best to leave nothing to chance. A hook is followed up with context, reeling the reader further in and sinking them with the three points created in the outline.

The best way to ensure that body paragraphs in persuasive writing are persuasive is to draft, revise, and edit. Drafting an outline allows relevant information, quotes, and resources to be organized in a way that flows and gives a steady foundation to work from. Revising those ideas and thoughtfully formulating them builds the framework of the body paragraphs. Editing those paragraphs with hook, reel, and sink helps the essay's consistency and flow of ideas. Utilizing 'first,' 'furthermore,' and 'finally' as paragraph starters also helps students keep their ideas in order and make the task of writing more manageable. 

Utilizing any of these methods in your next class will help students compose their ideas and accomplish successful body paragraphs in persuasive writing.


Written by Morgan Andrus

Education World Contributor

Copyright© 2021 Education World