Most second graders have no problem sharing their opinions. However, they might not realize that telling people what they think about a subject can be an academic exercise. Persuasive writing is part of the second-grade core curriculum in most states. Teachers can combine a lesson on persuasive writing with study of African-American history to help students learn more about black leaders and historical events while also strengthening their writing skills.

Show students some examples of persuasive writing by reading age-appropriate books such as "I Wanna Iguana" and "Click, Clack, Moo." Read a book to the class, and talk about how the protagonists made a persuasive argument, such as the child trying to convince the mother to get an iguana as a pet and the cows trying to convince the farmer to give them electric blankets.

Provide examples of persuasive language, such as "I think" and "you should." It may be helpful to create a chart of this "anchor language," according to The Curriculum Corner. Students can refer to it as they write their papers.

Provide several topic ideas related to your study of African-American history. You could ask students to choose an African-American leader or historical figure they think we should honor on a stamp, and then write a letter to the post office persuading officials to create the stamp. Another idea is to have them to think about all the inventions they have studied that African-Americans created, such as the 300 items created from peanuts by George Washington Carver. Then ask them to write persuasive essays on which invention they think is the most important. Perhaps instead of focusing on Black History Month to study the achievements of African-Americans, students could write persuasive essays with ideas about how we can study and celebrate notable African-Americans and historical events throughout the year.

Explain that, once they decide on their topics, students must come up with at least three ideas to support their topic sentence, or argument. For example, if they decide to write about why Rosa Parks should get her own stamp -- an academic exercise since she already has one -- their supporting ideas could be "She fought hard for civil rights," "She shows people how to be brave" and "She was a good leader." Each paragraph would flesh out those ideas.

Explain to students that they must end their essays with a strong conclusion that wraps up all their ideas. They must summarize their ideas without repeating themselves verbatim.


Give students the opportunity to come up with their own persuasive writing topics for black history. They may have strong opinions about an idea that you hadn't thought of, and allowing them to write about it can help them stay engaged with the lesson.

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