Sign on with SNNMedia MentorsBack IssuesMain Page
Sign on with SNNReporter's ToolboxMedia MentorsIn the ClassroomBack IssuesThis IssueMain Page
Reporter's ToolboxIn the ClassroomThis Issue

Using media in Language Arts class

Persuasive/Argumentative essay -- Opinion writing

Persuasive writing, also known as the argumentative essay, allows the writer to use logic and reason to convince the readers to agree with his or her opinion on a certain issue. In order to persuade readers to adopt a particular point of view, the writer needs to come up with an argument that uses sound reasoning and solid evidence.

To show your students how this kind of writing applies to their daily life, just bring in a couple of newspapers and turn to the editorial section. The persuasive essay appears in the newspaper every day in the form of editorials, columns, or letters to the editor.

To see some examples, take a look through the editorial sections from The Globe and Mail and The National Post, two papers which are distributed to many places across Canada. Or consult this list of editorial sections for newspapers in various provinces.

The first thing you'll see on the editorial page is the editorial, a piece of persuasive writing that represents the views of the newspaper or its publisher. Each newspaper usually establishes its own editorial stance and readers will quickly become aware of the political leanings of the newspaper.

Other people - including writers and public figures - have the opportunity to express their views on subject by writing a column that applies specifically to their opinions and not those of a group.

Meanwhile, every citizen is free to voice his or her opinion by writing a letter to the editor, which may appear (at the editor's discretion) in the newspaper's editorial section alongside other opinion pieces.

In order to write a convincing opinion piece or persuasive essay, a writer must research the topic and come up with a variety of information that can be used to build a compelling argument. The elements are the same for the essay and the column. A writer can:

  • State the facts of the case.

  • Quote the opinion of experts and other people who know a lot about the subject.

  • Offer examples and anecdotes from his or her own life or other people's experience.

  • Use statistics to back up parts of argument.

  • Compare the situation to something that people can readily understand.

  • Give logical reasons for his or her opinion.

  • Anticipate and deal with any opposition to his or her argument.

The possible topics for editorials and columns are almost endless because everyone has an opinion on everything! They could include legal or political issues such as gun control or Canada’s economy, minority rights or international politics. Encourage your students to look at issues facing people in their own community — such as a decision to demolish a historic building or the controversy surrounding a new law against skateboarding.

With them, you can take a look at any of the stories in your daily paper or in recent issues of SNN. Urge them to form their own opinions, based on what they’ve read and what they already know or believe. Encourage them to put those views down in an editorial or column of their own? 

Here are some topics for persuasive essays and columns:

  • Should the school system get rid of grading and find another way to gauge students success?

  • Has computer technology in the schools helped the students of 2000 learn more effectively than the students of 1980 or 1960?

  • Should women of your generation adopt the name of their spouse if they get married?

  • Should teenagers have to wait until they are 19 years old before they can get their driver's licences?

  • Movie ratings, warnings on CD labels, acceptable use policies for the Internet -- these are all methods used to control or limit what young people see, read and hear. Should young people be able to make their own decisions about what's acceptable?

  • One in ten nose jobs is now done on teenagers. Should teenagers have the chance to correct what they see as physical imperfection by having plastic surgery?

  • Should the government, the police or parents be allowed to set curfews for teenagers?

Once your students have written an opinion piece, encourage them to send their articles to SNN for publication in an upcoming issue and share their views with the world via the Web!



 Go back