Unit 4 - Project IV: A Persuasive Paragraph

Learning Objectives





To develop a persuasive paragraph to present as a speech, letter to the editor, or brief article for a newsletter.

In this project, students will develop paragraphs with the understanding that they can be presented to the whole school community or another class. If they are being prepared as speeches, students will want to do all four parts of this project. However, these paragraphs could also be prepared as brief articles for a newsletter or as letters to the editor of a local newspaper.

This project has four parts.

Part 1: Preparation
Part 2: Writing the Paragraph
Part 3: Practice
Part 4: Presentation

Part 1: Preparation


1. Explain that the goal of this assignment is to write a persuasive paragraph about some aspect of the health material covered in the curriculum and deliver it as a speech. Note that a writer expresses her or his opinion in a persuasive paragraph. In addition, the writer tries to convince the reader to believe what the writer believes. The writer often wants the reader to do something. 

2. Ask students to think about a time when they persuaded someone to do something or persuaded someone to think about something in a different way. Discuss the questions:

How do you persuade other people that your opinion is correct?

What are the different elements of a persuasive argument?

Write these ideas on newsprint.

3. Discuss the importance of using accurate facts to support one's opinions.

4. Identify a topic. Some examples of topics for persuasive paragraphs:

It is better to learn about a health problem such as a breast lump or irregular Pap test than to ignore it and hope the problem will go away?

Do you take your children to their regular checkups but ignore your own?

Making time for regular checkups is important for maintaining good health.

Mammograms are easy and important to do.

5. Use one topic and show students the steps for creating a persuasive paragraph. For example, "Mammograms are easy and important to do in order to maintain good health." Turn the topic sentence into a question or questions: Why are mammograms easy to do? Why are mammograms important for maintaining good health? Write the questions on newsprint. Encourage students to answer questions with supporting facts. Record student suggestions on newsprint.

Example: Why are mammograms easy to do?

Supporting facts:

You can bring someone with you for support.

The Department of Health offers low-cost/no-cost mammograms to eligible women.

It may be uncomfortable but it doesn't hurt.

It doesn't take very long to do them.

Example: Why are mammograms important?

Supporting facts:

Mammograms can find a breast lump before you can feel it with your hand.

Many times lumps are not malignant. 

When breast cancer is caught early, lumpectomy is a possibility instead of a mastectomy.

Mammograms can make you feel good because having one is a way that you can take charge of your health care.

6. Introduce transitional signals for organizing facts and reasons. For example:

The first reason is...; the second reason is...; the third reason is...; the final reason is...

7. Identify the order of facts and reasons. Identify reasons that are similar. Identify supporting facts. Eliminate any information that is not needed.

8. As a group, write the paragraph on newsprint using transitional signals.

9. Ask for a volunteer to read the finished paragraph aloud.

10. As a group, give the paragraph a title.


Ask students to think about a topic related to breast and cervical cancer. Remind students to try and identify a topic that they really are interested in because this will make the assignment that much easier. Encourage them to gather facts and reasons. 

Part 2: Writing the Paragraph


1. Students share their topic ideas which you can record on newsprint.

2. Remind students of the process used in the previous lesson. Ask students to follow steps 5-7 in the preceding lesson, and then write their paragraphs. You will need to check in with each student during this process.

3. Students can work in pairs and read each other's drafts, offering helpful comments. 

4. Individuals continue to work on refining their paragraphs.

5. Pairs may want to work together to practice their paragraphs aloud.


Students should write a final draft of their paragraphs.

Part 3: Practice


1. Write on newsprint: What makes a good speech? Write down students' ideas.

2. Distribute the Characteristics of a Good Speaker Journal Page. Review it with students. Ask students to share any experiences they have had with public speaking or oral presentations. These can be as varied as experiences with job interviews, explaining a problem to a landlord or doctor, or speaking out at a parent meeting at a school.

3. Ask a student to volunteer to present in front of the class. Model feedback techniques that students can use with each other.

4. Each student practices with a partner. They give each other feedback and suggestions.

5. Ask the entire class or volunteers in the class to develop an evaluation form to use to get feedback on their paragraphs. A brief class discussion could focus on what they would want to know from an audience or readers. The class should be encouraged to focus on one evaluation question. Suggestions for evaluation questions are:

What did you learn today?

What was the most important fact from today?


Encourage students to practice in front of their families and to collect pamphlets that support their points from local health clinics. Students can distribute these pamphlets to the audience during the presentation.

Part 4: Presentation


1. Students will present their speeches to a designated audience. The other options are that students will send final drafts as letters to the editor of a local community newspaper or as a brief article to a center newsletter.

2. After finishing their speeches, students can distribute  appropriate health brochures, pamphlets.