Persuasive Essay Environmental Issues Readwritethink


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Critical stance and development of a strong argument are key strategies when writing to convince someone to agree with your position. In this lesson, students explore environmental issues that are relevant to their own lives, self-select topics, and gather information to write persuasive essays. Students participate in peer conferences to aid in the revision process and evaluate their essays through self-assessment. Although this lesson focuses on the environment as a broad topic, many other topics can be easily substituted for reinforcement of persuasive writing.

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  • Persuasion Map: Your students can use this online interactive tool to map out an argument for their persuasive essay.

  • Persuasive Writing: This site offers information on the format of a persuasive essay, the writing and peer conferencing process, and a rubric for evaluating students' work.

  • Role Play Activity sheet: Give your students the opportunity to see persuasion in action and to discuss the elements of a successful argument.

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Buss, K., & Karnowski, L. (2002). Teaching persuasive texts. In Reading and writing nonfiction genres (pp. 76–89). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

  • The main purpose of persuasive texts is to present an argument or an opinion in an attempt to convince the reader to accept the writer's point of view.

  • Reading and reacting to the opinions of others helps shape readers' beliefs about important issues, events, people, places, and things.

  • This chapter highlights various techniques of persuasion through the use of minilessons. The language and format of several subgenres of persuasive writing are included as well.


Baker, E.A. (2000). Instructional approaches used to integrate literacy and technology. Reading Online, 4. Available:

The inquiry approach gives students the opportunity to identify topics in which they are interested, research those topics, and present their findings. This approach is designed to be learner-centered as it encourages students to select their own research topics, rather than being told what to study.


Powell, R., Cantrell, S.C., & Adams, S. (2001). Saving Black Mountain: The promise of critical literacy in a multicultural democracy. The Reading Teacher, 54, 772–781.

  • The Saving Black Mountain project highlighted in this article exemplifies critical literacy in action. Students learn that, in a democratic society, their voices can make a difference.

  • Critical literacy goes beyond providing authentic purposes and audiences for reading and writing, and considers the role of literacy in societal transformation. Students should be learning a great deal more than how to read and write. They should be learning about the power of literacy to make a difference.


Strangman, N. (2002/2003). Linking literacy, technology, and the environment: An interview with Joan Goble and René De Vries. Reading Online, 6. Available:

  • Endangered species and the environment are compelling topics for students of all ages and excellent raw materials for literacy learning.

  • With only a minimal familiarity with the Internet and computers, students from kindergarten on up to high school can experience the double satisfaction of educating others about the environment and developing better literacy skills.

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Lesson Plan

Can You Convince Me? Developing Persuasive Writing


Grades3 – 5
Lesson Plan TypeStandard Lesson
Estimated TimeFour 40-minute sessions
Lesson Author





Persuasive writing is an important skill that can seem intimidating to elementary students. This lesson encourages students to use skills and knowledge they may not realize they already have. A classroom game introduces students to the basic concepts of lobbying for something that is important to them (or that they want) and making persuasive arguments. Students then choose their own persuasive piece to analyze and learn some of the definitions associated with persuasive writing. Once students become aware of the techniques used in oral arguments, they then apply them to independent persuasive writing activities and analyze the work of others to see if it contains effective persuasive techniques.

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Persuasion Map: Students can use this online interactive tool to map out an argument for their persuasive essay.

Persuasive Strategy PowerPoint Presentation: This handy PowerPoint presentation helps students master the definition of each strategy used in persuasive writing.
Check the Strategies: Students can apply what they know about persuasive writing strategies by evaluating a persuasive piece and indicating whether the author used that strategy, and–if so–explaining how.

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Petit, A., & Soto, E. (2002). Already experts: Showing students how much they know about writing and reading arguments. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 45(8), 674–682.

  • Students can discover for themselves how much they already know about constructing persuasive arguments by participating in an exercise that is not intimidating.

  • Progressing from spoken to written arguments will help students become better readers of persuasive texts.

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Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.



Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.


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Resources & Preparation


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Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Persuasion Map

The Persuasion Map is an interactive graphic organizer that enables students to map out their arguments for a persuasive essay or debate.


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1.Prepare for the game students play during Session 1. Divide the class into teams of four or five. Choose a prize for the winning team (e.g., extra time at recess, a chance to be first in the lunch line, a special snack, a certificate you create, or the chance to bring a special book home). If possible, arrange for another teacher or an administrator to come into your class at the end of the game to act as a judge.

For Session 3, assign partners and pick a second prize for the group that wins the game.

2.Make one copy of the Observations and Notes sheet for each group and pair of students. (You will use this sheet to record your observations while students are working during Session 1 and presenting during Session 4.) Make one copy of the Persuasive Strategy Definitions, Persuasion Is All Around You, Check the Strategies and the Persuasive Writing Assessment for each student. Make enough copies of the Check the Strategy sheet so that every student has a checklist for each set of partners that presents (see Session 4).

3.Make a two-column chart for Session 1. Write Winter is the best season at the top of the chart. Write agree at the top of one column and disagree at the top of the other.

4.If you do not have classroom computers with Internet access, arrange to spend one session in your school’s computer lab (see Session 3). Bookmark the Persuasion Map on your classroom or lab computers, and make sure that it is working properly. (If you experience technical difficulties, you may need to download the newest version of the Flash plug-in, which is available for free on the Technical Help page).

5.Preview the Persuasive Strategy PowerPoint Presentation and bookmark it on your classroom computer. You will be sharing this with students during Session 2 and may want to arrange to use an LCD projector or a computer with a large screen.

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Instructional Plan


Students will

  • Work in cooperative groups to brainstorm ideas and organize them into a cohesive argument to be presented to the class

  • Gain knowledge of the different strategies that are used in effective persuasive writing

  • Use a graphic organizer to help them begin organizing their ideas into written form

  • Apply what they have learned to write a persuasive piece that expresses their stance and reasoning in a clear, logical sequence

  • Develop oral presentation skills by presenting their persuasive writing pieces to the class

  • Analyze the work of others to see if it contains effective persuasive techniques

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Session 1: The Game of Persuasion

1.Post the chart you created where students can see it (see Preparation, Step 3). Distribute sticky notes, and ask students to write their names on the notes. Call students up to the chart to place their notes in the column that expresses their opinion.

2.After everyone has had a chance to put their name on the chart, look at the results and discuss how people have different views about various topics and are entitled to their opinions. Give students a chance to share the reasons behind their choices.

3.Once students have shared, explain that sometimes when you believe in something, you want others to believe in it also and you might try to get them to change their minds. Ask students the following question: “Does anyone know the word for trying to convince someone to change his or her mind about something?” Elicit from students the word persuade.

4.Explain to students that they are going to play a game that will help them understand how persuasive arguments work.

5.Follow these rules of the game:

  • Have students get into their groups.

  • Explain that sometimes when you play games the winner gets a reward and that at the end of this game the winning team will get the reward you have chosen (see Preparation, Step 1).

  • Have each team choose a recorder, or designate a recorder for each team yourself. The recorder's job is to write down the team's arguments.

  • Tell students that they must work together as a team for 15 to 20 minutes to come up with the best reason why the class should award their group the prize. Their reasons can be serious or playful.

  • Use a signal to let them know when to begin and when time is up.

  • Have students present their arguments. Students can either present as a group or choose one person to be their speaker.

  • Have the judge decide on a winning group or ask students to vote for a group other than themselves that had a convincing argument.

Note: While students are working, there should be little interference from you. This is a time for students to discover what they already know about persuasive arguments. Use the Observations and Notes handout as you listen in to groups and make notes about their arguments. This will help you see what students know and also provide examples to point out during Session 2 (see Step 4).

Home/School Connection: Distribute Persuasion Is All Around You. Students are to find an example of a persuasive piece from the newspaper, television, radio, magazine, or billboards around town and be ready to report back to class during Session 2. Provide a selection of magazines or newspapers with advertisements for students who may not have materials at home. For English-language learners (ELLs), it may be helpful to show examples of advertisements and articles in newspapers and magazines.

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Session 2: Analysis of an Argument

1.Begin by asking students to share their homework. You can have them share as a class, in their groups from the previous session, or in partners.

2.After students have shared, explain that they are going to get a chance to examine the arguments that they made during Session 1 to find out what strategies they already know how to use.

3.Pass out the Persuasive Strategy Definitions to each student. Tell students that you are going to explain each definition through a PowerPoint presentation.

4.Read through each slide in the Persuasive Strategy PowerPoint Presentation. Discuss the meaning and how students used those strategies in their arguments during Session 1. Use your observations and notes to help students make connections between their arguments and the persuasive strategies. It is likely your students used many of the strategies, and did not know it. For example, imagine the reward for the winning team was 10 extra minutes of recess. Here is one possible argument:

“Our classmate Sarah finally got her cast taken off. She hasn’t been able to play outside for two months. For 60 days she’s had to go sit in the nurse’s office while we all played outside. Don’t you think it would be the greatest feeling for Sarah to have 10 extra minutes of recess the first week of getting her cast off?”

This group is trying to appeal to the other students’ emotions. This is an example of pathos.

5.As you discuss the examples from the previous session, have students write them in the box next to each definition on the Persuasive Strategy Definitions sheet to help them remember each meaning.

Home/School Connection: Ask students to revisit their persuasive piece from Persuasion Is All Around You. This time they will use Check the Strategies to look for the persuasive strategies that the creator of the piece incorporated. Check for understanding with your ELLs and any special needs students. It may be helpful for them to talk through their persuasive piece with you or a peer before taking it home for homework. Arrange a time for any student who may not have the opportunity to complete assignments outside of school to work with you, a volunteer, or another adult at school on the assignment.

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Session 3: Persuasive Writing

1.Divide the class into groups of two or three students. Have each group member talk about the persuasive strategies they found in their piece.

2.After each group has had time to share with each other, go through each persuasive strategy and ask students to share any examples they found in their persuasive pieces with the whole class.

3.Explain to students that in this session they will be playing the game they played during Session 1 again; only this time they will be working with a partner to write their argument and there will be a different prize awarded to the winning team.

4.Share the Persuasive Writing Assessment with students and read through each category. Explain that you will be using this rubric to help evaluate their essays. Reassure students that if they have questions or if part of the rubric is unclear, you will help them during their conference.

5.Have students get together with the partners you have selected (see Preparation, Step 1).

6.Get students started on their persuasive writing by introducing them to the interactive Persuasion Map. This online graphic organizer is a prewriting exercise that enables students to map out their arguments for a persuasive essay.

  • Have partners enter their names and topics on the opening screen.

  • The goal or thesis is the claim or stance that they are taking on the issue.

  • Students should then brainstorm three reasons to support their claim, and facts and examples to support each reason.
Challenge students to use the persuasive strategies discussed during Session 2 in their writing. Remind students to print their maps before exiting as they cannot save their work online.

7.Have students begin writing their persuasive essays, using their printed Persuasion Maps as a guide. To maintain the spirit of the game, allow students to write their essays with their partner. Partners can either write each paragraph together taking turns being the scribe or each can take responsibility for different paragraphs in the essay. If partners decide to work on different parts of the essay, monitor them closely and help them to write transition sentences from one paragraph to the next. It may take students two sessions to complete their writing.

8.Meet with partners as they are working on their essays. During conferences you can:

  • Ask students to show you the persuasive strategies they are using

  • Guide students to use a variety of persuasive strategies

  • Make sure students are using their Persuasion Map as a guide

  • Check their supporting facts and examples for accuracy

  • Help groups write an interesting beginning and ending

  • Encourage partners to read their paragraphs to and provide feedback for each other

  • Edit for grammar and mechanics

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Session 4: Presenting the Persuasive Writing

1.During this session, partners will present their written argument to the class. Before students present, hand out the Check the Strategy sheet. This checklist is the same one they used for homework after Session 2. Direct students to mark off the strategies they hear in each presentation.

2.Use the Observations and Notes sheet to record your observations.

3.After each set of partners presents, ask the audience to share any persuasive strategies they heard in the argument.

4.After all partners have presented, have students vote for the argument other than their own that they felt was most convincing.

5.Tally the votes and award the prize to the winning team. To end this session, ask students to discuss something new they have learned about persuasive arguments and something they want to work on to become better at persuasive arguments.

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  • Endangered Species: Persuasive Writing offers a way to integrate science with persuasive writing. Have students pretend that they are reporters and have to convince people to think the way they do. Have them pick issues related to endangered species, use the Persuasion Map as a prewriting exercise, and write essays trying to convince others of their points of view. In addition, the lesson “Persuasive Essay: Environmental Issues” can be adapted for your students as part of this exercise.

  • Have students write persuasive arguments for a special class event, such as an educational field trip or an in-class educational movie. Reward the class by arranging for the class event suggested in one of the essays.

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  • Compare your Observations and Notes from Session 4 and Session 1 to see if students understand the persuasive strategies, use any new persuasive strategies, seem to be overusing a strategy, or need more practice refining the use of a strategy. Offer them guidance and practice as needed.

  • Collect both homework assignments and the Check the Strategy sheets and assess how well students understand the different elements of persuasive writing and how they are applied.

  • Collect students’ Persuasion Maps and use them and your discussions during conferences to see how well students understand how to use the persuasive strategies and are able to plan their essays. You want to look also at how well they are able to make changes from the map to their finished essays.

  • Use the Persuasive Writing Assessment to evaluate the essays students wrote during Session 3.

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Related Resources


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Persuading the Principal: Writing Persuasive Letters About School Issues

Students learn that you don't have to raise your voice to raise a point. Writing a persuasive letter to your principal is a great way to get your opinions heard.


Grades   4 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Vote for Me! Developing, Writing, and Evaluating Persuasive Speeches

This lesson encourages students in grades 4 and 5 to think critically and write persuasively by focusing on preparing, presenting, and evaluating mock campaign speeches.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Developing Persuasive Arguments through Ethical Inquiry: Two Prewriting Strategies

In this lesson, students use focused prewriting strategies to explore content and ethical issues related to a persuasive assignment.


Grades   7 – 10  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Picture This: Combining Infographics and Argumentative Writing

After researching topics that the students have chosen, students write argumentative essays. Then, using Piktochart, students create their own infographics to illustrate their research.


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Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Persuasion Map

The Persuasion Map is an interactive graphic organizer that enables students to map out their arguments for a persuasive essay or debate.


Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Venn Diagram

This interactive tool allows students to create Venn diagrams that contain two or three overlapping circles, enabling them to organize their information logically.


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Grades   3 – 8  |  Mobile App  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Trading Cards

Invigorate students' writing with an interactive tool that allows them to demonstrate their comprehension using a mobile app.


Grades   3 – 12  |  Mobile App  |  Writing Poetry

Word Mover

Word Mover allows children and teens to create "found poetry" by choosing from word banks and existing famous works; additionally, users can add new words to create a piece of poetry by moving/manipulating the text.


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Grades   7 – 12  |  Calendar Activity  |  November 19

Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address in 1863.

Students practice the Pre-AP strategy called SOAPSTone, identifying important parts of the Gettysburg Address and comparing it with John F. Kennedy's inaugural speech.


Grades   3 – 12  |  Calendar Activity  |  March 12

On this date in 1901, Andrew Carnegie gave $5.2 million to New York City libraries.

Students write expository and persuasive pieces with the help of the Persuasion Map and Essay Map interactives, and compare the essential features of the two modes of writing.


Grades   1 – 12  |  Calendar Activity  |  July 7

Write letters that make things happen!

In a small group or as individuals, students write letters related to a unit of study or particular topic they have studied.


Grades   1 – 6  |  Calendar Activity  |  October 13

The Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden was dedicated on October 13, 1995.

Students select characters that they believe are the most memorable from Cleary's books and write short persuasive essays to explain their choices.


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Grades   6 – 12  |  Printout  |  Assessment Tool

Persuasion Rubric

Use this rubric to assess the effectiveness of a student's essay, speech, poster, or any type of assignment that incorporates persuasion.


Grades   3 – 12  |  Printout  |  Graphic Organizer

Persuasion Map

Use this graphic organizer to develop a persuasive stance for an essay, speech, poster, or any type of assignment that incorporates persuasion.


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Grades   K – 5  |  Strategy Guide

Persuasive Writing

This strategy guide focuses on persuasive writing and offers specific methods on how you can help your students use it to improve their critical writing and thinking skills.


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Grades   3 – 5  |  Activity & Project

Can You Convince Me?

Children learn how to make a convincing argument—an important skill in school and in life.


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Graham Charles

February 07, 2017

I believe you have cited the wrong writing standards. You are using W.2 (grades 3, 4, and 5) -- informational writing -- when you want W.1. Persuasive writing is the old name for what CC calls "argument (opinion)". Scholastic has a good page on this nomenclature:


I'm not understanding what the "game" is. Are the students trying to convince the others that they like winter or dislike winter the best?

Or, are they just arbitrarily trying to convince a judge why their team is the best?

Please explain. Thank you!



December 08, 2015

I'm not understanding what the "game" is. Are the students trying to convince the others that they like winter or dislike winter the best?

Or, are they just arbitrarily trying to convince a judge why their team is the best?

Please explain. Thank you!


Really love this resource. I'm just about to start persuasive writing and am really excited about using this resource. Thanks for sharing these ideas!



February 05, 2015

this is really well taught out. Im going to try it with my remedial children next week. thanks alot


V Deluca

January 21, 2015

I have a question. During session 3, are the students writing an argument about one of the examples they found for homework or are they choosing another topic to enter into the interactive persuasion map?


These lessons are great! I am so glad I found this!
I can't wait to teach it, I know my students are going to love it!


This lesson has included many different modalities of learning how to write a persuasive piece. Great for my special education students to stay engaged in task.


Jill Cooper

December 08, 2013

This was so useful and worked so well. It is the best lesson I have ever used from this source. Kudos. The kids are all using the words now! I want to say that it lends itself to a perfect lead in to teaching effective persuasive essay writing for the state test.


M. Gladstone

December 04, 2013

I am getting evaluated on Friday ~ and I have my pre-observation meeting tomorrow morning....Thanks for helping me align my lesson with the helpful interactive tools the persuasive writing lessons offer.


Donna McCausland

May 08, 2013

Thank you so much for sharing such a comprehensive lesson. I am definitely going to use this lesson and look forward to seeing your other lessons.
Thanks for sharing.


Looking forward to facilitating this lesson with my second graders. I tweaked it a little, but not much because it's a wonderful lesson with great materials. THANKS!


Nancy Zapparelli

November 25, 2012

I am also unable to open the powerpoint presentation of the lesson....darn it!!


I have just started to plan and structure a unit of work about developing persuasive writing and this has been a fantastic resource! Thank you!


Just wanted to say what a well structured lesson this is!! Im writing some lessons on persuasive writing at the moment and this has helped me incorporate games in to my lessons! So thank you!


Tutor Gold Coast

May 01, 2012

Which method is the best for teaching? Please tell me more info about it. <a href="">Tutor Gold Coast</a>


I am planning to get at least through session 2 this week, but I have a question. I am already anticipating that students may have a hard time (as I do) understanding the difference between Logos and Research. I understand that Logos refers to a classic approach to argument, while Research refers to how you obtain the data, but how do you explain the difference between these two categories on this worksheet to the kids? Do many instances come up where they are using "logic, numbers, facts, and data" that they didn't obtain through research?


Just did session one with my 6th graders-- they loved it! They even asked to do it agian tomorrow, but I think we need to move on :)


I am beginning my unit on Persuasive writing this week and just found your unit! I love it. What is even better is that I am being formally evaluated on Wed. and will definitely be okay with these types of activities. I am so excited.


just great- my class loved it!!


For the game, is it two teams depending on if they thought winter was the best or not? Or do I make smaller teams? Thanks!


Nevermind, I needed to reread. Thanks!


meggy ramsey

November 21, 2011

this was amazing an great for kiddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd!!


Thank you for sharing your lesson and resources they are excellent!


Thank you for sharing this lesson. I used it and it worked wonders in my class. While I had to make some modifications, they were very minor. I am inspired by it. Thank you!


Sakai Smih

September 26, 2011

thank you thank you thank you! This is great! My students are already ready to move on!


Racquel Ellis

September 21, 2011

Great resources. Thank you so much. It made lesson preparation so much easier.



September 16, 2011

These resources are great! Please continue to post lessons that were successes in your class.

Thank you!


I am working on a persuasive writing unit and you have created wonderful resources. Thank you for sharing your work!


This is amazing stuff. Thank you for putting all the work into this and allowing it to be shared!!


Kelly Knappe

April 19, 2011

The game was a great way to start of the lesson! My students enjoyed it a lot and were then ready for more! I was unable to connect to the link for the power point presentation.


Bennett Robinson

March 26, 2011

Wonderful stuff, thank you! Easy to use, easily adapted to use with all students!


I am excited to use your worksheets, strategies, and rubric. I work for a charter school, and have to create my curriculum. This will save me lots of time, and get awesome ideas! Thanks


AWESOME! Thank you SO much!


Jessica Thumser

November 24, 2010

Although this is geared toward grades 3 - 5, there were certainly enough good ideas for me to adapt to my 8th graders. My lower level students quickly learned what I intended them to learn, and my gifted had fun learnin additional strategies. As previously posted, many did not even know they "knew this," and many others had fun learning persuasive techniques.


An amazing plan which the children loved! Very engaging and very detailed. Thank you. Keep up the good work!


Nikki Rooke

August 08, 2010

Great resource, easy to follow and implement in class, thanks


Hey Im a pre-service teacher in Australia and I'm totally thankful for your resources- they're a great help and guide for what I should be aiming to do in the future- Thanks Heaps! <><


Timothy Tiger Bailey

June 07, 2010

Awesome resource, thanks!



I love this lesson! It's fun and engaging. Thanks


Kaylee Olney, RWT Staff

March 30, 2010

Hi Jan, There seems to be a communication problem between the latest versions of Internet Explorer (8) and Acrobat Reader (9). If you're working on a PC/Windows computer, you can download a security patch at that should solve the problem. Another option would be to use the Firefox browser on your PC since the PDFs show up fine in that browser. You can download Firefox free at Please contact us if that doesn't solve your problem so that we may investigate further.


Kristine Santarpia

March 20, 2010

I have been teaching persuasive writing for years and have never seen such an effective way to teach the strategies than having the students play the persuasive game. We never laughed so much as when the students tried to convince me to give them a prize---and it is amazing the lengths they go to do so! At the same time, each group used one of the strategies without even knowing it! Great fun and great learning! Thanks!


None of the lesson components will print. I have the latest Adobe update---as of today, in fact.


Kaylee Olney, RWT Staff

March 17, 2010

Juliet, you're probably experiencing technical difficulties with the PDF links because you don't have the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader on your computer. You can download it for free by clicking the red Acrobat Reader icon button on our Site Tools page: Please let me know if this does not solve your problem.


Susan Hovland

March 13, 2010

The link to the power point presentation does not appear to be working.


Juliet Smebakken

March 07, 2010

I am unable to download or print any of the handouts for this lesson!


Judy schaner

February 19, 2010

Power point does not work


Kaylee Olney, RWT Staff

January 25, 2010

Thanks for alerting us to the broken links, Anita. There was a minor glitch in migrating all of the content when we launched the redesigned site. Everything should be available now.


Anita Parker

January 14, 2010

When I click on this link:
I get a message, Page not found.



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