Christopher Christopher

TP - 7 Writing
C1 level


In this lesson students will practice their formal writing skills through a real-world example of writing a persuasive letter to a local politician.


Main Aims

  • To provide SS with practice writing a persuasive letter, with a focus on form and formal tone.

Subsidiary Aims

  • To provide SS with practice proof-reading a formal letter written in English.


Lead-in (2-3 minutes) • To set lesson context and engage students

T greets SS and opens discussion of Persuasive Letters: Q: Have any of you ever written a persuasive letter? A: (Y/N) T ascertains the SS understand the meaning of "persuasive" (root: persuade: to move by argument, to plead, to urge, to encourage to a course of action) CCQ: What are some of the reasons we might write a persuasive letter? T expands on SS answers, desired answer: to convince someone to do something. T asks further CCQs: 1. Who are the kinds of people that we might write a persuasive letter to? A: A teacher or Dean, to challenge a grade? A: A boss or department, to change a problem at work. A: A politician, to endorse or fight against a bill.

Exposure - Persuasive Letter Components (10-12 minutes) • To provide a model of production expected in coming tasks through reading and discussion

T: So we agree then that a persuasive letter is something that we would write in formal speech, and most likely to someone we do not personally know. As such, the form of a persuasive letter has specific components which we can identify. T: shares TP-7.ppt slide 1 and confirms that everyone can see it. T asks SS to read the slide to the class. Calls on SS to read by color of component. Red: Addresser/Addressee T: Why do you think this is this important? A: A request will command more attention and respect if the parties are clearly identified. Especially when writing to a politician you should let them know if you are a voter in the region they represent. Green: Greeting & Date T: Remember to keep this formal. Date is the day it was written. Blue: Intent T: Here you clearly state why you are writing the letter. Be direct. Brown: Reasoning T: This is your argument, the reason why they should do what you ask them to do. You should try to have at least two reasons, three is even better. Yellow: Request T: This is sometimes referred to a "Call to Action" (esp. in marketing) where you directly ask them to do what you stated in the intent. Purple: Closing & Signature T: The closing usually contains an expression of gratitude, a promise on the part of the Addresser. In the US, it is still considered best when a paper letter is actually signed by hand. Many politicians in the US use a specially-printed signature in contrasting ink to make it look like it was actually signed, even if it wasn't. T drops screen share for CCQ's and next set up CCQs: T: Why should we have at least two Reasoning components A: We are asking the Addressee to do something, we have to justify it. T: Should we include our full address on a written persuasive letter? A: Yes, it is appropriate for formal communications. In the case of politicians, it can demonstrate that you are in their constituency. T: Now that we have covered the form of the letter, let's talk a little about the kind of language we should use. A persuasive letter should be written in a formal tone, What do we mean by formal tone? Directed answers: 1. Do not use contractions, idioms or slang. (Should we use contractions, idioms or slang?) 2. Always use complete sentences. (Do we have to use complete sentences?) 3. Use a passive voice. (Do we use an active or passive voice?) Here, let's take a look at some examples. T shares screen and advances to slide 2. T moves through the slides with each answer. T drops screen share and asks the following CCQs: T: Do you think it would be effective to start a letter to a politician with "Dear Lier"? A: No. Keep it formal and polite. Why even write if you are going to be insulting? That is perhaps best reserved for a a complaint, not a persuasive letter! T: Would it appropriate to say something like: "If you'd have voted for the bill, we'd have supported you." A: No, while the content is questionable at best, the use of contractions is certainly inappropriate. T activates screen share and shares slide 9: Let's look at a sample letter now and see if we can evaluate it based on what we just talked about. T switches screen share to Jamboard: Parts of a Letter Ex. and confirms everyone can see it. T: Here we have a persuasive letter written to a politician encouraging them to support an imaginary hydroelectric dam project in the city of Denver, Colorado. I would like to you take a moment to read this letter, then we will identify the parts of the letter. ***SS have 1.5 min to read the letter. If class numbers & time permit breaking into groups, divide the class into teams, have them read and discuss, then move back to class and proceed with matching exercise as a group*** T calls on students in turn, asking them to identify the parts of the letter, and moves the sticky notes onto the letter. Once the exercise is completed, T asks CCQs: 1. Do you think this is a good letter, why or why not? A: Tone is a bit informal. Words like "weirdos" is disparaging. Use of contractions. A: Thinly-veiled threat in the closing about supporting the politician. 2. If you were the congressman, how would you respond to a letter like this? T answers questions as needed and moves onto the set-up.

Functional language and setting the scene. (5-6 minutes) • To highlight and clarify useful language and concepts for an upcoming productive task

T: In a few minutes we are going to perform a writing exercise, where each of you will take a position on the controversial hydroelectric dam construction project - but first you need to understand the situation and pick a side to represent. The Platte River dam has the community divided, and as responsible citizens, it is your job to write to your local congressman, The Honorable Mario Ladron, and urge him to take your side. T Shares TP7.ppt slide 2 with the details of the hydro dam project and confirms that the SS can see this. T: Please take a few minutes to read through the details of the project so that you can decide which side you are on. Once SS indicate they are are finished reading T continues: We have some interesting language here, several colocations and semi-fixed expressions which are commonly found with this kind of subject. Have you looked at colocations and semi-fixed expressions before? Y/N clarify definitions:. A colocation is when words will commonly be used together. A semi-fixed expression is slightly different in that while they are words that are commonly found together, they do not have the same meaning when taken individually. Let's see if we can identify a few of these in this document. SS are asked to identify any colocations and semi-fixed expressions. In the course of the conversation as time dictates, advance to the next screen which highlights colocations in blue and semi-fixed expressions in green. T answers any questions and once done, ask the SS to screenshot before proceeding.

Productive Task (20-25 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice persuasive writing skills

T: Now that everyone has had a chance to read about the project and think about what side they are on, you will each write a letter to the congressman urging him to support or oppose the project. Remember, you can choose whichever side you like, you will not be accessed for the side you choose. The point of this exercise is to use the proper format, tone, and sentence structure. As this is an imaginary project, you can even make up your own reasons, so long as your present them properly! You will have twenty minutes to compose your letter. I will separate each of you into a private room and then join in to observe and answer your questions. If you have a question while I am in another room, please use the raise hand signal, and I will come over to you shortly. While SS read the document, T posts the link to the folder containing the templates in chat and assigns each student one of the templates and an individual breakout room. T: You have each been assigned a template number. At the bottom of the page is a section for the proofreader. Please do not fill that section out at this time. You will be proofreading one other's work, not your own. ICQ's 1. How many minutes will you have to write the letter? A; 20 2. Will you be evaluated for which side you choose? A: No! Pick any side you like, just construct the letter properly. 3. What should you do if you have a question for me? A: use the raise hand signal. 4. Are you filling out the bottom proofreader section? A: Not yet. We will proofread each other's work. T monitors SS's writing process, answering questions as needed and making notes for later review and discussion during feedback.

Feedback and Error Correction (7-8 minutes) • To allow the student's to provide feedback on their peers production and use of language

T: One of the most importing parts of writing is proofreading. Proofreading is when we review a written work to catch errors or modify format. Although here instead of proofreading your own work, you will be reviewing your classmate's letters. Now you will use the checklist that was at the bottom of the letter template in order to review your fellow student's work. Please bear in mind you are proof reading for proper spelling, use of language, format and tone - not content. Please do not comment on the content of the letter. You will have (three to five - T to adjust accordingly) minutes to review a letter individually then we will discuss them together as a group. ICQ's 1. Are we looking at the letter to determine if the intent is clearly stated? A: Yes, intent is one of the required parts. 2. Are we commenting on if we agree with their argument? A: No, we are not evaluating content. T: arranges swapping the letters of the students. After 3-5 minutes, Students are asked to read their comments (but not the letters themselves) to the class. T provides corrective feedback to the proofreading. ***Bonus proofreading task, only if time permits: letters are returned to the students so they can address the commentary. T thanks the class for their time and attention.

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