• Linda Ulleseit, author

  • NaNoWriMo!

Know Your Audience

Persuasive writing can be hard for students for a number of reasons, but one of the toughest is learning to address their words to the right person. Let’s face it. Thinking adults know that whining and stamping your foot will not work if you are asking the president for tax reform, although some politicians continue to try that approach. Conversely, a well-reasoned, heavily supported position does not work on a two year old. When students are learning to write persuasive essays, their audiences are usually their parents, their teacher, the principal or school board, or the city council.

The first step in choosing the best arguments for a persuasive essay is to determine exactly who the audience is. Who is the person or group responsible for making the decision that will give you what you want? If you want an increase in your allowance, to stay up later at night, or to get a pet, then your audience is your parents. If you want a decrease (or increase) in homework, more field trips, or fewer group projects, then your audience is your teacher. The principal would be the one to address if you want more after-school activities, more assemblies, or to change the playground rules. The school board handles issues such as closing school libraries, laying off teachers, and shutting down (or establishing) a music program. If you want a stop sign installed, cleaner sidewalks, or new parks, then you should write to the city council.

Once the audience is identified, you must get inside their head and determine what their objectons will be. On a city or school board level, the objection is usually money. Parents look out for the well-being of their children. Teachers and principals are focused on student learning. Which of the arguments for your position will work best for your intended audience? If you make a well-reasoned, well-supported argument to the school board about how important your idea is for the well-being of students everywhere, they are most likely to counter with a statement that they still have no money. Your argument may have convinced them, but it has not overcome obstacles and caused action. And that action, of course, is why you are writing.

Below are some arguments students have used for various assignments. Which audience would they be most effective with: parents, teacher, principal, school board, or city?

Write your choice in a comment, and add arguments of your own. Maybe use this space to test out arguments for an essay you’re working on.

* I will do my chores every day if I can have it.

* Streetlight maintenance will go a long way to reducing crime on the streets after dark.

*Reducing the amount of homework will allow students to spend quality time with their parents after dinner.

*Saturday school would cost more money because of the need to run heat and lights, and buses.

*Everyone else is doing it.

*Honor roll assemblies should be reinstated because they recognize achievement and that encourages students.

*School libraries should remain open so that students continue to have a wide variety of opportunities to read for pleasure as well as research.

*School projects should be done in groups because it allows the smarter kids to help the ones who aren’t as good.

♥ 

On my Kindle: Ranger’s Apprentice #10: The Emperor of Nihon-Ja by John Flanagan

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42 Responses

  1. Exactly! And once the audience is identified and researched, one can write a persuasive paper. Knowing the age group, the interests, how to communicate to them, etc.. is very important in relaying what you want to say.

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    • Oh, Leslie, ‘age group’ reminded me I forgot to include peers. The language used to persuade a friend to go to the mall is different than that used for any of the adults. Thanks for the comment!

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  2. Here’s my intro: Homework is a big part of learning in school. Some people feel that homework may be good: however, most students prefer less homework. They feel this way because you’ll have more time for afterschool activities, more sleep, and everything won’t be so hard on you.

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  3. This is my intro for a persuasive essay about silent reading in A7: Reading is extremely important to sixth graders and even more so to the students in this classroom. Reading in class is a vital and necessary use of time. Although a handful of people might presume that the amount of reading time in our class is enough, a myriad more know for a fact that a reasonable amount of ten minutes more reading time should be provided. This further exposure to literature will result in great academic development, future success, and the growth of a student’s interest.

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  4. For the situation “I’ll do my chores every day if I can have it” is probably for a parent. “Saturday school would cost more money because of the need to run heats and lights and buses.” This is for the school board.
    My intro to my persuasive is:
    You may feel it is not a good idea to get a dog, but I know it would be a great choice. I need someone to keep me company, and we can always get a dog that won’t affect your allergies, Dad. Also, I’d be willing to do most of the work to keep our family pet happy and healthy.

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  5. I will do my chores every day if I can have it: Parents

    Streetlight maintenance will go a long way to reducing crime on the streets after dark: city

    Reducing the amount of homework will allow students to spend quality time with their parents after dinner: teacher

    Saturday school would cost more money because of the need to run heat and lights, and buses: school board

    Everyone else is doing it: parents

    Honor roll assemblies should be reinstated because they recognize achievement and that encourages students: School board

    School libraries should remain open so that students continue to have a wide variety of opportunities to read for pleasure as well as research: school board

    School projects should be done in groups because it allows the smarter kids to help the ones who aren’t as good: principal

    In my opinion, if you have a certain type of audience, the less arguments you have. Like when you are writing to the principal you can’t put “everyone else is doing it.”
    My topic for my persuasive is no honor rolls. Is the school board suppose to be my audience?

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  6. Here’s my into: My parents are debating whether or not if my family should have a puppy. Some people may feel that a puppy is too much work; however, my brother, sister, and I prefer to have a puppy. We feel this way because we can become responsible, we can be happy, and we can be relaxed.

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    • Good job. My only teeny criticism is that you say puppy too much. Maybe try this: My parents are debating whether or not my family should have a dog. Some people may feel that a puppy is too much work; however, my brother, sister, and I prefer to have one.

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  7. My persuasive essay is about bringing GATE back to the Evergreen school district. The audience is probably going to be the school board. (Which can be hard to persuade sometimes. :()
    My intro goes like this:
    Two years ago, many students all over the Evergreen School District were shocked to learn that the GATE program had been cut. Occasionally they may feel that GATE is not needed; however, most students feel that it is a wonderful thing to have at school. They feel this way because it is a fun and challenging experience, it’s not a waste of time, and it can easily be brought back with donations.

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    • Great intro, Anaisha! Remember, the school board is all about the money. Many of them may be in favor of GATE if you can show them where they might be able to get the money. Can you think of something else they can cut out or reduce?

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    • How about band? (even though I’m in it 😥 -sniff- sniff-) I guess it’s something that’s nit necessarily needed because kids can go to other classes…right?

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  8. Here is my intro for the persuasive essay: A growing problem to kids in school is the amount of homework. A few people may think that the current homework level is fine for kids; however, most kids feel the need to cut down on homework to one subject a day. This is because one subject a day keeps everything organized, kids will have no excuses for not doing that subject, and parents will know what subject their kids must complete.

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    • Interesting idea, Quentin. I would try to not repeat ‘one subject a day.’ Maybe: …however, most kids feel the need to cut homework down to one subject a day. This way, kids can stay organized, won’t have any excuses for not completing it, and parents will know what subject their kids must complete.

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  9. This is my persuasive intro. The audience will be the school board:
    There’s been rumors going everywhere that the school might be closing. Children are being asked by the school board if they should close the library or not. Some people may think it’s too much money to buy new books; however, most people say that the library has books which help them learn new things. They feel this way because they can learn and read, teachers can borrow necessary items to show to the class, and students can get information.

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    • the school might be closing???? the whole school? I don’t think that’s what you mean. And it’s not a rumor. Closing the libraries is something that will be seriously discussed for next year. Maybe try the hook like this: California’s budget problems have led to school districts needing to make severe cuts. One item our district is considering is closing the school libraries. Some people may think…

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  10. I think some of the ideas everyone mentioned are great! But I think my idea of getting rid of grades is also great.

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  11. my essay is about no classwork

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  12. This is my persuasive essay intro: Some people feel as if we might need more time in the morning for school; however, most kids would be tired when learning. Kids feel this way because they’re not awake during class, and if school were later kids would pay more attention in class.(Title: Why School Should Start Later).

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    • You have no hook that tells me your situation for writing, and you have only two body paragraphs? The way this is written, your thesis is: Most kids will be tired when learning. Is that what you want? Also, school hours are decided by the school board, who are concerned about test scores and saving money, not about students being tired in class. Wouldn’t they just say kids should to to bed earlier? Somewhere deep inside, you know it’s not working–that’s why you felt you needed to put the title in there.

      Try something like this: The school board is always looking for ways to improve students’ test scores. Some people may think getting an early start will accomplish this; however, school should actually start later. This would ensure students were awake in class, and that they would pay more attention.

      That’s it? A paragraph on being awake and a different paragraph on paying attention? Really?

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  13. this is my intro-
    The school board is considering if students should have grades or not. Some people may think that having grades is good; however, most people prefer terminating them. They feel this way because they stress over grades, they get discouraged, and they would do better without them.

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    • Great format. In your last sentence, though, it’s not clear which group of people are ‘they.’ Maybe say …however, most students prefer terminating them. Students feel this way because they…

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  14. Music and art should be put as bigger subjects in schools. Some people may feel music and art are time wasting subjects; however, most people prefer music and art as bigger subjects in schools. They strongly feel this way because music and art gives students a better opportunity to get scholarships, it works the other half of the brain, and it doesn’t take much money from the school.

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    • This is a great idea, Catherine. Your hook is repeated, though. Maybe try this: The time spent on certain school subjects varies, with most time spent on reading, writing, and math. Some people may feel…

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  15. Homework. It’s something very crucial in a student’s life and school. Some people may simply feel that homework makes you smarter; however, many students prefer less because they can have more sleep, it can cost a lot of money, and if they have too much, they most likely won’t do it.

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  16. There should be more field trips.some people feel that we should keep the same field trips; however, many students prefer more field trips. They feel this way because they think that they need a break from textbook work, parents would pay for field trips, and kids would have a better education by learning about so many places.

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  17. Cable may be fun and entertaining, but there is really no need to have it. I feel this way because it costs a LOT of money, watching too much T.V is bad for your health, and although it is fun and entertaining, there are more entertaining things to do.

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  18. Here is my intro:
    Wanting to be able to have new experiences means wanting electives. Although adults may think that electives take time out of learning, students prefer to have a healthy brain with a balanced education. Those students feel this way because it gives the student a break from learning, the student gets to experience something new, and students will enjoy and will want to come to school.

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  19. This is my intro: Canceling homework would help students in many ways. A few students may prefer homework; however, a much bigger amount prefer no homework. They feel this way because homework decreases the amount of family time, causes stress, and it shortens the amount of time for after-school activities.

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  20. Intro: Some people feel that they want to have the same amount of homework; however, some people feel that they want to have less homework. They feel this way because you can go to bed earlier, it is less stressful, and you can read books.

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  21. My intro:
    School sports are a great way student can excel in school and in life. Some people may think that having school sports is expensive, but it helps students’ lives. Sports helps them by making them healthier, giving them life skills, and encouraging good things from them.

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  22. Students always mention that they want less homework. Some students may feel homework is important; however, most students prefer less homework. They feel this way because they get more time for sports and after school activities, they spend more time on each homework assignment, and they get more time to study.

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    • Chris, who is your audience? If students feel homework is important, who are you trying to convince? Maybe the sentence should be: Some teachers may feel homework is important; however, most students prefer less homework.

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  23. My persuasive Intro:

    The school board is saying that we should have half a day on Saturdays. Some students feel that school on Saturday should be required;however, most people prefer to attend an extra hour each day. They feel this way because Saturdays limit after school activities, students have less time to spend with their family, and students already have Saturdays booked.

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  24. The school district wants to close down the library because of budgets constraints; however, many people including students, parents and teachers prefer the school library to stay open because there are many benefits. The benefits include having material for students to use on projects, a place to read, and a place for teachers to have meetings silently.

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