Teaching students how to discover and write about issues that matter to them

Writing for a Real Audience, About Issues That Matter

I just read the article in THE LEARNING NETWORK   by the New York Times. This is a great way to start off our in-depth project we will be working on for 3 weeks now. Source: New York Times

When students write for an authentic audience about issues that matter to them, by extension they suddenly care about sophisticated rhetorical moves, carefully selecting their words, and crafting strong rebuttals.

When they really want to effect change, they willingly read articles on the topic, watch TED Talks I recommend, and contemplate the other side of the issue with curiosity and incredulity.

Lesson plan

Deciding on a topic

  1. Modeling “Fire and Fury”. Choose an issue that not only matters to you but also makes you engaged and motivated to write. What are you passionate about? Could you make a difference if you made people aware of the topic?
  2. Finding and Narrowing Topics. Try to brainstorm by answering these questions. Copy them from here and write down your answers
    • What made you mad in the last year?
    • What issues are you struggling with?
    • What are you passionate about?
    • What are the issues in your passion?
    • When you look at our society today what worries you/makes you mad?
    • How do you think you can persuade people to see this issue from your viewpoint
    • How can you change their thinking and bring them to your side?
    • Why is it important for people to know about this issue?

Starting to write

  1. Start out with a very clear idea in your own mind about the point you want to make.
  2. Don’t choose a topic, choose an argument.
  3. Start with a bang.
  4. Personal stories are often very powerful to make a point.
  5. If the platform allows it, use photos or video or music or whatever.
  6. Don’t feel the need to be formal and stodgy.
  7. Acknowledge shortcomings in your arguments if the readers are likely to be aware of them, and address them openly.
  8. It’s often useful to cite an example of what you’re criticizing or quote from an opponent because it clarifies what you’re against.
  9. If you’re really trying to persuade people who are on the fence, remember that their way of thinking may not be yours.
  10. When your work is published, spread the word through social media or emails or any other avenue you can think of.

If you need ideas you might find some from the latest news.


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