Steps for Writing a STAAR Persuasive Essay I. H. Kempner High School English II STEP #1 READ the prompt. Circle the most important word in the prompt (the subject). Should school librarians ban inappropriate books from the school library? STEP #2 Brainstorm a list of reasons for and against the issue or position. Against banning books: For banning books: --students are too young to make decisions about what they read --librarians don’t want parents mad at them --students should only read about pleasant and noncontroversial topics --the Constitution allows us the freedom of speech, freedom of press --students need to learn to make responsible choices about what they read --students should not be sheltered from controversial world news --students can find inappropriate material on the Internet --the question of appropriate reading is debatable, it cannot be determined by one individual STEP #3 Choose the position you want to argue. Either “Yes, school libraries should censor books” OR “No, school libraries should not censor books.” STEP #4 Choose the two “reasons” for which you can write the best argument. --One “reason” for each body paragraph STEP #5 Before you write anything else, focus on answering the prompt by writing a position statement, also known as a thesis statement. Rearrange words from the prompt into a statement, then follow it with “because” and then add two reasons. (This is the road map for the rest of your essay!) School librarians should not ban books from the school library because students need to learn to choose for themselves and it goes against the American Constitution. STEP #6 Now go back and create the introductory paragraph and plug the thesis statement into the end. a. The first sentence is the “hook.” Re-read the information before the prompt to find the general subject. Think general and broad. How does this topic affect “the world” or “life”? Question what would happen “without”… --What would the world be like without books? b. The second sentence must “draw a line” from the hook to the thesis. Think of what the two have in common, which is usually the end of the hook. --While books are very important, it can be difficult to overlook the value of books that have disagreeable or inappropriate subjects. Put the three sentences together to make the Intro Paragraph. Introductory Paragraph Hook: What would the world be like without…._________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ Line: ___________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ ___________________ Sinker (Position/Thesis Statement): State your position on the argument *because* <<reason 1>> and <<reason 2>>. Persuasive Phrases Include these phrases to ensure the persuasive nature of your essay: It is certain that… The logical conclusion is… The fact is… The truth is… The correct perspective is… Common sense reveals that… The bottom line is… In reality,… The essential idea is… With certainty, a person can say that… In the majority of cases… Body Paragraph 1 Topic Sentence: <<Reason 1>>. The truth is, students need to learn to think independently and make decisions for themselves and if libraries ban objectionable books, students will not be able to do so. Commentary/explanation/example for <<Reason 1>>: Imagine that a young girl reads The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and is outraged at the treatment of slaves in the novel. Because of reading this objectionable material, she decides to become a human rights activist and influences society in a profound way. If a librarian had taken away this option, the young girl might not have made that important decision about her life’s work. Add Counter Argument Add up! a counter argument to spice things Go back to your list of “For & Against” and pick one you can argue against that goes well with your 1st reason. This gets you a better score! Example: Critics argue students are too young to make decisions about what they choose to read. While it may be true in some cases, choosing books is what helps create a love for reading. Love for reading helps develop vocabulary skills and better knowledge of the world. Body Paragraph 2 Topic sentence: <<Reason 2>>. Also, an essential idea is that limiting students’ access to controversial writing is a breach of their freedom under the Constitution. Commentary for <<Reason 2>>: For example, the Constitution of the United States of America proclaims certain “inalienable rights” for its citizens that include freedom of speech and freedom of press. If a student (who is, in fact, a citizen) is not allowed to pursue certain information banned by a library, that is limiting his or her freedom. It is also suppressing the freedom that authors have to distribute their ideas, beliefs, and philosophies. Conclusion Paragraph Restate your position/thesis statement in a different way. Your Turn! In groups of 3-4, write a Persuasive Essay on: READ “A pint of examples is worth a gallon of advice.” -Unknown THINK ABOUT Think about the multitude of advice you have received as well as the people you would consider role models in your life. Which has been more important and useful to you? WRITE Write an essay stating your position on whether good advice or a good role model is more important in a person’s life. You will be scoring each group’s essay so be sure to write your best!