PP National 4 Added Value Unit

Starter Activity…
• You have each been issued with a piece of paper.
• Write a topic on that piece of paper, fold it and
place it in the middle of the table
• Take it in turns to pick a piece of paper and be
the speaker - you have to speak for ONE
MINUTE on the random topic.
(There will be a timer on the board - only
start speaking when the timer starts).
• What to avoid:
- Repetition of words or ideas
- Hesitation - including ums/ahs and long
pauses (3 seconds or more)
- Deviation - going completely off topic
National 4 Added Value Unit
What is discursive writing?
Discursive Writing:
A discursive essay is an essay in which
information is conveyed. This information is
usually factual, concerned with issues in the real
Can you recognise
the issue illustrated
We are now going to watch the
following video clip which explains
what discursive writing is.
• Working in pairs you have four minutes to
come up with as many issues as you can think
of, which are going on in the world at the
• Make sure you both write down your ideas so
you each have a copy of them!
HINT: These issues can be local too!
What issues did you manage to
come up with?
Let’s focus on the topic of how much
money footballers’ and pop stars’
earn. How would you write about
one of these topics?
Now that we understand what
discursive writing is and have an
idea of the different kind of topics
which can be discussed, we will now
move onto choosing our topics for
our discursive essays.
Choosing a Topic
First, you should think about a topic which you
will write about. It is important to consider the
following points:
• Choose a topic which you find interesting
• Choose a topic which you already know
something about
• Choose a topic which you can find enough
information on
• Local issues
– Ferries, new
supermarket, Cowal
Games etc.
• Digital technology
• Work experience and
skills for work
• New National
• Law on gay marriage
• Working in pairs come up with three possible
topics each for you to write about
- You must come up with at least three options
- You are not allowed to choose the same topic
as the person next to you
Now that we know our topic we
are now going to learn how to
research that topic!
Working INDIVIDUALLY write your own
definition of the word ‘research’.
Working in pairs swap your definitions of the
word ‘research’ and identify and discuss where
your definitions differ.
Be prepared to give feedback to the rest of the
There are several different ways you
can conduct research for this essay.
You can find information from:
• Books from the library (check the non-fiction and
reference sections)
• The internet
• Magazines
• Newspapers
• Television
• DVDs
And don’t forget you can ask parents, carers,
brothers, sisters, friends, relatives…the list goes
When you are first presented with a written
source of information about the topic how
should you evaluate the source?
You should consider
whether the information
biased or balanced
supported by evidence
How do you know if the
information you have found is all of
the following?
biased or balanced
supported by evidence
Ask yourself…
• When was the book or article written?
Depending on the topic you are researching if it is several
years old it may already be out of date.
• Who produced the information? An expert in their
field, a journalist writing for a quality newspaper, a well
known organisation or public institution (eg. The Scottish
Executive) tend to be the most reliable sources of
• Does the author/writer refer to a known authority or expert
who agrees with their point of view to support claims they
make? Do they use statistics to back up their points?
• Or does the source mainly contain the writer’s own opinions
rather than facts?
When carrying out research you
must know how to take notes
You have ONE MINUTE to write
down as many examples of notes
you can think of from your everyday
What did you come
up with?
Note Taking Skills:
• It is very time-consuming to write down
everything that you see or hear.
• Write down just the most important points.
• Copy down accurately and in your own
• Writing your notes under headings will make
them easier to understand later.
• You are now going to carry out research.
• You will be researching your chosen
• Take notes from the information you
What you are looking for:
• Background information on your topic.
• Arguments in support of your topic.
• Arguments against your topic.
Remember to take a note of the
web address you find the
information from!
Now that we have gathered
information for our essay, we need
to learn how to write a discursive
The structure of a discursive essay:
1. Provide an interesting introduction and make your stance in
relation to the topic clear.
2. Present your first argument, with supporting evidence.
3. Provide your second argument, with supporting evidence.
4. Provide your third argument, with supporting evidence.
5. Provide your fourth argument, with supporting evidence.
6. Indicate, in a single paragraph, that there is another side to this
argument, with some idea of the points likely to be made for view
which are opposite to your own.
7. Reiterate (state again) your position and conclude your essay.
What does that look
The opening of an essay is important. It should
capture the reader’s attention in some way or
another. It should invite the reader to read on
and create a sense of interest about the topic.
There are many ways you can do this…
‘It is difficult to see how anyone can approve of
fox hunting.’
‘Fox hunting is a subject which people hold
strongly contrasting views of.’
‘Oscar Wilde once described fox hunting as
‘The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable.’.’
‘On a glorious autumn morning a terrified,
exhausted animal is savaged to death by a pack
of baying dogs while a group of expensively
dressed humans encourage the dogs in their
bloody work.’
‘I have always detested fox hunting since I was
almost physically sick while watching a
television film of the kill at the end of a hunt.’
• You are now going to write your own
introductions, using the help sheet provided.
You must use one of the structures we
have covered to grab your reader’s
Writing your main paragraphs…
Linking Ideas in a Discursive Essay
• Any well-written piece of discursive writing
will flow as one continuous piece, despite
being made up of three or four different
• One of the techniques which can help you to
achieve this effectively is the use of linking
words. These words are usually used at the
beginning of a new paragraph but can also be
used to link ideas within a paragraph.
Same Line of Thought:
and, firstly, secondly, next,
furthermore, likewise, in addition,
similarly, also, moreover, etc.
Contrasting Ideas:
yet, on the other hand, nevertheless,
however, although, conversely,
otherwise, on the contrary.
Further Examples:
because, for instance, since, for
example, so that, despite the fact
that, accordingly, although, if,
though, unless.
Definite Statements:
without question, without doubt,
unquestionably, absolutely.
thus, therefore, consequently,
accordingly, in retrospect, hence, in
conclusion, in brief, as a result,
Expression and Tone
• It is important when you write a discursive
essay to write in a formal way.
• You should not use an informal style to write a
discursive essay.
Do not use
Write in proper, complete
Abbreviations (i.e./e.g./etc./UK/&)
Use complete words and
Contractions (isn't/don't/won't)
Use proper, standard English Slang (e.g. bloke/geezer etc)
Colloquial language (mate/bolshy
We are going to read an example of
a discursive essay.
You are then going to provide
detailed answers to the following
What is the main idea the writer is
arguing about ?
Each paragraph has a sub-topic which
contributes to the essay's main topic:
what does each paragraph contribute to
the argument?
What evidence does the writer offer to
support the arguments?
Does the writer link ideas clearly in the
1.The writer is trying to argue that it is time to stop using animals for scientific
Paragraph 1 Paragraph 2 Paragraph 3 Paragraph 4 Paragraph 5 Paragraph 6 Paragraph 7 Paragraph 8 Paragraph 9 -
the writer introduces the argument: experiments on
animals should cease.
tests can now be done using modern technology.
animals are different: they do not respond to tests as
humans do.
they cause animals too much pain.
death-rate in UK has remained constant: experiments have
not improved things.
the other side of the argument: animal experiments have
been useful.
secondary argument justifies experiments: test tube tissue
research is limited; whole animal testing is still needed.
author re-states conviction that experiments are not
conclusion: new methods needed to replace current animal
testing methods.
Answers (cont.)
Paragraph 1 Paragraph 2 Paragraph 3 Paragraph 4 Paragraph 5 Paragraph 6 Paragraph 7 Paragraph 8 Paragraph 9 -
not relevant: introduction.
use of test tube technology; computers.
aspirins affect animals badly, but not humans.
animals given no anaesthetic.
more long-term sickness, despite greater number of animal
alternative arguments: benefits to diabetics, even animals.
living tissue not as satisfactory as whole animal testing.
Dr. Hadwen Trust re. human cartilage; research into cancer and
multiple sclerosis.
not relevant: conclusion.
There is clear evidence of good linkage in the essay:
One of my main reasons...' (para 2)
'Moreover...' (para 3) clearly continues argument
'In addition...' (para 4) clearly moves argument on
'On the other hand...' (para 6) signals clearly that the writer is moving on to arguments
the opposing side would offer in support of experiments
'In conclusion...' (para 9) clearly indicates argument drawing to a close
You are now ready to write your
discursive essay!
Remember to use all of your notes
and include the findings of your

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