Topic | Persuasive Essays and a 16year old

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  • Crystal
    Participant

    I am here once again for writing advice. My 16 year old ds has always been a reluctant writer. We have done oral and written narrations but they have just never progressed very far. I finally bought Power in Your Hands for him a few months ago and he is doing it, but it starts out of the gate with persuasive essays. He is STRUGGLING. He just doesn’t have anything to say. He is an easy going, kind hearted guy and just really doesn’t have a strong opinion about anything yet. Well maybe he has a strong opinion about why his sister should stay out of his room, but that hardly seems like an essay topic. His assignment was to find something he feels strongly about and write about that. He cannot think of anything. Not sure where to go from here. Do 16 year old boys typically have a ton to say on a topic. I suggested we go back to narrations but he insists that is going “back” even though I assured him it wasn’t. Any suggestions? Should I do the thinking for him and have him do the writing? Maybe I give him the topic and three supporting arguments and have him organize and write using my idea? Give him silly topics like why dogs are better than cats? I feel like he just doesnt have the life experience to write a persuasive essay about anything. What should I do?

    Wings2fly
    Participant

    https://ourjourneywestward.com/picture-books-that-demonstrate-persuasive-writing/

    Maybe you could supplement with picture books for good examples.  We also used I Wanna Iguana  by Orloff.  Does he want a pet he can try to persuade his mom to let him have?  He really could write on any of those topics you mentioned.  He just needs practice for now.  Maybe he could write on why he should continue with Power in Your Hands rather than going back to written narrations, if that is his opinion.  I would not give him the topic or supporting arguments though.  Give him examples instead.

    TiffanyS
    Participant

    I agree that it might be helpful to start with a topic and give examples, as a place to jump-off into the writing/essay. We are using Story Starters for 4th grade right now; I believe my son likes it because the story already has a start, and he finishes it creatively. Maybe having a place to jump off into the story has made it less intimidating for him starting out. Could you start with freewriting to get the process going? I think this is very helpful: http://guidetogrammar.org/grammar/composition/brainstorm_freewrite.htm

    ErinD
    Participant

    I totally hear you. My solution to this problem was to let my boys write about things they knew a lot about, or had an opinion about, but weren’t very academic. They wrote about which dirt bike we have is the better one, why birds are a better pet than dogs, the process of building a certain thing out of Lego, a description of a snow fort they built, etc. The topic doesn’t matter, in my opinion. What matters is the process of writing. The topics will mature as they mature. Honestly, sometimes I think writing curriculum expects too much of teenagers. Sometimes they just don’t care about those topics! So find a topic that interests him. I would even let him write about his sister staying out of his room, as long as his writing is well-organized and done properly. 🙂

    jeaninpa
    Participant

    I have used The Power In Your Hands several times in teaching a co-op writing class. When we do the persuasive essays, we spend some time in class coming up with ideas for persuasive essays and yes, one of the topics the students often choose is dogs vs. cats. Really, the depth of the topic doesn’t matter much at this stage. Let him begin with frivolity. Things will get more serious later. Most kids will use topics such as ‘why spring is better than winter’ or ‘why soccer is better than basketball’, etc. I always have a few more mature students who will choose weightier topics, but it’s ok if he’s not ready for that. At a later point in the year, I begin to gently push them toward topics of more depth. I love, love, love that curriculum and so many parents tell me how much they appreciate it as well!

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