Tag Archive for Persuasive Essays

Good Magazine: The Daily Good

There are days when all I’m really looking for is something that will spark 10-15 minutes of solid classroom discussion.  In a perfect world that “perfect” discussion would always be followed with students constructing short written arguments.

The Daily Good is a daily email you have to read.

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Now, I’m well aware that I don’t live in a perfect world.  Instead, I teach Puritan literature, help students prep for SAT tests, grade museum projects, and read weak writing.  It’s easy to feel trapped with no new ideas in sight.

But what if each day you could open your inbox and find a story that might actually spark that perfect discussion?  Moreover, what if you could almost ensure that you could turn these emails into those “perfect” written responses?  Interested?  In need?  Desperate for a better way to engage students in critical thought, persuasive writing, evidence building?

Each day Good Magazine sends email subscribers what they call The Daily Good, their “one good thing a day.”  It seems like such a small thing.  Email can easily be lost and forgotten in your inbox.  But there’s just something about these emails.  The stories aren’t about dysfunctional politicians or economic recession.  They are little reminders of the human condition.

Past Examples of The Daily Good

A 375-year-old French Bank Forgives Debts of Paris’ Poorest

  • What does the article imply about the quality of life and societal institutions?
  • Why is this story like this of such interest in today’s society?

Answer the following prompt in your journal:

Prompt: Do societal institutions have the responsibility to care for the social welfare of their clients?  Use specific evidence from your knowledge, reading, observation, etc.

Snoball Links Life’s Passions to Charitable Micro-Gifts

  • Is charitable giving something that people need to tie to other experiences in their daily lives?
  • What is the article implying about social media, charitable giving and the individual?

Answer the following prompt in your journal:

Prompt: In what way should technology and social media influence charitable giving?  Does this diminish the purpose of donating?  Use specific evidence from your knowledge, reading, observation, etc.

“Letters in the Mail” Turns your Favorite Author Into Your Pen Pal

  • What art is necessary in writing a good letter, email or (dare I say) text?  Why do we desire personal communication?
  • Define what a good, old-fashioned letter should be.  Is it ethical to pay a monthly “subscription” fee for letters?  What is significant about the fact that these letters will come from writers?

Answer the following prompt in your journals:

Prompt:  In the age of social media, 4G networks, and Skype does the role of letter writing still have any worth?  Use specific evidence from your knowledge, reading observation, etc.

How Knitting Behind Bars Transformed Maryland Convicts*

  • What responsibility do prison inmates have in “giving back” to their communities?
  • What argument is made about “enlightenment” or learning as it relates to knitting?

Answer the following prompt in your journals:

Prompt: Is it the responsibility of the individual to give back to society regardless of where their life has taken them?

* Knitting Behind Bars was also highlighted on the Kojo Nnamdi show if you are interested in extending the actual class discussion or including a podcast.

Consider collecting several over the course of the week and making them part of classroom writing/discussion.  Perhaps even give students their choice depending upon varying interests.  While you can always have students SOAPSTone the articles and write précis paragraphs, you might also consider having students identify implicit arguments in each and then argue the pros and cons of these big picture perspectives.  They can become excellent practice for persuasive writing.  Use the questions above as a flexible guideline for how students might discuss and compose their writing.

Good Magazine: Overview

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One of the greatest difficulties I face as an educator is determining student knowledge.  Sure, they might have opinions, very, very strong opinions, but they seem to lack the ability to back them up with any kind of specific evidence.  It’s frustrating.  They are certain that by repeating their argument with varied vocabulary that their logic is infallible.  I am convinced that they are without original thought, unaware or even worse unconcerned with current events and that the fate of this country is danger.*

As much as it pains me to say this, both perspectives are flawed.  Professional writers repeat themselves all the time and we laud them.  The difference is that they usually have some data, prior knowledge, or anecdote to back them up.   Everyone struggles with originality.  Adults, hopefully, have had greater exposure to “professional models” and are more patient with revision.  As for current events, how much did you understand “globally” between the ages of 14-18?  I’m fairly confident I spent most of my time listening to The Cranberries and driving to the Dairy Queen.  While both were important to my development, there is very little use for either as valuable evidence in a timed persuasive piece of writing.

We spend much of our time as educators trying to determine how to get our students to be aware of local, national, and global issues.  We want them to have evidence to use in their writing, to have empathy for others, to understand their own country.  It isn’t easy.

This week’s focus is on one publication: Good.  From infographics to videos, from articles to projects this website/magazine is one of several that we will be profiling in the next month.   It is a valuable resource for classroom use that can be used to challenge students and build knowledge.  Good, with its far ranging projects and topics, is one of many resources we hope to add to your arsenal in the coming weeks because it always necessary to have a war chest.

*It is in the moment when I speak these words aloud that I know I have become a truly old person.  A really, really crotchety old person.