Do you find that you’re unsure of the expectations for your written work now you’re in high school? Well don’t worry, we’re here to help you get through Years 7 & 8. In this article, we’re going to show you how to write persuasive and informative responses that will knock your teacher’s socks off!
What’s in this article?
In the previous article, we looked at planning responses. Now in part 6 of our Guide, we’ll explain and step you through the writing process for producing persuasive and informative responses.
What we’ll do is recap the structures you need to use for the various tasks you’ll be given and discuss some strategies for writing your responses.
Persuasive and informative responses require you to present evidence and then discuss it to make your points. This means that you’ll need to have done some textual analysis before you start writing. If you’re not sure what examples to use in your writing, or where to find them, read part 4 of our guide, first.
Okay, are you organised?
Good! Let’s start by looking at what you’re trying to achieve by persuasive writing and the things you need to do in a persuasive response.
To compose effective persuasive texts, you first need to know what you are meant to achieve.
What is persuasive writing?
Persuasive writing is a form of non-fiction piece of writing that aims to convince the audience to agree with a specific argument.
Persuasive writing involves presenting logical and cohesive arguments that employ strong, relevant examples presented through carefully chosen words to convince a reader of your point.
So, where would you come across persuasive writing?
Persuasive writing is a lot more common than you think it is. Persuasive writing is found in editorials, media reports, critical essays, and advertisements, to name a few places.
Persuasive writing is an essential method for presenting information to others. Which is why it is important that you develop strong persuasive writing skills early on.
What are the key skills for persuasive writing?
It is necessary you develop these key skills to write a strong persuasive piece.
The aim of persuasive writing is to convince the audience.
To do this, you must use convincing, relevant and strong evidence to build your case. This means you must be able to search for a variety of facts another pieces of information to support your argument.
Research skills are integral to producing an effective persuasive piece.
Comfort using a variety of sources
Examples and evidence don’t grow on trees, you’ll need to hunt them down in a variety of places and a variety of different text types.
You’ll need to be comfortable extracting information from websites, books, journals, magazines, documentaries, films, plays, and more.
These different types of sources have different purposes and audiences. For example, a research article will intend to inform their audiences whereas an opinion piece will try to persuade the audience.
By getting your information from a variety of sources, you can select and collate the ones that are most convincing for your argument. The more convincing your argument, the more persuasive your writing.
So, how do we do this?
Check your sources: It is necessary that you ensure that your evidence is reliable, valid and accurate. Make sure you double check your information with another source. Additionally, make sure that your information is coming from a reliable source and check if it is up to date. You don’t want to present inaccurate information because your argument will lose its persuasiveness.
Search deeper: Always find more information/evidence than you need. This includes background information, any opposing arguments, and different types of evidence. This ensures that you have a wider variety of sources to select from and that there aren’t any holes in your understanding.
Collate the information: Make note of all the information you find and whether it seems reliable or not. By the end of your research, you should have a long list of evidence that you can use to support your argument. You may want to collate this in tables or hand-written notes.
Now that you have a list of evidence, it is time to select the most convincing, strong and reliable sources. This brings us to…
Critical thinking skills
Critical thinking is when you evaluate the information given and make a judgement.
This is especially important in persuasive writing because you need to be able to select the most convincing arguments and evidence to support your case.
To do this, you need to ask yourself a few questions when selecting your evidence:
Is the evidence relevant?
Does it fully support your argument?
Did the evidence come from a reliable source?
Critical thinking skills will not only help you develop your arguments, but they’ll also help you figure out if they are sound.
When we talk about an argument being sound, we are discussing whether it has any flaws or holes, or if it is susceptible to counter-arguments.
You can employ critical thinking skills to test the soundness of your argument by asking the following questions:
Are there any holes in my argument?
Are there any exceptions for my argument?
How would I argue against my point?
Asking these questions will compel you to think about your argument from different positions and challenge your ideas. if your ideas and argument withstand this questioning, then your argument will withstand a challenge.
To write a persuasive piece, you have to use persuasive rhetoric to convince the readers to believe in your argument.
Here are some persuasive rhetoric that you can use in your writing
High modality words: High modality words demonstrate certainty in your writing. This will make your work sound more convincing because you are giving the audience no chance to doubt your argument. For example, compare “Clara might visit the shops today” versus, “Clara will visit the shops today”. Some high modality words you should employ are: must, will, will not, have to, essential, certainly…
Ethos: Ethos refers to credibility. You want to be able to show that you are reliable and that people can trust you. This means that your word choices should be appropriate for its purpose. For example, you should write formally for essays and slightly less formal for speeches.
Logos: Logos is using logic or reasoning. This means that you need to have relevant and strong evidence in your writing to sound convincing. It can include textual evidence, statistics or citing journals.
Pathos: This refers to the appeal to emotions. When you write persuasively, you want to make your audience feel. People are more readily persuaded when they have an emotional response to something. When they are angered or saddened by information, they react strongly to it, often to the point of not questioning whether the information is true or not.
Now we’ve looked at the skills you need to write persuasively, let’s look a the common structure people use to present their arguments in persuasive writing – The T.E.E. method.
Both persuasive and informative writing rely on you presenting evidence to support your points. To do this effectively you want to use a consistent scaffold. The scaffold most students are used to is T.E.E.
T.E.E. stand for:
The T.E.E. scaffold is an approach to presenting evidence in a consistent, logical manner. Using the T.E.E. method consistently will help you learn to produce consistently persuasive arguments by presenting:
Your description of the technique being used in the example, and
Your explanation of how that example and technique creates meaning for the reader
This may sound complicated, but it’s not really. It’s actually a very useful approach that is quite flexible.
How do I write a T.E.E response?
Let’s look at a quick example of a T.E.E. discussion and a process for employing it in your own writing.
First, we need to have an example that uses a technique and creates a particular meaning in a text. To do this, let’s take an example from Harper Lee’s 1961 novel To Kill a Mockingbird.
Step 1. Identify an example
The example we will use is from chapter 3. It is an observation made by Atticus Finch, the hero of the novel:
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Now we need to figure out what technique is being used.
Step 2. Identify the technique
The technique used here is a metaphor.
Atticus is saying that to understand somebody’s view on the world you need to try and see things from their point of view. To convey this he says you need to literally inhabit their body.
Now we need to figure out what this means.
Step 3. Identify how the example and technique are conveying meaning
Atticus is using the metaphor of walking around in somebody else’s skin to illustrate the difficulty of understanding the perspectives of other people. It is impossible to walk around in somebody else’s skin, so clearly it is quite difficult to fully appreciate another’s perspective and understand it.
Now we know the example, the technique, and the meaning it is creating, we can put this into a response.
Step 4. Introduce the technique
When you write a response, the first thing you need to do is orient the reader and let them know what you are talking about. This means that when you present the technique, you explain where it is from and why it is important.
Let’s look at how you would do this with our technique
In Harper Lee’s 1961 novel To Kill a Mockingbird, her hero Atticus Finch uses the metaphor…..
See how in the example above, the text is introduced and the reader orientated before the technique is introduced.
Now we can present the example.
Step 5. Present the example
What we need to do next is present the quotation. We want to try and use a full sentence and make the quotation part of our sentence.
Let’s see what this would look like:
In Harper Lee’s 1961 novel To Kill a Mockingbird, her hero Atticus Finch uses the metaphor that you can’t “really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Note how in the example above the quotation has been used in the full sentence and is part of the grammar of the sentence. There is no need to present it after a comma.
Next we need to explain what this means.
Step 6. Explain the meaning
To explain the meaning, we need to have another sentence that explains the meaning of this example and technique. You want this to be direct and concise.
Let’s see what this looks like:
As it is impossible to “climb into [their] skin,” Atticus is making the point that it is very difficult to really understand and empathise with another person’s perspective.
Now we need to see how it looks as a finished response.
Step 7. Put it all together
Okay, now we just have to put it all together!
Let’s see what it looks:
In Harper Lee’s 1961 novel To Kill a Mockingbird, her hero Atticus Finch uses the metaphor that you can’t “really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” As it is impossible to “climb into [their] skin,” Atticus is making the point that it is very difficult to really understand and empathise with another person’s perspective.
You can see how this response makes it clear what the quotation is discussing and how this develops meaning. This is what you need to do with your responses.
You need to practice this to get it right and to begin producing polished responses.
Things to note
When you write a T.E.E. response, you don’t need to always use the same order. You could begin by introducing the example first.
Let’s see what that looks like:
In Harper Lee’s 1961 novel To Kill a Mockingbird, her hero Atticus Finch observes that no one can “really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Atticus’ metaphor argues that is impossible to understand another person’s perspective perfectly as we can’t literally place ourselves in their skin, instead we have to try and picture ourselves in their place. As it is fundamentally impossible to “climb into [their skin],” people will continue to have many disagreements unless they try to be more empathetic.
As you can see, T.E.E. is a flexible method for presenting evidence in such a way that you are proving the point you are attempting to make.
You should use the T.E.E method for both persuasive and informative writing.
Now let’s look at informative writing and how it differs from persuasive writing.
What is informative writing?
Informative writing is non-fiction writing that aims to give information to the audience.
Informative writing is purely factual – you are not trying to persuade the audience.
This means that you should not try to persuade your readers to agree with your argument, give an opinion or try to convince them to do something.
What skills do students need for informative writing?
The aim of informative writing is to provide information for the audience.
To do this effectively, these are the skills that you need to master:
Like persuasive writing, informative writing requires you to research as well.
We’ve already covered the steps to research information.
So now, let’s go over the different types of information you can use for informative writing:
Statistics/data:This is any piece of numerical information, usually provided by research. Eg. In 2015, 63.4% of Australian adults were overweight or obese.
Facts: Facts are information that are 100% true. Eg. The Australian $10 note is blue.
Anecdotal evidence/examples: This include your personal stories or experiences, a case study or a theoretical situation. Eg. Museums often keep fossilised organisms for the public to view. I saw a room of butterfly fossils on the shelves in one of my visits.
Quotations: Use quotations from experts, books, documentaries, or any reliable source. This will make your informative writing sound more accurate. eg. Dr Patel says, “Smoking damages the lining of your arteries.”
You should try to use these in your informative writing to make it sound more accurate and reliable.
Keywords are words that indicate the main ideas or points in a sentence, paragraph or essay.
When it comes to persuasive and informative writing, consistently using keywords throughout your whole piece will show the audience what ideas are important in your writing.
How do you identify keywords?
Usually, identifying keywords is easy. They are the important words in your question.
However, this is not the only way. You can find keywords in your writing as well!
Keywords in your informative or persuasive writing are often the words that capture your main ideas and are consistently used throughout your writing.
It is really important that you use keywords in your essay.
Not only will it highlight your main ideas but it will tie your whole essay together and keep it consistent.
So how do we use them?
Find the main words that capture your argument. These can be directly from the question or your own.
When you write, make sure you use the keywords or synonyms of the keywords every few sentences.
This will make sure that your argument is consistent throughout your writing.
Drafting and Editing Skills
Writing a perfect informative or persuasive piece requires lots of revision and fixing up.
This is why drafting and editing are important.
What is drafting and editing, really?
Drafting happens BEFORE you write your informative or persuasive piece of writing.
This is when you write down your ideas and information and put them into full sentences.
Don’t overthink. Just write!
It doesn’t matter if your sentences don’t flow nicely or if you repeated a word five times in the last 3 lines. You will get a chance to fix it later.
Also, don’t forget to include your research information when you are drafting.
Editing happens AFTER you have written something.
This is when you revise your writing, reword sentences, restructure paragraphs, add or remove evidence and fix grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors.
Sometimes when you edit, you find yourself changing everything about your draft.
This is ok!
This is all part of the process to make your writing stronger.
So, what do drafting and editing involve?
Both processes are equally important, so it’s important that you don’t neglect them.
Let’s see what they involve.
To draft your informative and persuasive writing, you should:
Go over your plan and research. Refresh yourself on your ideas and the evidence you want to use.
Start writing! Don’t be afraid to start writing. Just take this opportunity to put all of your thoughts and ideas onto paper. Remember, your draft is not meant to sound perfect. You will have a chance to fix it later.
Don’t stop. Make sure you don’t break your writing flow. Try to get everything down before you re-read and fix anything.
If you’re stuck, write another part. Don’t waste your time trying to formulate a sentence. Just leave a blank space and start writing another part. You can return to this later.
To edit your response, you should:
Fix any grammatical, punctuation or spelling errors.
Reword or rewrite sentences. If you don’t like the way it sounds, this is your chance to fix it.
Add or remove any evidence. Take this opportunity to change your evidence so that you are using the strongest, relevant and most reliable and accurate set of evidence in your writing.
If you feel like you need to, you can rewrite paragraphs or change your ideas. Only do this when you really think that your paragraph or idea is weak.
Parents! This is how to encourage your child to draft and edit their work regularly.
Usually, students write one draft and settle with it. This is not good. In fact, it is a bad habit to get into.
Instead, it is important that you encourage your child to draft and edit their work regularly.
To do this:
Ask questions about their drafts
Talk to them, and ask if they can see how their ideas develop and their writing improves over multiple versions
Draw attention to the things that you feel have improved across different iterations
This will ensure that develop these skills early on to produce the best possible piece of writing.
If students develop these skills early on, they will have them for life.
Editing and drafting are crucial skills that students need for the HSC!
How can my child improve these skills?
It is important that your child continually develops good writing habits and consistently draft and edit their work.
Here are some tips that you can use to help your child improve their persuasive and informative writing.
Writing regularly: Practice makes perfect. Encourage your child to write more. It doesn’t have to be a whole persuasive or informative piece. Instead, have them write a few sentences or paragraphs every day in a notebook about anything they want. This way, they are developing their sentence structures, organisation of ideas, and other handy skills that are needed for writing.
Read your child’s writing: When you read your child’s writing regularly, you give them an incentive to do their work. This is also a great chance to…
Give feedback: Don’t just read your child’s writing and return it to them. Use this opportunity to give them tips on how to improve their writing. This includes grammatical, punctuation or spelling errors, or even lack of clarity in their arguments. Also, don’t forget to compliment your child’s writing. Tell them what they are doing well. This will motivate them to keep writing and maintain their strengths.
Be constructive and encouraging: You need to make sure that you are constructive and encouraging. This means that you don’t insult your child’s writing or target them personally for their mistakes. Instead, you should objectively point out the errors and recommend a way to fix it.
Be encouraging by giving credit where credit is due: Point out the strengths in your child’s writing and motivate them to continue it.
Do you know what not to do?
In our next article, we’re going to look at the mistakes that students make when writing in Years 7 & 8. Knowing what mistakes students commonly make will help you spot them in your own work and help you avoid making them!