Persuasive Writing Prompts for Middle School Classes
There are many different forms of writing that your students need to learn. While the Common Core standards has put more emphasis on explanatory and informational texts, persuasive writing remains one of the most important skills your students will learn. It's a crucial part of many state tests, but it's also an essential skill for life.
For your students to develop their powers of persuasion, they need to practice. This means they need practice writing prompts and essay topics. If you're developing your own prompts, take a look at these tips for designing persuasive essay topics, and remember that these prompts need to be relevant to your students lives and that your students should must have the requisite background knowledge to come to an informed opinion.
Middle school students are a unique bunch, kind of stuck between the childhood days of elementary school and the beginning of their adult lives as high school students. Some of the more mature topics presented to high school students may be inappropriate, while some of the more childish issues facing elementary school students will seem mundane and boring.
But middle school students and young adolescents are keenly aware of issues of fairness and justice, so play into that. Deal with rules, regulations, and things that they might perceive as "unfair." This list of 20 persuasive writing prompts about school rules might provide some inspiration, although some of those essay topics may be more appropriate for older students.
With that in mind, here's a quick list of some persuasive writing prompts for middle school students that you can use in class.
5 Persuasive Writing Prompts Appropriate for Middle School Students
- You find out that some of your friends are allowed to stay out until the mall closes at 9:30. However, your parents require you to be home by 8:00 PM. Write them a letter explaining why you feel that your curfew should be later. Alternatively, take your parents' position and write a letter to yourself explaining why the earlier curfew is appropriate.
- The 8th grade dance is planned for next month, and you and your friends are super excited. However, parents have complained to the principal that they fear the young girls' dresses may be inappropriate, and they have demanded a ban on all strapless and spaghetti strap dresses. The principal has called a special meeting of the PTSA to help decide the issue. Write a persuasive speech or a letter either opposing the dress code or in support of it.
- Your middle school is planning a school trip for the end of the year, and the plan is to travel to the beach for the day. Following news reports that a student drowned on a school trip to a beach, the principal cancels the trip and orders the teachers to choose a new destination. Write an editorial (persuasive essay) for your school newspaper either supporting your principal's decision or demanding that the original plan be reinstated.
- Next year, your school is considering implementing a uniform policy requiring students to wear polo shirts and khaki pants or skirts. The school board is taking public comments on the issue. Write a letter to the board explaining why you support or oppose this new uniform dress code policy.
- For years, there have been vending machines with candy and soda in the school cafeteria as well as a snack line with sugary snacks. This year, these vending machines have been removed and the snack line has been replaced with fruits, vegetables, and other snacks. The principal announced the changes at a school meeting in the first week of school, and many students are upset. Write an editorial (persuasive essay) for your school newspaper either supporting the changes, opposing the changes, or presenting a compromise solution.
Other Tips and Tools for Persuasive Writing
Once you've got a topic to work with, you'll need to think about how best to scaffold your students' writing.
Organization is important, and I find that kids often struggle with fitting their arguments into neat little boxes and paragraphs. An essay map or outline is a crucial step in writing, especially for novice writers, and this is an important piece of scaffolding your should provide. While students could certainly write a basic outline in their notebooks, sometimes it helps to have something with more structure to help them along. This online essay map and graphic organizer works well for my kids, and you might want to give it a try.
If your writing prompt requires some background information, then you also might want to consider creating a webquest. Take a look at these persuasive writing webquests for some ideas. This allows you to organize materials and resources for your students to use (including the essay map and/or a rubric) in one place. For example, if you use the essay topic about dresses at the school dance, you may want to include links to some news articles about similar disputes (yes, that was based on a real news story I read).
Good luck, and remember, writing only improves with practice!