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A Persuasive R.A.F.T.S. Writing Lesson Inspired by Humor
this writing across the curriculum assignment inspires voice from your students

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This Lesson's Mentor Text:

Otto Runs for President by Rosemary Wells

Mentor Text Summary: When the school's popular girl and the school's jock run for president to increase their popularity, Otto takes a different route. He listens to his fellow students and makes his promises based on what he's heard.

Other mentor texts you might use (optional):


LaRue for Mayor by Mark Teague


Duck For President by Doreen Cronin


Grace for President by Kelly Dipuccio

 

A RAFT Prompt:

A Most Nutritious Election

writing an "campaign speech" for the prestigious Fruit or Vegetable of the Year Award

This writing lesson was inspired by Nevada teachers Samantha Shoolroy and Julie Schmidt. In 2009, this lesson became a feature at the NNWP's Persuasive Writing Inservice Class for Teachers.

Encouraging more humor in the classroom:

Why We Must Run With Scissors: Voice Lesson in Persuasive Writing, by Barry Lane and Gretchen Bernabei, share dozens of lesson ideas that are so fun, your students might not even realize that they were learning valuable lessons about persuasive writing and voice. The lesson on this page was inspired by this book's philosophy.


An Overview of this R.A.F.T.S. Prompt:

Students will assume to the role of a talking fruit or vegetable. Pretending that there's a "Fruit/Vegetable of the Year" election, the students will create a campaign speech that explains why their fruit/veggie is the best candidate for the job. Speeches need to be filled with actual facts about the benefits of eating their fruit/vegetable, and they can be read aloud to the class as part of the publishing process.

Role
Audience
Format
Topic
Strong Verb
A Fruit or Vegetable running for "election"
Voters
Campaign Speech
"Why I'm more nutritious than my opponent!"
Sway

Writing Across the Curriculum Ideas:

In addition to learning about speech-writing and voice skills, this lesson would enrich a unit on:

  • nutritional facts about fruits and vegetables (health)
  • the electoral process (social studies)
  • propaganda (social studies and language arts)

Funny Questions to Pose to your Students:

What if vegetables and fruits could talk? What if there was a "Fruit/Vegetable of the Year" Election every year? What would fruits and vegetables say if they wanted to be elected.

Broc-o-Bama's Campaign Speech
written by Jakob, third grader

Hi! I am Broc-o-Bama. I am a green, mean fighting machine.

Let's talk about the economy. You can buy me at any store for a good price, or better yet you can grow me for free.

Let me give you three reasons to vote for me:

  1. I am super healthy.
  2. I am packed with vitamin A and C.
  3. I am so, so, so tasty.

    So vote for me, Broc-o-Bama!



Trait/Skill Focus:

  • Voice - students will convey emotion and passion (through another's perspective) as they prepare a persuasive speech.
  • Idea Development - students will put researched ideas about nutritional facts into their own words as they create their piece of writing.

 


First, Inspire Student with a Mentor Text:

If it's not an election year, students will need to be reminded of the election process. Candidates run, make promises, display slogans on posters, debate each other, and hope to win. One critical piece of the election process are campaign speeches, where candidates explain why they are the better person to be elected.

To familiarize your students with the election process, share at least one book about the topic that they can relate to. For sure, use Rosemary Wells' picture book, Otto Runs for President, which covers most aspects of the election process. In particular focus on the parts of the book that focus on the candidates making promises and the part where Otto quietly listens to the people, which is ultimately what gets him elected; these two elements will really help shape your students' speeches. Share from this book several days before

You might also share from or refer to the following mentor texts:

  • Ike For Mayor: Letters from the Campaign Trail by Mark Teague
  • Duck For President by Doreen Cronin
  • Grace for President by Kelly Dipucchio

Next, Analyze a Teacher or Student Sample

Tell students they will need to pretend there is a "Most Nutritious Fruit/Vegetable of the Year" Election just about to happen, and they will each be writing a campaign speech for a fruit or vegetable they will research. Their campaign speeches must a) present their candidate as being likeable while b) explaining why their candidate is deserving of this honor. Students will try to capture a humorous-sounding voice of the fruit or vegetable for which they are writing a speech, so they must ask themselves, "What would __________ sound like if it could talk?"

Have students analyze the voice and the idea development in the following student-created examples.

Choose Charlie Cherry
by Rebekah, third grader

Hi, I’m Charlie Cherry, but you can call me Bing. I’m so tasty. Other fruits have only one taste, but not me. I can be sweet and juicy, or I can surprise you and be sour, so sour I can make your face go like this.

I am very healthy to eat, and I can make your heart stronger and help make the pain in your bones go away. But don’t eat too many of me or you will get a tummy ache.

I grow on a tree, and it’s fun to pick me. You know I’m ready when I am dark red. Check me first because the birds like me too, and they might have already taken a bite out of me. Ouch!

When you eat me, watch out for my pit or—in other words—my seed. If you swallow it, you could choke.

I bet you want to know why I’m the best. It’s not because I’m tasty or healthy. It’s because you’ll always see me in a Shirley Temple. That’s why I deserve your vote!

An Approved Message
by Allie, third grader

Hi, I'm Belle the Blueberry. Let me tell you why I deserve your vote.

I can do all sorts of things. I can improve your vision and make your blood flow better.

I am a great source of antioxidants, which protects you from disease.

I can help you have a better memory too.

I can even help you stay fit with fiber, potassium, iron and vitamin C.

The health magazine has named me one of the 50 "Super Foods!"

I come from the berry group. I taste sweet, refreshing, and berry-licious. I'm small and round, midnight blue, and I'm also shaped like a full moon.

So remember, on voting day, a vote for me is a vote for a healthier life.

I'm Belle the Blueberry, and I approve this message.

 


Brainstorming/Organizing:

The first page of the graphic organizer has students choose a fruit or vegetable to research. Once a topic is chosen, have them brainstorm up to three names for their "candidate."

The rest of the graphic organizer has students list (on the left side) nutritional facts they discover about their fruit or vegetable; you might want to have them complete this side of the g.o. first.

Once done, model how you would take a nutritional fact and turn it into the type of audience-friendly statements that one would hear during a campaign speech. If the nutritional fact is, for example, "It has more riboflavin than any other vegetable," there is a lot that can be done with that, especially if you're talking about voice. For example:

  • "Let's talk about riboflavin. I'm willing to bet you might not even know what that is. Elect me, and I promise you don't ever need to know. Because I have it. Because I have enough to cover all of us."
  • "In these uncertain times, you can be certain of one thing. You need riboflavin to maintain your energy. I have that riboflavin. In fact, I have lots. Elect me, and you will wonder how you ever had energy before me."

The second page of the graphic organizer has students begin to draft their research into an actual speech. There is certainly more room in this organizer's spaces than they had on the right-hand side of the first page, so the pieces of the speech should be expanding here.

In addition, stress that students need to create an inviting introduction and a conclusion that leaves a positive impression. This second page allows them to begin planning what those two pieces will sound like.

With both graphic organizers filled out, have students create their actual drafts on a piece of lined paper.


Extension Ideas:

You could easily have students create campaign slogans, posters, buttons, etc., to create a true electoral feel to your classroom. It might even be interesting to begin a "smear campaign" among opponents, like Tiffany did in Otto Runs for President.

You will have classroom "hams" who will love to perform their election speeches aloud. Celebrate spoken and written voice, if you choose to set aside time for this.

Publishing Ideas:

WritingFix Safely Publishes Students from Around the World! In 2008, we first began accepting students samples from teachers anywhere who use this lesson. Hundreds of new published students now go up at our site annually!

We're currently looking for student samples for other grade levels for this lesson!  Help us obtain some from your students, and we'll send you a free resource for your classroom!  You can post up to three of your students' monologues at our posting page for this lesson.

 


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