Tell It to the Judge: Persuasive Essay
Students complete a graphic organizer and write a persuasive essay in response to a fun fractured fairy tale.
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2
- Unit Plan:
Students write a persuasive essay as a response to the fractured fairy tale, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka.
- Compare and contrast the classic fairy tale with the fractured one.
- Complete a graphic organizer.
- Write a persuasive essay following the steps of the writing process.
- Publish their completed essay.
- Collection of fractured fairy tales
- The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka or another tale that has the villain taking the kind and innocent point of view
- Graphic Organizer for Persuasive Paragraphs (PDF)
- Paper and pencils
- Coloring materials, such as crayons, colored pencils, and markers for publishing
Set Up and Prepare
- Gather a large number of fractured fairy tales for students to explore. Use books from your own collection along with those from the school and/or public library. Keep these books out during the entire unit for students to read independently and to refer to as models during the writing lessons. To generate the greatest interest, provide a wide variety of fractured classic tales, including versions of Cinderella, The Three Bears, The Three Pigs, and Little Red Riding Hood.
- If you have not done so already, preview the Online Activity: Fractured Fairy Tales & Fables. Author Jon Scieszka will take you on a tour of some of his favorite fractured fairy tales to help you build your background and get your creativity flowing before the unit begins.
- Print and make enough copies for each student of the Graphic Organizer for Persuasive Paragraphs.
- If you would like, create a page using the computer that looks and is titled like an official court document for students to use when publishing their essays. Print and copy enough of these pages for each student.
- Have paper and art materials available for use.
Step 1: Begin the lesson by asking students to recall the names of some of their favorite fairy tales. After generating a brief list, ask students what all fairy tales have in common
Step 2: Ask students to summarize one of the classic fairy tales, The Three Little Pigs. Afterwards, tell students to keep that story in mind as you read The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka.
Step 3: Following the story, discuss it with the class. Compare and contrast it with the classic tale. Talk about the main difference (character point of view) and take of poll of who believes the wolf’s sad story. Generate a list of reasons that favor the wolf’s innocence and a list of reasons that seem to stack up against him.
Step 4: Tell students the wolf in the story, Alexander T. Wolf, is about to have his day in court and they are going to be attorneys in the courtroom. They will need to decide to be lawyers for the prosecution, meaning they do not believe the wolf, or lawyers for the defense because they believe the wolf has a plausible case.
Step 5: Before beginning, review some of the reasons from yesterday in Step 3. Distribute the Graphic Organizer for Persuasive Paragraphs (PDF) to each student. Explain how it should be completed. Allow students time to complete the organizer. Afterwards, students may begin to write their persuasive essay using the graphic organizer as an aid. Remind students to write with voice, remembering that their imaginary audience for this essay is a courtroom judge just waiting to hear the “facts.”
Step 6: Ask the students to edit their own Persuasive Paragraph and that of at least one more student. Have a brief conference with each student regarding their paper before they proceed to publishing.
Step 7: Students complete a final draft of their paper. I prefer they do this on a copied paper I have created to look like an official court document, as described in Set Up and Prepare.
Supporting All Learners
Students with limited English proficiency, along with less mature readers, may not understand the concept of satire or irony that is often present in fractured fairy tales. Take the time to explain the author’s purpose and the meaning that is intended.
Some students may have limited background knowledge of the American court system and the role lawyers play on both sides. Before proceeding with the assignment, make sure all students understand their purpose is to present story details that support whether they believe the wolf is guilty or not.
- Allow students to work in small groups to act out the story from both the wolf’s point of view and according to the classic tale. After the mini-plays are presented, compare and contrast the two points of view.
- Have students brainstorm ideas for how they could fracture the character’s point of view in other classic fairy tales. Have students share some of their ideas. Set up an independent writing center where students can fracture stories on their own.
Inform your parents in a note or through your class newsletter whenever you begin a new unit in language arts. If you like, ask parents to help either in the classroom or at home to help proofread student papers before publishing.
- Complete a graphic organizer
- Write a persuasive essay, using the steps of the writing process
Did you have a wide enough variety of fairy tales? Are there any titles you would like to add to your collection for next year? Did you provide adequate time for each step? Did you brainstorm enough ideas together? Did you model enough for students to complete the assignment independently? Were all learners able to complete this lesson successfully? What would you do differently next time to improve this lesson?
- Were the students able to understand the author’s intent?
- Did the students take a stand when they completed the graphic organizer?
- Were the steps of the writing process followed?
- How well did students work together on revising and editing? Were they offering constructive suggestions?
- Did students complete the graphic organizer correctly?