Writing a Persuasive Essay

Persuasive Essay Pre-Writing Teacher Notes

Review ethos, pathos and logos with the students. Following are sheets you can use as handouts or overheads. If you want to give the students extra practice with the three techniques of persuasive essay writing, divide the class into groups and give them some magazines. Have the students identify ads that use primarily ethos, pathos or logos.

Tell the students to pretend that they are on a boat with two other people, and they are about to be shipwrecked on a desert island. They have fishing hooks, fishing line, a knife and matches, but no other supplies. There are three bags of supplies, but the group can only bring one bag. Each student must write three paragraphs, one each using ethos,
pathos and logos to convince the other two people to bring the bag of his or her choice.

Set the items on a table, labeled Bag 1, Bag 2, and Bag 3. Alternatively, you could put up the included posters.

Bag 1: Toilet paper, blanket, two cans tuna fish
Bag 2: ipod, large can of baked beans, bottle of water
Bag 3: Saucepan, three granola bars, sunscreen

Give the students a limited time (about 20-30 minutes) to construct their paragraphs.

Ask volunteers to come to the front of the class and try and persuade the other students that his or her choice is best. Or, put students in groups (ideally in groups of three, each with a different bag choice) and let them share with each other.

Discuss with the class what worked and what didn’t work, and what seemed to most persuade the others.

Pathos means appealing to the audience’s emotions. If you can inspire an emotional connection with your audience, get them to feel what you feel, such as anger or pity, or get them to feel sympathetic to your cause, they are
more likely to agree with your position.

Persuasive Writing Exercise


You are on a boat with two other people and are about to be shipwrecked on a desert island. You have fishing line and hooks, a knife and matches. There are three bags of supplies on the boat, but you can only bring one for the whole group. Decide which bag you want to bring.

Unfortunately, the other two people each want to bring a different bag. Write three paragraphs, with each paragraph using one of the persuasion techniques, ethos, pathos and logos, to convince the others to bring the bag you want.

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