Writing Assignments this Term

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This year I am wanting to teach a new writing skill to the children – that of being able to write persuasively.  Given the amount of nagging the children would naturally do if we allowed them (we don’t) you’d think they’d be experts!

I designed four writing assignments attached to the crusades:

  1. To write a friendly letter to their husband persuading him to come home
  2. To write a persuasive letter (business) to the pope begging him to call off the crusades
  3. To choose either Saladin or Richard the Lionheart and write a short speech persuading the people to vote for him as their favourite leader
  4. They will also have the opportunity to, between them, design a leaflet to be handed out to all present at the Pope’s speech, persuading the knights to fight!

The children will need to consider who the audience is for their writing and use various persuasive techniques to ensure their success  (to include the use of authoritative and emphatic statements, direct  address to the reader, hyperbole and rhetorical questions). These  assignments will double up as an exercise to introduce the children to the differences between a friendly letter and a business letter.  They will do the friendly letter first because I think it is the easier assignment and they will have adequate information available to them from their fictional reading over the summer.  The persuasive letter will be written next, whilst the speech will be written in the final two weeks of term.

Prior to the final assignment we will be spending some time looking at Pope Urban’s speech, calling the men of the nation into a crusade.  Thought of by many as one of the most effective speeches of all time, the children will use some of the techniques they learn and apply them to their own assignment.

In addition to these persuasive writing assignments the children will be required to write a five paragraph essay, using their informationary.  This will be a two term long assignment (which takes us to the Christmas break) because it requires us to read aloud a book we have not even started yet!  This will be a comparative essay, contrasting the leadership skills of Saladin with those of Richard the Lionheart.

There will be other writing done, mainly their Apologia notebooks, and one or two assignments attached to our literature study of Dante.  T11, who has a heavy science schedule, will not be required to do all the history writing.  C10 loves writing and has requested more fiction work, so she will be doing 1/2 hour extra writing a day, focussing on fictional works.  Hopefully this will keep them all busy and out of mischief!

12 comments

  1. I was wondering, also, if we would have an opportunity to read a little of what the children write. I taught thirteen years in public school BC and writing was one area where the children had the most difficulty. I have found that writing comes more naturally with my own children due to the time we spend on oral narration. Sounds like y’all will be busy over the next few weeks. We start our second term next week.
    P.S. Our date night was fun! We haven’t been out on our own in several months, so it was a nice little break.
    I hope you are having a wonderful day, Claire. God bless you.

    1. Writing is probably the hardest thing I teach here. T11 has a speech disorder (word finding) and it translates down to his writing. He finds it very, very difficult, but bless his heart he perseveres and does his best, which is all I ask. One of the girls is completely the opposite and asks me to give her more and more writing assignments. She is writing a mystery at the moment which I like so much I might serialise it on my blog!
      As for sharing these assignments, I will if you want. I’d have to make sure the children are happy for me to, and also that they are worth reading (!)
      So pleased you had a lovely date. It is so good to be alone sometimes, isn’t it?

  2. Yes… I too echo Donna’s request? May we have some excerpts of their writing assignments? I love the topics you gave. It certainly puts a different slant on a ‘heavy’ topic such as the Crusades. Very clever and creative! Yet again! 😉

    1. You know, I spent the summer pulling my hair out trying to think of fun stuff to do with the crusades. It has definitely been the hardest topic to find hands on stuff, which we all love. That said, it seems to be going well so far and we are all really enjoying it!
      Thanks again for the vote of confidence!
      I believe you can now say you are counting the hours and not days anymore? I’m almost as excited as you by the prospect!!

  3. Great writing assignment ideas! Love it!
    I love the creative ways to get kids to write. We have just (today) begun to work on a family newspaper that the kids will all work on and write for. As my oldest loves to write, it will be a great way to expand her writing skills. My middle son struggles with writing, but he is excited about this project and already has the sports page all figured out. And my youngest will be able to write what he can and “publish” it for the family and friends, which he is excited about.

    Have fun!

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