This section is devoted to writing tasks on the NJ ASK (for grades 3-8): open-ended response (which is part of the reading section), explanatory/expository, persuasive, and narrative (formerly known as "speculative"--PS, they changed the name but not the task itself; it's still exactly the same!). For reading strategies, see READING.
You will want to tackle the Persuasive Writing Task from several different angles.
- Make sure students understand the concept of “persuasion” and how it is not simply making a list of reasons why you’re right but also explaining why the other side is not. Lawyers and debaters have to understand both sides of an argument in order to win.
- Give students examples of effective persuasive writing to read, analyze, and discuss. They can practice their oral argument skills in Socratic Seminars (described below).
- As with every writing task, give students models to critique. The NJDOE provides scored exemplars of the NJ ASK Persuasive Writing Task for grades 5, 7, and 8 (see “In the Download Zone” below).
- Point out “compositional risks,” and keep a running list on a poster as the class encounters them. For more information, see Persuasive Writing Techniques below (from p. 202, Writing to Persuade by Karen Caine (Heineman: Portsmouth, NH, 2008).
- Last, but definitely not least, require students to PRACTICE PRE-WRITING many times. Pre-writing should include three steps: 1) Annotate the task to clarify what you need to know and do: think "PAT" (Policy/Problem, Audience, Task); 2) Create a T chart of arguments for both sides and then pick one, and pick one argument from the opposite side, a straw man to knock down; and 3) Use the NJ ASK Persuasive Writing Task Organizer (see below) to outline your letter/essay. Students should spend 8-10 minutes on pre-writing for a 45-minute essay. Use the Persuasive Writing Practice Tasks. Here is another link to Ten Persuasive Writing Prompts.
NOTE: The 2013 NJ ASK for grades 6-8 includes two slightly different approaches to persuasive writing ("Argument" and "Persuasive"). See the NJDOE NJASK Update 11-26-12 for details! You should be able to use the same pre-writing approach for both variations; just make sure that students pay close attention to the AUDIENCE and TASK when annotating the prompt so that they don't accidentally write a letter to the editor when an essay is called for. See "NJ ASK CLAIM TEMPLATE AND SAMPLE CLAIMS" to use with Argument Writing.
Socratic Seminars train students in how to conduct intelligent conversations—how to use effective habits of discussion and how to explain their ideas, supporting them with evidence. Different educators have different ways of conducting Socratic Seminars. In this approach, four students sit in the middle of the room, circled by the rest of the class. Everyone in the class has read the same text or undergone the same experience (e.g., field trip or science lab); these four are responsible for discussing a given set of questions about it. At the same time, four others in the outside circle are selected to observe the discussants and give feedback on their performance. Everyone else in the class takes guided notes on the discussion. The teacher uses a detailed rubric to score each of the discussants. All of the needed materials (except, of course, for the texts of your choosing) are provided in the Download Zone.
IN THE DOWNLOAD ZONE for NJ ASK Persuasive Writing:
SUMMARY OF DOCUMENTS IN THE DOWNLOAD ZONE for NJ ASK Prep: