Persuasive writing and oral presentations play an important role in fifth and sixth grade language arts curriculum. Eleven-year-old students are expected to present their point of view, support their statement with facts and details and restate their opinion to persuade their audience. Students can speak more convincingly if they choose a topic that affects them personally, such as school issues or personal preferences, or that they have researched thoroughly, such as a subject that closely connects with their reading, social studies or science curriculum.
Fifth and sixth graders typically learn about propaganda and other persuasive literary techniques as part of the language arts curriculum. Students can apply these techniques to prepare a persuasive speech about the merits of a favourite product or brand to persuade the audience to buy or use it, such as "Why Everyone Should Start Their Day with a Bowl of Wheaties." Another approach is to give a speech to nominate someone for an award or recognition, such as a favourite teacher, personal hero or historical figure.
Students often have strong opinions about school policies because they are directly affected by them. School issues such as dress code, cafeteria food and extra-curricular activities provide opportunities for students to express their opinions and attempt to sway others to their point of view. Persuasive speech topics could include why students should join a particular team or club, reviews of items on the lunch menu or whether cell phones should be banned in the classroom.
Across the Curriculum
Preparing a persuasive speech can serve as an extension of a lesson to reinforce content in other areas of the curriculum. Persuasive topics can be chosen from social studies and science lessons the children are studying or literature they are currently reading. For example, speech topics for fifth graders could relate to U.S. history, while sixth grade topics could focus on world cultures. Science-related topics could focus on environmental issues or the role of new technologies. Students could connect to a reading lesson by making a case for or against a character in the book they are reading.