Learning the Art of Persuasion Through Letter Writing


First-grade students in Ms. Malave’s class at Briarcliff Elementary School have been learning the art of persuasion by writing letters to community members, parents, and their principal, Jane Ruthkowski. The students learned how to ask a favor or suggest a solution. They also learned that the most likely way to get results is by providing well thought-out reasons. Using the acronym “OREO,” the students were instructed to form an opinion (O), identify a reason for the opinion (R), explain their reasoning (E), and restate their opinion (O).

“Children of this age are naturally masterful at the art of persuasion,” Ms. Malave explained.

For example, student Ivan Cruz sent a letter to President Obama. He presented him with the argument that people should stop cutting down trees in this country so we can preserve the air quality. Laci Scirenammano wrote a letter to Ms. Ruthkowski to persuade her to send students to school in a limousine instead of a school bus. One student also wrote to Dunkin’ Donuts. The argument was that the employees, even though they wear gloves, should not touch money and then touch food.

Some of the students received an answer from their targeted audience. Ms. Ruthokowski noted that she has been extremely busy answering all the students who wrote her a letter. Parents were also instructed to write back to their child upon receiving a persuasive letter.     

“This exercise gave them the opportunity to see how the real world works. They learned that they have to ask for things with a valid argument,” Ms. Malave stated.