PSSA Writing Test Preparation by hcj


									Persuasive Writing

     M. Abbadessa 2009
          Rhetorical Devices
• The art of rhetoric:

Aristotle: Rhetoric is "the faculty of
 discovering in any particular case all of
 the available means of persuasion.

• Sound reasons + relevant evidence =
                  M. Abbadessa 2009
   Rhetorical Devices (con’t)
• Audience focus- you would use
 different tactics or strategies
 depending on the audience

• Persuasive appeals:
                M. Abbadessa 2009
    Rhetorical Devices (con’t)
• Counter-argument /opposing view
   • Acknowledge the counter argument (s)

   • Concede to valid points- i.e. letter to the

   • Directly refute the CA- i.e. Mariah Burton’s

                    M. Abbadessa 2009
           Agenda W 7/29
• Con’t with Persuasive Writing introduction
• Check research notes and outlines;
  Q & A (10)
• Drafting of research paper (45)
• Tomorrow-first draft of research paper due/
  peer review and instructor conferences

                  M. Abbadessa 2009
Questions for audience focus and counter-
          argument strategies:

       Who have taken a position on this issue
        and what positions have they taken?

How does this issue affect different groups of people?
         What are their vested interests?
             What’s at stake for them?

                      M. Abbadessa 2009
     Methods of Development

• Compare/Contrast

• Causal Analysis (Cause Effect)**

• Classification/Division

• Problem-Solution
                   M. Abbadessa 2009
     The Writer Should …

–establish the problem or issue,
 sometimes tracing the causes
–suggest the possible positions
 (NOT OPINIONS!) to be argued
–state the position that the paper
 will take; this can be explicit (DO
              M. Abbadessa 2009
     The Writer Should …

–offer proof that the position taken
 is a reasonable one to hold (logos
 and ethos)
–anticipate objections and refute
–identify common ground (ethos)
–affirm the position and make final
             M. Abbadessa 2009
Avoid Logical Fallacies Logical
  • Ad hominem
  • Straw Man
  • Bandwagon/Common Practice
  • Hasty Generalization/Overstatement
  • Either-Or
  • Slippery Slope
  • Non Sequitur- “it does not follow” ex. I was
   a volunteer worker this summer, so now I
   am saving to go to medical school

                 M. Abbadessa 2009
Logical Fallacies (con’t)
• Others: circular argument, shifting the
 burden; debatable conclusion:
  –Math is the best b/c it is my favorite
  –The flu epidemic was caused by a
   conspiracy of large drug companies,
   and you can’t prove it wasn’t
  –Jack is 6’7’’; I want him to play on my
   basketball team

               M. Abbadessa 2009
• Specific examples to illustrate the

• Knowledge of history, current events,
 and even personal experience (first
 person can be effective if the entire essay
 is not too informal in tone)

                  M. Abbadessa 2009
        Style (Tone and Diction)
• Stay away from first person “I” or second
    person “you”;
•   Use strong verbs like should, must, needs to
•   Include emphatic language, but not
    inflammatory language; use vivid, descriptive
    words not vague ex. instead of “good” use
    “productive, or effective, inspiring”

                      M. Abbadessa 2009
  Let’s look at
some examples!

     M. Abbadessa 2009
              What’s in a 4?
• Firmly presents position- “This law directly
  conflicts with…granted directly to them by
  the Constitution”
• Thoroughly refutes two major counter-
  arguments (rhetorical strategy)
  – Safety- “even though…increase the danger of
    the rider…”
  – States’ authority- “One may say that riders
    should be forced to wear helmets…paid for by
    the state”

                    M. Abbadessa 2009
          What’s in a 4? (con’t)
• Response to C/A- “…fails to realize…comes
    from the taxpayers”
•   Provocative language- “…infringes on basic
    rights of individuals…”; from the taxpayers’
    pockets- pathos and ethos
•   Rhetorical question- “Why then should the
    government have the right to decide what is
    right for you?”- ethos & pathos, common ground
    and feeling of indignation established
•   Strong word choice/diction- “Founding
    Fathers,” “life, liberty…” (prompt); “power-
    hungry,” “showcasing”

                     M. Abbadessa 2009
       What’s in a 4? (con’t)
• Strong word choice/diction- “Founding
 Fathers,” “life, liberty…” (prompt); “power-
 hungry,” “showcasing

• Universal appeal- “country should again
  focus on the rights…individuals”

                   M. Abbadessa 2009
                   What’s in a 3?

• Good focus- “Some of these riders
    complain…’life, liberty, and pursuit of
•   Main argument- “In my opinion, the riders
    that are complaining should realize that the
    government is protecting them more than taking
    their right away riders” first person is acceptable for PSSA
                          Caution: DO not be too informal in tone!

                          M. Abbadessa 2009
       What’s in a 3? (con’t)

• First point of development: no helmets =
 chance of head injury

• BUT- weak follow-up -“These people
 could fall just because there is a stone or
 because of a crack in a sidewalk…”

                 M. Abbadessa 2009
            Possible Revision:

“It makes sense that an outer layer of protection
on our heads would in some way mitigate the
impact of the road, sidewalk, or whatever hard
surface a rider may unfortunately collide into.
Regardless of the cause of the accident- a pothole
or another vehicle- without a helmet, a rider’s
head could split open.”

                    M. Abbadessa 2009
       What’s in a 3? (con’t)

• Explicit description- “head to split
  open”- appeals to senses (but be careful
  of shock value!)
• Ethos & Pathos- “When I was
• BUT- fails to draw reader back to prompt,
  “life, liberty,…”

                 M. Abbadessa 2009
        What’s in a 3? (con’t)

The writer should make the argument here
that life and happiness automatically would
be taken away if the government did not
protect its citizens by enforcing a helmet law.

                   M. Abbadessa 2009
       What’s in a 3? (con’t)

• Counter-argument- “People may
• BUT- the writer does not adequately
  respond to or answer the C/A
• Comparison to seatbelt law- effective:
  est. ethos (common ground)

                 M. Abbadessa 2009
                              What’s in a 2?
This essay argues that there should be a law that “you have to use
helmets.” The introductory paragraph is followed by a list of reasons that
support the writer’s position. There is only one minor transition [“Plus
when your driving”]. There is neither a concluding paragraph nor a
concluding sentence. The sentences in the second and third paragraphs
could be reordered, indicating that the content is not purposefully placed
or elaborated on. The examples about the mom’s friend and the heavy
machinery provide support but are not explicitly related back to the main
argument that a helmet would protect your head and that notion of it not
infringing on “life, liberty…” The writer does not use persuasive strategies
to appeal to the reader.

This essay exemplifies limited control of composition skills in the persuasive
Quoted from the 05-06 PSSA Writing Sampler

                                         M. Abbadessa 2009
 Sample Persuasive Prompts
The famous football coach Knute Rockne said, “Life is competition.”
People compete in sports, in the workplace, economically, and even
Socially. Is competition helpful or harmful? In what ways may
Competition be helpful or harmful?

Write a persuasive essay in which you take a position indicating whether
competition is helpful or harmful. Include a clear statement of your
Position and specific details and examples to support your position.

Many states and local communities have passed laws banning or
Restricting smoking in restaurants and other public places. Do these
Laws conflict with the American tradition of individual rights and
freedom of choice? Take a position for or against these laws and write
an essay supporting your view.

                           M. Abbadessa 2009
         FYI - PSSA Writing Test
• Feb 12th -23rd
• Grades 5, 8, & 11
• Multiple Choice based on
    5 passages with 4
    questions for each
    (another Seminar to
    come for Conventions
•   2 Writing Prompts-
    Informational &

                       M. Abbadessa 2009

• Seylor, Dorothy. Patterns of Reflection.
• St. Martin’s Guide to Writing
• PSSA Practice books

*Full citations available upon request.

                                          M. Abbadessa 2009
Thank you!

   M. Abbadessa 2009

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