Many parents give children a weekly or monthly allowance regardless of their behavior because they believe an allowance teaches children to be financially responsible



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Many parents give children a weekly or monthly allowance regardless of their behavior because they believe an allowance teaches children to be financially responsible. Other parents only give children an allowance as a reward for completing chores or when they have behaved properly. Explain what you think parents should do and why.
Starting when I was about eight years old, my parents gave me a list of chores that had to be completed each week. If I did my chores, I got an allowance, a bit of change that I could use as I pleased. If I didn’t do my chores, I didn’t get my allowance. There was no other punishment, but no other punishment was necessary. That dollar or two a week was all the incentive I needed to help out around the house. Whether it was the latest Barbie or a six-pack of Hubba Bubba chewing gum, there was always something I wanted to buy. My parents could always count on me doing my chores. I think that giving children an allowance for doing chores is a smart parenting move, for it accomplishes four important goals: It helps ensure that important work gets done around the house; it teaches children that they need to do their part to make things run smoothly for the whole family; it rewards children in a realistic, practical way for good behavior; and it helps teach children how to handle money.

I know that some people consider money for chores a form of bribery, and others feel that children should just do their chores anyway, without the incentive of an allowance. They argue that giving kids money for doing chores undermines the lesson that they need to help the family and do their part. I can understand that point of view, and when parents give their children too much money, it does undermine those lessons. But when the allowance is small, it is simply a modern version of the age-old practice of rewarding good behavior. Once children reach a certain age, money is an appropriate and effective reward that helps them learn how to be responsible and how to manage money. They get a sense of what things are worth and how much they have to save and spend to get what they want. And learning to save in order to purchase a desired item teaches them patience and helps children better understand the value of hard work. Giving children money for doing chores is also a good introduction to the reality of the workplace. If they do the work, they get paid; if they don’t do the work, they don’t. Extra work can be rewarded with bonuses and extra praise; poor work may result in a pay cut or demotion.

It’s important for parents to find the right amount to give. Too much money may make a child feel like hired help and will undermine the goal of teaching children to help simply because they are part of a family that must work together. On the other hand, too little money may make a child feel resentful, as if his or her work isn’t worth anything to the household. What’s an appropriate amount? It depends upon the amount of chores the child is expected to do and the child’s age. If your nine-year-old is only expected to clean his or her room, a dollar a week is probably plenty. If your fourteen year- old is expected to keep his room clean, take out the trash, water the plants, and vacuum the house, then ten dollars a week is more appropriate.

Being paid for my chores helped me have a good attitude about housework, taught me how to save money and spend it wisely, and enabled me to appreciate the hard work my parents did around the house. I’m really grateful that this was the way my parents chose to handle chores in our household.

A few decades ago, many families had half a dozen or more children. Nowadays, more and more families are choosing to have only one or two children. Are smaller families better than larger ones? Why or why not? State your position and support it with specific reasons and examples.
I grew up in a large family—I am the oldest of six—and I have many wonderful memories from my childhood. I am very close to most of my siblings and I treasure my relationships with them. But when I have my own family someday, it won’t be as big as the one I grew up in. As much as my large family was full of love, and as much as I learned about sharing, giving, and patience, I think having too many kids puts too much pressure on the parents and the oldest children.

When I think back on my childhood, I remember playing with my siblings or grandparents. I don’t remember spending a whole lot of time with my mother and father. They were always around, but they were always busy. Although they did their best to spend some quality time with each of us, there was just too much to do to keep our large family going. My mother was always cooking, cleaning, nursing, changing a diaper, shopping, or taking someone to baseball practice or a playdate. She was always tired.

My father, on the other hand, was always working. He needed overtime whenever he could get it, and weekends were always full of projects around the house. He had lots of helpers, of course, but there are only so many things kids can do. Even when we were able to get away for vacation, Mom and Dad couldn’t really relax, because there were so many kids to look after.

Money was also a constant worry for my family. With so many children, our budget was always tight. Back-to-school shopping was always a stressful time; we all wanted the latest fashions, but we could only get a few things. My younger siblings lived on hand-me-downs as much as they could. We shopped at bargain stores and often got clothes that we didn’t really like because they were on sale. Our house always needed repairs, and there was never enough money to keep up.

Another problem with large families is that the older siblings always end up being babysitters. Like it or not (and most of the time I didn’t like it), I had to watch my younger brothers and sisters. At age six, I could change a diaper like a pro. I was getting my brothers and sisters dressed, giving them breakfast, helping them get ready for bed. I learned a lot about sharing, self sacrifice, and responsibility at an early age, and these are important character traits that I value highly and want to instill in my children. But I also want to give them a chance to be children. I don’t want them to have so much responsibility at such an early age.

I don’t want to give the impression that I didn’t have a happy childhood. I most definitely did; I was loved as much as my parents could love me, and I had wonderful fun with my brothers and sisters. But I always wanted a little more time with Mom and Dad, and I often resented having so much responsibility. I wished my mom wasn’t always so tired and my dad didn’t have to work so much. Because I want to be there more for my kids, because I want them to be kids throughout their childhood, I plan to have a much smaller family.


Good habits improve our physical, emotional, and/or financial health. Select one of your good habits and write an essay persuading readers to make that habit a part of their lives.


When I was fifteen, I wanted to get a job so I could buy a car when I turned sixteen. My father sat me down at the kitchen table and said, “Excellent. But only on one condition: 10% of every paycheck must go into a savings account. And you cannot touch that money except in an emergency.”

“But Dad,” I argued, “If I have to put 10% away, how will I ever save enough money to buy a car?”

“You’ll have enough,” he replied. “And you’ll soon see how important it is to set money aside for savings.” I didn’t believe him at the time, and in fact I often resented having to put that 10% in a separate account. But two years later when the transmission on my car blew, I didn’t have to fret about coming up with the money for repairs. I was able to cover the cost easily and was back on the road in no time. It was then that I began to see the wisdom of my father’s rule, which I adopted as my own. This habit has helped to give me a secure financial life, and I urge you to make this practice part of your life.

Ten percent of each paycheck may sound like a lot, and if you’re on a tight budget to begin with, you might be thinking, “I just can’t afford to do it.” In truth, you can’t afford not to do it. You never know when you are going to need an extra $100 or $1,000; life is full of surprises, and lots of them are expensive. You can afford to do this. In fact, you can’t afford not to do this. As tight as your budget may be, it’s important to get started right away. If you are absolutely scraping by with every last penny going to bills, then start with just 5%, but move up to 10% as soon as you can. If you earn $500 a week, for example, put $25–$50 in your savings account each week. At first, this may mean clipping coupons, renting a movie instead of going to the theater, or pressing your own shirts instead of taking them to the cleaner. Think carefully about ways you can save just a few dollars—because just a few dollars from each paycheck is all it takes to build up a solid savings account.

The money you save will add up quickly. For example, if your annual salary is $40,000, each year, you would put $4,000 into your savings account. That still leaves you with $36,000 to cover all of your expenses After ten years, you will have saved $40,000, plus interest. And the more money in your account, the more interest you earn, the larger your emergency fund, the more you can afford to relax later in your life. Once you get in the habit of putting 10% of your money into savings, it won’t feel like a sacrifice. The 90% that’s left will be your working budget, and you won’t even miss that 10% because you won’t be used to spending it. Yet you will know that it is there, ready for an emergency, helping to keep you financially secure. So take my father’s advice, and mine: Put a piece of

each paycheck into your savings. It’s a habit that’s worth every penny.

Is there a book that you feel should be required reading for everyone? Write an essay persuading your audience to read this book.
Most people know who Frankenstein is—or at least they think they do. Because of the way Mary Shelley’s brilliant 1818 novel has been adapted to film, most Americans think that Frankenstein is a towering, scar-faced monster who brings terror wherever he goes. In Shelley’s novel, however, the real monster is Victor Frankenstein, the scientist who is the monster’s creator. In her story of how Victor Frankenstein creates the monster and what he does after the monster comes to life, Shelley conveys several timeless messages about the dangers of science, the dangers of isolation, and the importance of being a good parent. It is a novel that everyone should read.

In the story, Frankenstein, eager for glory, wants to discover the “elixir of life” so that he can have the power to bring the dead back to life. He wants to create a new race of superhuman beings and wants them to worship him like a god. He wants to unlock the secrets of nature and use that power for his own selfish goals. Shelley’s novel warns us that we must be careful what we do with science—how we apply the knowledge we discover.

For when Frankenstein does discover the “elixir of life,” and when he does create a superhuman being, he creates a creature that is beyond his control. The creature is more powerful and more intelligent than Victor Frankenstein, and the creature engineers Frankenstein’s demise.

Shelley’s novel also warns us about the dangers of isolation. Frankenstein’s creation is so revolting and dangerous in part because Frankenstein works completely alone. He becomes so absorbed with his project that he completely blocks out family and friends. He stops communicating with others and works secretly; he does not consult others about his project, partly because he knows that what he is doing is wrong, partly because he wants all the glory. But because he does not work with others, because he loses touch with his community of family and friends, he also loses touch with his responsibility to other human beings. When the creature comes to life, Frankenstein runs away, abandoning his creation even though he knows the creature might harm others.

This abandonment brings us to the novel’s third timeless message: the importance of being a good parent. Frankenstein creates a living being and then abandons him because he is an “ugly wretch.” He totally ignores his responsibility to the creature, who is born as innocent as a child, even though he is the size of a giant. The creature is abhorred by everyone he meets, and because no one has ever shown him love, he learns to hate. And the person he comes to hate most is the father who abandoned him. Shelley’s message is clear: you are responsible for what you create, and if you are a parent, you must love your child, whatever his or her appearance.

In our age of cloning and genetic engineering, of scattered communities and neighbors who don’t know each other’s names, of abandoned children and abusive parents, Shelley’s book may have more importance than ever. It is also a powerful and suspense-filled tale. Will Frankenstein capture the creature? Will he create a “bride” for the monster? Will Walton, the ship captain who records Frankenstein’s story, learn from Frankenstein’s tale? Find out for yourself. Grab a copy of this amazing novel and enjoy.


Some people think of the United States as a nation of “couch potatoes.” Write an essay persuading readers to be more physically active.


Is your favorite place in the home sitting on the couch in front of the television? Do you spend hours and hours there each day, surrounded by bags of chips and cans of soda? Do you panic when you can’t find the remote control and think that you might actually have to get up off of the sofa to change the channel? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you are not alone. In fact, you are one of the millions of Americans who are “couch potatoes”: people who spend their days and nights “vegging out” in front of the “tube.” Well, spud, it’s time to get up out of that armchair and get some exercise! I know how seductive television can be. I know how easy it is to plop onto the sofa and lose yourself in the world of sports, reality shows, and goodold make-believe. I know how mesmerizing MTV and other channels can be and how hard it can be to pull yourself away. But all that television spells disaster for your body because it needs to be active to be healthy. And it’s no good for your mental health or social life, either.

Think about what all that time in front of the television is doing to your body. Think about what all that sagging muscle and growing belly is doing to your life. Think about how your lack of energy affects you at work. Now think about how different things would be if you spent some of that TV time getting exercise instead: You would feel better during the day. You would sleep better at night. You would have more energy. You would look better. You would have more confidence. You would be more creative. You would be healthier and happier. And you would not even miss the television.

What sort of exercise can you do? Anything! Go for a walk. Ride a bike. Jog. Lift weights. Take an aerobics class. Do yoga. Join a basketball or hockey league. Swim. Roller blade. Grab a friend, a fellow couch potato, and exercise together. You can start with just fifteen minutes a day, two or three days a week, and build up slowly. Before you know it, your couch potato days will be over, and you will wonder how on earth you ever spent so much time in front of the TV.

Today’s top professional athletes often have salaries and bonuses in the tens of millions of dollars. Do you think these athletes deserve such high compensation? Why or why not? Explain your position and use specific reasons and examples.


When he was at the height of his basketball career, Michael Jordan was making approximately $300,000 per game. That’s more than most people make in a year; indeed, it’s more than some people earn in a lifetime. Yes, Michael Jordan was a phenomenal basketball player. Yes, he was also a fantastic role model. But no, he did not deserve to earn such a ridiculously high salary. Jordan, like many other top professional athletes, was grossly overpaid.

Why do top athletes earn such inflated salaries? Because they bring big bucks into their cities and franchises. But what sort of service do they provide to society? Do they save lives? No. Do they improve the standard of living or promote positive social change? No. Do they help keep our streets safe or educate our kids? No. True, many of the top athletes are good role models for our children. But seven-figure salaries don’t always mean model behavior. Take N.B.A. star Latrell Spreewell, for example, who choked and threatened to kill his coach.

It is true that professional athletes work hard, and many have spent their lives pursuing their goals. It is also true that most professional athletes have a relatively short career span—a decade perhaps at the top of their game. Limited as their professional sporting career may be, they don’t deserve such high salaries. After their professional sports careers are over, they can certainly pursue other careers and work “regular” jobs like the rest of us. Ending their stint as professional athletes doesn’t mean they have to stop

earning incomes. They just have to earn incomes in a different way. Why should they be any different from the rest of us who may need to switch careers?

It is also true that professional athletes may be injured while on the job; their work is indeed physical, and especially in contact sports like football, injuries are bound to happen. But, like the rest of us, they have insurance, and in nearly all cases, their exorbitant salaries more than cover their medical costs. And theirs is not the only high-risk job. What about miners, construction workers, or firefighters? They are at risk for physical injury every day, too—injuries that could likewise end their careers. But they sure aren’t earning millions of dollars a year.

It is also true that professional athletes may spend years and years practicing with farm teams for a fraction of the salary they receive once they make it to the top. But in every career path, we start off with lower wages and must pay our dues and work our way up. Besides, farm team salaries are not always so low.

We’re a sports-crazy country, a nation of fanatic sports fans and celebrity worshippers. We’re awed and entertained by the best of them—the Michael Jordans, the Alex Rodriguezes, the Emmitt Smiths. But as much as they may inspire and amuse us, professional athletes do not deserve such high salaries. Those millions could be much more wisely spent.
Is reading fiction a waste of time? Why or why not? Explain your answer using specific reasons and examples to support your position.
Remember the last book that captured your imagination, that transported you to another place and time? Remember a book that made you fall in love with its characters, made you feel their pain and joy? Remember a story that taught you an important lesson, that helped you better understand others, make sense of the human condition? If so, then you can understand why the question, “Is reading fiction a waste of time?” is such a silly question. Fiction, unlike a user manual, a magazine article, or newspaper editorial, probably won’t offer you any practical knowledge that you can put to immediate use. It won’t inform you of current events or give you advice on how to cultivate a better garden. It probably won’t help you decide which candidate to vote for or which product to buy. But that certainly doesn’t mean it’s useless or impractical. Indeed, fiction serves three important functions for human beings: It helps us be more compassionate to others, it helps us better understand ourselves, and it cultivates our imaginations. It can also teach us about history, psychology, even biology and other sciences.

Compassion for others is rooted in understanding and acceptance, and a good story brings us into the inner world of its characters so that we can understand them. In Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye, for example, Morrison peels away the layers of her characters’ histories piece by piece like an onion until we see into their core and understand what drives them. They may still do awful things to each other, but she shows us why they do the things that they do, and we learn that we shouldn’t judge others until

we understand their pasts. Their stories are sad and painful, and we learn to love even the outcast Pecola. In fact, we learn that those outcasts are the ones who need our love the most.

Many stories and novels also help us better understand ourselves. Joseph Conrad’s dark and powerful novel Heart of Darkness helps us see that all of us have a dark side, and that we need to acknowledge this dark side in order to control it. It makes us question just how civilized we are and indeed what it means to be civilized in the first place. Good fiction also cultivates our imagination, which is more important to us than some might think. Without imagination, we live a sad, empty life. Imagination is central to our emotional health and is a key factor in our level of intelligence. Facts are one thing; but facts can be of no real use unless coupled with imagination. Fiction can help us by keeping our imagination fresh and active. In a story like Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,” for example, we are asked to imagine that Gregor, the main character, wakes up one morning and has turned into a giant bug. Crazy? Perhaps. But once we accept this premise and imagine Gregor as a five-foot long cockroach, we can feel his family’s horror and imagine his agony as he finds himself trapped in his room and abandoned by those he loves.

Is reading fiction a waste of time? That’s like asking if laughing is a waste of time. We don’t need fiction to survive, but we do need it to be kinder, more understanding, and more creative human beings.
Many people feel that the use of surveillance cameras in public places such as parking lots is a good idea that can help ensure our safety. Others worry that too many cameras violate our right to privacy and give law enforcement officials too much power. In your opinion, should we install more surveillance cameras in public places? Why or why not? Support your position with specific reasons and examples.
Not long ago, the nation was gripped by the horrifying news that a baby had been stolen from a car in a parking lot while her mother, who was returning a shopping cart, was just a few feet away. Thanks to the description of the kidnapper captured by surveillance cameras in the parking lot and broadcast over radios, television, and highway overpass signs, the kidnapper was quickly caught and the baby returned, unharmed, to her mother.

Had it not been for those surveillance cameras, that mother would probably never have seen her baby girl again.

I can’t think of a much better argument for the use of surveillance cameras in public places. That baby’s life was saved by those parking lot cameras. Many people worry about the use of surveillance cameras in public places such as parking lots, stores, parks, and roadways. They don’t like the idea that they are being watched. They worry that the information captured on the surveillance tapes can somehow be used against them. But how? It seems to me that the only reason we should worry about being caught on surveillance cameras is if we are doing something wrong. If we are behaving lawfully in a public place, then why worry if it is captured on film? Surveillance cameras can provide two immensely important services. One, they can help us find those who commit crimes, including thieves, kidnappers, vandalizers, and even murderers. Two, they can serve as a powerful deterrent to crime. A thief who plans to steal a car may think twice if he knows he will be caught on video. A woman who hopes to kidnap a child may abandon her plans if she knows she will be captured on film.

Surveillance cameras can also help us in less critical but nonetheless practical ways. In some towns in England, for example, radio deejays use information from surveillance cameras to announce the availability of parking spaces in crowded public parking lots. Problems of all shapes and sizes can also be noted and addressed through video surveillance. For example, imagine a video camera installed in a local town square. Reviewing the films, officials might realize that people who meet in the square move quickly into the shade of the one tree in the center of the square. This could move officials to plant more trees or provide tables with umbrellas so that people could meet and relax in the shade. Similarly, a video camera in a grocery store might reveal that Isle 7 is always overcrowded, prompting the manager to re-arrange items to more evenly distribute shoppers.

Of course it’s possible to have too much of a good thing, and if surveillance cameras cross the line and start being installed on private property— that is, in our offices and homes—then we will have the “Big Brother is watching” scenario opponents fear. If that were the case, I would be against surveillance cameras, too. But as long as surveillance cameras are limited to public places, they can help ensure our safety.

Alexander Smith said, “The great man is the man who does a thing for the first time.” Do you agree with this definition of greatness? Why or why not?


Just as there are many definitions of success, there are also many definitions of greatness. Alexander Smith said that a great person is someone who does a thing for the first time. He’s right, and the list of those great people is long and includes the likes of Neil Armstrong, Jackie Robinson, and Thomas Edison. But Smith’s definition isn’t broad enough to include many other people who I believe are also great. In my opinion, greatness can also be attained by doing something to improve the lives of others.

Mother Teresa is the first person to come to mind under this broadened definition. Mother Teresa, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, dedicated her life to helping the poor, the sick, and the hungry. She left her homeland of Yugoslavia to work with the impoverished people of India, where she selflessly served others for almost 70 years. She became a nun and founded the Missionaries of Charity sisterhood and the House for the

Dying. She embraced those that many in society chose to disdain and ignore: the crippled and diseased, the homeless and helpless. She gave them food, shelter, medical care, and the compassion that so many others denied them. She was certainly not the first to dedicate her life to the care of others, but she was certainly a great woman.

Another great person who also won a Nobel Peace Prize was Dr. Albert Schweitzer, a German doctor who, like Mother Teresa, also selflessly served the poor and sick. Schweitzer dedicated himself to the people of Africa. There, he built a hospital and a leper colony, a refuge for those who had been rejected by society. Again, he was not the first to offer care and comfort for the sick and suffering. But he certainly was great.

Harriet Tubman is also clearly a great woman. She led hundreds of American slaves to freedom along the underground railroad, risking her life over and over again to bring her fellow slaves to freedom. She gave them the greatest gift one can offer: freedom to live a better way of life. She wasn’t the first to escape, and she wasn’t the first to go back for others. But she was the one who kept going back. She knew that each time she returned for another, she was risking her life. But like Mother Teresa and Dr. Schweitzer, Harriet

Tubman was utterly dedicated to improving the life of others.

Greatness comes in many forms, and we are lucky to have many examples of greatness upon which to model our lives. Some great people are those who were able to be the first to accomplish something marvelous. Others, like Mother Teresa, Albert Schweitzer, and Harriet Tubman, are great because they worked tirelessly to ease the suffering of their fellow human beings.

Should people lease or buy new cars? Make a case for the option that you think is best. Use specific reasons and examples to support your position.


Planning to lease a car because you don’t think you can afford to buy? Think again. Leasing can end up being just as expensive as buying—and you don’t even get to keep the car. Even if you decide to buy the car at the end of your lease, you may end up paying considerably more money than if you’d decided to buy from the beginning.

Most people who are thinking about leasing are attracted to this option because they believe it will cost them less money. And they’re right—it is cheaper, but only in the short term. For example, if you were to lease a 2002 Subaru Forester, with $2,500 down, you might pay $250 per month for the car. If you were to buy the same car, with $2,500 down, you would pay closer to $350 per month. Over a three-year lease, that’s $3,600—a big savings. But after your lease is over, you have to give the car back. If you want to keep driving, you’ll either have to put another down-payment on another lease, or, if you have the option to buy the car, you’ll have to pay thousands of dollars to purchase the vehicle—dollars that won’t be spread out in more manageable monthly payments.

Many people want to lease because they can then drive a nicer car than they might otherwise be able to afford. For example, if your monthly budget allowed you to spend $250 on your car, you might be able to lease a brand new Ford Explorer. For the same price, you might have to buy an Explorer that was two or three years old with 50,000 miles, or buy a new but considerably less expensive make and model. A lease therefore allows you to drive in the latest models of more expensive cars. But when your lease is over, you will have to return that Explorer.

Whatever car you can afford to buy, you get to keep it, and it will always have a resell or trade-in value if you wanted to later upgrade to a newer car. Furthermore, people who lease cars are often shocked by how much they must pay when the lease is over. Most leases limit you to a certain number of miles, and if you go over that allotment, you must pay for each mile. As a result, at the end of your lease, you may end up paying thousands of dollars in mileage fees. For example, if your lease covers you for 25,000 miles over three years, but you drive 40,000, that’s an extra 15,000 miles. At $.11 per mile, that’s $1,650 you’ll have to pay. And you still won’t have a car.

In addition, when you lease, you still have to pay for regular maintenance and repairs to the vehicle. Since you must return the car when your lease expires, you are paying to repair someone else’s car. If you own the car, however, you would know that every dollar you spend maintaining or repairing the car is an investment in a real piece of property—your property, not someone else’s.

By now, the benefits of buying over leasing should be clear. But if you’re still not convinced, remember this fundamental fact: If you lease, when your lease is up, after you’ve made all of your monthly payments, paid for extra mileage, and paid for repairs, you must give the car back. It isn’t yours to keep, no matter how much the lease cost you. Whatever make or model you can afford to buy, it is yours to keep after you make your payments. There’s no giving it back, and that makes all the difference.

Name:_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Persuasive writing Samples

Please review several sample essays with your writing small group.
Sample 1

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Was the essay effective? Why or why not? ________________________________________________________
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Sample 2

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Explain how the author pulled in the reader. _____________________________________________________
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Was the essay effective? Why or why not? ________________________________________________________
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Sample 3

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Explain how the author pulled in the reader. _____________________________________________________
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Was the essay effective? Why or why not? ________________________________________________________
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Name: _________________________________________________________________________________________________



Persuasive Letter Writing Questionnaire
Who is your letter to? _______________________________________________________________________________
What are you trying to convince the recipient(s) of your letter to do or believe? ______________
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What personal story will you begin your letter with to get the attention of the recipient? ___
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Write your thesis statement here: _________________________________________________________________
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What are the main ideas you will emphasize in your letter? (You must have at least three.) _
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