6th Grade Column Contest helps teach persuasive writing

UPDATE, 1/19/12:
This program is now in its sixth year and continues to be very successful.  We are still looking for parents to help out as community judges.  Our final judges from the last few years – Ken Tracy (Miami Township Trustee), Amy Brewer (Milford City Councilperson) and Joann Kiser (Milford Branch Library Manager) – are joining us again.  Ken has continued the Township recognition program he started two years ago, where the kids attend a Trustees meeting and receive a certificate.  The winning columns will run in the Community Press this spring.  Please consider judging a school – it takes an hour or less, and you never have to leave the comfort of your home!

Please contact me at andrea@andreabrady.net if you’re willing to give it a try!


Four years ago, I approached the Community Press and the MEVSD with the idea of running a persuasive column contest for 6th graders.  Sixth grade is the year persuasive writing is introduced to students; the contest helps support curriculum and also encourages students to “get outside” themselves, to think about issues from the perspective of a community member, a legislator, or a school board member.  Students are no longer trying just to convince their teacher, their parents, or each other — they are trying to convince those who can make a difference in whatever their topic may be.  In addition, this is a great way to get the community involved in supporting our students, and to expose the community to the great writing skills our students have developed.

Here’s how it works:

The honors classes at the elementaries choose a topic in conjunction with their teacher and write a 500-word persuasive essay on that topic.  All students in the class write on the same topic; different schools choose their own topics.  Topics chosen are issues that affect us all:  for example, smoking in public places, sidewalks in Milford, using cell phones in school, and technology in the classroom.  Students choose a “side” and attempt to convince their audience their opinion is the right one. Students research facts and learn how to use them to create a persuasive argument.

The teacher then chooses the 10 papers she feels were the most persuasive.  These 10 semi-finalist papers go (anonymously) to 3 community judges.  These are general community members and may be public school parents; private school parents; families with no children; empty nesters – everyone from the MEVSD community is welcome to participate as a community judge.

The community judges choose the 5 finalist papers they feel are most persuasive.  It generally takes about a half hour for each judge to make his/her picks.  Each paper is no longer than 500 words, and the 5 are chosen primarily for persuasiveness.  Sometimes, though, it’s a bit harder – the papers are often all so good it can be hard for the judges to choose!

These top 5 finalist papers then go (anonymously) to three final judges.  Last year, our three final judges were Amy Brewer, Milford Councilperson; Ken Tracy, Miami Township Trustee; and Joann Kiser, Clermont County Library, Milford Branch Manager.  The three final judges choose the winning column and the two runners-up.  The winning column is published in the Community Press along with a photo of the winner & runners-up.  The kids love getting their columns & photos in the paper!

Last year, Ken Tracy also did something extra-special for the finalists from all schools.  At the May meeting of the Township Trustees, the kids were recognized for their excellent work.  They received certificates as part of the program and also pins from Miami Township.  They got their photos taken and they were on TV as part of the meeting!  It was a great way to end the program for they 2008-09 school year!

If you are willing to be a community judge this year, please email me at bradyforschoolboard@fuse.net.  We’d love to have you as part of the program!

4 Responses to “6th Grade Column Contest helps teach persuasive writing”

  1. Rachel Murdock Says:

    I’d be happy to serve as a judge, if you still have a need.

  2. bradyforschoolboard Says:

    Thanks, Rachel, we definitely do – I’ll get in touch with you. Appreciate the help!

  3. Rhonda Boulares Says:

    Dear Andrea,
    I will be a judge-I’m a Pattison mom.

  4. andreabrady Says:

    Great, Rhonda – thank you! Really appreciate the help! Can you email me, andrea@andreabrady.net? I’ll get you the details.

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