Grade 9: Communicating on Local Issues – Exploring Audience in Persuasive Letter Writing


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Reading Informational Text

RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

RI.9-10.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.


W.9-10.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

W.9-10.1(a) Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.

W.9-10.1(b) Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level and concerns.

W.9-10.1(e) Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.

W.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

W.9-10.2(b) Develop the topic with well-chosen, relevant, and sufficient facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic.

W.9-10.2(e) Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.

W.9-10.2(f) Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented (e.g., articulating implications or the significance of the topic).

W.9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)

W.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

W.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

W.9-10.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Speaking and Listening

SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

SL.9-10.1(a) Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.

SL.9-10.1(b) Work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed.

SL.9-10.1(c) Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.

SL.9-10.1(d) Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.


L.9-10.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

L.9-10.1(b) Use various types of phrases (noun, verb, adjectival, adverbial, participial, prepositional, absolute) and clauses (independent, dependent; noun, relative, adverbial) to convey specific meanings and add variety and interest to writing or presentations.

L.9-10.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9-10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

L.9-10.4(a) Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence, paragraph, or text; a word’s position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

L.9-10.4(d) Verify the preliminary determination of the meaning of a word or phrase (e.g., by checking the inferred meaning in context or in a dictionary).

L.9-10.6 Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.


This ELA/Literacy lesson plan titled “Communicating on Local Issues: Exploring Audience in Persuasive Letter Writing” from has an estimated instructional time of five 50-minute sessions.  The emphasis of these lessons is for students to learn how to: identify and research a local issue, develop an awareness of the needs of different audiences, adjust written language to communicate effectively with their audiences, and learn the conventions and format of a business letter. In the culminating authentic processed-based writing activity, students use research to write two persuasive letters on an issue convincing the reader to either adopt the same position on the issue or to take an action related to the issue.


Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that the activities as described would be most appropriate at the beginning of the school year in Grade 9 or in an earlier grade due to the student materials used, sites listed, and performance expectations.   The plan would be difficult to complete in five class periods and still achieve the rigor demanded by the Common Core framework.  The instructional plan lists CCSS standards, yet many are only marginally addressed, if at all. The lesson plan could be enhanced to include discrete writing and language skill instruction. More rigorous supports and modifications for students who are ELL or have disabilities are needed. Before this lesson plan is used in a history/social studies course, some modifications will be necessary including: the replacement of the ELA CCSS listed above with the English Language Arts Standards in History/Social Studies that are targeted in this unit, additional history/social studies content to meet grade-specific content standards, and possible assessment and/or rubric revision.


This lesson plan is useful because it demonstrates a progression of authentic learning experiences that cultivate interest and engagement in reading, writing, and speaking by involving students in local issues. The lessons target a set of grade-level CCSS ELA/Literacy standards and are easy to use and understand. Through a series of scaffolded lessons on persuasive letter writing, students are routinely expected to draw evidence from various sources. The use of technology advances research skills to deepen learning and draw attention to evidence. The lessons include assessment guidelines that provide sufficient guidance for interpreting student performance.