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WebQuest:  The Truth ... and Nothing but the TRUTH! 
Evaluating Persuasive Reading


Developed by Pam Petty

Middle School Language Arts   Reading

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Who is helping you do your thinking?  If something is written in print, it has to be true, right?  Not so fast ... when people want us to think the way THEY think, they use persuasive "tricks" known as "propaganda techniques" to try and influence our thinking.  Are you clever enough to read some persuasive texts and decide what is fact and what is fiction?  This project allows you to take real on-line texts and decide for yourself just WHO is trying to persuade you to BELIEVE just WHAT!

For the purposes of this WebQuest, "persuasive reading" will be defined as:  "a type of writing intended to convince the reader to adopt a particular opinion or to perform a certain action. Effective persuasion appeals to both the intellect and emotions."

The Task

You and your team have been asked by the Secretary of Education in Washington, DC to serve as a panel of experts and solve some problems affecting schools all over our country.  There are many persuasive documents written on each of the following topics, each expressing strong ideas either pro or con. As a team you will select a topic from one of the following:  

             - corporal punishment
          - school prayer
          - school violence
          - gender issues
          - school vouchers

In order to make decisions about your topic, your team will read 4 persuasive texts.  Each text you read will attempt to sway your opinion to make you believe what the author believes.  It is your job to analyze the persuasive texts, synthesize the information, write a personal narrative in response to the text, and help your team put together a multimedia presentation using PowerPoint software.  The presentation will summarize the 4 texts you read, identify strategies the authors used to sway the reader, and share with others the factual information you found in your readings.  

  The Process 

1.  In your group (determined by your teacher), select one of the topics listed above.  As a group, make a web of all the things you know about the topic you have selected. Use the Internet or print materials to define any of the concepts you do not clearly understand before you begin the assigned readings. 

2.  Locate your topic below and start investigating each of the on-line resources listed there.  As a group, select 4 texts to use in this project.  If the text presents basic information without any persuasive strategies, skip it and keep reading other texts.  

Make your selections from the listings below:

3.  Use this DATA RESPONSE FORMAT to carefully analyze each text as you read it.  Compare your findings with those of others in your group.  Combine your lists of propaganda techniques found in each persuasive text.  

4.  After you have read all the selections and decided which 4 your group will use for this project, complete this DATA RESPONSE FORMAT. Use this information as an outline for your presentation.

5.  Write a one paragraph narrative that summarizes your "answer" to the problem posed by your topic.  Your writing should include what you agree with and disagree with based on the readings you just performed.  

6.  Share your narrative with others in your group (your teacher may allow you to "pass" on this if you so desire).  

7.  Work together as a team to prepare a PowerPoint presentation that:

  • summarizes each of the four persuasive texts
  • points out the various types of techniques used in each text to sway the reader
  • incorporates each group member's "decision" based on their interpretation of the readings (this offers some sort of conclusion to your topic)

8.  Present your finding to the class.  


Each student will receive two grades for this project, a group grade and an individual grade. A rubric for evaluating the final projects will be used by students and by the teacher. 


After successfully completing this project, you will be in full control of what you believe ... no longer will anyone be able to pull one over on you!  You MUST believe me when I tell you this because 4 out of 5 dentists say it is so ... EVERYONE who is anyone has known this for years and years ... and if you DON'T believe me, then I guess you are just an 'ole silly-head!  

Did you solve all the world's problems?  Brainstorm some other topics that are important in your life or at your school.  Find some information sources (on-line or print materials) and find out what other people are trying to get you to believe.  Use your newly acquired skills to determine the techniques the authors use to persuade you to see their point of view ... then use you OWN head to decide what YOU believe.  Be ready to express your opinion ... maybe write to an author to share your views on a particular topic ... make YOUR case and PERSUADE them to your way of thinking!  

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