Speed Persuading

Middle School and High School Teacher

The students will use the art of communication to quickly persuade or convince their peers to change their minds on a variety of popular or unpopular opinions.

Grade Level: 8 - 10th

Subject: English/Language Arts

Length of Time: Two to Three Class Periods

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Common Core Alignment

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL9-10.1A - 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.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL9-10.1B - 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.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL9-10.1D - 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.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL9-10.4 - Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.

Objectives & Outcomes

The students will be able initiate and participate effectively in one-on-one short discussions with their peers, using persuasive language and techniques in an attempt to change another’s opinion on a topic.

Materials Needed

  • index card with topic choices, evaluation sheet, pen/pencil
  • Prepare ahead of time:  Evaluation sheet for each student to use after listening to a peer.  This could be on a page or two with one simple question repeated equal to the number of students in the classroom. (Example evaluation:  After listening to (student’s name) argument, he/she:  did not change my opinion/may change my opinion/gave me something to think about/definitely changed my opinion/I had the same opinion and it was strengthened OR weakened)  Also, two innocuous topics listed on each index card, one card for each student.  DO NOT REPEAT TOPICS.


Opening to Lesson

  • After students are seated, ask for one volunteer. The teacher will have the volunteer come to the front of the room to sit in a seat directly across from the instructor’s seat.
  • Tell the student they have one minute to convince the teacher to watch a favorite TV show, movie, or read a book.
  • After the one minute, ask the class how well he or she did convincing them to watch the TV show, movie, or read the book.
  • Introduce the “Art of Persuasion” or the skills needed to change another’s opinion about a topic.

Body of Lesson


  • Teacher will distribute the innocuous topics previously listed on the index cards.
  • Teacher will explain the process of “Speed Persuading”.
  • The teacher will remind the students of the opening lesson and they will repeat it with their peers.

Guided Practice

  • The teacher will explain the rules of “Speed Persuading”.
  • Half the students (Group A) will remain in their seats, and the other half (Group B) will move from one of their peers to the next.
  • For a total of two minutes, one minute for each student, they will meet and try to persuade the other to agree with their opinion. One minute allotted to each student.
  • Before rotating to the next student, all students will complete the evaluation page for the peer’s presentation.
  • Students then quickly move to the next one in line. (Have the desks or chairs spread out in the room so there is little overlap in conversations.)
  • Once all are complete, split Group A and Group B in half and repeat above.

Independent Practice

  • Each student will prepare a written persuasive speech to present to the class in the next day or two. They will choose their own topic/opinion about something they are compassionate about.
  • Each student will present the speech to the class. Teacher may set a minimum/maximum time limit.
  • Classmates and teacher will evaluate the effectiveness of the speech. Collect all evaluations and share constructive ones with the speech giver.


Discuss the exercise with the students.  Ask what difference it made with speaking one-on-one to a peer versus speaking in front of the entire class.  Other discussion may be related to political speeches, church sermons, advertisements, and other speeches made in the media.

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Assessment & Evaluation

Students will each present a persuasive argument to the entire class following the “Speed Persuading”.

Modification & Differentiation

Students prepare their short argument the day before.  Do everything on paper instead of verbally.  Adjust the times.  Use video or audio samples of persuasive speeches given by historical/popular figures, current or from the past.

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