Middle school persuasive writing assignment reinforces positive impact of influential words and the hope for increased animal adoptions

A seventh/eighth-grade persuasive writing assignment has become a teachable moment about the purpose of animal sanctuaries and shelters, the need for animal adoption and the positive impact that influential words can have.

Corrine Yanis wanted to reinforce the importance of writing, and found an opportunity where her students could apply it to a real community issue and be impactful.

student with posterHer seventh/eighth graders’ assignment was to write letters from the point of view of an animal living at Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary, the 80 acre no-kill animal shelter in Middletown. Its mission is to build a humane community supporting the human-animal bond by being a resource through rescue, adoption, intervention, education and outreach. It’s one of the oldest no-kill organizations nationwide. Many of its animals are older, have special needs or require special care.

From the animal’s point of view

Students were allowed to pick the type of animal they wanted “to be,” and persuasively write about why they  should be adopted…from that animal’s students with poster perspective.

Persuasive writing intends to convince readers to believe in an idea or opinion. It’s a critical skill that plays an important role in everyday life because being able to express ideas and opinions in a constructive way on paper is something students must rely on in their academic, professional and personal lives.

Through class discussions and writing work and revisions, students completed their assignments which included creating an 11×17 poster showcasing their document along with an art component where they drew the animal in the assignment.

Pets Alive will be displaying the posters in its facility. The hope is that when visitors come to the sanctuary, they’ll see these posters and their messages will help boost adoption rates by giving those animals their own “advocacy voice” in an extremely different and creative way.

“I’m beyond excited about this project,” Executive Director Becky Tegze said.

Apple Jacks, Ginger and Donnie

adults presenting in the auditoriumOne student, writing as “Apple Jacks,” a lamb, wrote: “I come from a cruelty situation. I’m still recovering from that. Please adopt me and let me play with everyone in your family.”

Another student, as “Ginger,” a cat, wrote: “My previous owner passed away so I’m waiting for a new owner to love me.”

And another student, writing as “Donnie,” a dog, wrote: “I don’t get along with cats or other dogs. I can’t hang around young children. I love to snuggle and go on the couch. Being adopted would make me so happy.”

Pets Alive was so grateful for the students’ work that officials visited the middle school to give a presentation about how the animal sanctuary operates.

adults presenting in the auditorium“An animal shelter is the last resort,” said Ms. Tegze. “Animals are not meant to live in a place like this. But we do what we can to make a happy life for them until someone hopefully adopts them. What you did will help us tremendously.”

As part of their visit, Pets Alive officials connected students with volunteers at the sanctuary via a Google Meet, so they could virtually meet some of the animals they wrote about in their assignments.

student and posterMs. Yanis said for some of her students, this was the first time they heard about what an animal shelter/sanctuary does.  They even collected items to donate to the shelter, as part of their learning experience.

“I’m so proud of them,” she added. “They’re learning not only about the importance of writing but how to help our communities and why it is important to do so.”

To see the gallery of posters, visit the district’s Facebook page.