We recently began teaching the students how to write persuasive essays.
We began by talking with the students about how they all had wonderful ideas on what they wanted or believed, but that sharing those ideas might be challenging because others might not agree with them. They would have to be brave and try to persuade others why their ideas were good ones. Then, we provided some examples of what they might write about (example: it's hard to be an only child) and had them create their own lists.
The next day, students were given time to share their lists with a partner and asked to select a topic that they would be writing about.
On the third day, the language arts teacher taught the students how to use OREO ... Double Stuff OREOs to organize their thoughts. If you've eaten a Double Stuff, then you know it has twice the filling in the middle. That's what we wanted the students to have in their essays - twice the filling, the material, because it would strengthen their arguments and make their essays more persuasive.
On the 4th day, students started writing their essays using their OREO graphic organizers to guide them.
I'm not sure where the teacher learned about OREO or whether she thought it up herself, but I think it's a good way to teach the students to organize their thoughts. The students seemed to have the most difficulty coming up with good examples to include with their reasons and restating their opinions in a different way.