Teague, Mark. LaRue for Mayor. Jacket Illustrations, 2008.

When I first read this book, I felt there were a thousand lessons I could teach from it. This humorous book about a dog and his owner contains letters, news articles, and elements of persuasion. The pictures add humor to the book that kids can relate to, because they portray what Ike LaRue is actually doing and his letters to Mrs. LaRue say something completely different. You could use this book any time of the year, but it would be particularly great around election season.

Mini Lesson #1: Exaggeration with Text and Pictures

Photo 54.jpg I enjoy reading Ike LaRue's letter to Mrs. LaRue that completely exaggerates what he is doing to convince her that he is being a good dog. I really enjoy how there are pictures on every page to portray what is really happening in comparison with what he wants Mrs. LaRue to think is happening. He says he is "stuck here all alone" and being with the other dogs will "help ease the pain of (her) absence." To get students to think about times they use exaggeration, I would have them suggest things they try to do to persuade their parents, even if they know they are stretching the truth a little bit. For example, if they wanted to convince their parents they need a cell phone, they could say make them feel guilty by saying "I'm the only child without a phone to contact my parents when I need to," but in reality they want it to be able to text their friends.

Mini Lesson #2: Closings in a Letter

Below are some of the examples used throughout the text of different closings in a letter. When students are writing a letter, they have a tendency to sign it using sincerely. Although, this is a proper, it can become boring and generic. Some students aren't even sure what it means and it isn't always the best fit for every letter you write. Looking at these examples, they will be able to think of some of their own creative ways to close a letter.

With Deepest Sympathy,

Hope you are feeling better,

Your Loyal Dog,

Honestly Yours,

A Concerned Citizen

Your Next Mayor,
Students will look at the examples to the left and either use them as a model,
or try to create their own closings to their letters. Ike uses different closings
based on the context of his letters, so I would want the students to try to relate
their closing to sum up their letter. This mini-lesson would be introduced after they
write their letters, so they will be able to determine what type of closing makes the
most sense.

Writing Assignment

By the end of this assignment, I would want the finished product to be a letter of some sort to a family member or a teacher. They would also learn about the elements of persuasion and how exaggeration is a great tool to make your argument more convincing. Also, to reach a larger spectrum of learners, I would have them try to draw pictures similar to what they see in the book. Ike always portrays an image of what he is actually doing and another image of what he is convincing Mrs. LaRue that he is doing.

Mode (Genre)
In the CCSS sense, it will be a persuasive writing piece, but they will also be learning the concepts of letter writing.
The written part of this assignment will have the option to be typed, but I would like to see the picture hand-drawn.
This writing can be something to share with the person they are writing to, because it will be humorous for that person to read.
Students will be able to use the letter writing skills they acquired in many future situations. Persuasion is something they will use very often whether is is verbal or written, so they will have the tools to form a convincing argument for a target audience.
Students would have at least a week to work on this writing assignment for at least an hour a day. This would give them enough time to go through all the steps of the writing process as well as confer with the teacher about it. Students will be encouraged to work with peers to get advice on how to make their persuasive letter more convincing. They will be writing the final letter on their own and drawing their picture individually as well.
When grading this assignment, I would be looking for the basic elements of the letter such as opening, closing, and the intent of the letter. I would want to see a persuasive aspect that relates to their audience and use of the elements of exaggeration and a strong closing to sum it up. Students will need to be able to prove they know how to write a letter and they will demonstrate the purpose of their letter by using persuasion as well as understanding the uses of a closing statement before the signature.
Students will be using the letters from LaRue for Mayor as a model for how they can set up their letter to a family member or teacher. They will look at the elements of exaggeration and closings on a letter to enhance their understanding of persuasive letters. They will create their own letters using these elements and come up with a silly, fun letter they can share with the person they are writing it it. It will be an opportunity for them to use their imagination by really playing up their writing with exaggeration. This should be a fun assignment for the students, so they won't really feel like they are writing an extremely formal letter.