Go to page Content

8 — Introduction to persuasive texts

This sequence introduces the structural framework and language features of persuasive texts – in particular written expositions – to the students and allows them to gain an understanding of the purposes of each sentence within a paragraph. Over the next few sequences, the students will be engaged in persuasive writing tasks with the final assessment task being a written persuasive text.

Albatross in flight over the blue ocean

Above: A Wandering Albatross, one of two species of albatross that breed on Macquarie Island
and are critically endangered, photo by Lieutenant Elizabeth Crapo, NOAA Corps, CC-BY-2.0

Introduction

Ask the students what they believe was the intention of Alison Lester and Coral Tulloch when they wrote and illustrated One Small Island. Establish that they wanted to persuade readers that it is important to protect and restore Macquarie Island. ACHASSK113

Ask the students questions such as:

Activity 1: Thinking about the features of a persuasive text

Read to or with the students the persuasive text Help Save Macquarie Island! Display the text on an interactive whiteboard and support the students to analyse and identify its organisational framework and language features, as they did in Sequence 2. Point out that this text was written in 2007 and that since that time actions have been taken to restore the island and eradicate feral animals. ACELY1701

The following scaffold might be used to analyse and annotate the text. Structural annotations can be made on the left of the text and language annotations on the right.

Analysing text purpose and structure:

Return to paragraph 1 and ask the students the following questions:

For further support in teaching about the features of persuasive texts, refer to the Resources.

Activity 2: Looking at a persuasive text in more detail

Introduce students to the PEEL strategy. Explain that PEEL stands for P: Point, E: Evidence, E: Elaboration, L: Link to the main argument. Using a paragraph constructed in this format, ask the students to identify the four elements. For example:

What is the impact of feral cats in Australia?

No-one is actually certain how many feral cats there are in Australia as the area is too vast for a conclusive head count. Estimates say there are between 4 and 6.6 million feral cats in Australia that continue to disturb natural ecosystems and are predators of many native animals. These feral cats are not native to Australia and they devastate fragile environments and animal populations across the country, causing irreparable damage. Without adequate controls, the environment continues to suffer and with feral animal eradication programs on the backburner, the devastation will continue.

Point   No-one is actually certain how many feral cats there are in Australia as the area is too vast for a conclusive head count.

Evidence  Estimates say there are between 4 and 6.6 million feral cats in Australia that continue to disturb natural ecosystems and are predators of many native animals.

Elaboration   These feral cats are not native to Australia and they devastate fragile environments and animal populations across the country, causing irreparable damage.

Link   Without adequate controls, the environment continues to suffer and with feral animal eradication programs on the backburner, the devastation will continue.

Organise the students into groups of three or four. Print out sufficient copies of the text Help Save Macquarie Island! Cut them up into paragraphs, giving each group of students two or three paragraphs. The students work collaboratively to determine the role of each sentence within the paragraph, using the PEEL prompts. They use different coloured highlighters to distinguish the different functions of each sentence. Point out that some paragraphs may have more than four sentences and will actually have more of a PEEEEL structure (point, evidence, evidence, elaboration, elaboration, link). ACELA1505

Reflection

Discuss with the whole class what the students noticed about the purpose of the sentences in the paragraphs. You can then display the paragraphs on the working wall. (Grammar and Meaning by Sally Humphrey, Louise Droga and Susan Feez, pages 126–56 and page 201, may be helpful in preparing for this discussion.)