Using Badly Written Texts in the Classroom

Often when we present work to our students, we are showing them exemplary work. But what if we showed them something which was less than perfect?

 
 

When we teach different types of texts to students, we often share mentor texts with them. Mentor texts allow students to see what the texts should look like and gives them something to aim for with their own writing.

Another way to explore writing with students is to present them with a text which is written badly on purpose. Students work to identify where the text needs to be improved and how to improve it.

There are a few different ways you can use a poorly written text with your class:

  • Work as a whole class to identify where the text could be improved and how to improve it. Students work collaboratively to identify the best replacements for the poor writing
  • Students work in small groups or pairs to rewrite assigned parts of the text. They might identify the places to improve the text themselves, or this might be done as a class first
  • Ask students to focus on particular aspects of the text like paragraph structure, sentence structure or vocabulary
  • Students work independently to improve the text 
  • Students work together to identify where the text can be removed. These elements can be covered through mini lessons before students work on rewriting the text

One of the biggest benefits of working with a poorly written text is that students don't have to work from a blank slate. Coming up with a text from nothing can be overwhelming for some students. Using a text gives them a skeleton of a text - allowing them to focus on better writing rather than content.

Freebie

Want to use a poorly written text as an activity your class? Children Shouldn't Eat Junk Food: A Very Bad Persuasive Mentor Text is available as a freebie!

 
 

Looking for some persuasive writing prompts? The Persuasive Writing Prompt Bundle includes extended task sheets, task cards, organisers and a marking rubric - and because it's a bundle, you know that you're saving money!

 
 
 
 

Where Do We Find Persuasive Writing?

Understanding persuasive writing is a key skill for students - whether they're reading it or writing it. But where, in the real world, are they likely to come across it?

 
 

Advertising

The most common place we see persuasive writing is in advertising. Sometimes it's the short text of a television advertisement, telling us how much better our lives will be if we buy a particular product. Other times it might be the lengthier 'advertorials' - ads disguised as article - in newspapers or magazines.

Most advertisements focus on one side of the story only. They often don't acknowledge similar products and they only talk up the positives. They have a very strong agenda - to convince customers to buy their product.

 
 

Political Speeches

Like advertising, political speeches are selling something. However, instead of selling a product, they're selling a politician or political party or a policy they want people to approve of. Political speeches might acknowledge different points of view, but they will usually work to explain why their point of view is the best. Some political speeches will be followed by questions or a press conference - politicians end up constantly speaking in persuasive language.

 
 

Opinion Pieces

Traditionally opinion pieces were published in a paper form. In the past they might be as published leaflets or as letters to the editor. Newspapers often devoted particular spaces to commentary writers who would use their writing to express certain points of view. 

These days, a lot of opinion writing happens on blogs. Everyone is able to share their opinions through the internet, and a lot of people use that to create persuasive arguments about things they're passionate about - like politics, educational theory, best sports team or why someone should read a particular book.

 
 

Looking at persuasive writing with your students? Challenge them to find different pieces of persuasive writing in their world. How do the authors persuade the audience? What skills can they use in their own writing?

Want to bring more persuasive arguments into the classroom? Pick up the Persuasive Argument bundle at the Galarious Goods shop. Or, prepare for Christmas with the Australian Christmas Persuasive Writing Pack.