All the Ways to Sway: Exploring and Creating More Complex Persuasive Texts

1. How and Why Do We Persuade?

Suggested Learning Intentions

  • To explore the purposes of persuasive texts
  • To understand how vocabulary is used to persuade in extended and academic texts
  • To understand the function of abstract nouns in persuasive texts

Sample Success Criteria

  • I can explain some of the purposes of persuasive texts
  • I can identify the types of vocabulary used in persuasive texts
  • I can explain the role of abstract nouns in persuasive texts
  • The Island by Armin Greder or an alternative persuasive picture book 
  • Visual stimuli (suggestions below)
  • Graphic organisers - cluster word web: docx PDF (optional)
  • Digital collaboration platform (optional)
  • Examples of abstract nouns: docx PDF
  • Graphic organiser: describing wheel or describing wheel digital template

This stage of the sequence focuses on building the context or field to support students to understand the cultural role of persuasive texts. It incorporates a focus on how vocabulary can be used as a tool to persuade.

All suggested stimuli should be viewed prior to use to assess suitability for individual classes. For guidance on text selection refer to the Teaching and Learning Resources — Selecting Appropriate Materials policy.

Provide students with a visual provocation that is likely to evoke robust opinions. For example a political cartoon like Sean Leahy’s ‘The Dead Heart’, Rob Rogers 'Environmental Science' or Brian Farrington’s ‘School Shootings Influence’. Guide students in a discussion about the primary purpose of the author, focussing on the intention to persuade. 

Support students to build their field of knowledge by asking them to consider the concept of persuasion and its sociocultural functions. For example, why is it important for us to be able to persuade? Scaffold a class discussion on the topic by providing a range of questions for students to explore. Record responses on the board, on an anchor chart or use a digital collaboration tool to enable students to contribute their responses in a collaborative space. 

Suggested prompts:

  • 'Why might authors try to persuade others to agree with a point of view?'
  • 'How might authors persuade others to share the same point of view?'
  • 'What language could be used to persuade someone to share a point of view?' For example, colloquial language, formal language.
  • 'Why might it be important to be able to persuade people to agree or disagree with a point of view?'
  • 'Can you think of any people or groups of people that regularly try to persuade the public?'
  • 'What might be gained by persuading people to agree or disagree with a point of view?' For example, buying a product or voting for a political party. Encourage students to think at both an individual and community level.


Enable students to contribute to the discussion by explicitly teaching vocabulary prior to the start of the learning sequence. Using a strategy like Talk Tokens can encourage participation. Monitor student responses to check prior knowledge and to ascertain levels of understanding. 

Extend students by inviting them to analyse and annotate a recent example of a written, spoken or visual persuasive text, taking note of the techniques the author has used to persuade. A text like ‘The boy who learned to fly’ which presents itself as a ‘story’ whilst also promoting a product may provide rich opportunities for analysis.



Modelled reading

Introduce a persuasive picture book to students, such as ‘The Island’ by Armin Greder.

Clarify new or complex vocabulary with your class before reading. 

Invite your students to sit in a circle or to find a comfortable reading space before reading aloud to them. The Literacy Teaching Toolkit has some suggestions about how to make modelled reading a rich and engaging experience.

Read the text to students. After reading, facilitate a group discussion, encouraging students to express their first reaction to the book. Ask students to expand on their initial responses by identifying the argument made or issue/s addressed throughout the narrative. Invite students to speculate on the position the author might be encouraging the reader to take, prompting them to provide evidence from the text to support their opinion. Refresh students’ understanding of inference where appropriate. 

Record student responses on the board or add them to the class’s digital collaboration.

Invite students to form pairs and allocate a page or two of the book to each group. Ask students to brainstorm the techniques that they think may have been used by the author to persuade the audience to take a position, paying particular focus on vocabulary. Use a tool such as a cluster word web to record their ideas (a downloadable version is available from the Materials and texts section).

Provide prompts for students to guide their brainstorms. For example:

  • 'What stands out to you about this page? Why does it stand out?'
  • 'What do you think the author might be trying to communicate?'
  • 'How have you formed your view about what the author might be trying to communicate? What evidence can you offer to support your view?'
  • 'Can you find an example of the author choosing specific words to have an impact on or persuade their audience? How or why might they be effective?'
  • 'How might the author have used metaphor to make their point more effectively?'
  • 'What other techniques do you think the author is using to communicate their point of view?'


Enable students to engage with the analysis by strategically pairing students and by engaging in targeted discussions with small groups of students. Ensure students have a sound understanding of the concept of metaphor.

Extend students by inviting them to experiment with the vocabulary in the text in order to increase or decrease the impact of the narrative.

Invite each pair to feed their responses back to the class. Add responses to the board or class collaborative space to continue to develop a bank of initial thoughts and feelings about persuasive techniques.

Re-read and think aloud

Re-read the text, using the think aloud strategy to focus attention on the use of abstract nouns or subject-specific vocabulary. Draw attention to the concept of metaphor and extended metaphor. For example, the reaction of the ‘people of the island’ to ‘the man’ representing the response of human beings to ‘difference’ more broadly. Allow time for students to turn and talk and to add their ideas to the discussion. 

Invite students to suggest abstract nouns to refer to the emotions, concepts or qualities conveyed in the text, focusing on the point of view of ‘the people of the island’ and ‘the man’ as well as their own responses to the narrative. For example, fear, confusion or sympathy.

Co-create and display an anchor chart about abstract nouns with your students, providing examples from your chosen text to illustrate their purpose.


Enable students to engage in this task by revising the definition of abstract nouns, and by providing some examples of abstract nouns for student use. Provide guidance to support students to understand the definition of the nouns provided. Multiple choice prompts could be used to support this activity.

For example:

What might a person feel apprehensive about?

1. waiting for a birthday present

2. a test they haven’t studied for

3. waiting for a bus

Revisit the discussion about persuasion held at the beginning of the class and work with students to summarise the additional ideas generated throughout the learning experience. Ask students to write a short reflection. Prompts could include:

  • 'Why might it be valuable to be able to convince others of a point of view?'
  • 'Can you provide an example of how vocabulary can be used to persuade?'
  • 'Can you think of an abstract noun which summarises your personal response to the text we have read?'

Alternatively, invite students to imagine the viewpoint of ‘the people’ or ‘the man’ in ‘The Island’ and use persuasive language to express their point of view.

Collect student responses for assessment and feedback. 

Photograph the ideas recorded on the board and post the image to a class page if available or preserve your class’s digital collaborations for future reference.

Creately, n.d. Cluster Word Web. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Farrington, B., n.d. Adam's Backyard BBQ Blog. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Greder, A., 2007. The Island. Crows Nest NSW: Allen and Unwin.

Leahy, S., 2020. ABC News - Sean Leahy: The Dead Heart. [Online]
Available at:¹/₁₁₇₅₀₉₂₀?nw=0
[Accessed 15 March 2022]., n.d. Extended Metaphor. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Moonbotstudios, n.d. The Boy Who Learned To Fly. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

NSW Education Standards Authority, n.d. English Glossary. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Rogers, R., 2017. Environmental Science. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

State Government of Victoria (Department of Education and Training), 2019. Literacy Teaching Toolkit: Teaching-learning cycle: reading and writing connections. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

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