Practically Persuasive

4. Co-Constructing Persuasive Texts

Suggested Learning Intentions

  • To co-construct a persuasive text
  • To practise using the language structures and features of persuasive writing

Sample Success Criteria

  • I can provide evidence to support an argument
  • I can identify and utilise some of the features of persuasive writing
  • Printed list of modal verbs: docx PDF
  • Access to ClickView (sign in using your department credentials) 
  • Adhesive
  • Word cline: PDF

In this stage of the sequence the focus is on guided practice, which enables teachers and students to jointly construct a text.

It is strongly recommended that teachers review all suggested stimulus texts prior to their use to ensure their appropriateness and to enable rich, respectful discussion. For guidance on text selection refer to the Teaching and Learning Resources — Selecting Appropriate Materials policy.

Explore the concept of modality with students by providing a list of modal verbs and inviting the class to contribute to the creation of a word cline on the board or wall. The word ‘cline’ comes from the Greek ‘clino’ meaning ‘to slope’ and refers to a scale that rates the impact of language, for example positive to negative, or from light to dark. Alternatively, students could be allocated a modal verb like ‘should’ or ‘could’ and invited to move around the room to create a physical continuum to reflect the intensity of their verb.

Consider using a prompt about a divisive issue like climate change to stimulate opinion before students begin ranking the verbs.

Demonstrate how modal verbs communicate the degree of obligation or certainty involved in an action by providing a statement about an issue that resonates with your class. For example:

“Climate change is one of the critical issues of our time. In order to address it, we:

  • must act quickly
  • should reduce the amount of packaging we use
  • could increase our use of renewable energy”

Discuss the impact of modal verbs in relation to the intention of the author and the perception of the audience. How do modal verbs request, suggest, order, advise or compel the reader to act or think?

High Modality Medium Modality Low Modality



Ought to



Has to

Have to







Need to








1. Collaborative learning/independent research

Collaborate with your class to choose a contentious topic, for example, the impact of climate change, the efficacy of student climate change protests or the issue of climate change denial (use your department credentials to sign into ClickView). Decide on a stance as a class and then brainstorm a range of possible arguments to support it. Invite students to form small groups or allocate students to groups as appropriate and assign one argument to each group. Allow time for independent research, reminding students to give consideration to the credibility of their sources.

Suggested tasks for each group:

  • Create a statement summarising the relevant argument
  • Brainstorm supporting points & arrange points from strongest to weakest
  • Provide evidence for each supporting point
  • Create a conclusion or suggest a recommended action (incorporating modal verbs).

Provide groups with a variety of graphic organisers to help record and organise their ideas, such as a tri-pie, funnel or four corner organiser.

2. Joint construction

Come back together as a class and allow time for each group to summarise their position. Decide as a class which two arguments are the strongest/have the most compelling evidence and then use them to jointly construct one or two persuasive paragraphs.

Suggested process for joint construction:

1. Collaborate to devise a strong topic sentence to summarise each argument.

2. Brainstorm supporting sentences with an emphasis on:

  • Cohesion, including the use of conjunctions and lexical cohesion
  • Incorporating rhetorical devices
  • Supporting students to nominalise a verb or clause
  • Using modal verbs.

3. Allow students the time to record the paragraph/s in a format that allows for annotation.

Enable students requiring further support by using individual or small group conferences to revisit ideas and concepts such as verbs, adjectives and nouns, and to practise using rhetorical devices in a sentence. Experiment with using modal verbs in informal conversations.

Students annotate the jointly constructed paragraph, colour coding the language features of a persuasive text. For example, students could highlight rhetorical devices in green, high modality words in pink, or nominalised phrases in blue.

Extend students by offering them the opportunity to construct a paragraph independently that incorporates the concepts explored during joint construction.

Invite students to share their annotations with class, revisiting concepts as appropriate. Collect annotated paragraphs for assessment and review.

ABC News, 2018. Students strike for climate change protests, defying calls to stay in school. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Clickview, 2011. Insight, The sceptics - climate change. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Clickview, 2014. 7.30 Report, Climate Change. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Hutton, P., 2019. Guiding Students to Write Persuasive Texts. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

NSW Department of Education, 2019. Parents and Carers, Researching essay topics. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

State Government of Victoria, (Department of Education and Training), n.d. Secondary Literacy Teaching Toolkit, Word Cline. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

State Government of Victoria, (Department of Education and Training), n.d. Victorian Curriculum F–10 Consolidated Glossary. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Te Kete Ipurangi Ministry of Education, n.d. ESOL onlilne, Clines. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

YouTube, n.d. Greta Thunberg to world leaders; How dare you!. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

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