As promised on Twitter for a while, I am posting an inquiry unit into persuasive writing that was also featured on Toddle  . For the IB PYP teachers who use this platform in their schools you can find the planning, implementing and unit flow sections all complete (with explanations for teachers, student-friendly instructions, assessment tools as well as the materials – PDFs, GDocs etc.- I created for each phase).

NOTE: You can adapt any learning experience to suit your students age-group and skill. The inquiry unit is 6 weeks long and I focused on the language aspect – it is a stand-alone inquiry. If you do happen to have a unit on Media, for instance, as part of your IB curriculum and Program of Inquiry, you can incorporate this in parallel to the main unit (under How We Express Ourselves transdisciplinary theme).

Central IdeaLanguage can be used to influence our thinking, emotions, and behavior in many ways.

Learner Profile Attributes Communicators, Open-minded

Key Concepts:

  • Change Students will understand that the structure, features, and techniques of persuasive communication change according to the audience, format, and purpose intended.
  • Perspective Students will understand that persuasive texts can be perceived differently and they are built based on specific perspectives.
  • Function Students will understand that persuasive communication has specific features, it involves the use of certain techniques, and is intended for different audiences.

Lines of Inquiry

  • Features, forms, and techniques used in persuasive communication
  • How persuasive communication works
  • The impact of persuasive communication

Learning Goals and Success Criteria

Students will KNOW

  • The main forms of persuasive texts (e.g. brochure, flyer, letter, book/film/product review, campaign ad, TV commercial, political speech, academic essay etc.)
  • Figures of speech used in persuasive communication (e.g. onomatopoeia, hyperbole, personification etc.)
  • Elements of design (color, shape, texture, position, alignment etc.)
  • The main language features of a persuasive text (e.g. use of present tense and imperatives)
  • The techniques used in persuasive communication (e.g. flattery, bandwagon, facts and statistics etc.)

Students will be able to DO

  • Identify various elements in a persuasive text, verbal and non-verbal
  • Write persuasive texts using language and design elements effectively
  • Analyze the features of given persuasive texts 
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of various persuasive texts based on given criteria
  • Discuss the importance of the target audience when creating a persuasive text (and how it influences the choice of language and design)
  • Reflect on the effectiveness of their own and peers’ persuasive texts based on various criteria

Students will UNDERSTAND

  • Persuasive communication is pervasive, all around us (on TV, online, in newspapers etc.)
  • Language is essential in influencing emotions, thinking and behavior
  • There is a wide range of persuasive techniques used in order to transmit a message 
  • The choice of persuasive tools (verbal and visual) depends on several factors such as audience (e.g. age), format (political speech vs. holiday brochure), and specific purpose (e.g. advertising a product or service vs. initiating a donation campaign)



  • Strategy: I See – I Think – I Wonder
  • Student grouping: Groups of 3-4 (depending on class size)
  • Time: 45-50 minutes
  • Activity description:
  • On the desks there are big sheets of paper where there are glued (in the center) different persuasive texts – a leaflet, a book review, an ad for a product, a section of a speech; one table will have 2-3 devices for students to play 1 commercial and 1 movie trailer
  • The prompt on each table is I See – I Think – I Wonder. Students rotate between tables at the teacher’s clap (they move to a new table, jot down their answers, then move to the next).
  • When the groups finish, the entire class is sitting in a half-circle and the teacher puts up on the whiteboard all A3 papers and has the commercial and movie trailers ready on the big screen.
  • The conversation begins using the same three prompts. As students share their answers, the teacher jots down key words on the flipchart so that their thinking becomes visible to everyone. Eventually, some key concepts will be shared – “convince”, “sell”, “influence” etc.
  • The teacher makes a donut-like shape, writing the main words in the concentric circle and the word “persuasion” in the center. Students are then encouraged to come up with a definition of the word – strategy: Turn and Talk.
  • Wrap-up: The teacher clarifies the concept (“persuasion”) and puts up the PYP concepts FUNCTION, CHANGE and PERSPECTIVE. S/he will clarify the lines of inquiry (see planner) and invite students to explore persuasive communication around them for the next lesson.
  • Observe where you find persuasive communication on the way to and from school, at home and places you go. Jot down some of them for discussion next time.

Resource: I see Think Wonder (PDF)

2. Discover, Uncover, Share

  • Strategy: Chalk Talk
  • Student grouping: Groups of 3-4 (depending on class size)
  • Time: 45-50 minutes
  • Activity description:
  1. On the whiteboard there are two sections labeled:  WHAT /  WHERE (in a T-chart like form). Students are given post-its to share what they saw (e.g. a billboard) and where they saw it (e.g. on the way home, in the street). 
  2. The teacher reads some of them and encourages students to add a brief verbal description.  
  3. Students work in groups of 3-4 (depending on class size). Each group is given a large sheet of paper and a different color. The groups have the following prompts in the middle of each sheet:
  • What forms of persuasive communication did you see? 
  • Where did you see persuasive communication?
  • Who might use this type of communication?
  • Why was persuasive communication used?

*These key questions address the main elements (genre, purpose, audience etc.). The students are given about 10 minutes to write their answers as a group. Then each group shares their thinking. This allows the class to engage in listening, speaking and learning about all groups’ tasks.

     4. Wrap-up: The students are given 5 minutes to reflect on this learning experience using the prompt, “3-2-1: Three things that I learned/ Two things that I found important/ One question that I have.” 

*The teacher collects their answers, and copies some of the more interesting questions they have for next time in the inquiry process. 

RESOURCES: 3-2-1 Bridge , Group Questions



3. Zoom in- Zoom out

  • Strategy: Chalk Talk
  • Student grouping: Groups of 3-4 (depending on class size)
  • Time: 45-50 minutes
  • Activity description:
  1. Zoom in   Chalk-Talk: Each group is given a sample of a persuasive text (a book review, an ad, a brochure, a speech). Each group has a chart with these column headings: PURPOSE / STRUCTURE / LANGUAGE / LAYOUT. They are given 10-15 minutes to complete the table. 
  2. Gallery Walk: The student answers on the big sheet (together with the sample of text) are placed around the classroom. Each group is invited to “visit” and read other groups’ work. They can add comments or questions using post-its as they move from paper to paper. 
  3. Zoom out    The entire class is invited for a discussion. The students are encouraged to generalize based on the examples from each group. E.g. “Persuasive texts, regardless of their format, try to influence us.”, “Persuasion involves emotions, feelings and powerful visual or written messages.” etc.
  • Ensure the students rotate quietly and read carefully other groups’ answers.
  • In the final discussion, encourage students to generalize – not to refer to specific examples. These big ideas will serve as ways to consolidate their understanding of the Central Idea, which is placed in the center of the board.

RESOURCE: Zoom in – Zoom out

4. Let’s Analyze!

*A combination of explicit teaching and collaboration tasks follow so that students get familiar with specific types of persuasive techniques (key concept – FUNCTION). 

  • Strategy: Micro Lab 
  • Student grouping: Groups of 3-4 (depending on class size)
  • Time: 45-50 minutes
  • Activity description:
  1. The teacher puts up the concept Function and the respective line of inquiry. Then a big chart with major persuasive techniques  and examples for each is shared. The students also have the same chart printed in small size (A4 papers). The teacher gives students time to go through each technique name (e.g. rule of three) and example given (e.g. “Are you exhausted, frustrated, and moody? Then try RelaxOchair!”). 
  2. Each group of students is given samples of brochures, ads etc. and they have to highlight where they found the given techniques. Identifying them correctly is the first step. 
  3. Then the teacher puts cards on tables – a card with a device name (e.g. bandwagon) and an example.  They are randomly placed – the task is for students to walk around and match them. 
  4. Wrap-up: The class is invited to share their favorite technique and explain why, in their opinion, it is effective. EXIT TICKET (on a post-it): “Give your own 3 examples techniques you learned today. “

*The teacher collects the exit tickets and ensures that s/he will address in the next lesson any misconceptions that might occur based on student work (e.g. confusing hyperbole with loaded terms). 

RESOURCES: Cards – ExamplesCards – TechniquesExit Ticket – 3 ExamplesFUNCTION (1)Function


5. Let’s Rewrite! 

  • Strategy: Chalk Talk
  • Student grouping: Groups of 3-4 (depending on class size)
  • Time: 45-50 minutes
  • Activity description:
  1. Students are given, in groups, samples of persuasive texts. Certain sentences and parts of sentences are highlighted already in the texts. Their task is to improve the respective parts by using other persuasive techniques (from the board). 
  2. Each group shares their improved texts and then receives feedback from the peers on the effectiveness of their changes. 
  3. Wrap-up discussion around the concept of CHANGE. Ask open-ended questions and record student ideas on the flipchart. 
  • How does the impact on the reader change if we modify certain words and phrases?
  • What techniques seem more effective in this context? Would they work in another? Why/why not? 
  • How would we change the text if it was a specific audience? Say, teenagers compared to adults? etc. 

RESOURCES: Let’s Rewrite – Text,    Let’s Rewrite – Visuals

6. Audience Matters!

  • Strategy: Chalk Talk
  • Student grouping: Groups of 3-4 (depending on class size)
  • Time: 45-50 minutes
  • Activity description:
  1. The teacher gives each group a set of 4 different ads and a chart with these columns: Product / Audience / Language features / Design / Message intended. The students need to observe the ads and complete the chart. 
  2. Each group shares their chart in front of the class. 
  3. Whole class discussion follows around the concept of CHANGE. The teacher asks open-ended questions and as students answer s/he records main ideas on the flipchart:
  • What did you notice about the type of products intended for each age group? 
  • How did the language used change? How is it similar / different for each audience?
  • What colors, fonts and general use of design elements do you see? 
  • How was the message worded in each case? Why do you think that was different? etc. 


  • Ensure the ads given are printed on large A3 papers, in color, so that the students can notice all the details.
  • Use more specific observation prompts where you see a group or a student has difficulty detailing certain features (e.g. font colors in the ad, position of the person in the ad – foreground, background; the size of the item advertised; use of light and negative space etc.). 

RESOURCES: Audience Matters! (1)

*NOTE: From now on I am using the child-friendly language mentioned on Toddle.

7. Let’s Create!
Today we are creators! Let’s imagine we are part of a media company and we need to design some ads.
Each group has a different target audience (children, teenagers, young people and middle-aged adults) but the same product – an iPad. Now we need to put both our THINKING and CREATIVE  skills at work!
1. First, discuss and draft a plan for your ad considering the main features we analyzed last time:
  • – layout
  • – colors
  • – fonts
  • – language
  • – message etc. 
2. Next, create your advertisement using any tools you find suitable (it could be in the form of a TV commercial, a billboard etc.).
3. Share with the other groups and follow these questions:
  • – what was different in terms of the language used?
  • – how did the choice of color enable you to transmit the message? 
  • – how could each audience use the iPad considering their age?
  • – how sophisticated were the terms each group used in their advertisement based on the age of their audience? etc.
4. Now individually, reflect on today’s learning experience. What key ideas do you have now? In what way did your understanding of persuasion deepen? What would you have done differently in today’s task to make your advertisement more effective?


10. Pair-up to Persuade!

You did a great job as a class last time when we co-created a persuasive essay together! Now we go even further and work only with one partner so that we stretch our thinking and creativity more.

  • View  the PowerPoint presentation with a peer on your iPad. Pause,  Talk, Jot – write down any key points you find important.
  • Decide, together with your classmate, on a topic you want to write about. It could be something related to school (e.g. Persuading the school board to allow the use of mobile phones), to a broader cause (e.g. Persuading the city council to promote recycling in our city) etc.
  • Use the structure given to write, together, a persuasive essay on the chosen topic.
  • Share your essay with another pair of students. Read theirs, too. Give and receive feedback using the assessment criteria given.

RESOURCES: PERSUASIVE Writing , Persuasive Writing – 5-paragraph Essay , Pair Up to Persuade

11. Power-up YOUR Persuasive Voice! 

Today we will be the sole creators of our essay! You will decide the topic, what techniques you want to use, and how you want to work (in your notebook, on the iPad etc.).

  • Select one topic from the given list or decide your own.
  • Draft your essay using key points, not full sentences (see template 1).
  • Use template 2 and the vocabulary given to write your essay. Each time you use a word or a phrase cross it out from the list so you won’t repeat it.
  • Exchange your essay with another classmate, read theirs and assess it using the criteria given. (S/he will do the same with your work.)
  • On your exit ticket answer these two questions:
  • What was most difficult in writing the essay?
  • What would you improve about your essay next time? 

NOTE: As students practice in the following days, remove some of the scaffolds in the template. Start with removing some phrases, then slowly remove the structure – students need to be able to write a persuasive essay without any support by the end of the unit.

RESOURCES: Draft – Template 1 , Power-Up YOUR Persuasive VoicePersuasive Writing – 5-paragraph Essay


12. Circle of Viewpoints

Now that we have quite a lot of knowledge and skill regarding persuasion techniques, let’s apply them in a different way. You are given this scenario:

“Climate change is a global issue that affects everyone. However, there are many perspectives on this for different reasons. Let’s discuss it from different viewpoints.

Imagine that new solar panels are to be built and placed in a rural (agricultural) area, near the farmers’ fields and close to a mining region. Each group will represent a “voice”  (perspective) and will try to persuade the others about their viewpoint. The groups will be the following:

  • Farmers (who might lose cultivating land in favor of the solar panels)
  • Miners (who might lose their jobs since the area will use green energy)
  • Local inhabitants (who will benefit from a lower energy cost and also less pollution)
  • Businessmen (who want to implement this project and earn money)
  • Mayor (who wants to be elected and needs to make the final decision)
  • Wildlife activists (who worry that the solar panels will disrupt the migration of a unique species of small mammals that live in those fields)
  • OBSERVERS (this group will notice the interactions between you, the use of arguments, the way you deliver the speech)


  • In your group, outline the key arguments to support your particular cause.
  • Collaboratively write a speech using persuasive text features and techniques.
  • Sit in a circle with all groups. Take turns delivering your speech. In the meantime, the observers’ group will take notes and evaluate the effectiveness of your arguments and use of language.
  • As a class, listen to the observers’ feedback. Comment on whether you agree or disagree with their evaluation, and specify your reasons.
  • Reflect in your journals about this learning experience. Answer these 2 questions:
  •   What was challenging during this process
  •   What connections with real-life issues can you make?

RESOURCES: Persuasive Writing – 5-paragraph Essay , Circle of Viewpoints


  • You may want to record the talk so that the students view the recording later and observe themselves and reflect on their use of presentation skills (body language, voice etc.).
  • The follow-up should be another Circle of Viewpoints activity connected to your current inquiry unit (e.g. Migration, Government etc.). This would enable students to not only apply their persuasive communication skills but also the knowledge gained in the respective unit of inquiry.

13. Let’s Reflect…

We have been  exploring the world of persuasive communication and looked at advertisements, commercials, speeches and more. We investigated the way language and design are used to influence us, and we applied persuasive techniques in a variety of activities.

Let’s reflect on our learning so far and then share our ideas and thoughts at the end.

  1. Use the reflection sheet to write your big ideas.
  2. Post your reflections around the classroom. We will have a Gallery Walk and read some of our peers’ reflections.
  3. Share  your reflections using the Toddle Student App.