Persuasive writing and technology

This pupil-led unit is a really exciting, new and engaging way to teach persuasive writing and non-fiction letter writing units.

We used Apple Clips and the Green screen effect to link our persuasive writing to a video that we shared with companies buying a selling plastic straws. Video link

Overview: this 2-3 week writing unit links New National Curriculum  literacy objectives in persuasive writing with both the online and local community. It is pupil-led which means it engages reluctant writers and aims to show a direct response to pupil work though instant social media messages (Tweets) and emails. Once you have a campaign to follow you plan and draft persuasive letters to a range of larger companies and businesses with an aim of scaling the campaign down to a grass roots level and making changes within your school community or local town/village.

Prep: take a look at trending social media campaigns online. Check your Facebook and Twitter feeds as well as local news reports on what’s hot and what’s not. Examples could include, environmental, homelessness, the elderly, food banks, supermarkets/superstores, fly-tipping, road safety, green spaces and park.

Teacher Twitter account: You will also need a Twitter account so you can effectively search and contact companies. Use a teacher account rather than your own personal account so you can share responses and regulate the home page feeds.

Lesson 1: Start of unit assessment (cold write)

To show the progress in their writing as the children to write a piece of persuasive writing (a letter) to the Head Teacher asking them to change something they don’t like about school. E.g. amount of homework, length of break, access to water bottles, conditions of the toilets ect. Obviously guide them on what is appropriate to lobby for and what is not!

After the cold write introduce the writing topic. Show them how children have the power to make changes from inside the classroom. Watch #strawssuck on Youtube


Then read

Plenary: ask the children to write down their ideas of what they would like to change. Mindmap on your IWB or flipchart ready for your next lesson.

Lesson 2: review other social media campaigns. 

Take a look at a range of other social media campaigns by searching Twitter via a @ or hashtag e.g. #strawssuck_uk #flytippinguk #homelessnessuk @charityuk @charityNewsUK

Review them together- shared read. Highlight the key features linked into persuasive writing features:

Lesson 3 -choose a campaign to support. Discuss how is best to support the campaign. Who can you write to? Explain how emails and social media make it easier to contact all businesses. Show chn a twitter feed. A direct message is private wheras a post on a page is public. Discuss how this might impact the structure and content of your message as well as the response. For example, a public company will always want to ‘save face’ by responding politely if they know the message is public. A private message doesn’t always have the same impact.

Lesson 4- 5: Structure. How will you support the campaign?  Link your planning closely to a normal persuasive writing unit from here on. Identify structural, punctual and writing features you would expect to see in a persuasive text. Remember, you can contact and raise awareness a number of different ways. This is a pupil-led unit so be flexible is some children want to draft an email to one company while another pair or group might want to lobby an entirely different business. As long as is is relevant you can always discuss the likelihood of a positive response later.

Week 2: drafting and contacting via email and Twitter

Here is where your children drum up support for their online campaign in your local community. Using your teacher Twitter account or school email. Once a Tweet is re-drafted and ready to go send it directly using your Twitter account.

We sent messages to a wide range of retailers using plastic straws like McDonalds, Santander, Tesco, Asda, KFC as well as local shops in our local city of Nottingham. Try and focus on the smaller businesses as their accounts are usually ran by the General Manager (GM) tend to reply more often.

Showing an impact:

Show your children the messages you send out and share any replies you get. We had a paperstraw wholesaler called send us 500 free products to help local businesses make the switch.

End of unit assessment and celebration

Compare your start of unit cold write with a hot task at the end where the pupils write a persuasive letter about the social media campaign addressing it to whoever they like.

Don’t forget to share your work with the school and wider community. Show any impacts in special mention assemblies or via your school social media (website) ect.

For more info on how our project looked check out:

If you would like more info on the project including PowerPoint resources and detailed lesson plans please contact me via Twitter or Facebook.




Published by Mr K Education

Tom Konsek is an Apple Distinguished Educator and Primary school teacher in the East Midlands, UK. He shares his innovative ideas about curriculum and technology via his blog.

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