Persuasive voices from the back seat
During a secondary school English unit, students persuade others while taking the role of passengers.
Tawa College Year 9 and 10 students found the old adage of passengers being back-seat drivers and expressing their concerns might be no bad thing.
They also found through an NZ Transport Agency-produced series of English lessons that speaking up about safety when others are driving may not be easy or comfortable.
So they explored the sorts of journeys they make, who they travel with, and then created a persuasive text to express their thoughts about safety issues.
Their learning experiences showed that a road safety topic relevant to their own lives can be purposefully embedded into the English learning area of the New Zealand Curriculum.
About the English unit
We Travel Together was written by education consultant Karen Melhuish, an experienced English teacher.
The unit can be explored in around six lessons. Students look at ways in which their actions, and those of others in and around cars, have consequences for everyone. Students consider their own car journeys and create a persuasive text (visual/oral/written) to highlight the importance of making sensible decisions.
A unit plan in Word format and a booklet of external resources are available for download.
Tawa College teacher Nigel Mitchell led a trial of the unit. He says teachers have to get past teenage attitudes of being invincible or all-knowing. He found:
- “Students learnt that it is easier to give some people the message than others and they practised giving messages in situations that might be harder, such as to another student’s parent.”
- “There were many opportunities for students to make a persuasive point. They used a range of media, for example stop-frame animations, posters, essays, and multi-media presentations.”
- “They focused on their ability to influence the most important road safety issues for them, within the broader theme of being a passenger: for example their parents being tired, distractions like putting on makeup in the car, and being uncomfortable with the driver’s speed.”
More lesson plans available
This year, the NZTA has released secondary curriculum units in a range of learning areas. All are available for teachers to download and tailor to meet their students' needs.