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Ministry of Education.

Fat tax

Writer: Gayle Cattell

NCEA Level: 2 Duration: 5 weeks

Unit standard being assessed

US 8825 Version 4:

  • Produce transactional written text in complex forms.

 Performance criteria

  • Writing develops idea(s)
  • Ideas are logically developed, sequenced, and supported by relevant details and/or examples
  • Conventions of chosen form are observed and are appropriate to the purpose of the writing
  • Final product is crafted to publication standard.

 Language learning outcomes

  •  Writing an argument.

Curriculum links

This achievement standard is derived from English in the New Zealand Curriculum, Learning Media, Ministry of Education, 1994, up to and including Level 7.

  • Writing: Transactional Writing, Exploring Language, Thinking Critically, often with links to Processing Information

with links to:

  • Reading: Personal Reading, Close Reading
  • Speaking: Using Texts
  • Listening: Listening to Texts

This unit also links to Food Technology, Home Economics and Health.

Guidelines for use

Students will will develop pieces of transactional writing arguing either for or against a fat tax on junk food. This unit could be used as a formative work for transactional writing. If it is used for summative assessment, students must ensure that none of the material in the exemplars [which are written on this 'Fat Tax' topic] is incorporated into their essays.


The same conditions for assessment apply when assessing 8825 and the internally assessed writing achievement standard 90376 Produce crafted and developed formal transactional writing [2.2] - or any internally assessed unit or achievement writing standard at any level. Teachers must be satisfied that the work is the student's. Students should complete internally assessed writing work in class. If the pieces are to be assessed for summative assessment, teachers should ensure that the extent of teacher input does not compromise assessment validity; in other words, the writing is the students', not the teacher's.

This is an internal assessment and as such should be worked on only in the classroom under teacher supervision. To ensure authenticity, students work should be held by the teacher between periods.

Teachers may guide students actively through the initial tasks helping them to identify techniques mentioned. Teachers may show how the techniques used in the exemplars can be applied to students' own writing.

As they develop drafts, teachers can advise students that their writing may need further work on ideas, language, structure; or on accuracy in spelling, punctuation or paragraphing, but they may not correct errors. Students should have access to dictionaries to check their writing. Word processing is acceptable providing it is done under teacher supervision.

Consultation should occur with each student prior to the final submission. Students should have several opportunities during the year to develop their transactional writing skills.

Students may use English language dictionaries, but not foreign language or electronic dictionaries. Students should be fully aware of the process contained in the TeacherInstruction-summativeAssessment (Word 30KB) and familiar with the sheets needed to complete the task

NB: Teachers using this unit will need to check that it is in accord with their school assessment policy.

Teacher background reading

Teacher perceptions on the use and value of formative assessment in secondary English programmes.

Teaching and learning formative activities

Some suggested adaptations for lower ability students have been included in green either under this section or within the teacher instructions which can be found along with the task. The teaching/learning activities have been divided into preparing to learn at word and sentence level, preparing to learn at text level, and preparing to write (which includes a practice assessment task).

Preparing to learn at word level and sentence level

Task 1- Ask and Answer (Word 26KB)

  • Ask and answer is designed to link to students' prior knowledge and introduce the topic of junk food.

Phrases in Apposition task 2 (Word 417KB)

  • Practise writing definitions for 'junk food'.
  • After modeling how to make sentences more concise by using phrases in apposition, allow students to practise the examples given in the task.
  • Students may gain further practice by:
    • using dictionaries to find the meaning for obese and /or cholesterol
    • writing a definition
    • turning the definition into a phrase in apposition and completing the sentence.

Task 3- Exemplification Revision (Word 24KB)

  • A worksheet that shows students how to include examples in their sentences.

Quotes task 4 (Word 1,017KB)

  • Designed to help students integrate quotes into their writing.

Task 5 Free writing ( 40KB)

  • This task is a set of four free writing tasks designed to allow students to practise the sentence structures being explicitly taught.
  • The first exercise students include a quote, apposition and short sentence in their paragraph.

Task 6- Vocabulary (Word 135KB)

  • Use text "Push for Tax on Junk Food Sales".
  • The word find and a match the meaning activity for the above text contains only words from the academic word list. Strategies are included on the worksheet for handling unknown words.

Preparing to learn at text level

Task 7- Sentence Matching (Word 46KB)

  • Students match a sentence from the task sheet to a difficult sentence that has the same meaning from the text, to aid comprehension.

Task 8- True-False (Word 42KB)

  • Ask students to defend their answer of true or false by providing evidence from the text, thus encouraging verbal argument.

Task 9

  • Issue each student with a copy of "Push for Tax on Junk Food Sales". The teacher reads while students follow the story on their copies. It is suggested that you break the text into three parts or paragraphs. After each reading: clarify, question, summarise and predict similar to the reciprocal reading process, for example:
    • Ask students if they require any words clarified.
    • Ask if there are any questions about parts they don't understand.
    • Ask students to summarise what has happened

Preparing to learn at sentence level

Nominalisation task 10 (Word 2MB)

  • Explicitly explain the example on the worksheet before students complete the sheet.

Task 11 Free writing 2nd attempt (Word 40KB)

  • In the second exercise students include nominalisation, a question and a compound sentence in their paragraph.

Preparing to learn at text level

Task 12- Theme and Rheme (Word 45KB)

  • This worksheet was designed to prompt 'noticing' that the given information, unlike their own language, usually comes first in English sentence patterns.
  • Click above to go to the student worksheets, teacher instructions and the answers on this activity to help improve students' sentence structures.

Task 13- Free writing (Word 40KB)

  • In the third exercise, students include theme and rheme, exemplification and a complex sentence in their paragraph.

Task 14- Information Transfer (Word 24KB)

  • Give students a photocopy of information transfer sheet, which is a graphic organiser.
  • Using the text, "Push for Tax on Junk Food Sales", students complete the worksheet.
  • Check the answers, asking students to argue for the worth of each solution.
  • Students may present some new solutions which they could use in their essay.

Task 15- Information Transfer for an Argument (Word 24KB)

  • These are the arguments they will use in their essay.
  • Students should complete both for and against.

Task 16- Free writing (Word 40KB)

  • In the fourth exercise students may include those sentence structures which they need further practice with in their paragraph.

Preparing to learn about the genre of argument

Task 17- Text Reconstruction (Word 48KB)

  • Photocopy the essay page for each student, and make an OHT to project onto the whiteboard.
  • Cut up the essays into paragraphs before giving to students to reconstruct.
  • Students reconstruct the essay and glue it into their books. They should argue the reason for the placement order of the paragraphs, for example: "Put the strongest argument first."
  • Using the OHP, mark the language features as they are discussed on the whiteboard. Students paste on the speech boxes to label the parts.

Task 18-modality (Word 332KB)

  • Explicitly explain modals using the picture of the boat on the worksheet.
  • Complete each section of the worksheet explaining as necessary or students complete the sheet independently. Check the answers to question 1.

Cohesion-CauseAndEffect (Word 720KB)

  • Explicitly explain the examples on the worksheet.
  • Complete each section of the worksheet explaining as necessary or students complete the sheet independently. You may rove around the room checking answers as students complete the sheet.

Task 20- Argument Construction Squares (Word 33KB)

  • This activity is designed to re-introduce students to the structure of an argument.
  • Make an OHP of the argument deconstruction squares.
  • Discuss each square in relation to the modal answer.
  • As students find the different parts of the structure of an argument, they may highlight them.

Task 21- Cohesion - Linking Words (Word 33KB)

  • Students can complete the sheet for homework, or model how to fill the first gap and complete the worksheet in class.

Task 22- Writing Squares (Word 32KB)

  • The construction writing square activity focuses on providing the structure for an argument.
  • Students are given each square one at a time, and asked to write only one sentence on the back, except for the supporting evidence squares, where about ninety words is required. The teacher can roam providing assistance as required.
  • The question on the front of the square provides the prompt, and sentence starters provide further scaffolding.
  • From these squares students then write their first draft.

Task 23- Editing (Word 47KB)

  • A series of three peer editing tasks focussing on ideas, structure and language features are used in this activity to help students improve their essays.


Independent writing

Assessment note

This activity can be used to assess one of the three pieces required for the transactional writing unit standard 8825. Unit standard 8825 assesses similar outcomes to achievement standard 90376 Produce crafted and developed formal transactional writing [2.2]. Both standards require the same overall standard of writing to gain achievement [2.2] and credit [8825]. Even though the two standards assess similar outcomes, there are some differences in terminology. The term "conventions" is used in performance criteria 1.3 [8825] to mean style and structure. "Conventions" in the formal writing achievement standard refers to grammar, spelling, grammar, and punctuation. The standard of technical accuracy required in 8825's pc 1.4: " Final product is crafted to publication standard" is identical to achievement level for the 2.2 conventions criterion: "use writing conventions accurately."



  • Collerson, J. (1994). English Grammar: A Functional Approach Sydney, NESW: Primary English Teaching Association.
  • Derewianka, B. (2002). A Grammar Companion Sydney: NSW Primary English Teaching Association.
  • Knapp, P. and Watkins, M. (1994). Context -Text- Grammar: Teaching the Genres and Grammar of School Writing in Infants and Primary Classrooms Broadway. NSW: Text Productions.


  • The New Zealand Herald. (2004). Push for Tax on Junk Food Sales.

Published on: 24 Jun 2009