Sylphie's Squizzes: A Matter of Taste

article by Zoë Disher , photo by Alamy

Learning intention

I am learning to discuss how language is used to create authority in texts so that I can develop my skills in writing with authority.

Success criteria

  • I can discuss which types of text speak with most authority.
  • I can identify key information in texts.
  • I can reflect on language used in different types of texts and how this impacts authority.
  • I can re-write information to increase authority.


Essential knowledge

View the video Authority from The School Magazine. View the resource Stage 3 Comprehending and Creating Persuasive Texts using Ethos, Pathos and Logos to assess and evaluate from The School Magazine site. Ensure students note that both ethos and logos provide authority to non-fiction texts.


Focus question

How can information be presented in different ways to impact an audience?


Prior to reading Sylphie’s Squizzes: A Matter of Taste discuss the following questions with students:

  • Which type of text is most likely to inform, an article, a poem or a story?
  • Which type of text speaks with greater authority, an article or a poem?

Most likely students will conclude that an article is most likely to inform and that articles speak with most authority.

Read Sylphie’s Squizzes: A Matter of Taste. Discuss the subject matter ensuring students correctly identify that the article focuses on the following:

  • chillies and the effect they have on humans when they are eaten
  • how birds are immune to the heat of chillies
  • the fact some people enjoy eating chillies and what types of cuisine feature chilli as an ingredient
  • the fact that the use of facts provides ethos and logos to the text.

Read the poem Meet the Heat (or, The Wicked Chillies Ballad), found on pages 18 and 19 of this issue of Orbit. Discuss the subject matter, ensuring students note that the poem focuses on the following:

  • the effect on humans of eating chillies
  • the kinds of meals you can add chillies to and why you should add chilli to food.

Discuss the fact that Sylphie’s Squizzes: A Matter of Taste and Meet the Heat (or, The Wicked Chillies Ballad) both feature similar ideas (the effect on humans of eating chillies and what food chillies can be added to).

Pose the following question:

  • Although both texts include similar ideas, which text speaks with most authority?

Sylphie’s Squizzes: A Matter of Taste speaks with greater authority. Those with a digital subscription should complete the interactive activity now.

Inform students that they will be examining the style and the elements featured in both texts to reflect on what helps create a sense of authority.

Identify elements featured in Sylphie’s Squizzes: A Matter of Taste that provide authority. Examples include that featuring factual information and technical terms creates authority, evident in extracts such as:

A chemical called capsaicin in the chillies makes us think we’re being burnt, but in reality, we’re not.

Capsaicin causes a feeling of pain when mammals eat chillies, but not when birds do.

Discuss the style used in Meet the Heat (or, The Wicked Chillies Ballad) emphasising examples such as:

I round up my gang with their heat,


we’ll make you perspire,


raise temperatures higher

—we’re a sizzling, sensational treat!


Ensure students identify that the poem feels more conversational, that it features humor and that the poet has used the first person. Discuss the impact this has on authority, ensuring students conclude that these elements create less of an authoritative tone. Remind students that their prior knowledge may also have influenced their impression that the poem is less authoritative than the article.

Inform students that they will be using the elements that made Sylphie’s Squizzes: A Matter of Taste authoritative to rewrite the ideas in Meet the Heat (or, The Wicked Chillies Ballad) with more authority.

Re-read the first stanza of Meet the Heat (or, The Wicked Chillies Ballad). Discuss the main ideas, such as:

  • Willie is the leader of the group
  • Chillies are a treat.

Collaboratively compose a brief paragraph re-writing this information with more authority. Remind students that ethos and logos can be used to create greater authority. Inform students that they can make up factual information if they wish. For example:

  1. Willie has been the head chilli for over five years. Before every performance he rounds up the band members for a dress-rehearsal and for them to tune-up their instruments. Members of the audience have often commented that the band is ‘an absolute treat to watch’.

Instruct students to work through the remaining stanzas in the poem, identifying the key points in each stanza before re-writing the ideas with more authority. Students can work individually or in pairs for this task.

Place students in small groups and instruct them to read their paragraphs to their peers. Discuss key elements that provided authority in the students’ work.