For fun

8 Reasons to Use Listicles in Your Classroom

Those clickbait articles you can’t help but read can do wonders in the classroom.

If you are reading this on a screen right now, you will have read a listicle before. They are a popular style of blog content, having risen to the mainstream in the late 00s via digital media outlet Buzzfeed. Not to be dismissed as a vehicle for meme-sharing, listicles provide a good example of how new genres surface in a digital writing landscape.

Listicles are rigidly structured pieces of writing with formal elements to follow.

So, what are they and why should teachers consider them for classroom use?

The term listicle is a mashup of list and article: listicles are punchy, concise ways to digest lots of information, with plenty of scope for the classroom.   

The title of a listicle always tells you exactly what you’re about to read and the listicle itself curates a descriptive list designed to inform, entertain, or explore a topic. Listicles have a simple, linear structure that requires the writer to break complex ideas down into easy-to-read chunks.

Significantly, listicles are also lots of fun to write! This is primarily why teachers should consider using them in the classroom, but here are some other reasons:

  1. Listicles can be used for almost any subject. From ‘Top 7 Reasons a World War Broke out in 1939’ to ’12 Reasons Why We Have Less Than Ten Years to Fix Climate Change’, or ‘9 Reasons Why Shakespeare is Better Than Harry Potter’, a listicle can be used across almost any subjects and adapted to all year levels.
  2. Listicles are novel and fun. So much more fun than writing an essay, they are a good way to encourage students to structure their ideas and to research evidence in support of a hypothesis or for a larger project.
  3. Listicles don’t depend solely on writing skills. This is one exercise where ideas and comprehension are more important than writing skills. No need to structure perfectly formed sentences.
  4. Listicles are an effective way of demonstrating knowledge. Getting students to write listicles is a great way of getting students to condense their big ideas into a single sentence, and curate their ideas to a particular topic. If you leave the number of items open, students can easily demonstrate the breadth of their knowledge of a subject. If you limit the number of items they can include in their list, students can learn the value of scope. This is a useful exercise for students who find keeping to a word limit difficult.
  5. Listicles are also an effective way of seeing student interests and opinions. On more abstract or personal topics, or if they choose their own, it will immediately be obvious where a student’s interest lies. As a reflective exercise, students can gather listicles on a topic and engage with them critically by analysing omissions and inclusions, then do the same with their own listicle.
  6. Listicles force students to analyse their ideas. By limiting students to a certain number of points, they will be forced to analyse the quality of each of their ideas and determine their value for inclusion.
  7. Listicles incorporate digital literacy. Whether they’re researching online, searching for accompanying images or turning it into a digital presentation, writing a listicle ticks plenty of boxes. Listicles are also a publishable form of writing across mainstream media platforms as well as corporate websites and social media blogs, so students will enjoy learning a style of writing they are likely to use in an industry setting.
  8. Listicles don’t seem like hard work. Get your kids to write a listicle about all they know for an upcoming test or exam, and they will be studying without even realising it. Learning about the formal elements of a style of writing they associate with popular culture may give them new appreciation for genre that carries over into more traditional genre study.


Shannon Meyerkort

Shannon Meyerkort is a freelance writer and the author of "Brilliant Minds: 30 Dyslexic Heroes Who Changed our World", now available in all good bookstores.

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