SPAG through Spam!

Spam Emails - they're a pain in the backside and a real nuisance, however, could they actually be a really useful tool in the classroom??? Absolutely!

This idea came to me after watching this very funny TED talk -

I think it is important to teach children about Spam Emails and what they are and how to recognise whether an email is spam or not. As stated in the new computing curriculum -
Co2/1.5    use search technologies effectively, appreciate how results are selected and ranked, and be discerning in evaluating digital content
Co2/1.7    use technology safely, respectfully and responsibly; recognise acceptable/unacceptable behaviour; identify a range of ways to report concerns about content and contact

Here are some links that have some useful information in explaining what Spam is and how to spot it-

The tell-tale sign that would be great to explore in class is the fact that most spam emails contain spelling and punctuation errors. Challenging children to identify these mistakes and correct them would be a great little mental/oral starter to your English lesson! 

Take this example -

i need urgently money.please  help me i need 777USD money. i will give back your money.
(if you are able to do my help .then i will give you my bank account no.
So ask the children to read this message. After discussing the ways to identify spam emails ask them to consider whether they think it is spam and why? Hopefully, one will say there are some spelling mistakes. Challenge the children to spot as many mistakes as possible and see whether they can use the correct terminology in explaining the mistakes. If the children need encouraging here are some questions -

  • What is the pronoun in the first sentence? What is wrong with it? 
  • The sender has used an adverb in the first sentence, what is it? Has it been used correctly? What needs to be changed?
  • What is missing from the start of the second sentence? 
  • Look at the phrase 'please help me' would you change anything? If so, what and why? 
  • 'i need 777USD money' does this make sense? Can we re-write it using a conjunction?
  • What type of word is missing from the third sentence?
  • Look at the 4th sentence - what words don't need to be there? 
  • What is wrong with the use of punctuation in the last sentence?
Give the children the opportunity to rewrite the email without any mistakes. 

I think it is a great way to practise SPAG within the context of e-safety and digital literacy. The idea of asking children to edit and 'uplevel' an example of work is really useful but rather than spending time writing examples, just take some screenshots of emails from your spam folder!

Here's a few I found -

I hope you find this little idea useful! 


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