Using Yelp as an Instructional Tool

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Feb. 6, 2018, 1:28 p.m.


Locate a variety of posts to use as you guide students to identify the author's main message.

Students can identify the purpose of each post and the techniques used to communicate the purpose.

How does the word choice convey the tone or attitude of the writer?

How is the author feeling about the food, service, or restaurant? What does the author say that makes you think this?


Here are a few ways you can use Yelp, a popular site for foodies, to teach writing.

  1. Develop a list of “success criteria” for choosing a new restaurant to try.
  2. Locate restaurants in the area.
  3. Using the data, select a restaurant that meets your criteria.
  4. Use the pictures of the food to write a descriptive paragraph about one of the entrees. 
  5. Read the restaurant reviews and evaluate for effective:
  • Organization-Is there a clear, beginning, middle, and end? Does the author use an organizational technique to communicate the message? Is it cause and effect, descriptive, problem/solution, chronological, or classificatory?
  • Development of ideas-How many big ideas does the author include? Did the author provide enough, too little, or too much elaboration? How does this affect your understanding of what the restaurant has to offer?
  • Word choice-What words did the author use to describe the restaurant, food, or service? How did these words affect your understanding of what the restaurant has to offer?
  • Voice-Can you hear the author’s voice? What did the author include in the review that helps the reader know the author?
  • Sentence Fluency-How does the review sound when you read it? Do the sentences have different beginnings? Are there some short and some longer sentences? Is there a variety of punctuation?
  • Conventions-Is the review free of noticeable spelling and punctuation errors? Do the sentences sound right? Did the author use correct subject/verb agreement? Is the review written in paragraph form for ease of reading?


Check out our Using Yelp in the Classroom activity here!

Kelly Harmon and Randi Anderson

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Kelly Harmon & Associates began in 2001 with a mission of instructional coaching and providing rich literacy resources for educators and parents. Our work incorporates research-based best practices for teaching and learning.

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