English Support Materials
English snapshot: Home and Away
English/Literature/Responding to literature and Examining literature and English/Language/Text structure and organisation
|Content Description||Relevant aspects of the Achievement Standards|
Analyse and explain how text structures, language features and visual features of texts and the context in which texts are experienced may influence audience response (ACELT1641)
Identify, explain and discuss how narrative viewpoint, structure, characterisation and devices including analogy and satire shape different interpretations and responses to a text (ACELT1642)
Understand how paragraphs and images can be arranged for different purposes, audiences, perspectives and stylistic effects (ACELA1567)
Students evaluate how text structures can be used in innovative ways by different authors. They explain how the choice of language features, images and vocabulary contributes to the development of individual style.
They develop and justify their own interpretations of texts. They evaluate other interpretations, analysing the evidence used to support them. They listen for ways features within texts can be manipulated to achieve particular effects.
Nature of the assessment
Teacher-devised task for a class of students that includes many reluctant readers
Purposes of the assessment
To assess students’ ability to interpret perspective and identify how it is shaped and communicated through the arrangement of words and images.
Stage in the teaching sequence
Prior to a teaching sequence on narrative viewpoint
The teacher selected Home and Away by John Marsden and Matt Ottley as the stimulus for the assessment for several reasons. Many of the students in the class were reluctant readers and the teacher felt the graphic images and minimal text would engage the students. More importantly, although the text appears to be simple, it is multi-layered and both text and illustrations allow for high-order questions about point of view.
The teacher handed out one book between two students for a ‘think, pair, share’ activity. The initial question, ‘Whose story is this?’ orientated the students to the story. The teacher discussed student responses to this initial question. This question was followed by a series of questions to help students understand the main theme of the book and required them to analyse the text and illustrations on each page. The teacher moved around the class listening to the students’ discussion and looking for evidence that most students were able to interpret the text and illustrations.
The teacher then led a discussion of the book, noting students’ observations on the board.
During this discussion, the teacher looked for evidence that the students were able to identify main ideas and a range of points of view in response to the focus question. They then compared the ideas and range of points of view with other texts they had seen or heard. She assessed high-order understandings by posing questions that required students to clarify their thinking and provide evidence to support their observations.
Using the information
The teacher used the discussion to inform two follow up activities. The purpose of the first was to see if students were able to identify how narrative point of view helps the reader see what characters’ lives are like at different stages in the story, the second task required a more detailed examination of point of view. Based on the teacher’s assessment of the students in the initial assessment activity, some students were started on the first follow up activity while the other students judged to have made sophisticated responses to the initial question ‘Whose story is this?’ were allocated follow up activity 2.
Follow up Activity 1
Q1. Think about how the characters’ lives change and how the characters themselves change in the story.
Complete the table to describe what the characters’ lives are like, and what the characters’ are like at different stages in the story.
|Character||Beginning of the story||Just after the war||At the end of the story|
What were the children’s lives like?
What was the narrator like?
What was Claire like?
What was Toby like?
Q2. How might a teenage refugee’s perspective of Australia differ from an Australian teenager’s perspective of Australia?
Q3. People are not forced to flee countries like Australia. The author chose to set the start of the story in a place like Australia rather than in a country from which people typically flee.
How does the setting of the story contribute to the main idea of the text?
Follow up Activity 2
‘Walking a mile in someone’s shoes’. Home and Away helps the reader to walk in the shoes of a refugee.
Analyse the text and illustrations in Home and Away and discuss how the author and illustrator encourage the reader to empathise with the difficulties faced by refugees.
The teacher read the students’ answers to the follow up questions looking for evidence that the students could explain how the author and illustrator had manipulated language and visual features to influence the reader.
Using the information
The teacher decided it was important to continue using books such as Home and Away at regular intervals to engage students. Having established that students could identify and analyse point of view within a text and the effect this could have on an audience’s response, she continued with her planned series of lessons looking at contrasting points of view of the same topic. In addition, she planned extension work for the more able students.
The teacher also evaluated her tasks and decided, on reflection, that the students would have benefited from a little more scaffolding in the second activity. She used this information to refine the task she had planned for the summative assessment at the end of the lesson series.