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“Survivor” (Reading)

School Journal, Part 2 Number 2, 2009. Noun frequency level: 9–10

By the end of year 5, students are required to use a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts to locate, evaluate, and integrate information and ideas in order to meet the reading demands of the curriculum, drawing on the knowledge, skills, and attitudes described for the end of year 5 in the Literacy Learning Progressions. The curriculum tasks will involve the students in generating their own questions as well as answering questions from the teacher.

The students in a year 5 class are involved in an inquiry about pests, integrating science and English. As part of the English focus, the students are developing an understanding of how texts are shaped for different purposes and audiences; they are identifying particular points of view in texts and beginning to recognise that authors use a variety of ways to engage the reader with their point of view.

“Survivor” is a fictional text written from the perspective of an anthropomorphic cockroach. The author is trying to influence the reader to consider a positive view of cockroaches. The text is well supported by illustrations that add depth and mood to the story.

This text has connections to the key competencies of thinking and using language, symbols, and texts.

The teacher chose “Survivor” because the text includes a range of features, such as descriptive and explanatory language (including factual information) and humorous, idiosyncratic language to engage the reader. Students are required to make connections between their prior knowledge and the information in the text to understand key scientific content (facts about cockroaches). They are also required to think critically and evaluate information in order to distinguish these facts from competing information that is part of the fictional story but is irrelevant to their purpose.

The following example illustrates aspects of the task and text and demonstrates how a student engages with both task and text to meet the reading demands of the curriculum. A number of such examples would be used to inform the overall teacher judgment for this student.