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“Deer, Oh Deer” (Reading)

(School Journal, Part 4 Number 1, 2010) Noun frequency level: 12–14

By the end of year 7, students are required to use a range of fiction and non-fiction texts to locate, evaluate, and synthesise 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 7 in the Literacy Learning Progressions. The curriculum tasks will also involve the students in generating their own questions as well as answering questions from the teacher.

The students in a year 7 and 8 class are working on a social studies unit exploring the impact that people’s decisions have had, and continue to have, on the New Zealand environment. They are also focusing on the selection and evaluation of relevant information, interpretation of evidence, and identification of bias as they think critically about the text and develop an informed argument for a follow-up writing task.

“Deer, Oh Deer” explores the introduction of wild deer to New Zealand and the impact they have had on the environment over the last 140 years. The text contains elements of explanation (cause and effect) as well as descriptive detail. The text is supported by a selection of relevant historical advertisements, photographs, and tables.

The teacher chose this text because it has a non-continuous structure and is a mixture of description, explanation, and opinion. Because the information is already presented as a single text, the students can concentrate on locating, selecting, and evaluating relevant information to make their own judgments about the impact of deer on New Zealand’s natural environment. The headings, photos, information boxes, and “for and against” table assist students to navigate the text.

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