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Plight of the Sea Turtle (Reading)

School Journal, Part 3 Number 2, 2008. Noun frequency level: 10–12

By the end of year 6, 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 6 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 5 and 6 class are involved in a science investigation to discover how environmental causes and human actions have led to many animals becoming endangered and to identify a range of actions that individuals and organisations can take to restore the habitats of these endangered species.

Plight of the Sea Turtle deals with the decreasing numbers of sea turtles in the Pacific and describes some initiatives to prevent their extinction. The information is logically organised, and the text is well supported by photos, a map, captions, and easily identified information boxes. (This is a relatively short text. Students in year 6 will often be required to read texts that are longer.)

The teacher chose Plight of the Sea Turtle because the text features (such as the title, opening paragraph, subheadings, and topic sentences) support students in using speed-reading strategies (including skimming and scanning the text) to locate, evaluate, and integrate information that is relevant to their questions. Examples of such questions could be “What are the threats to turtles’ nesting sites?” and “What human actions threaten turtles’ existence?”

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.

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