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The Gestapo’s Most Wanted (Reading)

School Journal, Part 4 Number 2, 2009. Noun frequency level: 12–14

By the end of year 8, 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 8 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.

As part of their learning in social studies, the students in a year 7 and 8 class are inquiring into how individuals respond to community challenges. The students are reading a wide variety of non-fiction texts in order to explore the personal qualities that drive people to courageously put their lives at risk to change the course of events when faced with oppression and injustice.

The Gestapo’s Most Wanted is a biography that recounts the dangerous role played by Nancy Wake, a young New Zealand born woman who served with the French Resistance in the Second World War and became a secret agent for the Allied forces. This is a longer text that deals with some complex themes, such as resistance, endurance, and courage.

The teacher chose The Gestapo’s Most Wanted because of its complex themes and historical setting. Students need to evaluate and synthesise information to understand the importance of the personal qualities of Nancy Wake and of other people who have changed the course of events. The subheadings and the italicised introduction help the students to set up an expectation for the reading.

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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