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10 — The story so far

This is the tenth sequence in a learning unit familiarising students with the grammatical structure of statements and questions by investigating their local geographical landscapes and those further afield. During this sequence students will engage with the text Mirror by Jeannie Baker. The students will use a retelling strategy developed by Tony Stead to assist in the comprehension of non-fiction texts.

You will need a copy of Mirror and some sticky notes. You will also need to be familiar with the retelling strategy developed by Tony Stead and outlined in his text Reality Checks.

Begin the sequence by sharing any communication from your ePals. Look at the display of questions that were asked and see if any of them have been answered. Discuss which questions provided the most information about your ePals. If your school has been asked any questions, talk about what your responses will be. Have small groups of students construct responses. ACHASSK033

Activity 1: Retelling the story

Revisit Mirror. Discuss how Jeannie Baker builds up our understanding of the lives of the two boys by creating detailed visual images. Choose one page to look at in detail. Ask the students:

Draw the students’ attention to the ‘Landscape language’ display and discuss any connection between the words or phrases used.

Five Moroccan children standing by a stone wall in their village

Above: Photo of Moroccan childen, titled Enfants du Maroc by Wikidove, public domain image, no copyright

Explain that during this reading of the text you want the students to focus on what is happening only on the side showing Morocco. Explain that after this reading they will retell the Moroccan boy’s story in their own words. Read the first two pages, modelling how students might read the text. For the next two pages, ask several students to tell the story in their own words. Remind them of the three questions that should be used as a guide to assist them with producing sentences:

Allow them time to share sentences in pairs before asking individual students to retell the story on the following pages. The rest of the group should be encouraged to add to their reading. Continue until the entire text has been read.  ACELA1450,  ACELA1451,  ACELY1660

Activity 2: Writing down the recalled story

Following the reading, ask the students to share what they thought was happening in the text. Display the text to assist their recall. Record the responses on sticky notes in one or two words in the order they are given. Tell the students that these notes provide the keywords that summarise the most important points of what they have shared about the text. Randomly display the sticky notes for the class on the board until they can no longer think of any important points to add. Select students to come and take a sticky note and arrange themselves in a line to match the sequence of the illustrations in the book. Ask the students if this happened before or after this part of the text. Other students can assist in decision making about the sequence. Once all of the sticky notes have been selected, students retell their part of the story, using the keywords on their sticky note as a guide. Emphasise that the retelling must be in complete sentences and include descriptive language to help the listeners see the picture in their imaginations.

Scribe the students’ retelling on an interactive whiteboard or whiteboard. Once the retelling has been completed, read the text to the class and invite suggestions for any edits that will improve it. The edits may be to build up the description or to develop cohesive sentence structures.  ACELT1586,  ACELY1660


The students can now read the final retelling of Mirror as a class. Collect and number the sticky notes and keep them in a safe place to use during the next sequence.