6 — Language features of an information report
This sequence follows on from the previous one, which looked at the structure of information reports. As well as a predictable and logical structure, information reports have particular language features that can be taught explicitly to students so that they are able to successfully implement the appropriate degree of technical language and clarity in their reports.
During this sequence the students will learn how to expand noun groups using adjectives that describe and classify to build up appropriate technical language for information report writing. They will also analyse the different ways the animals and their features are referred to in the report, and how this creates cohesion and clarity. The students will make comparisons to the less technical, more everyday language that is used in narrative texts.
- Prickety Prackety by Diana Ross and Caroline Crossland (or a similar story book featuring a chicken)
- Sample information report on chickens worksheet
- Flying creatures pictures
- copies of the What chickens look like noun chart worksheet.
Revisit the Sample information report on chickens worksheet and the Note taking worksheet that accompanies it. Draw the students’ attention to the section on ‘What it looks like’ and tell them that they will now be learning about the kind of language needed to describe something well in an information report.
Activity 1: Filling in a noun group chart
Elicit from the students the things that are described in this section: chickens, comb, wattle, claws and feathers, and enter these on the What chickens look like noun chart worksheet. When introducing this activity, the Using the noun chart table will help clarify the terminology.
Remind the students that the things we can describe are called nouns. Work together to fill in the describer and classifier boxes of the What chickens look like noun chart worksheet and then check the answers using the What chickens look like noun chart worksheet solutions.
The focus here is on the order of words that are used to expand nouns: classifiers, being factual, go nearest to the noun, or thing being described while describers, which (unlike classifiers) are able to be intensified or modified with words such as very, quite or bright are further from the noun. Other expanded noun groups can also be found in the ‘How they have their young’ paragraph. Students could fill in the describers and classifiers of these nouns. ACELA1468, ACSHE034
Activity 2: Building noun groups about parts of other animals
Refer to the What chickens look like noun chart worksheet that the class has jointly completed. Explain that they will work in groups to build some noun groups about other animals and that the rest of the class must guess which animal is being described.
The students select one body part and write it in the noun or thing column and then build up an expanded noun group around it. They then repeat the process for another two or three body parts. The pictures can then be collected and displayed for the class to view. Each group reads their sentences with their expanded noun groups and the others must guess the animal being described.
Activity 3: Thinking about language choices
Return to the information report about chickens and draw the students’ attention to the technical language used in it (other words in addition to nouns such as incubate and hatch) and compare this with the more everyday, emotive language used in narratives (for example, in Prickety Prackety by Diana Ross and Caroline Crossland). As you read the story to the students, write on the board the words that describe the hen and the chicks: pretty feathers, a pretty brown speckeldy egg, good little hen and a golden hen set with diamonds. Add these words to your noun chart to see more clearly how the nouns in a narrative have fewer classifiers than those in an information report. Also note that many of the adjectives used in narratives convey an opinion (for example, pretty and good). Then write the technical words in the information report on the whiteboard and discuss the reasons for the author’s choice in each. Reasons could include:
- Information report: needs to be factual and scientific.
- Narrative: the author wants the reader to identify with the hen so gives her human characteristics, anthropomorphising her.
You could also do a similar analysis of the two types of text in Tick Tock Tick Tock: What’s Up Croc? ACELY1665
The students can now each complete a Cloze worksheet where they fill in the pronouns.
The students can fill in a Self-reflection worksheet and paste it in their science journals.