4 — Exploring an informative text: Grim Crims and Convicts
In this sequence the students will explore Grim Crims and Convicts by Jackie French. In Sequences 2 and 3 they explored features of informative texts and jointly constructed, with teacher assistance, a chart to identify the features of the semiotic systems used to construct the texts. In this sequence they will have the opportunity to do this independently. The students may complete this activity individually, in pairs or in small groups, depending on their previous experiences and capabilities. This sequence also provides an opportunity to explore the devices that the author uses to create a cohesive and coherent text.
This sequence uses a partial chapter from the text Grim Crims and Convicts by Jackie French from the Fair Dinkum Histories series. A class set of this text could be used extensively for engaging classroom activities as the class explores this period of history.
Some useful texts for teaching grammar can be found in the Resources.
Continue reading the class novel Nanberry: Black Brother White by Jackie French to the students. Chapters 1–12 tell the story up to the death of Arabanoo. The text in this sequence touches briefly on the smallpox plague and Arabanoo’s death. Lead a discussion about the fact that these texts are written by the same author and think about the way the novel has engaged the reader through the character development of Nanberry. ACELT1605
Links to primary sources for these events, including first-hand accounts from John Hunter’s journal and Watkin Tench’s 1788, are provided in the Resources. A study of the transcript of Tench’s book or Hunter’s journal could be undertaken to examine the language features from earlier times and to compare the vocabulary. ACELY1686, ACHASSK085
Activity 1: Before shared reading
As a class, examine the book. Ideally, if multiple copies are available, students can share and explore the features of the text with you. Ask them the following questions:
- From examining the cover: What sort of text is this? How do we know?
- Show the contents and index. Does this confirm what we thought?
Flick through the pages and have the students identify illustrations, boxes of text, subtitles and chapter titles.
Read and discuss the author’s notes prior to page 1. Ask the students why they think she has written this book and what she is encouraging the reader to do. Revisit the meaning of primary and secondary resources with the students. Compare this text with other informative texts they have studied. Ask them what similarities and differences they have noticed. ACELA1490, ACELT1602, ACELY1690
Published first-hand accounts of the journey of the First Fleet, including those of Watkin Tench, Arthur Phillip and John White, can be found online at the State Library of NSW. The students may choose a particular time or event and compare accounts from these sources. ACELY1686
Activity 2: During shared reading
The students read, or have read to them if they need support, Chapter 7 (pages 63–67) of Grim Crims and Convicts. Briefly discuss the information in this passage. Ask the students whether this is factual reporting or opinion or a combination of the two.
Ask them to consider the following questions:
- Why does the author use questions? (Inviting the reader to think about the limitations of our knowledge of the past and to participate actively.)
- What does the author use to orient the reader to this way of thinking? (Questions, modal language choices such as ‘as though’ and ‘we will never know for sure’.)
- How do the language choices establish a relationship between the author and the reader? ACELA1489, ACELA1488
Explain to the students that they are about to undertake a close study of the linguistic features of a text. They will look at the Language features that make the text cohesive and coherent.
Using a copy of a section of the text, you can select passages to use with an interactive whiteboard to make a closer study of the language features, such as the use of pronouns, that make the text cohesive and coherent.
Activity 3: After shared reading
Working in pairs, small groups or individually, the students view the visuals on pages 63 to 67. Using the Semiotic systems worksheet, they identify the visual, spatial, gestural and audio systems that have been used in Grim Crims and Convicts. The students could also compare the three informative texts they have been studying. ACELA1496
The Worked example: Semiotic systems at work in the text examines some of the semiotic elements in the book.
Continue to add to the class word bank and to the RAN chart for this unit.