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6 — Looking at the language: Nanberry

The cover of a book entitled 'Nanberry', which features a young Indigenous Australian boy

Above: Cover of Nanberry: Black Brother White by Jackie French, HarperCollins Publishers, Australia 2011 reproduced with permission of HarperCollins, © Jackie French 2011

This sequence encourages students to engage with Nanberry: Black Brother White by Jackie French to explore complex language features they may use as models for constructing their own work. It aims to encourage them to explore the techniques the author has used to develop the character and create an exciting and absorbing story.

Useful texts for teaching grammar are listed in the Resources.

Activity 1: Looking at grammatical elements

Orient the students to this sequence by revising or teaching about single grammatical elements (verb, noun, adjective and adverb) prior to exploring grammatical groups or phrases.

There are a number of engaging learning objects in Scootle that help students learn to select appropriate nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs to enhance a story. ACELA1493ACELA1495

Scootle is the National Digital Learning Resources Network, managed by Education Services Australia. Search and browse tools are available to anyone; however, access to other features is restricted to teachers and students of Australian schools. See Accessing Scootle for more details. Details on how to use Scootle, including frequently asked questions, can be found on the home page. Scootle provides teachers with a rich and diverse range of resources to use in the classroom. Scootle can be searched based on the new Australian Curriculum.

Model and jointly construct the first learning object with the class. The second and third may be completed in pairs or individually. Learning object 4 can be completed individually and can be used for assessment.


More information about Super Stories can be found on Scootle.

Activity 2: Examining grammatical groups and phrases

Using these Text extracts from Nanberry, examine as a class how:

 A number of resources for teachers to guide the teaching of grammar are listed in the Resources.

First model Exploring the text: exploring the language choices made by the author to build up meanings in the text and then arrange for students to work in small groups to conduct their own explorations. To assist the students in identifying particular grammatical forms, a frequently used convention is to colour code noun groups in red, verb groups in green and circumstances (prepositional or adverbial phrases) in blue.

Activity 3: Enriching a simple sentence

After the novel text has been studied, undertake a joint construction of enriching a simple sentence using noun groups/phrases, verb group/phrases, prepositional phrases and adverbial phrases.

This activity allows the students to experience how rich and detailed information can be added and encourages improvement in their own writing. Choose a particular incident or event that the students are familiar with, write a simple sentence and have the students add information using groups and phrases. An example is:

(This activity is adapted from activities looking at the noun group in Beverly Derewianka, A New Grammar Companion for Teachers, page 42.)

Activity 4: Looking at how language constructs a character

This activity may be undertaken if you have completed Sequence 5, where the students are asked to discuss what they thought of the characters of Surgeon White, Nanberry and Maria.

Display a flip chart with the with the students’ responses to the Analysing literary texts activity next to the chapter excerpt for one of the characters. Look closely at the language features that the author has used and discuss how these choices may have positioned us as readers. Some possible language features to focus on are provided in the Characters and language features table. After you have modelled and jointly constructed the first section of the table, on Nanberry, break the students into small groups and have them identify language features relating to Surgeon White and Maria.

See the Resources for further information on teaching strategies. ACELT1605ACELA1493ACELA1495