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1 — Predicting and responding to text

Introducing One Small Island

This sequence introduces the students to the main text for this unit, One Small Island by Alison Lester and Coral Tulloch. The learning experiences in this sequence will help you to ascertain the students’ prior knowledge and help you to differentiate the learning and instruction to suit individual and class needs throughout the unit of work. The final activity will help students to understand the importance of the author’s and illustrator’s decision to construct the text using both narrative and information forms.

Show the students a map of Macquarie Island (below, and in Resources) and explain that the cards they are about to be given are about the island.

Cut out individual cards with the words from the final sentence of the book (‘For if we can save one small island, perhaps we can save them all’) from the Tuning in worksheet to use as a tuning in activity.

Map with Wireless Hill in north, Macquarie Island Station east, above Green Gorge, Lusitana Bay and Hurd Point with Sandell Bay, Mount Fletcher and Caroline Cove southwest.

Above: Map of Macquarie Island. Source: © Australian Biological Resources Study; Download a larger version (.pdf 315 kB)

The students are required to rearrange the cards to create a sentence and then offer their insights as to why the sentence could be constructed in this way. They must use all of the word cards but could add in two or three extra words to maintain meaning in their sentence. You are encouraged to not show the correct sentence until the end of the first reading. The students could change their sentence throughout the reading of the text.

Activity 1: Making predictions and observations

Show the students the front and back covers of the book and read the back cover text (blurb), then ask them the following questions:

You could use one or both of the following strategies to promote oral language and discussion:

Activity 2: Strategic immersion

A map of the Southern Hemisphere including Australia and Antarctica

Above: Macquarie Island in the Australasian/Pacific region. Source:  Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) © Copyright, Commonwealth of Australia.

Using the map above or one of the online maps of Macquarie Island (in Resources), explain the purpose of a legend and the role it has within One Small Island. As a class, the students are encouraged to identify the different visual symbols that have been used in the legend to capture all facets of life on Macquarie Island. They then explore the map and the associated hyperlinks.

Students should also view a map such as the one at left, which shows Macquarie Island and its proximity to Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica, to establish and understand its location. Collect, record and evaluate geographical information from a range of sources (for example, observations, maps, photographs, satellite images, statistics and reports), while differentiating between primary and secondary data. ACHASSI105

Activity 3: Create an image to respond to the text

Read the historical account sections of the text to the students without showing them the pages. Ask them to respond to the text by folding an A4 page in half, and on one side respond to the guiding questions below and on the other side draw an image of how they feel about the text or an image that the text evokes. It is essential that the students undertake this activity prior to viewing the text and illustrations as it allows them to predict the thematic nature of the book and use the reading strategies of predicting and creating images to support their comprehension.

Ask the students the following guiding questions:

This experience will enable you to ascertain the students’ prior knowledge about Macquarie Island or other islands or places with a similar history. ACELT1610   ACHASSK112


The students share their responses, both written and illustrative. As a ‘check out’ strategy, they identify one idea from their initial prediction that is like and one idea that is unlike what has been presented in the book. These can be recorded on sticky notes and added to the working wall as examples of the predicting reading strategy. It would also be beneficial to create an anchor chart defining the predicting strategy, with student examples of what this strategy looks like or sounds like in action for future reference.

Activity 4: Thinking about the way a book might be read

Re-read the historical account section of the book, this time showing the students the pages. Ask them how they interpreted the additional information text on the pages. Read this part of the text to the students. Discuss how they would read the book (for example, the historical account first and then the information text, or read all the text on one page before turning the page). For more information about postmodern picture books, see Kelly Booker’s article ‘Using Picturebooks to Empower and Inspire Readers and Writers in the Upper Primary Classroom’. See the Resources list for further suggestions.

How do the narrative (historical account) text and the information texts complement each other? What are the author and illustrator trying to do here? Use a discussion strategy, such as think-pair-share to allow the students to talk in small groups about this before having a whole class discussion. ACELT1608

Activity 5: What is the impact of the narrative voice in this text?

The text offers two different types of narrative voice. The first is in the third person, suggesting an objective and omniscient narrator. The second is a first person narrative that is evident through the use of multiple historical accounts and journals throughout the text.

Discuss with the students how the different voices present different views and in some instances lead to different interpretations. For example, the third person voice may suggest a completely factual account of an event while the first person voice retelling may be dependent on the representation of that character and the reader’s acceptance of their attributes. Pose questions such as:

Activity 6: Looking at other hybrid texts

The concept of the narrative and the informational texts complementing each other can be further explored by gathering a selection of other titles that have two or more types of text on one page or have two or more story lines happening at once. Examples of this kind of text include:

The students can also share other texts they have read that have a hybrid structure. Make the collection available for students to read during independent reading sessions. The reflection activity could also be facilitated through a literature circle discussion where the students adopt different roles to engage with chosen texts.


Facilitate a whole class discussion about the impact of having the information and narration being on the one page and how they constructed meaning from this layout. Ask the students to tell you how they would choose to read the book.