2 — Analysing a historical account
As a class, the students will analyse the historical account in journal format that appears in the book One Small Island by Alison Lester and Coral Tulloch, identifying the organisational framework and language features of a written journal. In Sequence 5, they will be asked to write a journal entry as their first assessment task. This sequence deconstructs what a journal is and the language and organisational features generally found in historical accounts such as journals. If it is possible to have multiple copies of the book available, students can read the book during independent reading sessions, revisiting the rich examples provided within the text.
Discuss the nature of journal or diary writing. Ask if any students keep a diary themselves. The class daybook could be used as a model of one type of journal, chronicling what will be done and reflecting on what was done. The students might also recall other diaries they know of (for example, the Diary of Anne Frank).
Photocopy and enlarge one of the early journal entries from One Small Island (for example, 1816 on page 8) or display it on an interactive whiteboard.
Before beginning the sequence, allow time for the students to read the text in guided or independent reading sessions. They might then volunteer to read sections to the class. Alternatively, you can read the text during a modelled reading session.
Activity 1: Analysing the text using the one-text model
To analyse the text, the students are asked to identify its organisational framework and language features. Use sticky notes to record the students’ ideas, placing the organisational framework on the left side and the language features on the right side of the enlarged text. This is a whole class experience, with targeted questioning addressing the different capabilities in the group. This approach allows an anchor chart to be co-constructed and used as a scaffold for further tasks and generates the success criteria for this learning task. It can be further crafted into a rubric for future assessment.
General questions to the students could include:
- What text form is this writing?
- What is the purpose of this writing?
- Who is the audience for this writing?
- What evidence can you find in the text for your answers?
Specific student questions related to text include:
- Is this example ‘indirect’ or ‘direct’ recounting? Was the author able to directly recount an experience they were involved in?
- Is this a primary or secondary source of information?
- What is the role of the illustrations in this part of the text?
- What is the purpose of the orientation? (Sets the time period, but other details are not included, implying an assumed knowledge due to the episodic nature of journals.)
- What is the purpose of important events being arranged in chronological order and then being elaborated upon?
- What do you notice about the nouns and pronouns? (They refer to specific participants.)
- What tense is this text written in? (Three tenses are evident: simple past tense, present perfect and past perfect. If it is appropriate to student needs, discuss changes in tense and why the author has used this range of tenses.)
- What types of verbs and verb groups are used (action, relating and sensing) and how do these help build meanings?
- What words are used to show the time and sequence?
- What is the role of the prepositions? (To indicate time and place.)
- Is there reported or direct speech?
- What literary devices are used by the author(s)? (Inclusion of details so the reader can visualise the experience. Choice of language is descriptive. Flashback is presented through character’s narration.)
- What themes or main ideas can you identify in this text? (Environment, change, interconnectedness and sustainability.)
- Whose views are being represented in this text? Are any views not represented?
Record the students’ responses to the questions under the following headings: Text purpose, Grammatical features and Literary resources. This list can be used by students to scaffold their writing. ACELA1504, ACELT1795, ACELY1701
Review the features the students listed and ask them to identify them in other journal entries later if they choose to read the book during silent reading time (see Resources for suggested titles). You can display the one-text model on the working wall where all work for this unit is displayed so the students can refer back to it at any stage.