Go to page Content

2 — Analysing a historical account

Old map with the scale in miles

Above: Old map of Macquarie Island, from the Royal Society Geographical Journal article on the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911–1914, public domain image, no copyright

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:

Specific student questions related to text include:

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. ACELA1504ACELT1795ACELY1701


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.