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8 — How has e-waste become the waste of the 21st century?

In this sequence the students will participate in a critical reading experience with a particular issue in focus: electronic waste. Students will work individually and in their inquiry groups to explore a range of different texts on the topic of e-waste. They will complete a critical reading assignment that will aim to assess their understanding of the information they have read and how well they can present this information in a summary format. The critical reading and comprehension skills used in this sequence will be applied throughout the remainder of the unit as students conduct research into topics that they will write about in the construction of their own feature articles.

This sequence addresses the Cross-Curriculum Priority: Sustainability and draws on General Capabilities: Literacy, Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social Responsibility.

Activity 1: Pre-reading/viewing

Ask the students to individually complete the Electronic devices survey that will help to tune them in to the topic of focus in this sequence. Students will work in their inquiry groups (groups of four) to discuss the survey and respond to the following questions.

Discussion questions

The discussion can be opened up to include whole class trends and thinking. 

Modern technological rubbish in a landfill.

Above: E-waste, photo by Erika Boas

Activity 2: Jigsaw reading

For the next part of this sequence, the students will be participating in a collaborative reading experience based on the jigsaw reading strategy

The inquiry groups that students have formed throughout this unit will become their ‘home’ groups and students will now number off from one to four to form expert groups that will be assigned certain tasks.

In their groups they will read and view a number of texts to help them recognise and explain differing viewpoints about e-waste represented in texts. ACELT1807

Working in small groups (groups of four preferably) explain to the students that they will be reading, annotating, drawing, sharing and discussing in this lesson. Their task will be to identify the topic, or key themes, in what they view and read, with the goal being to create a pictorial representation of these ideas.  

Students will work in expert groups, firstly (as part of the jigsaw routine) to read through or view the entire text provided (either individually or through story telling or read-alouds in their expert groups). They will annotate the text read or make notes about the text viewed. Use the following prompts to help guide their discussions in their expert groups.

When the students return to their home inquiry groups, they will be asked to collectively discuss what each person gained in their expert groups. One person will scribe these ideas onto a jigsaw placemat (ideally this should also be enlarged to be printed to A3 size). The idea is for each inquiry group to have a summary of the four different sources of information that the students have just had access to. They will then discuss as an expert group how they will symbolise each key idea with a picture (keeping it simple and clear).   

For further guidance and examples on using picture maps and other visual comprehension strategies, refer to Wilhelm, J (2004) Reading is Seeing, Scholastic, New York; and Smith, M and Wilhelm, J (2010) Fresh Takes on Teaching Literary Elements, Scholastic, New York.

Picture map and gallery walk

Students drawing a map with textas

Above: Sample picture map, image by Erika Boas

Based on the key ideas from the four texts being studied, the home inquiry groups have a short amount of time (no more than 30 minutes) to use butcher’s paper and highlighter pens to create a picture map to represent the big ideas presented. The picture mapping strategy requires students to use symbols and no words.

Emphasise to the students that they will have a limited time to complete the map and the intention is not for the map to be a detailed work of art, but rather a symbolic representation of group thinking around key ideas about e-waste, gained from their readings of the texts in focus. 

Each group will then post their maps on the wall and as each group’s map is viewed in the gallery, the students will have the opportunity to talk through their representations. 

Student assessment in this critical reading assignment will be based on the connection to the Year 8 Achievement standard and on the skills and understandings demonstrated in this sequence. Refer to Assessment task 1.

Track my thinking

At this point in the unit, encourage the students to complete a further entry on their Track my thinking charts as a way to connect this learning to the overall inquiry topic.