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11 — How do I add credibility when writing informative texts?

In this learning sequence, the students will further explore some of the tricks of the trade for writing and presenting effective feature articles. They will continue to experiment with text structures and language features as they refine and clarify ideas to improve the effectiveness of their work. ACELY1810

The students will be guided to create informative texts that raise issues, report events and advance opinions, including making deliberate language and textual choices. They will also learn how to use software to create and publish their work. ACELY1736,   ACELY1738

This sequence draws on the following General Capabilities: Literacy, Information and Communication Technology, Personal and Social Responsibility and Critical and Creative Thinking.

Catchy titles

In Menzel and Aluisio’s (2007) photographic essays on food consumption in the world, Hungry Planet: What the world eats, the authors use clever word plays and word combining to create catchy titles for their written articles. The title of the book itself is rather interesting: Hungry Planet.

Explore the following catchy titles with students, pointing out how a good title draws the reader in to understand the content of the text and the author’s position. ACELY1733

Title Author Topic

McSlow

Corby Kummer

The slow food movement as opposed to fast food

Baked, Boiled, Roasted and Fried

Alfred W Crosby

Cooking techniques that bring us together and make us human

Launching a Sea Ethic

Carl Safina

Fishing, overfishing              

Cart a la Carte

Charles C  Mann

Street food

Food with a Face

Michael Pollan

Ethical treatment of the animals we eat

Diabesity

Francine R Kaufman

Diet, obesity and rising health concerns such as diabetes

Discussion questions:

Time permitting, present the students with a range of newspapers and magazines. In their inquiry groups, ask the students to search for catchy titles that stand out to them. Encourage them to discuss what is catchy about the titles. Ask the students to think about ways that they could put a title to their own article. Encourage them to create a list from which they can then choose their favourite title.

Word choice and expert vocabulary

Encourage students to engage with the vocabulary that has been introduced throughout this unit and through their reading. Students can refer to the glossaries they have created, for this purpose. Highlight how expert vocabulary can add weight to their writing and how interesting vocabulary, in combination with careful word choice, adds a level of sophistication to writing. Once again, refer to Brennan Bird’s article ‘Why I lived with my garbage for a year’ or other texts from this unit to emphasise this.

Remind students that word choice means more than using expert vocabulary. Encourage them to think about using good strong verbs, and precise nouns. ACELA1545

Dedicated writing time

It is envisaged that the students will be offered dedicated writing time at this point in the unit, and classroom support in writing their articles. Students will refer back to the deconstruction of an article in a previous lesson and their notes on What makes an effective feature article? as well as the Feature article assessment guide and rubric.

Publishing articles

Publishing software can enhance the final look of student feature articles. Various kinds of word processing and publishing software contain an array of article templates and features. Templates include the ability to create ‘call out quotes’, to add images with captions and to make space for referencing. Allow students the time to explore the features of publishing software and point some of these features out to them. Time should be given to the publishing stage of their work. ACELY1738 

On completion, the articles will be shared with their peers and uploaded to the class wiki or blog. The articles can also be published in a magazine format for future audiences.

Referencing

Throughout the unit, the students have updated references through their creation of an annotated bibliography. Draw their attention to the importance of referencing all material that they have gained from other sources that is included in their feature article. This includes quotes, where they have paraphrased ideas, and any diagrams and/or images. ACELY1732