This language experience uses resources from Museums Victoria’s ‘What’s Your Story?’ learning kits. This sequence of lessons sits within a broader unit of work on migration and occurs over several sessions. It assumes that the students are already familiar with the idea of using a personal object to tell their story, and that they understand the structure and language features of a biographical text. For example, they have structured and written an autobiography using the first person point of view. They build on this knowledge to write a biography using the third person point of view at the end of the learning experience sequence.
The key elements of the lessons include:
- the shared experience of examining Zurlia Ismail’s objects from the learning kit suitcase
- a close examination of the structure and language features of a sample biographical recount
- teacher and students jointly recording ideas from the experience, in the form of a biographical recount
- reading back the written biographical recount.
1. The shared experience and discussion - examining Zurlia Ismail’s objects from the learning kit
We are learning about the story of a person’s life through objects and images.
I can identify, name and describe different objects that are important in a person’s life.
I can use objects and images to help me make predictions or guesses about a person’s experiences.
- Zurlia Ismail’s objects from Museums Victoria’s ‘What’s your story?’ learning kit
- For the teacher, a copy of Zurlia Ismail’s migration story from Museum Victoria’s website.
- Display the closed suitcase. Ask students to share what they know about suitcases, and the reasons people have them. What would people bring with them when they move to a new place? How might an object be important to people? Link discussion to the idea that objects can tell a person’s story.
- Students look at the objects in the suitcase. If students can identify a particular object, invite them to name it and explain to the class what it is. Ask other students to guess the purpose of each object. Write down the names of the objects and their purposes as the students contribute to the discussion.
- Ask students to make predictions about the owner of the objects, and what they might have experienced, for example:
- What kind of a person owns these objects?
- Where might that person come from?
- Why might they have come to Australia?
- Who is in their family?
- What might they do as a job or interest?
- Supplement or correct students’ predictions by reading (or adapting) short excerpts from the migration story. This might include specific information and terminology, such as:
- the individual’s name
- the correct names of the objects
- locations and dates.
- Return to the success criteria. Ask students to tell you one thing they predicted about Zurlia Ismail based on her objects.
- Explain that in the next lesson students will examine a biography, which is similar to the autobiography that they have previously written about themselves. Explain that the final learning goal is to write a biographical text about Zurlia Ismail.
2. Modelling a biographical recount text
We are learning about using biographical recount to tell a story from someone’s life.
I can identify important parts of a biographical recount text.
I can identify a variety of nouns, adjectives and past tense verbs that are useful for telling a story from someone’s life.
- sample biographical recount text adapted from another story in the learning kit
- individual copies of the sample text for students
- highlighters and pens for highlighting and annotation.
Sample biographical recount text (advanced)
Zurlia Ismail lived in Indonesia with her husband Ghofar and her eldest daughter Fauzia. In 1988, Zurlia came to Australia to study at university. She came to Australia by herself. Her husband and her eldest daughter stayed in Indonesia.
Zurlia’s husband and daughter Fauzia came to Australia six months later. Zurlia and Ghofar had four more daughters in Australia. Their names are Anisa, Amira, Farhana and Aida.
Zurlia also had an interest in fashion and liked interacting with customers, so in 2003 she opened a fashion shop called the House of Emaan. She sells clothing and items that are important for Muslim people, such as hijabs (head scarves), hijab pins, Islamic hats and prayer beads.
Zurlia Ismail has become a successful businesswoman in Australia.
Sample biographical recount text (beginner)
Zurlia Ismail lived in Indonesia. She lived with her husband Ghofar and her daughter Fauzia.
In 1988, Zurlia came to Australia to study at university. Zurlia’s husband Ghofar and
Fauzia stayed in Indonesia.
Six months later, Ghofar and Fauzia came to Australia. After that, Zurlia and Ghofar had four more daughters in Australia. Their names are Anisa, Amira, Farhana and Aida.
Zurlia liked clothes and fashion. She liked to help and talk with customers. In 2003, she opened a fashion shop called the House of Emaan. She sells clothing and items that are important for Muslim people, such as hijabs (head scarves), hijab pins, Islamic hats and prayer beads.
Zurlia Ismail has become a successful businesswoman in Australia.
- Read the learning intention and success criteria. Explain that students’ knowledge about writing autobiographies will inform the structure and language they need in writing a biography.
- Display the sample biography on the whiteboard. Students identify the grammatical features of a biographical text they can see and the likely purpose and audience of the text. They identify the key structure of a biographical recount (see:
Genre in the primary curriculum).
This might include:
- sequence of events
- Read the text together as a class. Use photographs and objects from the learning kit to support students to understand the text.
- As a class, discuss and label one section of the text along with a brief description of the purpose of the section.
- Students identify important language features in the text. For example, students could:
- find nouns, adjectives and suggest synonyms for these
- identify verbs in the text, and discuss why there is a combination of present and past tense verbs, for example, ‘in 2003 she opened a fashion shop’ and ‘She sells clothing and items’.
- create a classroom chart with vocabulary and pictures from the text with definitions and translations.
- Students continue annotating the text with a partner or small group. Where possible and appropriate, students may work together using home languages to discuss and record annotations.
- Revisit the whole text as a class and discuss the structure and language in each section of the text. Students contribute to the discussion
and explain their annotations. Display the annotated text in the classroom.
3. Jointly writing a biography about Zurlia Ismail
We are learning to write a biographical recount - a story from a person’s life.
I can talk about objects giving their name and description.
I can talk about a person’s experiences.
I can write a biographical recount that includes:
- the stages of a biographical recount
- nouns, adjectives and past tense verbs
- synonyms for any repeated nouns.
- list of the objects and their purposes from Lesson 1
- biographical text from Lesson 2
- samples of objects from the learning kit.
- Students recall objects and ideas from the language experience in Lesson 1 and connect them to an event that happened in the person’s life. For example, “A hijab is an Islamic woman’s head scarf” could become “Zurlia sells hijabs, or women’s head scarves, in her Islamic fashion shop.”
- Write down sentences for each object on separate pieces of paper.
- Students group the sentences according to topics, such as early life, family or career.
- Guide the students to jointly construct a biographical recount using the sentences. Using the modelled text from Lesson 2, prompt students to recall the text structure and language features of a biography.
- Scribe on the board as students jointly compose the biographical recount. This is a draft text, so it is appropriate to include errors and imperfections.
- Revisit the learning intention and success criteria in relation to the jointly constructed draft text. Explain to the students that the next step is to revise the jointly written draft.
Revising the language experience text
We are learning to listen to and provide feedback to help each other improve our writing.
I can notice words and sentence structures when I listen to my classmates read aloud.
I can give helpful feedback about my classmates’ writing.
I can read aloud to my group.
I can improve writing based on feedback.
A copy of the biographical recount written by the class in Lesson 3.
- Explain the learning intention and discuss the criteria for giving feedback, with an emphasis on the structure and language features of biographical texts.
- Form groups of three to four students. Alternatively, ensure that there are the same number of students as there are paragraphs in the class text.
- Each student reads one section of the class text to the group. Group members listen carefully and give feedback on content and language. They focus on the ideas, text structure and language features that have been taught. The student listens to the group and incorporates feedback into the paragraph.
- As a group, students make revisions and improvements to the text. They rewrite a clean copy and select a photograph or draw a picture to accompany each section of the text.
- Return to the success criteria. Ask students to share a strength or challenge they experienced in reading the text, discussing feedback and making revisions.
- Display the completed versions of the text side-by-side in the classroom.
- Students read two groups’ versions of the text and make observations about similarities and differences between ideas, structure and language.
- Students work in small groups to explore the learning kit objects for another individual, and use this to write a short biographical recount. Students could compare their text with the migration story supplied with the learning kit.
- Students work individually to write a biographical recount. This could be based on other objects and stories in the learning kit, or on objects and photographs from a family or friend.
Links to the Victorian Curriculum - English as an Additional Language (EAL)
Speaking and listening
- Demonstrate independence in extended conversations (VCEALC321)
- Identify key points of information in short spoken texts (VCEALC326)
- Contribute information, express ideas and give reasons for opinions in group tasks or classroom discussions (VCEALC401)
- Understand a new topic delivered with extensive contextual and teacher support (VCEALC406)
Reading and viewing
- Contribute to group activities on shared texts (VCEALC351)
- Contribute actively to group activities on shared texts (VCEALC430)
- Draft a piece of writing focusing on meaning, and revise after rereading or discussion (VCEALA382)
- Share ideas and feedback in home language (VCEALA383)
- Write simple paragraphs with a logical sequence of sentences (VCEALL388)
- Use modelled vocabulary appropriately (VCEALL395)
- Follow a simple planning, drafting and revision process when writing (VCEALA461)
- Confer and cooperate in groups or pairs when planning, writing or reviewing (VCEALA462)
- Organise texts in simple, logically ordered paragraphs with topic sentences (VCEALL467)
- Use a range of key vocabulary appropriately (VCEALL474)
Museums Victoria (2019). What's Your Story?