Literature unit of work: level 3-4, Remembering Lionsville by Bronwyn Bancroft


Unit of work text

 Remembering Lionsville by Bronwyn Bancroft, first published by Allen & Unwin, Australia in 2013

This text is a memoir providing insights into an extended family's life in Lionsville, in country New South Wales. Bronwyn Bancroft's author's note explains that she has written the book to develop a greater understanding of black and white relations. In doing so, the memoir also offers historical perspectives and encourages readers to respect the past.  

The text contains:

  • indigenous artwork
  • photo collage
  • borders to frame texts
  • the use of icons as symbols
  • colours - cool and warm colours
  • outlining
  • line and shape
  • foregrounding and backgrounding
  • indigenous perspectives of peoples, place and culture
  • first person pronouns
  • verbs (tense)
  • adverbials of time and place.

1. Building the field of knowledge: Talking to connect to our experiences

Links to the English curriculum

  • Speaking and listening, literacy: Interacting with others
  • Level 3: Plan and deliver short presentations, providing some key details in logical sequence, using appropriate tone, pace, pitch and volume (Content description VCELY276)
  • Level 4: Interpret ideas and information in spoken texts and listen for key points in order to carry out tasks and use information to share and extend ideas and use interaction skills (Content description VCELY307)
  • Speaking and listening, language: Language for interaction
  • Level 4: Understand that social interactions influence the way people engage with ideas and respond to others (Content description VCELA304)

Theory/practice connections

'Scaffolding' is the term widely used to describe the classroom processes, which are put in place to assist students' development, until such a time that they no longer require the supports. It has long been recognised that classroom talk is a scaffold for reading and writing.

However, less common is the scaffolding of the talk itself. Taking a Vygotskyian perspective, teachers can organise classroom interactions where peers support the scaffolding process.

Informal talk situations allow students to develop the pragmatics of oral language, such as, turn taking, asking questions and building conversations.

Formal talk situations allow students to present their understandings, address large audiences and prepare the talk. As with writing, the formality of language changes according to the purpose for the talk and the audience.

Additional resources

Teacher artefact for sharing with students.

Learning Intention

We are learning to evaluate our talk presentations.

Success criteria

  • I can participate in informal conversations, taking turns to speak and asking questions.
  • I can use criteria to evaluate a formal oral presentation.

Role of the reader

Text participant: Sharing knowledge and experiences.

Group size

Partner, whole class

Lesson sequence

  1. Modelling talk: The teacher brings in an artefact of significance from his/her past and presents it to students with an oral description. Students ask questions about the artefact and its importance. The teacher then presents the students with a reflective think aloud based upon the purpose of the oral presentation, and the students determine whether the communication was successful. For example a checklist could include:

    • I wanted to tell you about how I obtained the artefact
    • I wanted to convey its importance to my family
    • I wanted you to know where I grew up.
  2. Students are asked to consider an artefact, or a photo from their past or their family's past to share with the class. Students prepare a short talk describing the artefact and its significance. They think about the purpose of the talk and the messages they wish to convey.
  3. Scaffolding the talk: Students share their artefact with a partner and discuss the talking points that could be included in a formal presentation.
  4. As a class, jointly construct a set framework to guide the oral presentation, which can then be used by students as a planning tool.

    Assessment: Create a checklist, to use as a self-assessment tool, after the presentation has been given. The teacher can also use this checklist for formal assessment.


Students may choose supports to help with their oral presentation. These could include creating drawings, a timeline, a map projected on the interactive white board or other visual prompts to assist their discussion. Similarly, cue cards could be organised.

Some students may follow an historical inquiry about an artefact.

2:  Deconstructing the words and pictures of Remembering Lionsville

Links to the English curriculum

  • Reading and viewing, language: Text structure and organisation
  • Level 3: Understand how different types of texts vary in use of language choices, depending on their purpose, audience and context, including tense and types of sentences (Content description VCELA246)
  • Reading and viewing, language: Expressing and developing ideas
  • Level 3: Identify the effect on audiences of techniques, including shot size, vertical camera angle and layout in picture books, advertisements and film segments (Content description VCELA248)
  • Level 4: Explore the effect of choices when framing an image, placement of elements in the image, and salience on composition of still and moving images in a range of types of texts (Content description VCELA279)
  • Level 4: Understand how adverb groups/phrases and prepositional phrases work in different ways to provide circumstantial details about an activity (Content description VCELA280)
  • Reading and viewing, literature: Examining literature
  • Level 3: Discuss how language is used to describe the settings in texts, and explore how the settings shape the events and influence the mood of the narrative (Content description VCELT253)
  • Reading and viewing, literature: Responding to Literature
  • Level 4: Describe the effects of ideas, text structures and language features of literary texts (Content description VCELT283)
  • Writing, language: Expressing and developing ideas
  • Level 3: Understand that verbs represent different processes (doing, thinking, saying, and relating) and that these processes are anchored in time through tense (Content description VCELA262)
  • Speaking and listening, literacy: Interacting with others
  • Level 4: Interpret ideas and information in spoken texts and listen for key points in order to carry out tasks and use information to share and extend ideas and use interaction skills (Content description VCELY307)

Theory/practice connections

The verb groups in a text represent the meaning about what is happening in the clause.  There are different kinds of meaning to be made, which are represented by action verbs (doing), relating (is, has), saying and sensing. Action verbs are important in providing information about the sequence of events. These verbs hold significant meaning in many text types, including memoirs. In addition, verb groups provide information about when something has happened, that is, the tense. Information about the verb group - how something happens, where it happens, when it happens is provided through adverbials. Adverbials provide information in the clause about the circumstances (Humphrey, Droga & Feez, 2012).

For example:

  • I read the memoir. (clause) → read (verb group)→ No adverbial of circumstance
  • I read the memoir, at the bus stop. (clause) → read (verb group) →Adverbial of place-where the memoir was read.
  • This morning at the bus stop, I read the memoir. (clause) → read (verb group) → Adverbial of time-when the memoir was read.
  • This morning at the bus stop, I read the memoir with delight. → read (verb group) → Adverbial of manner-how the memoir was read.

Additional resources

Picture story books - Ian Abdulla's Tucker and As I grew older: the life and times of a Nunga growing up along the Murray River. Nadia Wheatley and Ken Searle's Playground, Janeen Brian's Pilawuk, when I was young and books about memories - Sally Morgan & Ezekiel Kwaymullina's The Memory Shed.

Learning intention

We are learning to examine how authors and illustrators provide information about memories, time and place in memoirs.

Success criteria

  • I can make predictions about what is included in a memoir.
  • I can identify the memories shared in a memoir.
  • I can explain how memories are represented through words.
  • I can explain how memories are represented through pictures.

Role of the reader

Text analyst: examining the elements of visual and verbal codes that are used to communicate a message, and critiquing the effect these elements have on the reader and viewer.

Group size

Partners, small groups, whole class.

Lesson sequence

This will take place over several sessions.

  1. Clearly explain the learning intention. Share with students texts that include memoirs. Include texts with indigenous perspectives, such as Tucker and As I grew older: the life and times of a Nunga growing up along the Murray River. Discuss why these texts have been created and why people might read these texts.
  2. Introduce Remembering Lionsville and explain it is a memoir. Investigate the root word 'mem' and the words that originate from it (remember, memory, memo, memorabilia, memorable). Students create a visual representation to link these words. This could be presented as a symbol, concept map, new font creation, infograph etc.
  3.  Examine the front cover and the end pages, asking students to predict what memories might be recorded in this text. Students record their predictions and record the reasons they have made them.
  4. Read the first three double pages and note what the author does with words and pictures to share her memories with the reader.

    Some points to note: The sentences beginnings used in the first page (This is…There are…Here's the) provide the sense that the author is showing the reader around the property.  On the next page, the author directly addresses the reader (Come on, let's go round the back to the creek). The visuals support the texts but go further to provide more information about the author's past.  Students consider what else the visuals tell us. Each page has a strong border, with an artefact prominent from the recount found on that page. The artefact forms a repeated pattern in the double pages' border.

    Read the remainder of the text and then allow students time to explore the artefacts on the other pages, and consider why these have been chosen to form a significant part of the page design.

    • e.g.
    • page numbers
    • artefact
    • picture of artefact
    • why it is important?

  5. Each of the double page spreads can be considered as a standalone recount. Students work with a partner to closely examine one double page spread. Students examine:

    • Who is involved in this memory? (use of proper nouns, Aunt Alice, John Tindal, and common nouns, people, kids, brother)
    • What is the event or action remembered? Action verbs (swimming, preserving foods, driving)
    • What feelings do the event or action evoke for the author? Feeling adjectives (Felt safe, warm, peaceful, relaxed, sad)
    • What connections can I make to my life? Use of personal pronouns (I, my, mine, our)
    • How is the memory represented in the visuals?

  6. Memoirs tell us of things that have happened in the past. Students identify the words that tell us about the past or the passing of time, by examining past tense verb groups; temporal language (later, after that, then); items that were used in the past (telegraph, cast-iron stove, pit-saw).
  7. Time and place are important aspects of Remembering Lionsville.  Examine how these concepts are communicated through sentence structures.

    Adverbials of time: before pa got his car, Years later, After the war, when my grandfather died, after that).

    Adverbials of place: away in the bush, Here in the dining room, in the bedroom, out in the bush, up on bed, in the bush around us).

    The concepts of time and place are also communicated through the visuals. These can also be examined with students.

    Visual representation of time: images of day and night, use of sepia and black and white photos from the past; lines which act as pathways to move the eye across the page from left to right; the car driving from left to right highlighting forward movement; silhouettes used to symbolise the ancient people.

    Visual representation of place: the double page spreads feature horizontal lines, providing the viewer with a wide-angle view to capture a scene and provide detail about a place; perspective to highlight importance by foregrounding certain images.

  8. Divide the pages into those that mostly use cool colours and those that are illustrated with warm colours. These pages divide the outdoors and the indoors. Discuss the effect the use of colour has on the reader.

    Students create a personal list, which includes some of the language features and visual features used by Bronwyn Bancroft that they would like to include in their own text creation. The teacher can use this as formative assessment to check if students have developed understanding of verbal and visual techniques and if students have the metalanguage to talk about these features.


The timing, pace and content of this lesson can be differentiated for the needs of individual students, according to their rate of learning, time taken to complete tasks, and prior experiences with the metalanguage of visual and verbal texts.

The sequencing of this lesson and the time set aside in order to allow students to connect to their own experiences offers a high level of support for all students.  It is particular suited to students from EAL or diverse backgrounds.

3. Using Remembering Lionsville as a mentor text: Joint construction

Links to the English curriculum

  • Writing, Language: Expressing and developing ideas
  • Level 4: Understand that the meaning of sentences can be enriched through the use of noun groups/phrases and verb groups/phrases and prepositional phrases (Content description VCELA292)
  • Level 4: Incorporate new vocabulary from a range of sources, including vocabulary encountered in research, into own texts (Content description VCELA293)
  • Writing, Literature: Creating literature
  • Level 3: Create texts that adapt language features and patterns encountered in literary texts (Content description VCELT265)
  • Writing, Literacy: Creating texts
  • Level 3: Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts demonstrating increasing control over text structures and language features and selecting print and multimodal elements appropriate to the audience and purpose (Content description VCELY266)
  • Speaking and Listening, Literacy: Interacting with others
  • Level 3: Listen to and contribute to conversations and discussions to share information and ideas and negotiate in collaborative situations and use interaction skills, including active listening and clear, coherent communications (Content description VCELY275)

Theory/practice connections

Joint construction is an example of 'designed in scaffolding', where the teacher organises tasks to act as supports, which are used while students are developing knowledge and consolidating skills.

Joint construction can occur between pairs of students or in small groups. Organising students in pairs or in small groups provides the affordance for peer-to-peer learning.

It can also occur between the teacher and the whole class, or the teacher and a small group of students. Shared writing is a common strategy that is used to create a jointly constructed text.

Additional resources

Picture books with collage or mixed media illustrations are useful to use as exemplar texts. Jeannie Baker's books, such as Window or The Hidden Forest or Tohby Riddle's Unforgotten.

Learning intention

We are learning to use a range of visual and written techniques.

Success criteria

  • I can describe and use various visual techniques and explain the effect I can create with them.
  • I can evaluate the effectiveness of the visual techniques I use.
  • I can build description before and after a main noun.

Role of the reader

Text analyst: examining the elements of visual and verbal codes that are used to communicate a message, and critiquing the effect these elements have on the reader and viewer.

Text user: Texts are written for different purposes. The language and visual structures and features of the text can be selected to best address the text's purpose.

Lesson sequence

Sequence is over more than one session.

  1. Students draw the artefact used in lesson one, in the style of Bronwyn Bancroft, using heavy black outlining and a patterned effect. Bronwyn Bancroft has taken her inspiration from her indigenous background. Students could use any cultural or creative design. They must consider what they wish to convey through the following questions:

    • What do you want to show happening?
    • What feelings do you want the viewer to experience?
    • What will you highlight in the visuals as important and how will this be achieved (use of colour, salient position on page, a line pathway to draw the viewer's eye)?
    • What will be included in the visual?
    • What art techniques will you use and why are they chosen - black outlining, use of photo collage, strong colour?
  2.  Students work in pairs and take photos of the artefact. Print these out for students to use in a picture, inspired by the collage work used in Bronwyn Bancroft's illustrations. Students compare their illustration and the collage and critique the aesthetics of these techniques.
  3. Students share their illustration with a small group, explaining the design and why they used it.
  4. Jointly constructing the words: Students record the name of the artefact in the middle of a sentence strip card.  If students had a photo artefact, showing an action (for example, playing), encourage this to be changed into a noun (playing becomes 'the game'). Students write an adjective or a set of adjectives to describe the artefact and an adjectival to provide further description. It may help students to write adjectivals, if they are given a list of prepositions (in, on, with, near). This activity will help students build up their knowledge of noun groups. For example:

    A golden, straw (determiner 'a', adjectives 'golden', 'straw') basket (artefact-noun) with colourful decorations (adjectival-giving further information about the noun).

    The old, rusty (determiner 'the', adjectives 'old', 'rusty') lock (artefact-noun) that wouldn't open (adjectival-giving further information about the noun).

    Students share their noun group writing with their small group, who offer suggestions to other ways of describing the artefact. By the end of this part of the lesson, each student will have a bank of words to describe their artefact.


For students still requiring support at the end of this lesson, a guided writing/small group mini lesson can be organised. This would allow the teacher to scaffold the students understanding by careful questioning, further model concepts, reinforce the metalanguage and monitor students' understandings.

4. Recording my memoirs in words and pictures

Links to the English curriculum

  • Writing, Literature: Creating literature
  • Level 3: Create texts that adapt language features and patterns encountered in literary texts (Content description VCELT265)
  • Level 4: Create literary texts that explore students' own experiences and imagining (Content description VCELT298)
  • Writing, Literacy: Creating texts
  • Level 3: Reread and edit texts for meaning, appropriate structure, grammatical choices and punctuation (Content description VCELY267)
  • Level 4: Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts containing key information and supporting details for a widening range of audiences, demonstrating increasing control over text structures and language features (Content description VCELY299)

Theory/practice connections

Throughout schooling and in life, it is necessary to master the language needed to express emotions, evaluate the quality of things and judge human behaviour (Derewianka, 2011). Part of this mastery involves a strong command of vocabulary, to express the nuances of English. For example, to describe fear, each of the following words could be used: fright, scare, panic, terror. However, a degree of difference in meaning exists between these words. Using language precisely will assist the speaker/writer to communicate messages effectively.  

Additional resources

Shades of meaning charts are useful resources to display in the classroom. These can be created by students, displaying words in colour from pale colours to intensive shades based on their meaning.  

Learning intention

We learning to use a range of visual and written resources to help communicate our memories.

Success criteria

  • I can use adjectives and adjectivals to describe my artefact.
  • I can make choices about language when writing, so that my meaning is made clear.

Group size

Small group, whole class. 

Lesson sequence

  1. Students use their bank of descriptions about their artefact, jointly created in the previous lesson. The teacher presents a similar bank for an artefact that will be used as the subject of an exemplar text. Model through a 'think-aloud' the choices that can be made in order to use the artefact description in a memoir. The teacher will demonstrate how the precision of language can be used to create an effective text, by changing the adjectives and adverbials. This process can be repeated when editing texts. Revise the purpose of a memoir and model a plan for the teacher's memoir. There are various ways to structure the writing, one example could be to begin with the artefact, while another structure would reference the artefact in the body of the text.

    e.g. Memoir Plan
    • a description of the artefact (This old, rusty lock without a key is kept in my drawer as a lucky charm.) Language used to evaluate things-old, rusty

    • my feelings towards it (Although it does not look important, I love it.) Language used to evaluate things - does not look important. Language used to express feelings-love

    • what happened in the event I am recounting and who was involved? (The lock was on a trunk, which carried my grandparents few possessions, when they came to Australia sixty years ago.) Language used to evaluate things-few

    • how did the people act? (The lock was a gift to my grandfather, from his brother, who used it to say sorry for being jealous and angry.) Language to judge the behaviour of others-jealous, angry

  2. Students think of other stories that could match the lock and use the teacher's plan to jointly construct a text. This activity can be used by the teacher as formative assessment, to determine what supports students need to be put in place, before they independently construct their text.
  3. Students use their artefact, along with the noun group list they have already created and follow the teacher's plan to record their own memoir.
  4. Embark on a process of checking and editing work for spelling, punctuation and use of language.


To assist EAL and diverse learners with understanding the nuances of English, continua to plot words could be used.  Work with synonyms and using a thesaurus can also be used to support students.

This lesson involves a great deal of grammatical teaching, which is appropriate to the context of the lesson. However, teachers can modify this lesson, if the grammar content is new to students and only focus on one aspect of grammar. 

5. Indigenous perspectives in texts

Links to the English curriculum

  • Reading and Viewing, Literature: Literature and content
  • Level 4: Make connections between the ways different authors may represent similar storylines, ideas and relationships (Content description VCELT282)
  • Reading and Viewing, Literature: Responding to literature
  • Level 4: Describe the effects of ideas, text structures and language features of literary texts (Content description VCELT283)
  • Reading and Viewing, Literature: Examining literature
  • Level 3: Discuss how language is used to describe the settings in texts, and explore how the settings shape the events and influence the mood of the narrative (Content description VCELT253)
  • Level 4: Discuss how authors and illustrators make stories exciting, moving and absorbing and hold readers' interest by using various techniques (Content description VCELT284)
  • Reading and Viewing, Literacy: Interpreting, analysing, evaluating
  • Level 3: Read an increasing range of imaginative, informative and persuasive texts by combining phonic, semantic, contextual and grammatical knowledge, using text processing strategies, including confirming, rereading and cross-checking (Content description VCELY256)
  • Level 4: Use comprehension strategies to build literal and inferred meaning to expand content knowledge, integrating and linking ideas and analysing and evaluating texts (Content description VCELY288

Theory/practice connections     

Indigenous perspectives are included throughout the Victorian Curriculum, particularly through the intercultural capability.

The intercultural capability encourages students to learn about their own culture, as well as the cultures of others. It is recognised in the curriculum that Australia's indigenous cultures form an important part of society, and help to shape Australia's social, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity (Victorian Curriculum, 2017).

Using texts written by indigenous people and texts presenting issues significant to indigenous people can help to build a cohesive Australia, which benefits all Australians. 

Additional resources

Picture Story Books which include an indigenous perspective:

  • Welcome to Country - Aunty Joy Murphy & Lisa Kennedy
  • Our Island - Children of Gununa, Alison Lester & Elizabeth Honey
  • Shake a leg- Boori Monty Pryor & Jan Ormerod
  • In Your Dreams - Sally Morgan & Bronwyn Bancroft
  • The Shack that Dad Built - Elaine Russell
  • As I grew older - Ian Abdulla, Tucker - Ian Abdulla

Learning intention

We are learning to use texts to develop cultural understandings.

Success criteria

  • I can name themes in texts.
  • I can find similarities between texts.
  • I can explain the understandings I have developed about indigenous culture.

Role of the reader

Text user - texts are written for specific purposes. The way the text has been composed affects its capacity to meet its purpose. Readers/viewers have choices to make when they read/view text. They can ask what should I do with this text? What are my options now that I have read/viewed the text?

Group size

Whole group to small groups. 

Lesson sequence

  1. Isolate two significant quotes from Remembering Lionsville and relate these to the text as a memoir.  Students read the final page of Remembering Lionsville, which includes a note from the author. Ask students to consider what these quotes tell us about Brownyn Bancroft's thinking about family and history, for example:

    "I've always been taught to cherish older people and their stories because they are a direct link to the past."

    "I wanted to tell you this story now so that one day you might do the same."

  2. Present students with a number of picture story books by indigenous authors, or written to highlight indigenous perspectives. Students analyse the texts, by using the following points as a guide:

    • who is in the text?
    • where does the text take place?
    • what events happen?
    • what connections can you make with this text?
    • what message do you think the author wants you to have?
    When students are familiar with at least one other story consider if it could be inferred that these authors hold the same values and beliefs about family and history.

  3. Similarities between the illustrations can be found amongst the texts from the additional resource list. Allow students time for close looking, so that these similarities can be identified. Some areas for discussion are:

    • use of black outlining
    • use of cultural symbols
    • strong bold colours
    • the use of straight and curvy line
    • line to divide the page into sections of the horizon (for example: sea, land, sky)
    • line to suggest movement.
    Students examine the visuals and look for evidence of family and history.

Assessment: Provide students with choice to respond to Remembering Lionsville or the other of the studied texts in any way they wish, in order to demonstrate the cultural understandings developed across this unit.  


Read the picture story books to students who are not yet able to read fluently themselves. Alternatively, recording the reading with a digital device is useful for students who need support with reading, or who need more time for aural processing.