Lesson 1: Building the field of knowledge: Preparing to read the text

Links to the Victorian Curriculum – English

Reading and Viewing, Literature: Examining literature

Level 5: 

  • Recognise that ideas in literary texts can be conveyed from different viewpoints, which can lead to different kinds of interpretations and responses (Content description VCELT315)

Level 6: 

  • Identify the relationship between words, sounds, imagery and language patterns in narratives and poetry such as ballads, limericks and free verse (Content description VCELT344)

Reading and Viewing, Literacy: Interpreting, analysing, evaluating

Level 6: 

Writing, Language: Text structure and organisation

Level 6: 

  • Investigate how vocabulary choices, including evaluative language can express shades of meaning, feeling and opinion (Content description VCELA352)

Links to the Victorian Curriculum – English as an Additional Language (EAL)

Pathway B

Reading and viewing

Level BL:

  • Participate in activities around class texts (VCEALC190)
  • Make simple predictions or inferences about a text, with support (VCEALC189)
  • Give a personal response to a text (VCEALC188)
  • Engage with a small range of picture books in the classroom (VCEALA197)

Level B1:

  • Participate in simple group activities on shared texts, with some support (VCEALC270)
  • Acquire some information from a small range of images (VCEALC266)
  • Provide responses to texts (VCEALC268)
  • Make simple predictions or inferences about a text (VCEALC269)
  • Engage with a diverse range of picture books that reflect a variety of cultural beliefs, practices and views (VCEALA277)

Level B2:

  • Contribute to group activities on shared texts (VCEALC351)
  • Acquire information from different types of visual representations in text (VCEALC347)
  • Express a personal response to an imaginative text or elements of the text (VCEALC349)
  • Make and substantiate inferences and predictions when reading or listening to a text read aloud (VCEALC350)
  • Engage with a diverse range of texts that reflect a variety of cultural beliefs, practices and views (VCEALA358)

Level B3:

  • Contribute actively to group activities on shared texts (VCEALC430)
  • Interpret and explain information from a range of images in text (VCEALC426)
  • Express a personal response to a small range of imaginative texts (VCEALC428)
  • Discuss texts with some understanding of meaning beyond the literal level, moving towards the inferential level (VCEALC429)
  • Engage with a diverse range of texts reflecting a variety of cultures and perspectives (VCEALA437)


Level BL:

  • Use topic-specific vocabulary encountered in classroom activities (VCEALL235)

Level B1:

Level B2:

  • Use a varied and appropriate vocabulary (VCEALL394)
  • Select some descriptive vocabulary appropriate to context (VCEALL396)

Level B3:

  • Create mood and feeling through the selection of appropriate vocabulary and idiom (VCEALL475)

Theory/practice connections

Determining what is taking place in a text can be considered by looking at how meanings are represented in the images (Humphrey, Droga and Feez, 2012).

The front cover and title pages position the reader/viewer for what is to come. These images can be used when making predictions and determining the themes that might be found in the text. Such analysis provides a high intellectual content, encourages participation of all ability groups and serves to strengthen enjoyment and engagement in learning (Callow, 2012).

Learning intention

We are learning to examine the techniques used by illustrators to position the reader.

Success criteria

  1. I can explain my reaction and responses to an image.
  2. I can identify the techniques used by an illustrator and infer the intended effect on the viewer.

Role of the reader

Text user: Visual techniques can be manipulated to create certain effects and position the reader.

Text analyst: The text is interrogated to examine the use of certain visual techniques, which can be explored when considering the illustrator's purpose.

Group size

Individual, partner, small group and whole class.

Learning sequence

Learning occurs over several sessions.

Ask students to spend a few minutes working independently to draw what comes into their head when they think of an island. Students share and explain their drawings in small groups. Ask each group what commonalities were found amongst their drawings.

Reflect with students about the factors that led them to the drawings - past experiences with illustrations about islands, having been to an island, Australia as an island, seeing movies about islands.

Students work with a partner, using an interactive site, such as Google Earth, to explore islands on the globe. Make a class list of things we know about islands.

 Show students the front and back cover of Armin Greder's book The Island. Draw comparisons between the front cover and the way islands have been conceptualised in the students' illustrations.

Students discuss the effect that the front/back cover has on the viewer and what the author/illustrator has done to create this effect.

Points to consider:

  • use of dark colour
  • size of the image and the space it takes up on the page
  • the use of white space
  • viewer perspective, looking up at the wall.

Pose the question: "What type of world is being created by this cover?"

Students go outside and sketch tall structures from different perspectives, or use a device to take photos. Discuss how illustrators can capitalise on perspective to highlight positions of power and serve to position the viewer as comparatively small.

Complete an anticipation guide prior to reading the text. This strategy involves teacher developed statements, which students mark with agree or disagree and then re-visit once the text has been read. For example:

  • front cover is preparing the reader for a story that will challenge thinking (agree/disagree)
  • front cover puts the viewer in a powerless position (agree/disagree)
  • title of the book will not be related to the story's setting (agree/disagree)
  • story will end with a message of hope (agree/disagree).

Leave space between each statement for students to write a comment after the reading to explain their thinking.

Go back to the images of islands created. Use sketching to explore if the same effect gained by the text's front cover could be gained by using an image of an island. Colour, image size, white space and perspective can be examined.


This step can provide anecdotal information, as the teacher roves and asks students what effect they are trying to achieve and how they aim to achieve it. Students' use of metalanguage should also be noted.


Students needing support may benefit from exploring or creating a range of images, which focus on the visual techniques examined in this lesson - colour, image size, the use of white spaces and perspective.

All students will be asked to draw upon the language of affect and judgement (evaluative language), to express their evaluation of the visual techniques and articulate how they have been affected by these techniques. Word lists could be generated for students needing support and access to a thesaurus will be important.