Teaching and learning cycle lesson: level 5 and 6, The Island


Lesson text

 The Island by Armin Greder. First published by Allen & Unwin, Australia in 2007.

An unknown man arrives on a remote island. Despite recognising their obligation to care for him, the islanders are threatened and frightened by the man's difference. This fear progresses into anger and the islanders send the man back to the sea.

This text deals with emotional issues, such as refugees, racism, humanity and inhumanity, acceptance of difference, communities and fear. It will need to be explored with care and sensitivity.

The text contains:

  • the use of white spaces
  • framing of illustrations
  • colour
  • charcoal as an art medium
  • pictorial symbolism
  • use of size and perspective in illustrations
  • use of line to show movement
  • dialogue to highlight different perspectives
  • use of pronouns
  • action verbs
  • language of affect (language to express feelings) For example: "Foreigner spreads fear in town…" ).

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

Links to the English curriculum

  • 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: Analyse strategies authors use to influence readers (Content description VCELY345)
  • 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)

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.

Assessment

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.

Differentiation

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.

2. Build the field of knowledge by making intertextual links

Links to the English curriculum

  • Reading and Viewing, Literature: Literature and context
  • Level 5: Identify aspects of literary texts that convey details or information about particular social, cultural and historical contexts (Content description VCELT313)
  • Writing, Language: Expressing and developing ideas
  • Level 6: Understand how ideas can be expanded and sharpened through careful choice of verbs, elaborated tenses and a range of adverb groups/phrases (Content description VCELA351)
  • Speaking and Listening, Literature: Literature and context
  • Level 6: Make connections between own experiences and those of characters and events represented in texts drawn from different historical, social and cultural contexts (Content description VCELT365)
  • Speaking and Listening, Literacy: Interacting with others
  • Level 6: Participate in and contribute to discussions, clarifying and interrogating ideas, developing and supporting arguments, sharing and evaluating information, experiences and opinions, and use interaction skills, varying conventions of spoken interactions according to group size, formality of interaction and needs and expertise of the audience (Content description VCELY366)

Theory/practice connections

Reading visual images involves decoding, comprehending and questioning (Callow, 2012). Teachers can assist students to interpret visual texts and draw inferences, by orchestrating opportunities for close viewing, time for talk and guided discussion.

Helping students make links across texts, highlights that the skills and knowledge used to interpret one text can be transferred and built upon when reading or viewing other texts.

Additional resources

Images from van Gogh's Peasant Series (these are easily obtained through an internet search).

Useful images include:

  • The potato market 1882
  • The sower 1882
  • Potato digging 1883
  • The sower (study) 1883
  • Woman with wheelbarrow 1883
  • Shepherd with a flock of sheep 1884
  • Weaver at the loom 1884
  • Wood gatherers in the snow 1884
  • Peasant digging 1885
  • Peasant making bread 1885
  • Peasant woman daring socks 1885
  • Two peasant women digging 1885

Learning intention

We are learning to use images to infer about people, time and place.

Success criteria

  1. I can generate ideas about an image.
  2. I can label connections between images.
  3. I can contribute to discussions and justify my thinking.

Role of the reader

Text analyst: Considering why a text has been created and the values and ideologies the creator of the text may portray.

Group size

Individual, partner, small group, whole class.

Lesson process

Clearly articulate the learning intention for the lesson.

Provide each student with an image from van Gogh's peasant series. Each student records thoughts that come to mind when viewing the image. Students share their image and list of thoughts with a partner. Discuss which thoughts could relate to both images. Encourage students to consider the setting of the images, who is portrayed and what actions are occurring.

van Gogh's Peasant woman taking her meal, 1885.

The woman sits alone, at the table. We cannot make out her facial expression. The woman's posture shows that she is tired and sad. The farmhouse is sparse. It is dark in the house but outside the window there is light.

Greder's The Island

The foreigner sits alone. His eyes are downcast. His posture and his facial expression,makes him look tired and sad. He is sitting in a place that is sparse.

Students work in small groups to share their images and ideas.  Each group uses the images to create a visual concept map, linked by strips of paper, which have the connections made between each image.

Students negotiate a clause to act as a title for their concept map (i.e. the title must include a noun group and a verb group). For example: People feeling alone. People (noun) feeling (verb) alone (adverb). Share the concept maps with the class.

Assessment

The teacher can take photos of the concept maps to determine if further teaching is needed with linking ideas.

Lead the class in a discussion to promote critical thinking. Include the questions:

  • What time and place do you think are portrayed in the images?
  • How do the images make you feel?
  • Why do you think van Gogh created these images?
  • What messages might van Gogh have wanted to give?
  • What have we learnt about life in the context of van Gogh's peasant series?

 Look at a few of the images of the peasants in The Island and draw comparisons with van Gogh's peasants.

Differentiation

To support students' thinking, in step 1, students could be provided with conjunctions to extend sentences and assist with close viewing. For example, a student may respond "The farmer is picking potatoes", an idea which could be extended with the use of with, so, because, and, then.

Students requiring extension could juxtapose the peasant series artwork with other van Gogh art, such as the sunflower series or starry night series and consider why the use of colour in these series is so different.

3. Inferring characters' feelings

Links to the English curriculum

  • 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)
  • Reading and Viewing, Literacy: Interpreting, analysing, evaluating
  • Level 6: Analyse strategies authors use to influence readers (Content description VCELY345)
  • Level 6: Select, navigate and read increasingly complex texts for a range of purposes, applying appropriate text processing strategies to recall information and consolidate meaning (Content description VCELY346)
  • Speaking and Listening, Language: Language for interaction
  • Level 5: Understand how to move beyond making bare assertions and take account of differing perspectives and points of view (Content description VCELA335)
  • Speaking and Listening, Literacy: Interacting with others
  • Level 6: Participate in and contribute to discussions, clarifying and interrogating ideas, developing and supporting arguments, sharing and evaluating information, experiences and opinions, and use interaction skills, varying conventions of spoken interactions according to group size, formality of interaction and needs and expertise of the audience (Content description VCELY366)

Theory/practice connections

Characters' feelings can be described through words and images. In the verbal mode, adjectives tell us how a character feels. The islanders felt threatened. The islanders were scared. The man was lonely.

Verbs can also provide information about the characters' feelings. However, here we need to infer what the feelings might be by focusing on the action. The islanders grabbed their pitchforks. They locked their doors. Inference also needs to occur when reading the visuals.

The characters' actions, body language and facial expression all serve to provide information about their feelings.

Learning intentions

We are learning to identify and explain characters' feelings.

We are learning to identify our own responses and feelings to texts.

Success criteria

  1. I can name characters' feelings and infer why they feel that way.
  2. I can use the text's visuals to support my thinking.
  3. I can identify my feelings and responses to a text.

Role of the reader

Text user: Texts can elicit an emotional response from the reader.

Group size

Whole class, small group, partners.

Lesson sequence

Sequence over several sessions.

Explore the title page of 'The Island'. Examine the raft that is foregrounded and the skyline in the background. Discuss the colour of the skyline, and what it might mean. Link this discussion with the class's findings around the front/back cover. Make predictions about what will happen with the raft.

Read the text to the students, stopping at the double page, where the islanders express their fear. (Ending with "Foreigner spreads fear in town.") Recap what has happened in the text.

Students work with a partner and role play an island character. They can draw upon the characters in the text or upon their knowledge of van Gogh's peasants. Partners role play a discussion between two islanders, where they articulate how they feel about the stranger and what should be done with him.

 Conduct a whole class discussion, which focuses on the feelings driving the characters in the role play.  What did these characters feel?  Why did they feel this way? Remind students of their use of adjectives when describing feelings. Throughout the discussion refer back to the illustrations to examine the characters' feelings through their facial expressions, body language and actions.

One of the images references Edvard Munch's The Scream (1883). Explore both of these images and discuss what they are portraying.

Complete the reading of the text and refer back to the predictions made when the title page was examined. Allow students time to reflect.  This can be done individually by writing or drawing, or in quiet small group discussions.

Assessment

This task can act as a self-assessment activity for students.

Differentiation

Discussion prompts to assist reflection could be used as a thinking tool:

  • What happened in the text? Which action verb(s) help the reader understand this ?
  • How did the characters react and feel and the adjectives used to describe the feelings?
  • How do I react and feel?

4. Exploring racism through voice

Links to the English curriculum

  • Reading and Viewing, Literature: Responding to literature
  • Level 5: Use metalanguage to describe the effects of ideas, text structures and language features on particular audiences (Content description VCELT314)
  • Reading and Viewing, Literacy: Texts in context
  • Level 5: Show how ideas and points of view in texts are conveyed through the use of vocabulary, including idiomatic expressions, objective and subjective language, and that these can change according to context (Content description VCELY317)
  • Navigate and read imaginative, informative and persuasive texts by interpreting structural features, including tables of content, glossaries, chapters, headings and subheadings and applying appropriate text processing strategies, including monitoring meaning, skimming and scanning (Content description VCELY318)
  • Speaking and Listening, Literacy: Interacting with others
  • Level 5: Clarify understanding of content as it unfolds in formal and informal situations, connecting ideas to students' own experiences, and present and justify a point of view or recount an experience using interaction skills (Content description VCELY337)

Theory/practice connections

Speech functions or the use of dialogue in texts presents the reader with information about the interactions between characters. Types of speech functions include: statements, questions, commands and offers.

Most of the examples of dialogue between the characters in The Island are statements (to simply state something or provide information).

Learning intention

We are learning to consider how dialogue shapes texts.

Success criteria

  1. I can classify dialogue based on the character's intention.
  2. I can explain the effect created when the singular or plural first person pronouns are used.
  3. I can explain how the combination of dialogue and visual techniques show characters' perspectives.

Role of the reader

Text analyst: The use of dialogue can help the author meet the purpose for text.

Group size

Whole class, small group.

Lesson sequence

Sequence over several lessons.

Explore the competing voices through dialogue in the text.

Voice of compassion (The Fisherman):

  • We have to take him in.
  • We can't ignore him now that he is among us.
  • We must help him.
  • Even though he is not one of us, he is still our responsibility.

Voices of prejudice:

  • But we can't just feed anyone who comes our way.
  • We don't have enough for everyone.
  • He will come and eat you if you don't finish your soup.
  • I am sure he would murder us all if he could.

Track the use of pronouns used in the dialogue.  What difference would it make if the fisherman substituted the pronoun we with I ? How would this change affect the storyline and the possible outcome?

Examine the lone voice of the fisherman.  Discuss with students why his perspective is different to that of the islanders and the difficulty he would have as a lone voice. Students make connections to their own experiences, when they were the only voice and how this felt.

Examine the voices of the islanders. Categorise these into reasonable concerns (e.g.  the island may not have enough resources for everyone) and unreasonable concerns based on fear or paranoia.

The final page of the text tells us that there were people who agreed with the fisherman but stayed silent.  Students consider why this might be.  Students make connections to their own experiences of times when they chose to remain silent. Similarly, we do not hear the voice of the stranger.  If his voice was included, what might he say? Consider who are those in society today who do not have a voice or are not heard?

Assessment

Opportunities are offered here to determine whether students are able to make links between the lessons and their own experiences and knowledge.

Find visual examples that match the verbal animosity of the islanders - the use of pitchforks, the size of the mob, fists raised in anger.

The collective voices of the islanders were negative ones.  Investigate the positive collective voices that support refugees or displaced persons - United Nations, The Refugee Council of Australia, Oxfam, World Vision, Save the Children. Students work in small groups to research the purpose of one organisation. The organisation's slogans can be a useful starting point. Students capture the organisation's message in one sentence and add it to the voice of the fisherman. Explore the effect the use of pronouns has in these organisational voices.  Is the use of we or I more effective?

Differentiation

EAL and diverse learners may require more support and explicit instruction about the use of pronouns.

Prior to the research, some students may need support with the vocabulary encountered in the websites - refugee, asylum seekers, migration, human rights etc.

Students needing support with the research could work in a small guided writing focus group.

5. Creating a visual glossary: Deconstruction and joint construction

Links to the English curriculum

  • Reading and Viewing, Literature: Responding to literature
  • Level 5: Use metalanguage to describe the effects of ideas, text structures and language features on particular audiences (Content description VCELT314)
  • Reading and Viewing, Literacy: Interpreting, analysing, evaluating
  • Level 6: Analyse strategies authors use to influence readers (Content description VCELY345)
  • Writing, Literacy: Texts in context
  • Level 5: Reread and edit own and others' work using agreed criteria for text structures and language features (Content description VCELY330)
  • Level 6: Reread and edit own and others' work using agreed criteria and explaining editing choices (Content description VCELY359)
  • Level 6: Use a range of software, including word processing programs, learning new functions as required to create texts (Content description VCELY361)

Theory/practice connections

As with written texts, when dealing with visual texts, teachers need to assist students not only to make meaning, but also to consider how that meaning is made. One way of doing this is to deconstruct visual texts, analysing the visual elements and how they can be manipulated to create various effects.

Download table of visual elements and relevant examples from The Island​ (docx - 25.55kb)

Additional resources

Picture story books and images that reflect the visual elements explored in this lesson.

Learning intention

We are learning to identify the visual elements used in text and describe their effect on the viewer.

Success criteria

  • I can use the technical language of visual literacy.
  • I can describe the effects caused by the elements used in visual texts.
  • Role of the Reader Text user - Recording the meanings of visual terms and creating a glossary for reference.

Group size

Whole class, small group.

Lesson sequence

Reread The Island and recap the storyline and author's purpose.

 Conduct a page-by-page book walk, examining the main visual elements and their use to create particular effects.  Some of these elements have been addressed in previous lessons, while others have not been a focus. Aspects to discuss include:

  • use of line to create movement
  • use of white spaces
  • size of image and perspective
  • multiple framing on pages
  • colour
  • design and layout
  • vectors
  • symbolism.

Students work in small groups to explore one of these elements.  They find examples of their allocated element in other picture books and in on-line images.

Students create a glossary page for their element, using an online text collaboration tool, such as Google Docs. Students need to include a succinct definition of their element, and a few images highlighting the effect created in images, by the use of this element.

Differentiation

This lesson can be varied in pace, according to students' ability to use the metalanguage of visual literacy and their ability to identify images incorporating the different elements discussed.

Working in small mixed ability groups will offer support to all students. However, if extra support is needed, the teacher could work in a small focus group, using the strategy of guided writing.

6. Using the visual to create a counter text: Modelling, joint construction and independent construction

Links to the English curriculum

  • Writing, Literature: Creating literature
  • Level 5: Create literary texts that experiment with structures, ideas and stylistic features of selected authors (Content description VCELT327)
  • Level 5: Create literary texts using realistic and fantasy settings and characters that draw on the worlds represented in texts students have experienced (Content description VCELT328)
  • Level 6: Create literary texts that adapt or combine aspects of texts students have experienced in innovative ways (Content description VCELT356)
  • Writing, Literacy: Creating texts
  • Level 5: Reread and edit own and others' work using agreed criteria for text structures and language features (Content description VCELY330)
  • Level 6: Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, choosing and experimenting with text structures, language features, images and digital resources appropriate to purpose and audience (Content description VCELY358)
  • Level 6: Reread and edit own and others' work using agreed criteria and explaining editing choices (Content description VCELY359)

Theory/practice connections

The reading and writing of visual and written texts can be supported in the classroom, through careful and sequential planning. It is important for teachers to consider the affordances texts have to offer, as mentor texts. Teachers can then match the affordances the texts offer with lesson planning to suit the needs of their students.

The Victorian curriculum is a cumulative one. It builds upon the concepts, skills and strategies gained in earlier years.  It is important for schools to map out a sequence for the teaching of visual literacy, what metalanguage will be used and at what stage it will be introduced (Callow, 2012).

Learning intention

We are learning to apply our knowledge of visual elements to our own texts.

Success criteria

I can use visual elements to create my own texts, and explain the effect these have on the viewer.

Group size

Whole class, small group.

Lesson process

Brainstorm with students different responses that the islanders could have demonstrated, when the strangers arrived. Think of what they could have done and said:

  • Possible action by the islanders (action verbs)
  • Possible dialogue: Direct speech-language of affect (happy, good, lucky, trustworthy)
  • Possible reaction from the stranger (action verbs)

Compose a class created wall story (joint construction), based on The Island but with a positive response from the islanders, one which puts the stranger in the position of power. Use the first paragraph as a mentor paragraph, keeping the clause structure but changing the content.

Original text: One morning, the people of the island found a man on the beach, where fate and ocean currents had washed his raft ashore. When he saw them coming, he stood up.

Innovated text: Late in the afternoon, the islanders welcomed a man on the sand, where luck and hope had delivered his boat. When he heard them running, he waved.

Complete the text and divide it into sections, and hand out a section to partners or small groups.

Students take their section of the text and engage in an editing process. Examine the text for secretarial elements, such as spelling and punctuation; and for authorial elements, does the composition sound right? Do we need to change any words to achieve greater accuracy of meaning?

The teacher models the illustration of one section of the innovated text, drawing upon the glossary of visual literacy elements created in the previous lesson. Using pencil and charcoal the teacher participates in a think-aloud to explain what elements will be used in the illustration and why.

Students plan a rough sketch of an illustration for their section of the text. They name the visual elements used and list why they are used and what effect they are trying to achieve.

Each partner meets with another set of partners and shares their sketch. The students offer each other feedback based on the desired effect. Students choose to act upon the feedback before completing their final piece, which will be used to create a class made book.

Assessment

Peer-to-peer assessment is undertaken in a formal feedback session.

Differentiation

Students jointly constructing text will serve as a support to those who need additional assistance. Highly able students may not need the structure of the mentor text. These students may consider a different purpose for their text creation, based upon the work studied to date.  For example, students may create a digital text or an information text about migration.