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English Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Learning task 3: Reading and writing

  1. Read to the students Shadow Bear by Frank Asch, ( National Library). A delightful story of a little bear who attempts to escape a shadow that seems to be chasing him.

    Following the reading discuss:

    • What do you know about shadows that makes this book funny?
    • Why did Bear's shadow disappear when he hid behind a tree?
    • Why did the shadow disappear when he buried it?
    • What makes a sun shadow fall one direction at one time and another direction earlier or later in the day?
    • What other questions do you have about shadows?
    • What time of day do you think these events happened and where was Bear's shadow at these times?

    Reread Shadow Bear. Identify those aspects of the story that are purely fictional and those that "could happen" paying particular attention to how shadows change during the day.

    Add to KWL chart - have we found answers to our questions? What else have we found out about shadows? Do we have more questions?

  2. Teacher and students work together to complete a questionnaire (RTF 17KB) .
  3. Shared Reading - read a selection of appropriate texts and/or Junior Journals exploring the language and text features of explanations. Explain to the students that they will be writing an explanation about shadows.

    Use models of explanation writing from exemplars to read and discuss with students (see  Why do Shadows Happen?,  The Best Nest and  How a Spider's Web Forms).

     Read the explanation with the students. Talk about the explanation: How do we know this is an explanation? What impact does the explanation have on us as the readers? How would the author have gathered this information? List student responses on a chart.

    • Discuss and identify which explanations are about the "why" and which are about the "how". Talk about what it is in a sentence that tells us about these differences.
    • Identify action verbs and discuss their functions in organising explanations. Action verbs can be identified and discussed in terms of their function as part of a sequence of processes that explains how things happen or work, or which explain why one action causes another action.
    • Discuss use of conjunctions to link groups of processes, eg. first, next, then, when, because, so that, therefore. See Exploring Language - Complex Sentences.

    Continue to read closely a selection of explanations. Discuss explanations extensively before asking the students to write an explanation. Encourage students to include a reason and use words like "because" or "then" to join their ideas when talking about an explanation.

  4. Discuss with the students:

    • What have we found out about shadows?
    • What is a shadow?
    • What makes a shadow? How?
    • What do we have to remember when we write an explanation?

    Teacher models how to brainstorm and then how to organise ideas into sequential order, thinking carefully how to start and end the explanation. Model how to select the best and most relevant ideas. Ask students for ideas, encouraging them to participate in the modelling process. Talk about the audience for their writing. Who will read it?

    Teacher models writing an explanation: How is a shadow made?

    Model how to complete the checklist (RTF 14KB) . Encourage students to identify the checklist points using the teacher modelled writing.

Published on: 14 May 2009