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Ministry of Education.

Out of their comfort zones

Students write about the situations facing the central characters in short stories and how the characters deal with the challenges or issues they face.

Learning Outcomes | Teaching and Learning | Assessment and Evaluation | Printing Version

Writer: Mike Fowler
Year level 11
Who are my learners and what do they already know? See:  Planning using inquiry
School curriculum outcomes How your school’s principles, values, or priorities will be developed through this unit

Learning Outcomes

(What do my students need to learn)

Curriculum achievement objectives (AOs) for:  

Processes and strategies

Integrate sources of information, processes, and strategies purposefully and confidently to identify, form, and express increasingly sophisticated ideas:

  • thinks critically about texts with understanding and confidence
  • creates a range of increasingly varied and complex texts by integrating sources of information and processing strategies


Select, develop, and communicate connected ideas on a range of topics.

  • develops and communicates comprehensive ideas, information, and understandings

Language features

Select and use a range of language features appropriately for a variety of effects.

  • uses a wide range of text conventions, including grammatical and spelling conventions, appropriately, effectively, and with accuracy.


Organise texts, using a range of appropriate, effective structures.

  • achieves a sense of coherence and wholeness when constructing texts
Achievement Standard(s) aligned to AO(s)

1.5 Produce formal writing

1.1 Show understanding of specified aspect(s) of studied written text(s), using supporting evidence

Teaching and Learning

(What do I need to know and do?)

1-2 related professional readings or links to relevant research

Effective Practices in Teaching Writing in NZ Secondary Schools [available from February 2011]

Planning using inquiry

English Teaching and Learning Guide [available from February 2011]

Learning task 1

Learning intention(s)

Establishing prior learning; building understandings about this text type

KCs/ Principles/Values focus


Thinking – explore texts

Relate to others – peer discussion

Use language, symbols and texts – exploring text features

Learning task 1

Out of the zone

  1. Identify several texts [including fiction, non fiction, feature films, as well as short texts] featuring characters who feel uncomfortable or out of place in the situations they are faced with. Talk about the situations these characters find themselves in and how they respond.
  2. Select and read a selection of short stories where characters feel challenged by the situations they face. If possible, you should also read the four stories included in the exemplars: Willie Davis's Ka Kite Bro, Witi Ihimaera's My First Ball, Patricia Grace’s The Hills and Apirana Taylor’s The Red Sari.
  3. Look at the planning template. Read the details recorded listing how two characters feel 'out of their comfort zones' in two short stories: Willie Davis's Ka Kite Bro and Witi Ihimaera's My First Ball.

Focusing on structure and style

  1. Tama (Ka Kite Bro) and Tuta (My First Ball) are the characters who face these challenging situations. Read in exemplar A which describes the situations Tama and Tuta face. Talk about how the writer has:
    • expanded the ideas from their planning template into paragraphs
    • structured the piece with:
      • a short introduction linking the two stories, for example "Both the main characters, Tama and Tuta, find different ways through the situations they face."
      • two paragraphs each focusing on one short story. Note how each paragraph links to the topic by referring to the 'out of their comfort zones' topic, for example "Tama feels out of his comfort zone, because the people around him do not understand that he needs to say goodbye to Darryl in his own way."
      • a short conclusion making a summary point linking the stories to the topic and making a connection between the stories, for example "I think that both Tama and Tuta are similar because they are prepared to do something about the to the situations they face."
      • written in an appropriate style:
      • incorporating quotations and other details into sentences to support points [often integrating the quotation into a sentence], for example "...she tells him that it's "disgusting" and that "you should keep your culture and your nose to yourself."
      • maintaining a single tense sequence throughout by writing in the present tense
      • varying sentence lengths and structures, for example using complex structures to show linking between ideas in one sentence: "Tuta finds a way of dealing with this situation when he meets Joyce who also feels out of place."
  2. With a partner, identify the following features in exemplar B.
    • a link made between the two stories in the introduction:
    • a link made to the topic in each of the main paragraphs by referring to the ‘out of their comfort zones’ topic:
    • making a concluding point linking the stories to the topic, as well as comparing and contrasting how they explore the same theme:
    • incorporating quotations and other details into sentences to support points:
    • maintaining a single tense sequence throughout by writing in the present tense
    • using a range of sentence structures with control.
    Exemplar B is at merit because the ideas are more oonvincing and language features used with greater control than in exemplar A, which is at achievement.

Learning task 2

Learning intention(s)

Drafting and polishing a narrative.

KCs/ Principles/Values focus


Thinking – explore and develop ideas

Use language, symbols and texts – structure and develop ideas

Relate to others – work collaboratively

Learning task 2

Planning and drafting

  1. Choose two stories to write about. You should select other stories from the four in exemplars A and B. Use the second section in the planning template to note down key details about situations facing characters in these two stories
  2. Look over exemplars A and B again. Talk about what aspects are successful and what aspects could be developed further. Look at the assessment schedule which is also linked to the exemplars.
  3. Based on the notes from your planning template, develop a piece of paragraphed writing about your two short stories. 
Follow the same structure as used in exemplars A and B. Write at least 350 words. You may not include material from the exemplars in your own writing.
  4. After writing a first draft, you should read your piece aloud to help identify parts of the writing that require reworking, then complete the first set of revisions.
  5. Prior to writing the final draft, return to the assessment schedule and the exemplars to help you reflect on whether any changes or additions are needed in your final draft.
  6. Begin developing the final draft. You should view this as much more than a proof reading exercise, although you should improve on technical accuracy. This is an opportunity to craft and reshape - to polish your sentences and to try forming some sentences in different ways in order to improve them.
  7. Complete a final version.

Preparing for the external standard 1.1

  1. Look back at this formal writing piece about the two short storied you developed earlier in the year and use it to help prepare for AS 1.1 Show understanding of specified aspect(s) of studied written text(s), using supporting evidence. Don’t rote learn this essay then attempt to somehow adapt a learnt essay to a topic in the exam. You will be much better prepared if you familiarise yourself again with the text as well as its ideas and supporting evidence, then adapt your understandings and supporting evidence to fit the requirements of the topics set. Note that you can write on one or more stories for this standard. There is no longer a requirement to write on two short texts.

Assessment and Evaluation

(What is the impact of my teaching and learning?)

Formative and/or Summative assessment task(s), including how will feedback be provided 1.5 Produce formal writing. Refer to the assessment schedule.

Provision for identifying next learning steps for students who need:

  • further learning opportunities
  • increased challenge

This piece of writing should be an integrated part of the year’s writing programme. Refer to

for more details.

Tools or ideas which, for example might be used to evaluate:

  • progress of the class and groups within it
  • student engagement

leading to :

  • changes to the sequence
  • addressing teacher learning needs
See:  Planning using inquiry

Printing this unit:

If you are not able to access the zipped files, please download the following individual files.

Published on: 23 Nov 2010