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The professional learning program

Term 2 Interpreting texts

Term 2's theme was Interpreting, that is to begin supporting students to recognise and interpret the messages in thematic stories, and to start writing stories with messages. The professional development focus for Term 2 was on selecting and analysing stories, in particular to identify messages in thematic stories, and to analyse how messages are constructed by accomplished authors. To this end a set of stories, two of them written by Indigenous authors, were prepared for teachers to practise analysing,. These included:

  • Butterfly Song by Terri Jaenke, Penguin 2002
  • Finding Ullagundahi Island by Fabienne Bayet-Charlton, Allen & Unwin 2002
  • Rain by Glen Dolman from Australian Short Stories, Longman 1993
  • Macbeth Act V, Scene 5 by William Shakespeare

For example the teachers decided that the following extract from Finding Ullagundahi Island is a narrative that conveys a message about belonging. The family dog is rejected for its bad behaviour, but welcomed back when it rescues the baby. The message is carried in the contrasting reactions of the the children, the father and the mother. These reactions and the phases of the tory are indicated in the left margin of the following table.

setting I can see the beach where we used to go swimming as kids, in the colder months, before the stingers came out. I remember how my blue swimming togs always held a pile of sand in the crotch. Somewhere in the dunes i lost my red bucket.
problem It was the day we deliberately left Nobby at the beach. The
reaction three of us kids cried a lot.
description Nobby was a stray mongrel dog that had moved into our house. Clarissa, Shane and I wanted to keep him. Dad said he was a bad dog because he jumped up and grabbed clothing, like Dad's work socks off the clothesline. Nobby also chased cars and gave the postman on his bicycle a hard time. So that day, we left the beach without him.
problem The next weekend, when we went back for a swim, Nobby was still there, hanging around the car park. He looked very sad and dejected.
reaction Dad made us act as if we couldn't see him. 'Pretend he's invisible.'
setting Later, on the beach, we set up our picnic. Shane had just learnt to walk - well, really he went straight to running. Dad was having a swim and my mother was making sandwiches
problem when Shane disappeared. We searched the beach and the car park and could not find him. Nobby was still there so my
reaction frantic mother said to him, 'Shane, help us find Shane.' She had watched too many Lassie movies.
solution Nobby barked and headed towards the estuary. Sure enough, Shane was there, within metres of the deep water.
reaction 'We have to take the dog,' my mother insisted.
comment That's how Nobby won his place in our family. To think that was around twenty years ago - but the beach looks just the same.
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