In the first part of our series focusing on different approaches to and models of reading we revised the Four Resources model of reading (Luke and Freebody 1999). To show you how this model can work in action, this week we look at practical ways of approaching texts through the four models. Last week we looked at how this model can work with early stages of learning, and offered some questions for each resource based on the Helbling Classic Young Reader, The Hare and the Tortoise. These models can be applied at every stage of learning, and this week we would like demonstrate this by approaching a higher level Helbling Original Fiction Reader, The Time Capsule for elementary and pre-intermediate level learners.
Reading The Time Capsule
Here’s the summary of the story, written by Robert Campbell and illustrated by Arianna Operamolla:
Jan makes a time capsule for her History project and buries it beside the apple tree in her garden. Then one night during a terrible storm something strange happens. Jan travels through time.
Is she in the future? Or is she in the past? And how can she get back to the present?
From text participant to code breaker
Drawing on background knowledge and predicting what the text is going to be about can be an engaging step towards reading this exciting story. Start by drawing on your students’ expectations and previous experiences of similar texts. A good way to preview the story is to approach the text through the illustrations. This way the readers can get a general idea of what will follow, and they can refer to these images all through the text, comparing their expectations with the illustrations and they storyline they have read. As ‘text participants’ you can expect answers to these questions in the readers’ first language or simple answers in English:
- Have you ever heard about time travel?
- Can you imagine travelling in time? To the past or to the future?
- What is a time capsule?
- Have you ever made one?
- If yes, what did you put in it?
- If no, think of things to put in it.
- How do you imagine the 1970s?
- How did people communicate back then?
- What music did they listen to?
- Think of something that represents your life now, to give to someone in the past.
You can do all the work to set the context and activate background knowledge using the illustrations.
When you are reading the text as a ‘code breaker’:
- The difficult or supposedly new vocabulary will be marked with a blue dot, so you can focus more on these by pointing out references in the illustrations or explanations in the glossary.
- Practise shared reading and act out dialogues in the text, focusing on pronunciation and intonation.
- Do the language activities built around the story.
From code breaker to text analysts and users
This step does not need to be too detailed and can rely on mostly implicit observations.
As ‘text analysts’, answer these questions:
- Who is the narrator of this story? (It is told in third person narration with a lots of dialogues.)
- Can you recognise any stereotypical characters in the story?
- How does the relationship between Michael and Jan change during the story?
- How is Jan represented in the text? Find descriptions of her.
- How are the three trespassing boys represented?
- Why do the boys think that Jan is mad?
- How did Tom’s personality change over the years?
- What does the text teach us about the past?
- How is friendship represented in the text?
As ‘text users’, think about these questions:
- Look at the illustrations before you start to read the text and write your own captions for them.
- Use the illustrations after reading the story to retell the story.
- Find different types of texts in the book: illustrations, letters, notes, glossary, reflection boxes with questions, activities.
- Which of these text types form the story and which are for language learners?
- Can you imagine the text of the story without the letters, notes and illustrations?
- Write a note with some advice for time travellers.
- Write down the essential elements for a good time capsule.
The four models work independently but they are also connected to each other, you can decide which models you would like to focus on during the shared reading of the story.
Share your own questions and tasks with us in the comments below.
In our next post we will come back once more with sets of questions based on the Four Resources model of reading to approach a popular classic novel, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens for pre-intermediate and intermediate readers.
Here you can read interviews with Robert Campbell, the author of the book: