Connecting to prior knowledge

NOTE: If you would like to understand more about Gallipoli before beginning, there is an excellent resource on the Australian War Memorial website.

One Minute’s Silence, written by David Metzenthen and illustrated by Michael Camilleri, is an award-winning book about Remembrance Day.

Begin by asking the class if anyone has family members serving in the Australian Defence Force, or an ancestor who has served in the past. Record the responses.

Ask students to participate in a carousel brainstorm (physically or online) to share what they know about:

  • Remembrance Day
  • World War I
  • any associated vocabulary words

To do this, set up three or four stations and have groups brainstorm at each one, rotating between them all to add additional comments.

After a short discussion using the ideas from the carousel brainstorm, tell students they will be exploring a book about the battle between Australian and Turkish soldiers at Gallipoli. Read the publisher’s synopsis for One Minute’s Silence available from Allen & Unwin. Discuss, then watch the Story Box Library teaser for the book.

Reopen the discussion to identify the multiple points of view: that of the Australian soldiers, and that of the Turkish soldiers. Their experiences were both similar and different. Draw a Venn diagram, labelling the left circle ‘Australian soldiers’ and the right circle ‘Turkish soldiers’. Through oral discussion, list the experiences that were similar or different for these two groups.

(ACELA1502)   (EN3-1A)

Exploring the text in context of our community, school and ‘me’

Begin by reading the origins of Remembrance Day to the class. You might like to show part of the 2020 National Ceremony, which was smaller than usual because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Place students in small groups to research aspects of Anzac Day and Remembrance Day in preparation for reading One Minute’s Silence. Use the links below and any books you may have in your classroom (see suggestions under More Resources). Ask students to research, read and discuss the key points related to their topic. Let them know that, at the end of the activity, each group will give a five-minute presentation to the class to ‘teach’ the other students about their topic. This can be an oral presentation aided by PowerPoint or Glogster, or any other form they would like to use (Prezi would be a good choice).

To help facilitate the reading process, groups should work through the following:

  • Start with a prediction: list five content words they think they will find in their subsection.
  • Skim for important information without reading the whole text. Each group member is to list and then discuss two words that are new for them.
  • Take turns to read a paragraph aloud. The rest of the group monitors comprehension by discussing the following for each paragraph: who, what, when, how, why, with whom.

Group research topics

Group 1: one minute’s silence

One or two minutes of silence is held as a time for reflection and sign of respect.

Group 2: ceremonial customs (e.g. the Last Post, red poppies)

The Last Post has historically been used to signify the end of a soldier’s day. It is played during ceremonies as a tribute to the dead. You can listen to a version of the Last Post on YouTube.

Group 3: Anzac Day

Anzac Day commemorates 25 April 1915, the day Australian soldiers landed at Gallipoli in Turkey, while Remembrance Day commemorates 11 November 1918, the end of WWI.

Group 4: the Ode

The Ode is the fourth stanza of the poem ‘For the fallen’ by Laurence Binyon (1869–1943). It has been recited at ceremonies since 1919.

Group 5: Rosemary

Rosemary is worn as a symbol of remembrance on Anzac Day. It is a herb that grows wild on the Gallipoli peninsula. More recently, the Flanders poppy has become associated with Anzac Day, though traditionally it was only worn on Remembrance Day (11 November).

Additional resource (interpreting photographs)

Students may be interested to look through this gallery of images from 11 November 1918 (scroll down to find it).

After the presentations, explore the Places of Pride website. Use this national register of war memorials to find your local memorial. If it is missing, you can submit it so that it can be added to the register.

Point out that, so far, students have been researching the ANZAC perspective. At the start of WWI, Turkey was part of the Ottoman Empire. They entered the war in 1914 on the side of what was known as the Central Powers (Germany and then Austria-Hungary). After its defeat by the Allies, the Ottoman Empire came to an end (1922), and after that it became Turkey (1923).

(ACELY1702)   (EN1-4A)

Rich assessment task

Finish by reading the blurb on the back of the book. Discuss the sentence: ‘In One Minute’s Silence, the story is yours and you are the story – to remember and honour the brothers in arms on both sides of the conflict, who shed their blood and lost their lives.’

As a class, discuss what that might mean. Prompt students to make predictions about the book. Record responses so you can revisit these ideas after reading the text.

Now read the book aloud.

Without any discussion, ask students to write their own personal response to what they have heard. Encourage them to record their thoughts, feelings and questions. These responses will not be shared now, but students will return to them later.

(ACELT1610)   (EN3-8D)   (ACELY1703)   (EN1-4A)

Responding to the text

Tell students that this book was published on the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI. There are many books that connect to this topic (see More Resources), but most tell the story of Australian soldiers. As you move through this unit, prompt students to focus on and respond to both the Anzacs and the Turkish people.

Re-read One Minute’s Silence, then invite and record any questions and wonderings from students. You can return to these after further discussion and exploration of the text.

Ask: what type of text is this? If any students would like to share their responses from the last task, invite them to do so now.

Place students in groups for the purpose of a discussion. Allocate each group a section of the book and a recording device (students will review the audio from this activity and reflect on the value of the experience). Allow three minutes for an initial discussion of the allocated section. Then interrupt with the following prompts, inviting group members to think more deeply about the text, engage in meaningful conversation, and share multiple perspectives and unique points of view.

  • How did this section of the text make you feel?
  • What prompted that feeling (e.g. certain words or images, a connection to another text or even memory)?
  • What questions do you have?

Keep the activity moving so it does not become too lengthy. Tell students that, in the next lesson, they will listen back to their discussion and reflect on the conversation and viewpoints expressed.

  • Was there a variety of viewpoints?
  • Were there points you agreed with? Disagreed with?
  • As a group, pick one point that came up in your discussion to share with the class.

Display the original predictions from the Rich Assessment Task (Literature) and add to them as each group reports.

(ACELT1610)   (EN3-8D)   (ACELA1512)   (EN3-6B)

Exploring plot, character, setting and theme

Think about the characters in the book. Who are they?

The first suggestion may be ‘soldiers’, but draw attention to the students who are portrayed at the start and end of the book, as well as throughout (participating in the battle).

Turn to the first double-page spread showing these students in class (pp. 2–3).

Ask: what role do they play in this book? What can you tell about them (age, diversity)?

Together, brainstorm words that could be used to describe the students in the book. Likely offerings include ‘bored’, ‘distracted’, ‘disinterested’, ‘apathetic’, ‘tired’, ‘inattentive’ or ‘switched off’. Record all the suggestions.

Ask your class to think back to the book. Do the students change their attitude? Why? How did the author and illustrator make them characters in the story?

Now turn to the final spread with these students (pp. 46–47). The image is similar to the first, with the same students sitting in the same seats.

What words could be used to describe them now? Your class might suggest ‘engaged’, ‘thoughtful’, ‘interested’ or ‘unhappy’.

Go back to the beginning of the book and, as you turn each page, prompt students to find the students among the soldiers.

What impact does this have? Why might this have been done?

Note that the students are wearing their regular clothes while the soldiers are in uniform. Discuss.

(ACELT1608)   (EN3-5B)   (ACELY1699)   (EN3-8D)

Rich assessment task

Continue the discussion about the students depicted alongside soldiers from Australia and Turkey.

Remind your students that the men and boys who fought in WWI came from a range of backgrounds. While not obvious from this book, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander soldiers played an important role in the conflict, many enlisting as young boys (see More Resources for additional information).

The diary of Herbert Vincent Reynolds (specifically the entry for 24 April 1915) may give students some insight into both the battle and the writing style often found in servicemen’s journals and diaries. Herbert had been an army cadet since he was 14.

Ask students to imagine that they are one of the soldiers from the book and write a diary entry. Remind them to think about the discussions so far and the story being told in One Minute’s Silence.

(ACELT1798)   (EN3-2A)   (ACELT1609)   (EN3-7C)

Examining text structure and organisation

As mentioned previously, there are many books that deal with the Australian experience of WWI (see More Resources), but this one is unique in that it presents both sides of a crushing battle.

Students will have already established that this is a visually rich text. The illustrations on each page carry significant information and messages for the reader.

In 2015, One Minute’s Silence won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Children’s Fiction. The judges gave a special mention to Michael Camilleri’s illustrations (see the third paragraph of the judges’ comments).

Walk students through the book without reading. Pause on each page and let students focus on the illustrations. Brainstorm their first thoughts. This might include:

  • use of colour
  • double-page spreads
  • pages without text
  • endpapers
  • perspective
  • circular images on the front cover

As a class, discuss how all the elements work together. Then take each one and unpack it a little:

use of colour dark, no bright colours
double-page spreads tell a story, some have inserts
pages without text e.g. the blowfly (pp. 26–27)
endpapers wheels and cogs
perspective the angle, the reader looks up or down
circular images on the front cover the two soldiers side-by-side, the position of their gaze and the soldiers and crosses bordering the circle

Break the class into small groups and assign them different images (or invite groups to self-select). Students are to brainstorm what is happening or what events are taking place. Each group will write a collaborative response based on their assigned image. Prompts to guide student thinking include:

  • What is going on? What makes you say that?
  • What led to this?
  • What might happen next?

You can use any pages for this exercise. Consider:

  • pp. 14–15 (a student is killed)
  • pp. 16–17 (a shrapnel bomb)
  • pp. 22–23, then 24–25 (note there is a change of direction)
  • pp. 34–35 (use of a map)
  • pp. 42–43 (the crosses, opposite direction to the arrival)

Allow time for groups to share their findings.

Finish up by turning to pp. 18–19, which show the girls. Women did not fight in WWI and certainly not at Gallipoli. Why might they be depicted here? Once students have shared their thoughts, suggest that it may be because all people – including women of all ages – participate in Remembrance Day. See More Resources for information on the role of women in WWI.

(ACELT1610)   (EN3-8D)

Examining grammar and vocabulary

Turn students’ attention to suffixes. Work through the first three examples below as a class, then split into heterogeneous groups to complete the remainder of the table.

Word from text Suffix Meaning from text Base word Meaning of base word
bayoneted (p. 11) ed (past tense) to have used a bayonet to do harm bayonet (from French baïonnette) a sword or dagger-like weapon that fits the end of a rifle, allowing it to be used like a spear
wounded (p. 24) ed hurt wound (from Old English wund) an injury, to hurt
solitary (p. 28) ary (contributing to) doing or being alone solus (Latin) alone
steepest (p. 11)
different (p. 31)
lashed (p. 32)
bloodied (p. 34)
impossible (p. 35)
quietened (p. 37)
strengthening (p. 38)
hushed (p. 43)
countries (p. 48)

Discuss how the function of a word changes when a suffix is added, and the effect of suffixes on meaning.

(ACELA1514)   (EN3-4A)


Ask students to choose any of the phrases listed below and locate the full sentence in the text. They are to complete the grid and explain the meaning of the sentence in their own words. Their explanation will reflect their level of comprehension.

Phrase from the text Meaning Other meaning or extra detail provided by the illustrations
‘the grinding in your guts’ (p. 6) A sick feeling deep in your stomach of dread or even fear. There are a lot of men shown heading to the beach. They are depicted in dark colours.
‘slouch-hatted strangers swarming towards them with rifles’ (p. 12)
‘the sound of the wind and waves, and quiet talking, replaced the crack, boom, and blast of war’ (p. 29)
‘the rain that lashed them felt like tears of joy’ (p. 32)
‘the hazy Turkish horizon was as impossible to reach as a castle in the clouds’ (p. 35)
‘the boys who would not wake to the hushed footsteps or whispered farewells’ (p. 43)

Revisit the last two activities and the text. Ask students to identify any similes used by the author. Discuss the effect of using this literary device.

Example include:

  • ‘in trenches cut like wounds’ (p. 8)
  • ‘going like mad until just about each and every one was stopped dead in his tracks’ (p. 20)
  • ‘the rain that lashed them felt like tears of joy’ (p. 32)
  • ‘the hazy Turkish horizon was as impossible to reach as a castle in the clouds’ (p. 35)
  • ‘circled like a dove that might soon settle in quietened hearts’ (p. 37)

Finish up by telling students that there are some examples of alliteration in the text. They can find these and comment on the impact of this literary device, or you can point the examples out yourself.

  • ‘the grinding in your guts’ (p. 6)
  • ‘the stony shore of Gallipoli’ (p. 6)
  • ‘the shivering Turkish sand’ (p. 7)
  • ‘hearts hammering’ (p. 8)
  • ‘standing shoulder-to-shoulder in trenches’ (p. 8)
  • ‘the boys from the back of beyond, and the blokes from the big smoke’ (p. 11)
  • ‘making tracks and marking maps’ (p. 11)
  • ‘with skidding boots and bursts of blood as they blasted and bayoneted’ (p. 11)
  • ‘slouch-hatted strangers swarming towards them’ (p. 12)
  • ‘dead and dying men’ (p. 23)

(ACELY1698)   (EN3-5B)   (ACELT1795)   (EN3-6B)

Rich assessment task

Working independently, students are to write a journal entry based on the day of armistice when each side buried their dead (pp. 28–31).

The task is to write from the perspective of either an Anzac or a Turk who has returned to the trenches and is waiting for the truce to end. Ask students not to identify their chosen point of view.

Once the journal entries are complete, invite students to move about the room and share their writing. Whoever is listening or reading must guess who was represented: an Anzac or a Turk.

Come together to discuss the results. What were the differences (if any)? Did the day of truce change anything? If so, how? If not, why?

Ask students if the task felt easier or harder depending on their chosen point of view.

Finish by coming together as a class. Play a word association game by presenting students with the word ‘war’. Ask every student to share three things that come to mind when they hear that word. You can use a tool like Mentimeter to generate a real-time word cloud displaying the most shared words.

(ACELT1610)   (EN3-8D)

To gauge understanding and check that students are coping with the content so far, do a brain dump. Ask students to write everything they know about the battle at Gallipoli in a 90-second quick write. Remind them that the goal is to generate as much writing as possible in the allotted time, not to edit or self-censor.

After 90 seconds, stop and ask students to code their responses, looking for words or comments that are true/factual (head) and those that are related to feeling (heart).

Invite questions or comments, but do not ask students to share if they are not forthcoming.

Next, show students the final double-page spread that contains text (pp. 44–45). Read these pages aloud and pause. Allow time for students to examine the details in the illustrations.

Invite students to respond independently to these pages:

  • Write one word that comes to mind after hearing the sentence on pp. 44–45.
  • Is it a satisfying ending?

Turn to the final spread of the book, which shows the students back in their classroom (pp. 46–47). Ask:

  • What are they thinking?
  • Can you identify a student who seems to be feeling what you are feeling right now (or at least something similar to what you are feeling)?
  • What makes you say that?
  • If not, how would you like to be portrayed on that page?

Read out the words attributed to Turkey’s first president, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, at the end of the book (p. 48). Invite students to do a think-pair-share on what they have heard.

Explain that ‘Atatürk’ means ‘father of the Turks’. These words have been attributed to him for some time, and are believed to imply a special bond between Australia and Turkey, forged from the terrible events portrayed in this book (some 8,700 Australians and more than 80,000 Turkish troops died). There are additional resources for the teacher under More Resources.

(ACELA1502)   (EN3-1A)

Read and display David Metzenthen’s comments about the book and illustrations, quoted in this Better Reading article (from ‘And so’ to ‘World War I’).

Have students think-pair-share before coming together as a class to discuss what the author has said. Then invite them to work in small groups to write what might be the next paragraph after this quote.

(ACELT1612)   (EN3-6B)

Rich assessment task

Tell students that, between 25 April and 20 December 1915, an Allied invasion and operation took place at Gallipoli. The campaign resulted in heavy casualties, including:

  • 80,000 Turkish troops
  • 8,700 Australian troops
  • 2,700 NZ troops
  • 34,000 UK troops
  • 9,800 French troops
  • 1,350 Indian troops

Reveal the questions for the final task:

  • Reflect on something you have learnt from reading this book.
  • Would you recommend this book to a friend? If so, what advice would you give them before they started reading?
  • What would you say are the key themes?
  • Why do we still commemorate Remembrance Day?
  • Should we continue to commemorate Remembrance Day?

Invite those students who wish to engage in a small group chat to do so, before independently responding to the questions.

The writing may take place over several days as students prepare a final draft.

On completion, provide an opportunity for those who want to share to do so.

(ACELY1704)   (EN3-2A)   (ACELT1612)   (EN3-6B)