Connecting to prior knowledge
Activity 1: A Class book: ‘Our Families – Same and Different’
This activity might be separated into parts and carried out over different days or lessons.
Picture talk: Show the students pictures depicting families and that represent the cultural diversity of Australian families. As you show each picture, talk to your students about the diversity of families in relation to culture, specifically:
- the people in a family,
- things families do together,
- food and meal times,
- celebrations and,
- language (speaking one or more languages; speaking a language from a home country; languages from other countries).
A useful reference here is the worksheet titled ‘Discussion Dice – Families’.
Explain to the students that some families – children, parents or grandparents – came from other countries to live in Australia and so they might speak the language of their first country to each other even if they know and can speak English. Have your students consider why this might be.
Draw/paint: Invite each student to draw or paint a picture of their family (use large sheets of paper that can be put together to make a class book). While they do their drawings/paintings, talk to them individually about their families in relation to the topics above and what makes them different/special.
Dictated writing: Use the sentence starter – ‘In my family we…’ – to support each student to make oral statements that say something about their families (what they like to do, celebrate, eat, language/s spoken) – and write these statements underneath their pictures.
Note: To ensure the literacy learning benefit of dictated writing, while writing the student’s sentences, plan to:
- have each student observe/participate,
- verbalise each word as you write it,
- ‘sound out’ some (more simple) words slowly and out loud,
- ‘think aloud’ in relation to leaving spaces and starting the sentence with a capital letter and ending it with a full stop,
- read each student’s sentence back to them while pointing to each word as it is being read.
Read and talk: Put the students’ pictures and sentences together with a cover page to create a class book, Our Families: Same and Different. Read the book aloud. Some students might like to read their own page or simply talk about their picture/family. Put the book in the class reading corner to allow students continued access to it.
Activity 2: The Language tree
Make a list of all the languages that the students in your class and their families speak. It might be that there is not a lot of language diversity in your class and so you can extend this to students in the school, the community, people they know or simply the languages that the students have heard of or are familiar with. You might also indicate the country of origin of each language on a map.
Write each language on a leaf template and attach it to the tree trunk (prepared beforehand) to create ‘The Language Tree’. Additional leaves can be added over time as school, classroom or personal experiences further students’ awareness of other languages that people speak with their family and/or in the community.
Activity 3: Learning to speak Chinese
- Locate China on a world map using a globe, wall map or internet.
- Talk to your class about the main language spoken and people coming from China to live in Australia.
- Use the short online video clip, ‘Chinese for kids: Songs to learn greetings in 3 minutes‘ to assist the children to learn some simple Chinese (Mandarin) phrases.
|Hello, hello||Ni hao, ni hao|
|I’m called…||Wo jiao…|
|Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye||Zai jian, zai jian, zai jian|
|What’s your name?||Ni jiao she me ming zi|
Note: If you have children in your class who speak or are learning English as an additional language it would be important to focus on their first or home languages and perhaps learn simple greetings or practical phrases that can be used in the classroom context.
Activity 4: Book introduction
Show your students the front cover of the book and read out the title, Speak Chinese, Fang Fang! Allow students time to view, think and talk about the title and the illustration and to consider the characters, the setting (where they are) and what the story might be about. They could initially share ideas in pairs or small groups and then as a whole class with the teacher. The teacher might ask some directing questions to support the students’ thinking, for instance:
- Who are the two people on the cover?
- Which person is Fang Fang?
- Who is the other person?
- How do you think Fang Fang is feeling?
- Why might she be feeling like that?
- Who is asking Fang Fang to speak Chinese? Why?
- Do you think Fang Fang wants to speak Chinese? Why or why not?
Exploring the text in context of our community, school and ‘me’
Activity 5: A special guest
Invite a parent, community member or older student in the school who has settled in Australia from another country and who speaks English as an additional language to visit the classroom.
Invite the classroom guest to talk to your students about:
- where they are originally from (show on a world map).
- their home/first language – when they use it and why it is important to them.
- learning English.
Rich assessment task
Activity 6: A collage of thoughts, feelings and understandings
Make a class collage about diversity with a focus on language and culture, as well as the students and their families, the school and the wider community. Use photographs, drawings/paintings by students, pictures from magazines and various other materials with diversity of colour, texture and shape. Support each student to make decisions about what to include and what messages to reflect in the collage.
The collage might include such things as:
- a world map indicating the countries of origin of the students, their parents or grandparents.
- the students’ names and the countries their names come from and the meaning or story behind the names.
- photographs of each child and their families.
- languages spoken by the students in the class or their families or people in their extended community.
- drawings or paintings done by the students that reflect their understanding of language diversity and learning a new language.
- sentences (as suggested by the class) that reflect their understanding of language diversity and learning a new language.
- greetings (hello, good bye, good morning, good afternoon) written in other languages – particularly those languages that students in the class speak or those reflective of the students’ knowledge.
- pictures from magazines that they would like to include in response to ‘we are the same and we are different’.
- additional materials that the students choose based on the colour, texture and shape that they feel symbolises the concept of ‘we are the same and we are different’; these might be positioned with students’ explanations of their choices.
Responding to the text
The following activities are done after the story has been read to the class. The activities involve students talking as they reflect on the story and consider the characters and events in terms of their own experiences, thoughts, feelings and opinions. In order to ensure that each student has the best opportunity to be involved in the reflection and talk, the activities are best undertaken in small groups, which might then culminate in a short whole-class sharing session.
Activity 7: Rotating Discussion
The stimulus questions for the discussion are:
- Has anything like this ever happened to you? For example, when a parent wanted you to do something that you didn’t want to do but then you changed your mind.
- Have you ever had feelings like Fang Fang? (Being embarrassed, being cross).
- Can you think of any other stories that this story reminds you of?
- Have each of the questions clearly written on cards (perhaps add pictures as meaning prompts for the children) and displayed on the board for everyone to see. Read each question to the class and ensure they understand what each means and what it is asking them to think (and talk) about.
- Divide the class into three groups and have the groups sit in different areas with one of the question cards. If possible have an adult with each group or perhaps a senior buddy.
- Have students discuss their question, taking turns to consider and share their thoughts and experiences. In each group the students might first talk in pairs thereby having more opportunity to talk in a secure context where they can share their ideas and thoughts.
- After about 5–10 minutes, have each group move to the next talk station and question and use the same process of talking to consider the question. There might be a third rotation so that each group gets to explore each of the three questions.
- Bring the class back together and provide time for them to share their thinking in relation to each question.
Note: An alternative approach might be that each group only addresses one question but then shares their answers with the rest of the class during a whole-class sharing session at the end or, the three questions might be explored one at a time with the whole class over three days.
(ACELA1426) (ENe-1A) (ACELT1575) (ENe-11D)
Activity 8: I think… I wonder… I feel…
Display ‘cue cards’ that contain the following words (each with a symbol) that signify the different ways to ponder and respond to parts of the story: (1) I think… (2) I wonder… (3) I feel…
Hold the book so that the class can see the pictures and slowly turn the pages, pausing at each to orally summarise the relevant part of the story ensuring to draw information from the written and visual text on each page.
Choose different pages (moments in the story) to be the focus pages. For each focus page (as suggested below), read the text aloud and allow time for the students to observe the visual/s on that page. Assist them to notice the details such as character facial expressions and stance, and how these suggest mood or feelings. The focus pages for Speak Chinese, Fang Fang! might be:
- page 1–2: explains where Fang Fang is from and how she came to Australia with her parents when she was very young and that she is now Australian.
- page 6: when Fang Fang’s mother speaks Chinese with her neighbours while they play mah-jong and Fang Fang is cross.
- page 14: Fang Fang is embarrassed when her mother doesn’t understand the English spoken to her by Fang Fang’s friend’s mother.
- page 19: Fang Fang is surprised that her cousin Lily from China can speak English.
For each focus page, assist the students to respond to the part of the story depicted by using the following sentence starters:
- I think… because…
- I wonder… because…
- I feel… because…
Note: Be mindful of the need to scaffold each student to effectively engage with each of these types of responses. You might:
- explain about each (I think, I wonder and I feel) and demonstrate for the first one or two focus pages by saying what you think, wonder and feel in response to the pages.
- use the cue cards with words and symbols to remind the children of the different response types.
- focus on one response type at a time, for instance, ‘I think…’ and once this is understood add another type and then the final one.
Form small groups. Provide each group with a set of response ‘cue cards’ and a copy of the book with one page highlighted to indicate a focus page. Have the group share their responses for their focus page. The cue cards and sentence starters are used to act as reminders.
Some other response type sentence starters that might be used are:
- I began to think of…because…
- I was reminded of…because…
- I wish…because…
- What if…
Exploring plot, character, setting and theme
Activity 9: Narrative Pyramid
Provide each student with a triangle template (A4 size) that has been divided horizontally into three sections, with the top section labelled ‘setting’, the middle section labelled ‘characters’ and the bottom section labelled ‘events’.
Assist the students to identify the setting, characters and main events (beginning, middle and end) of the story and to draw pictures in the appropriate sections of the triangle to represent each. For example, they draw Fang Fang, her mother and Lily in the top section (characters). They draw Fang Fang’s school, home and shopping centre in the middle section (settings) and in the last section they draw the story events in three parts, such as:
- Fang Fang speaking English at school with her friends,
- Fang Fang’s mother speaking Chinese in the home and with her friends, and Fang Fang not being happy about this and feeling embarrassed,
- Fang Fang with her cousin Lily who speaks Chinese and English, and Fang Fang becoming proud of being able to speak Chinese.
There might also be some discussion around the events in terms of ‘problem and solution’.
Note: This activity will most benefit literacy learning if it is scaffolded in relation to their current understanding of story elements. Scaffolding might involve doing one or more of the following:
- Use a large triangle template and model the activity; that is, identify the different elements of the story and draw these in the different sections of the triangle.
- Rather than have the children draw, provide them with prepared pictures specific to each element of the story (setting, characters and events) that they can use to complete their narrative pyramid.
- Carry out a discussion about setting, characters and events of stories in general and in relation to this story in particular. Use the appropriate vocabulary to ensure children’s meta-language and concept development. You might teach the song, ‘Parts of a story‘.
- Events: Demonstrate how to orally summarise the story with a focus on distinguishing three parts – a beginning, middle and end.
- Characters: Ensure understanding in relation to the idea of all characters in a story versus the main characters. You might do a ‘picture flick’ of the book whereby the students use the picture information to identify all the characters in the story. As each character is identified write the name on a chart – Fang Fang, her classmates, her teacher, her mother, her father, the neighbours, the waiter, Amy (a friend from school), Jenny (Amy’s mother), a friend from school and Lily (Fang Fang’s cousin from China). Use the list of characters to identify those who are the main characters.
Activity 10: Character Interview
Have the students role play an interview with Fang Fang. Ask one of the students taking on the role of Fang Fang to answer questions asked by the other students. The steps for this activity are:
- Display a large picture of Fang Fang on the board with areas around to write the students’ brainstorm ideas.
- Step through the pages of the book and have the students consider Fang Fang’s actions in relation to the events of the story. Write key words and phrases about Fang Fang as suggested by the students.
- Introduce the idea of a character interview and create a scenario that allows the students to get into role; for instance, “We are reporters for a TV station and soon we are going to have a special guest that we need to interview”. You might provide the students with special reporter tags and pretend microphones. Other students could use the iPads and take responsibility for capturing video footage.
- Consider the notion of ‘questions and answers’ with the students, ensuring their understanding and provide an example of a question that might be asked of Fang Fang. Have pairs come up with one question they might like to ask Fang Fang during the special interview.
- Carry out the interview. If the students are new to character interviews, the teacher could take on the role of Fang Fang so as to model ‘getting into character’ and answering questions in first person.
- Then have small groups, with one child as Fang Fang and the other reporters/interviewers in each group.
Rich assessment task
Activity 11: Three wishes
Ask students to imagine that Fang Fang has been granted three wishes. Assist students to use what they know and can infer about Fang Fang from the story to decide on the three things she would wish for. Students might draw or write the three wishes on three stars (cardboard cutouts) provided.
Have students justify the wishes chosen for Fang Fang by making connections to the story. Assist this process by using a question or sentence starter, for instance:
- What does the story tell us that makes you think Fang Fang would wish for that?
- ‘I think Fang Fang would wish for this because in the story…’
This activity might first be done as a shared activity using the character of Fang Fang’s mother. This would allow you to demonstrate the important thinking involved in deciding on and justifying the wishes.
- Deciding on the wishes: They do not have to be about material things but they might be about things happening in a person’s life, what someone might want for someone they care about or things someone might like to do.
- Justifying the wishes requires making connections to the story – what we know about the character, the characters feelings towards events in the story, what the character does, how the character behaves, ‘I think she would wish for this because in the story…’
Examining text structure and organisation
Activity 12: Putting the story together again (text reconstruction)
Write the story onto six or seven large cards with each part of the narrative structure being written on a separate card. There are a series of events related to the middle of the story development (the problem or complication) and these each should be written on separate cards (refer to Activity 12 worksheet (PDF, 102KB)). It is recommended that each part of the story is written in summary form so as to condense the text and the subsequent reading task. The Activity 12 worksheet (PDF, 102KB) provides an example of how the story might be sectioned and summarised so as to maintain clarity of the narrative and its structure.
Read aloud the two parts of the story that pertain to its ‘beginning’ and ‘end’. Have students determine which part is the beginning of the story and which part is the end. Have them explain the reasons for their decision by asking, ‘What makes you think that?’. Display these two story parts (the beginning and the end) on the board and leave space to add the parts that are the middle of the story.
Display the summary pages (parts of the story) that depict the five events that comprise the middle of the story. Read each summary page aloud but out of order and have the students recall the order of the events and assist you to put the summary pages in the correct order. Should it be necessary, the students can refer to the book for help in ordering the events or to check the order once the task is completed.
Read aloud the story summary sheets from beginning to end, tracking the text for the students to follow along.
Introduce the students to a simple way of naming the structure of the narrative – ‘beginning’, ‘middle’ and ‘end’. With the words written on separate cards, have the students assist you to attach each card to the relevant summary pages of the story.
Note: You can also mention the sophisticated text structure, vocabulary of orientation, problem/complication and resolution alongside ‘beginning’, ‘middle’ and ‘end’. The focus is on the students appreciating the general structure of a narrative and the importance of event order.
Activity 13: Mapping the story
The students will consider the story’s development in relation to the different locations in which the events of the story take place. Before commencing prepare a set of pictures that can be used to represent the different locations – school (classroom), home (living room), restaurant, shopping mall, the city, home (bedroom).
Flick through the book stopping at each page for the students to use the pictures to identify the different locations/settings in which the different events of the story takes place. These are:
1st – At school; the classroom (pages 1–3)
2nd – At home; the living room (pages 4–7)
3rd – In the city; a restaurant in China Town (pages 8–11)
4th – In the city; the shopping mall (pages 12–15)
5th – In the city (pages 16–17)
6th – At home; Fang Fang’s bedroom (pages 18–21)
Create a whole-class story map. As each new location is identified place a picture card on the board, space the pictures and add an arrow to indicate the order of movement from one location to the next as the story progresses. Ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd–) might also be used to further reinforce the sequence of the different locations of the story. The order of locations (see example below) is identified via the ordinal numbers used. Arrows can also be added.
|Speak Chinese, Fang Fang!: A Story Map|
Picture – school (classroom)
Picture – home (living room)
Picture – city (restaurant)
Picture – city (shopping mall)
Picture – city
Picture – home (bedroom)
Provide the students with large sheets of paper to create their own story map. They do this by drawing pictures to show the different settings in which the events of the story took place and using arrows to indicate the sequence of locations of the story. Ensure they have access to a copy of the book to check the locations and order.
Examining grammar and vocabulary
Activity 14: Word Thief (replacing missing verbs in simple sentences)
Choose some simple sentences (each made up of one clause only) that are from or adapted from the book. It is useful to the task that the sentences are a simple structure, contain a standard (present tense) verb and involve a repetitive pattern, thus those from the book can be modified but in such a way as to maintain correct meaning. For example:
- Fang Fang lives in Australia.
- Fang Fang has lots of friends.
- Fang Fang speaks English to her friends.
- Fang Fang’s mother and father speak Chinese.
- Fang Fang’s mother plays mah-jong.
- Fang Fang plays the piano.
- Fang Fang and her mother go to the city.
- Fang Fang eats pork dumplings.
- Fang Fang meets her friend.
- Fang Fang talks to her friend.
Write each sentence on a large strip of cardboard so that when displayed they can be clearly seen by all the students. When writing each sentence, substitute the verb for a line or word box (shape of the word). For example:
- Fang Fang _________________ in Australia
- Fang Fang _________________ lots of friends.
- Fang Fang _________________ English to her friends.
- Fang Fang’s mother and father _____________ Chinese.
- Fang Fang’s mother ___________________ mah-jong.
- Fang Fang _________________ the piano.
- Fang Fang and her mother _________________ to the city.
- Fang Fang ___________________ pork dumplings.
- Fang Fang ____________________ her friend.
- Fang Fang ____________________ to her friend.
Write the words (verbs) that have been left out on word cards ensuring they are of a size that can be seen by all the students and fit in the spaces left in sentence spaces.
Display the sentences (prepare beforehand) on the board and secretly place the missing word cards in places around the room so that they are not immediately seen by the students but can be found.
With the class listening and following on, begin to read the first sentence, pointing to each word as you do so. Pause at the space where the word is missing, and with a look of disbelief inquire about the location of the missing word. Check a few other sentences and express disbelief about the words missing and consider what might have occurred. Suggest to the students that this ‘looks like the work of the word thief’ who might have taken some words from our sentences. Find a word card on the floor and then send the students off to see if they can find anymore of the missing words. Count how many words will be missing. As the words are found and when everyone is once again settled, explain to the class that they will need to assist you to put the missing words back into the sentences so that the sentences sound right and make sense.
Help the students to read the words on the word cards – speak, plays, go, eats, meets, talks, etc. As each word is read add it to the board.
Read each sentence one at a time and assist the students to predict the missing word so that the sentence sounds right and makes sense. Once this is done, read the sentence again and ask the students if it makes sense and sounds right.
Activity 15: Sentence Reconstruction
Have copies of the sentences (from the previous activity) written on cardboard or paper with each word on a separate card. Place the words for each of the sentences into separate envelopes. Ensure there is one envelope for each student and some additional envelopes for students who might do an additional sentence.
Have one sentence prepared (with words on separate cards) in a large format to be used to demonstrate the activity and model methods to be used. Place these words on the board in a random fashion and out of sentence order.
Demonstrate the sentence reconstruction activity and, while doing so, provide some hints/methods for the students. For example:
- Read all the words.
- Choose a the word ‘Fang Fang’ (character’s name) to begin the sentence (all the sentences begin this way).
- Choose the word with the full stop to end the sentence.
- Use the beginning letters of words and length of words to predict what a word might be.
- Look at the word and picture cards displayed on the board for some of the tricky words e.g. Australia, dumplings, mah-jong.
- When the words are in order, read the sentence and ask, ‘Does it make sense?’
Provide each student with an envelope which contains the words for one of the sentences and have students sort the words into the correct order to form the sentences. After they do so they can glue the word down on paper. Some students might then do the same for another sentence. The students draw a picture to illustrate the meaning of their sentence (or sentences) in relation to the story.
The student’s individual pages with their sentence/s and drawing/s might be put together to create a class book which could be made available to read over the week.
(ACELA1435) (ENe-9B) (ACELA1432) (ENe-9B)
Rich assessment task
Activity 16: Summary Cube
- Discuss the story with the class in relation to the key elements or questions – Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?
- Have the students create a summary cube by drawing pictures on each side of a cube template using one side of the cube for each of the questions – Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?
Activity 17: Word Brainstorm
- Display pictures of the story characters, Fang Fang, Fang Fang’s mum, Amy (Fang Fang’s friend), Lily (Fang Fang’s cousin).
- Take each character one at a time and have the children come up with words and phrases that tell what each character does (verbs or verb phrases) in the story: For example, in relation to the character of Fang Fang the children might suggest, plays the piano, talks with her friends, talks with Lily, shares songs with Lily, eats dumplings, talks to her mother, goes to school, speaks English and Chinese, drinks green tea, etc.
- Write the phrases around the picture of the relevant character and underline the verb.
- When this is done read each verb or phrase containing the verb for each character and have the children mime the actions so as to reinforce the idea of verbs denoting an action. However, do not describe verbs as ‘doing’ words. See the Teach Starter website explanation of the ACELA1451 outcome for more information.
Extension: Choose some of the verbs or the phrases containing verbs and ask the students to develop them into a full sentence (with a subject and predicate) reflective of the story; e.g. Fang Fang eats pork dumplings.
Activity 18: What happens next?
Read the last few pages of the story from, ‘A bit later Lily comes into Fang Fang’s room…’ to the last line, ‘”Dang ran!” says Fang Fang, which is Chinese for “Of course!”‘
Conduct a short discussion to ensure the understanding of the story ending. You might discuss:
- Did Fang Fang and Lily become friends?
- Does Fang Fang still dislike speaking Chinese?
- What do you think made her change her mind?
Keep in mind that a lot of ideas about the story ending require a degree of inference and so different students might have different ideas. Encourage them to justify their ideas based on the information provided in the story. Ask, ‘What makes you think that?’
Using the shared writing strategy, work as a class to write the next part of the story (from where it ends in the book). Invite the students to supply the content and construct the sentences for what happens next in the story. You could record on large sheet of paper. This should only involve about two or three sentences.
Have the students create their own ‘what happens next?’ extension to the story that they can later share with the class. This might be done using independent writing or dictated writing or by having students draw pictures.
Note: In order for Shared Writing to be most effective in terms of the children’s literacy learning, the following techniques should be applied:
- Provide the students with time to talk about the story ending and to construct sentences orally in pairs or small groups before writing.
- Assist the students to convert ideas into the language of writers.
- Write on a large sheet of paper so that all the students can observe the writing being done.
- Repeat a sentence before writing it. Count the words.
- Verbalise each word as writing demonstrating oral to written word correspondence.
- Every now and then re-read what has been written so far.
- Focus on meaning – does that make sense? Is that what we want to say happens next?
Activity 19: Freeze Frame – Creating still images of the story
Form small groups. Invite group members to create still images (freeze frames) of the events that comprise the story. The events to be created one at a time using freeze frames might be:
- Fang was born in China. She is now Australian. She speaks English at school with her friends.
- The neighbours come over and play mah-jong and speak Chinese while Fang Fang plays music loudly.
- Fang Fang and her mother have lunch in Chinatown.
- Fang Fang and her mother go window shopping.
- Fang Fang and her mother meet Amy (a school friend) and her mother.
- Fang Fang and her cousin Lily are in her bedroom talking and playing music.
Ask students to think about the use of body shape, position and posture as well as gestures and facial expression to portray the event at a specific moment in time. Next ask students to discuss the mood and relationship between characters.
The activity could be extended to include the ‘tap and talk’ method which involves the teacher tapping one of the characters in a freeze frame who then speaks, saying something appropriate to the event being depicted.
Activity 20: Felt board story retell
This activity is best done with small groups of children. Afterwards it might be set up in a learning centre for the students to use during free play. Provide each small group with a felt board as well as felt characters and perhaps the aspects of the settings that comprise those from the story.
- Fang Fang
- School friends
- Fang Fang’s mother
- Fang Fang’s father
- The neighbours (Aunties) that play mah-jong
- Jenny (Amy’s mother)
- Lily (Fang Fang’s cousin)
The students use the felt board and the characters and aspects of setting to tell the story of Speak Chinese, Fang Fang!. They place characters and aspects of setting on the felt board. They add to or change these as their telling of the story progresses. They might have a few storytellers and then different students taking on the voices of Fang Fang, her mother or her cousin Lily.
The retelling might first be done using the support of the book or the mapping of the story from a previous activity. When students are ready, they can record their retelling on the class iPad.
Rich assessment task
Activity 21: Writing a postcard
Ask students to write a postcard to Fang Fang on:
- what they think about one or more of the events that occurred to her in the story,
- what they think they have learned from reading her story.