Connecting to prior knowledge

Prior to beginning reading the text complete a Welcome to Country. Briefly discuss this and why it is important.

Begin your exploration of Tjarany Roughtail by asking students what they know about origin stories and folk tales in any culture (for example, Aesop’s Fables and creation stories). Invite students to examine the front and back cover of the book and consider what may be inside. Elicit students’ knowledge about Indigenous culture and traditions and record these ideas in a mindmap. If necessary, prompt students by asking them to brainstorm vocabulary words (for example, corroboree, country, Dreaming, Dreamtime, words relating to landscape or Australian native animals, etc.). Provide an opportunity for students to share any Dreaming stories they already know.

Refer to pages 44–45 as teacher pre-reading before talking about the use of Kukatja language on the front cover (e.g. Tjarany). Discuss pronunciation. Identify that ‘tj’ is an unlikely consonant pattern in English, but exists in Kukatja.
(ACELA1515)   (EN3-1A)

Discuss effective search strategies for the internet. Then in groups, provide an opportunity for students to read the background information about one author on page 54. Encourage students to research other key information and interesting facts about their selected author. Invite students to report back to the class on the information they have found.

Provide an opportunity for students to examine the map on page one. Invite students to discuss with a partner the following questions:

  • What might the animals represent?
  • What might the footprints represent?
  • What do the words on the map mean?
  • What do the two smaller maps suggest?
  • Why did the author choose to include a map at the front of the book? Why might this be important in Aboriginal culture?

(ACELA1518)   (EN3-7C)

Invite students to create a map of their own neighbourhood, labelling important landmarks and features. Provide an opportunity for students to present and explain their map.
(ACELT1618)   (EN3-7C)

Read pages 2–4 to students. Explain to students that, as with many ancient peoples all over the world, Aboriginal people used songs as a means of passing on a lot of important information including, geographical information, where to locate food and other tribes. The songs would also teach future generations about the tribe’s cultural identity. Consider watching the YouTube clip that discusses this.

Draw students’ attention to the translation in language on the left-hand side of the page. Ask:

  • Why has the author chosen to do this?
  • What is the purpose?
  • How does it enhance the reading experience?

Read the first paragraph on page 44 about Kukatja. Use Google Earth to locate Wirrumanu in Western Australia. Provide students with a blank map of Australia to label Wirrumanu and nearby land features, such as the Great Sandy Desert.

Explore the diagram and artwork on pages 2–3. Discuss the purpose of the illustrations. Each Dreaming story is accompanied by a diagram and artwork. Ascertain level of student understanding about the role of artwork in Aboriginal culture. Provide an opportunity for students to conduct independent research into the importance of artwork in Aboriginal storytelling.
(ACELA1524)   (EN3-3A)

Invite students to read through the book independently. Students may choose to select particular Dreaming stories to read and do not need to read the stories in order. Each story has its own important message and set of embedded values. Refrain from asking questions or interrupting the reading experience. Allow students an opportunity to read selected stories and view corresponding artwork for enjoyment. Provide an opportunity for students to share/retell a Dreaming story they have read.


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

Class composition may influence the extent to which students connect personally with the book. Encourage students to think about important stories/fables/folk tales in their own culture.

Individually, invite students to consider and write down what is important to them with respect to the following:

  1. Language
  2. Relationships
  3. Time
  4. Culture
  5. Land
  6. Place

It may be helpful to provide a template for students with each heading and a space to write and draw a picture. Share and discuss responses, prompting for justification. The six headings come from the Cultural Analysis Tool by Uncle Ernie Grant.
(ACELY1709)   (EN3-1A)


Rich assessment task

Most Dreaming stories in Tjarany Roughtail contain an important value or moral. Provide each student with a sheet of A4 paper and ask students to write (horizontally) one important value to live by (e.g. forgiveness, respect, compassion, honesty, etc.). Without talking, ask all students to hold up their value and stand next to other students whose value is connected to theirs (e.g. ‘kindness’ might go and stand next to ‘compassion’). Once everyone has chosen someone to stand with (there may be more than one in each group), call on each student to explain (orally) why they chose to stand where they are standing (i.e. why did the student who wrote ‘kindness’ go and stand next to ‘compassion’?). Once you have heard from everyone, ask students to flip their sheet of paper over and write down why the chose that value (why is your value an important value to live by?). The feedback section can be videoed for student portfolios.
(ACELY1709)   (EN3-1A)

Responding to the text

Begin this lesson by reminding students of the previous activity. Students should remember what value they selected in the previous lesson and be provided with the opportunity to share the reasons for why they chose that value and why it is important to live by. Reinforce that there are no right or wrong answers.

Invite students to sit in a circle with a copy of the book. Call this the ‘yarning’ circle. Before reading ‘The Witchetty Grub Man Dreaming’ (page 20–25), place an A3 enlarged map of Western Australia showing Lake Gregory in the centre of the yarning circle. Explain that the Dreaming we are about to read starts around Lake Gregory, where the Kukatja people used to live. Read ‘The Witchetty Grub Man Dreaming’. During reading, use think-aloud to model prediction and clarification of plot. Encourage students to comment and ask questions during reading. After reading, invite students to share their thoughts on the following quotes from the story:

  • Page 20: ‘They were brothers but one got jealous.’
  • Page 20: ‘The jealous Snake man ‘sang’ his brother and made him change into a snake.’
  • Page 21: ‘As soon as he sat down, they all began to cry as they felt sorry for him. No one knew him.’
  • Page 22: ‘Stay here, don’t go away. We want to see you still here when we get back.’
  • Page 24: ‘They decided to punish that man for not listening to them.’

(ACELY1710)   (EN3-1A)


Exploring plot, character, setting and theme

Make an ‘I Wonder’ statement: I wonder why the Walmajarri people chose to live near water? Ask students to notice each mention of the word ‘water’ or ‘lake’ in establishing the setting of the story. Bring students’ attention to the following quote: ‘they were both brothers but one got jealous.’ Ask students to discuss jealousy with their yarn partner, using the following as prompts:

  • What is jealousy?
  • Have you ever felt jealous?
  • Has someone ever been jealous of you? How did you deal with this?

Ask students to reflect on their discussions about jealousy with their yarn partner. Read ‘The Emu and the Turkey’ (page 10–15). Examine the way in which both Dreamings explore the theme of jealousy and how the characters in each story act on their feelings of jealousy. Invite students to work with their yarn partner to complete a Venn diagram about the plot, characters and themes in both Dreamings (for example, jealousy, revenge and personal conflict).
(ACELT1614)   (EN3-7C)   (ACELT1616)   (EN3-7C)   (ACELA1516)   (EN3-1A)


Rich assessment task

Working independently, invite students to create an open-mind portrait of either the Emu in ‘The Emu and the Turkey’, or the jealous brother in ‘The Witchetty Grub Man Dreaming’. Students will create an open-mind portrait by writing about their chosen character’s thoughts at key points in the story. Provide students with either a blank outline of an emu or a circle (for jealous brother) to write in. Allow students to refer to either Dreaming in the book when creating their open-mind portrait. Encourage students to find in-text support for their claims about what their chosen character is thinking or feeling.

Assess each student’s open-mind portrait on the basis of how well they have isolated key thoughts and emotions experienced by the chosen character throughout the story.
(ACELT1618)   (EN3-7C)

Examining text structure and organisation

Gather students in a yarning circle. Before reading, discuss the organisational and structural features of a narrative with students. Place permanent markers and three posters into the middle of the yarning circle: ‘introduction’, ‘complications’ and ‘resolution’. Have two columns on the resolution poster with the heading ‘coda’ on one side and ‘resolution’ on the other. Discuss coda and give an example. Suggest students look out for this in Dreaming stories. Recap the importance of storytelling in Aboriginal culture with the following prompts:

  • Why did Aboriginal people choose to pass on information through storytelling?
  • How do you feel when you are listening to a story?
  • Is it easy to remember stories? Why/how?
  • Can stories be retold?

Provide each student with a copy of Tjarany Roughtail and read ‘The Crow and the Eagle’ (pages 5–9). Read the first paragraph. Ask students to turn to their yarn partner and discuss what we now know about the crow and the eagle (for example: best friends, lived together in the same camp, and each have a job every morning where the eagle goes into the hills to look for a kangaroo and the crow goes to the billabong to catch a duck for dinner). Invite students to write some of these details onto the ‘introduction’ poster. Refer to this as the backfill – important information that sets the reader up for the rest of the story.

Read the second paragraph. Again, ask students to turn to their yarn partner and discuss what was read. Invite students to record details from the second paragraph onto the ‘introduction’ poster. Read the third paragraph and ask students to discuss with their yarn partner what has happened. Ask students: which poster would we record details on now? (i.e. we encounter our first complication in the story).

Read the fifth and sixth paragraphs. Invite students to discuss what was read with their yarn partner. Ask students to make predictions about what the eagle might do upon seeing the crow hide the cooked ducks under some leaves. Ask students to record plot development and predictions on the ‘complications’ poster.

Read the seventh and eighth paragraphs aloud to students. As a whole class, discuss what was read in terms of the climax of the story. Ask students to predict what the eagle might do next. Record plot development and predictions on the ‘complication’ poster.

Read the final paragraph and ask students to discuss the ending with their yarn partner. Use the following questions as prompts:

  • What do you think about the ending to this story?
  • Do you think the conflict was resolved?
  • What does the resolution also do (i.e. explains why crows are black)?

(ACELA1518)   (EN3-7C)

Examining grammar and vocabulary

Recap what students know about field, tenor and mode and explain that this lesson is about the grammar of visual design. Invite students to view the artwork on pages 7 and 9. With their yarn partner, invite students to write a response to the following questions concerning field, tenor and mode:

Field  Tenor  Mode 
What is the image about?

  • Salience (colour, size)
  • Symbolism (use of symbols to represent ideas)
How does the image engage with you (the viewer)?

  • Gaze (demand, offer)
  • Angles
  • Colour
  • Modality
How is the image organised?

  • Reading path (salience, vectors)
  • Foreground, middle ground and background (what’s close and what’s far?)

(ACELA1524)   (EN3-3A)


Rich assessment task

Examine the blurb on the back cover of Tjarany Roughtail and discuss the features. For example, length, purpose, vocabulary choices and punctuation including the use of the ellipses. Examine blurbs on a variety of novels and picture books.

Task: Write the blurb for ‘The Crow and the Eagle’. Draw or create an image that will capture the reader’s interest and encourage them to open the book.

Encourage students to think about field, tenor and mode when creating an image for their blurb. For example, ask students: How can you create an image that will reflect the big ideas in the narrative and engage the reader?
(ACELT1618)   (EN3-7C)


Begin this session by explaining to students that Dreaming stories were traditionally passed on orally. Refer to the quote: ‘”The Roughtail Lizard Dreaming” tells of how the stories were given as songs to the people…’ (page 37). For this activity, it may be useful to make copies of each story in Tjarany Roughtail for students to make notes on.

In small groups, invite students to select a story from Tjarany Roughtail. Ask students to first read the story together and then turn it into a Reader’s Theatre script. Students can start this task by using different colour highlighter pens to highlight narration and dialogue in their chosen story. Students may wish to use a Reader’s Theatre scaffold to write their script. Once students have completed their script, provide an opportunity for students to rehearse and present their work to the class. Encourage the use of props. Provide an opportunity for students to perform their stories.
(ACELY1710)   (EN3-1A)

Read ‘How the Emu Got Short Wings’ to students. Use think-aloud to model how to summarise the story as you read. During reading, pause after the following quotes and ask students to discuss with their yarn partner how the emu might be feeling at key points in the story:

  • ‘That emu was wondering to himself if he could come and dance like that’ (page 30)
  • ‘So he tried but his wings were so big they got in the way’ (page 30)
  • ‘Your wings are too big! Too big! We’ll have to cut them off and make them small like our size’ (page 32)
  • ‘But he cut them too short, too low’ (page 32)
  • ‘He had lost his wings’ (page 32)

Explain: an inner monologue is like self-talk; an inner voice. Watch the following example of inner monologue.

Model how to write the emu’s inner monologue for the first quote above: ‘That emu was wondering to himself if he could come and dance like that.’ In guided writing, work with students to use the remaining quotes above and continue the emu’s inner monologue.
(ACELY1709)   (EN3-1A)


Rich assessment task

Working independently, invite students to write an inner monologue for a character in a Dreaming story from Tjarany Roughtail. Ask students to read their chosen story first and create an inner monologue by writing about the character’s thoughts and feelings at key points in the story. Remind students to write in first person, from the perspective of their chosen character. As an extension, ask students to think about how they can use punctuation creatively in their writing (for example, if punctuation such as commas and full stops are omitted, the reader may experience a running stream of consciousness). To support students, encourage them to first highlight major thoughts and feelings experienced by the character in the story (similar to the activity above).
(ACELY1709)   (EN3-1A)