Connecting to prior knowledge

Prior to beginning this unit, complete an ABC Graffiti (PDF, 473KB) mind-mapping experience with the class. Using an enlarged template and students working in small groups or pairs, ask students to record everything they know about William Bligh using the first letter of the alphabet as the prompt. If students cannot think of an idea for each letter it is fine to leave it blank. Then ask the groups to record any questions they have about William Bligh in a different coloured maker.
(ACELT1613)   (EN3-8D)

Priming Prior Knowledge

Provide a printed range of resources about William Bligh to build the students’ knowledge of this historical character. This could include information from the Bligh Museum or the entry about Bligh in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. Place the excerpt in the centre of a large sheet of paper. Explain that you will be reading a book about William Bligh but before that you are going to build their knowledge about Bligh. Students will be reminded to use the reading strategies of self-questioning and creating images. It is assumed that these strategies would have been explicitly taught prior to beginning this unit of work. Provide post-it notes for students to record their responses to the following prompts:

  • When would you expect this book to be set?
  • What could be the setting?
  • What events might be included in the book?
  • Where would these events take place?
  • What language could be used?
  • Who might be the characters in the story?
  • What information from the excerpts is most interesting to you?
  • What information from the excerpts do you think will be included in the book and what will not?
  • From whose perspective might the story be told?

Share responses, noting those that are similar and different to identify assumptions and wonderings.
(ACELT1613)   (EN3-8D)

Reflecting on reading strategies

Ask students to record in their reading journals or workbooks how they used the reading strategies of self-questioning and creating images. The following questions can be used as a guide:

  • Did I question the information presented to me?
  • Were my initial questions answered as I continued to read more information?
  • Do I still have questions about what I read?
  • Did I create images of people and events as I read through the information?
  • How did creating images activate my prior knowledge about this time/person/events?
  • Did creating images help me to make predictions about what the book could be about?

(ACELY1713)   (EN3-3A)


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

Before reading William Bligh: a Stormy Story of Tempestuous Times to the class, review the information gleaned from the previous research experience. Ensure that the historical context of the book is clearly explained and point out that there may be parts of the story that will require them to use their contextual understanding skills to understand authorial choices. Based on student learning needs and experiences, you may wish to revisit students’ understanding of situational (page 57) and socio-cultural (page 58) context.

When reading, draw attention to the illustrations throughout the book that enhance the information provided. These will be revisited in future lessons.

Ask students to complete a FWC table (PDF, 92KB) to identify facts, wonderings and connections from the book. Students are encouraged to address areas related to situational and socio-cultural context.

Facts   Wonderings  Connections 
The soldiers are all male.  When did the rules change about the roles of women in service?  I know the changes happened slowly, over time.  
Bligh’s children kiss Fletcher Christian goodnight Is this something that was done in this time period?  I do this with family but not family friends.  
The Tahitian people are called natives.   Was this language used back then?

What would we say these days?

My nanna was called a wog when she was little.

It is sort of the same…

Discuss as a group the responses to the book. Some prompts could include:

  • What did you notice about the time and setting of the story?
  • What information in the story was interesting or surprising to you?
  • What wonderings did you have?
  • What were the situational and socio-cultural clues in the book?
  • What is important to you that you haven’t made a connection with yet?
  • Who was represented in the story and who was not?
  • Whose voice was heard and who was silenced or omitted?

(ACELY1712)   (EN3-3A)

Being in Bligh’s Environment

Throughout this book we encounter a range of different settings. Some of these are directly stated by the author and others are inferred by the reader from details in the text and illustrations. All of these have a place in the conflicts Bligh faces, both inwardly and outwardly. This learning experience supports readers to identify the different levels of setting and to see how the characters responded to these levels. The first is the microsystem and involves the characters and settings closest to the character such as friends, family, local community and church congregation. The next level is the mesosystem and focuses on the less immediate settings such as government, Navy, crew on the ship, geography that is beyond the local community and news organisations. The last level is the macrosystem. It includes settings that are international with global impacts being experienced.

In pairs or as a small group re-read the book and note the settings. Having multiple copies of the book is advantageous for this experience. Ask students to consider what the settings are and then how they affect the character. Record the settings on the systems organiser (PDF, 92KB) by recording each setting in the appropriate level of the organiser. Each group then shares their thoughts, justifying how the settings affect Bligh by providing evidence from the story.
(ACELY1709)   (EN3-1A)


Rich assessment task

Students have considered what they know about Bligh and this story. They have made connections, considered wonderings and identified how the setting can affect a character. For this task they will be asked to craft a monologue where they put themselves in Bligh’s position in one event in the book. They are required to empathise with this character to convey how he is feeling and justify his actions. The speech should also include the way the other characters are treating Bligh. If students are unfamiliar with monologues there are a range of examples available online that could be used.

Prior to students starting this task, establish the success criteria with the class. Elements could include:

  • how Bligh is feeling
  • examples to explain Bligh’s actions
  • how other characters treat Bligh
  • links to the setting and event
  • language that would be used in this time period
  • use of the appropriate tone when speaking.

(ACELY1710)   (EN3-1A)

Responding to the text

Flashback and Flash Forward

Throughout William Bligh: a Stormy Story of Tempestuous Times, we see that challenge brings complexity. Often a character’s reactions differ before and after conflict. Bligh faces many obstacles and issues with other characters and forces. The way he responds in these situations allows us to glean more about this character.

Identify a range of challenges in the story for students to explore. Suggested events include:

  • when the soldiers enter Government House
  • when the Bounty leaves Portsmouth
  • when the Bounty anchor off the coast of Tahiti
  • when Fletcher Christian launches the mutiny.

Allocate an event to groups of three students. Have students re-read the book to place the event in context. Then ask each student to take on the role of Bligh at different stages of the one event, namely the challenge itself, just prior to the event (a flashback) and immediately after (a flash forward). This results in three actors playing the role of Bligh in the sequence of the event. This will then demonstrate Bligh’s emotions related to his decisions at the three points. The planning document (PDF, 266KB) may support students in organising their presentation to the class.

Before students craft their presentation, revisit decisions made by speakers when composing and comprehending texts. Prompts could include:

  • What is my purpose?
  • Who is my audience?
  • What is the best format for my presentation?
  • How will I organise my ideas?
  • What language choice will I make to stay in character?
  • What type of language will the audience expect to hear?

More information and guiding questions can be found here (page 68).
(ACELY1816)   (EN3-1A)


Exploring plot, character, setting and theme

Immersed in the Setting

This strategy allows students to be immersed in a setting from the book. Map out the size of the Bounty’s launch on the floor. It is described as seven metres long and two metres wide, and less than a metre deep. If an interactive whiteboard or flat panel screen is available, play a clip to recreate the sea, calm or rough. Remember to include items to replicate the provisions listed in the story (a few pounds of pork and a couple containers of water). We know from Bligh’s log book that the following people were on the launch:

  • John Fryer – Master
  • Thomas Ledward – Acting Surgeon
  • David Nelson – Botanist
  • William Peckover – Gunner
  • William Cole – Boatswain
  • William Purcell – Carpenter
  • William Elphinstone – Master’s Mate
  • Thomas Hayward – Midshipman
  • John Hallett – Midshipman
  • John Norton – Quartermaster
  • Peter Linkletter – Quartermaster
  • Lawrence Lebogue – Sailmaker
  • John Smith – Cook
  • Thomas Hall – Cook
  • George Simpson – Quartermaster’s Mate
  • Robert Tinkler – A Boy
  • Robert Lamb – Butcher
  • Mr Samuel – Clerk

Ask students to take on a role and imagine what it would have been like in this setting. Guide the students through a virtual tour of the boat. Ask them to consider what they would be seeing, smelling, hearing and feeling. Prompt them to sketch what they would be experiencing either through a mindmap or a visual representation.
(ACELY1709)   (EN3-1A)

Chatting to your Character

Students are encouraged to think of their character as a real person. As such they have a specific way of speaking (voice, accent, vocabulary, slang, pitch). Watch this video to explore considerations when crafting the voice of a character. You might also like to introduce the slang terms used in this time period from the Sydney Living Museums page (it may be worth printing an excerpt rather than viewing the page online with the class). Have students respond to these prompts in their journal/workbook:

  • What is the tone of your character?
  • Does he have an accent or dialect?
  • What slang does he use?
  • Does he talk in short or long sentences, or both?
  • Does he have a favourite phrase?
  • What utterances does he make?
  • What makes his voice unique?
  • How does his voice sound when he is calm/angry/worried/concerned?

Students now partner up and craft a conversation between two characters, taking into consideration their knowledge about their character’s voice. Once this is scripted, students can share using an Author’s Chair/Circle (Writing Page 23) structure to provide feedback on their scripts.
(ACELA1518)   (EN3-7C)


Rich assessment task

Gathering the information about their character and setting from the previous learning experiences, students will now craft a double entry diary journal of their character’s experience on the Bounty’s launch. Dividing the page in half, the first column can be written in first person as a diary recount, and the second column is an opportunity to use the technique of ‘showing and not telling’ when describing emotions.

Begin by modelling how to write simple sentences and then recraft the sentences to show the continuum from telling to showing, for example:


I was scared. I had a tear in my eye. My heart sank and my fears came alive.
I was angry at Fletcher. I felt my fists clench. My clenched fists tightened around the oar.
The salty water splashed into the launch. The salt burned my eyes. The sting of the sea enveloped me.

Success criteria for this experience could include:

  • Uses clear and exact words and phrases that demonstrate the change from telling to showing.
  • Uses clues to create the inference (does not state the personality trait or label the action).

(ACELT1800)   (EN3-2A)

Examining text structure and organisation

Bern Emmerichs is a renowned artist who created the illustrations for this book by painting the images on large ceramic tiles. Each colour layer was individually fired. Once this process was completed it was photographed with the text in the illustrations being added. Display or copy some of the double pages. Discuss how on many of the pages there is a contrast between sharp and soft illustrations on opposing pages. Similarly there is additional information within the illustrations, for example on pages 7–8, the names of the men on the Bounty are listed with their occupation and ages. Ask students to record their wonderings on post-it notes or in their journal/workbook. Prompts could include:

  • Do the illustrations and text work together to create meaning or are multiple meanings presented?
  • What meanings are dominant? Who is silenced either in the illustrations, text or both?
  • Do you react differently to the illustrations and text? What emotions are evoked from the different mediums? Do the colours in the illustrations create a mood?
  • Does the layout encourage reading the text or exploring the images first?

The semiotic system contributes to meaning-making in multimodal texts. In William Bligh: a Stormy Story of Tempestuous Times the gestural semiotic system recognises the socio-cultural and situational context of the book. Reviewing the codes and conventions of this system allows students to further focus on how the aspects are represented in this book.

This table adapted from Anstey and Bull provides key aspects to focus on:

Codes and conventions  Aspects to consider 
Gaze Look at the gaze of the characters. Do they encourage you to investigate their line of sight or is it predictable? What observations have you taken from the way the characters gaze at people and objects?
Posture How do the characters stand, sit or lay?
Appearance What do you notice about their hairstyles, clothing or jewellery?
Proximity Look at the space between characters and objects? What does this tell you?
Body contact What type of contact and touch occurs in the book?
Orientation How are bodies presented to each other?
Facial expression What is the character’s face telling you? Look at the shape of their eyes.

Students can review the illustrations and their wonderings and add to them, addressing the codes and conventions. This can be done in small groups or in pairs with groups/pairs sharing with others.
(ACELY1711)   (EN3-3A)


Examining grammar and vocabulary

What is the story really about?

Determining a story’s theme allows students to connect with possible topics. These topics can then be used as a lens to analyse the story itself. Introduce the notion of topics, explaining that topics are abstract nouns. Discuss how abstract nouns can be described as intangibles, that is they name things that are not concrete. Our physical senses cannot detect an abstract noun. We cannot see, taste, smell, hear or touch these items. An abstract noun is a quality, idea or a concept. Ask students to generate a list of possible abstract nouns. Examples include:

Feelings  Qualities  Concepts  Ideas  Events  States  Emotions 
Confusion Courage Culture Democracy Adventure Chaos Sorrow
Anxiety Determination Opportunity Wisdom Death Peace Anger
Satisfaction Honesty Deceit Sacrifice Career Freedom Despair
Pain Trust Perseverance Beliefs Life Liberty Joy
Fear Dedication Failure Power Future Misery Indifference

Additional abstract nouns are listed here.

Re-read William Bligh: a Stormy Story of Tempestuous Times to the class. Prompt the class to consider what abstract nouns fit with this story. Have them record the words on post-it notes or in their journal/workbook. Once you have read the story, ask students to consider if there was one word that could be used to sum up the story. Remind students that when we identify the topic or theme a helpful tip is to think about how the story ends and consider what they are left thinking about.
(ACELY1713)   (EN3-3A)

Hot Seating Interview

Students are now asked to explain their reasoning, providing justification for their thinking by using examples from the book in a Hot Seating/Interview type technique. They are not required to take on a character’s persona, rather they are interviewed as to why they have chosen those abstract nouns to define the theme or topic of the book. Students sit in small groups with one student being put in the hot seat and being interviewed by the other students. The hot seat role is then passed to the next student so that everyone has an opportunity to share their thinking and be the interviewer multiple times.
(ACELY1709)   (EN3-1A)


Rich assessment task

Students will now create a digital representation of their understanding. This could be an online poster, movie, animations, stop motion movie or infographic. Using their chosen abstract noun they are required to show the ‘noun at work’ in the illustrations. This could be done by recreating images from the book, extending illustrations to show what is happening beyond the page or designing symbols to represent characters. The purpose of this task is to demonstrate their understanding of how their chosen abstract noun and gestural semiotic system work together to convey meaning. There are many apps to support students when engaging with this task, such as:

Students are encouraged to share their creations with other students, and to give feedback to one another. This could take the form of ‘insights and highlights’ with students sharing one thing they learned or connected to (insight) and one thing they enjoyed (highlight).
(ACELY1714)   (EN3-2A)

Playing with Language Choices

William Bligh: a Stormy Story of Tempestuous Times uses a present tense, narrative style within the informational book. The author has written the story in second person with some degree of authorial intrusion being used. Within the story the author has invited the reader to respond to questions or provocations (‘Did you notice the date?’ – page 1, ‘Did you notice the quote from Bligh’s log?’ – page 16, ‘Ask a grandparent!’ – page 17). Discuss why the author may have chosen to write in this style. Re-read the story and identify further examples of this. There are also references to modern day occurrences, such as ‘tweets’, that could be identified and discussed. The author’s choice to play with language allows readers to connect with the historical nature of this story.

Select a passage from the book that does not include authorial intrusion or a modern day reference and display it to the students. Using the information gathered from the previous discussion, demonstrate how you can add in these literary devices to enhance reader engagement. Ask students to select a passage in the book and then rewrite it by adding in some authorial intrusion and a reference to a modern day object/event/language. Remind them that Michael Sedunary has done this without explaining the object, event or language choice. He has blended the modern aspect with historical times.
(ACELY1714)   (EN3-2A)

Praise, Question, Polish

Students will provide feedback to a peer using the Praise, Question, Polish technique. This approach requires students to respond to a peer’s writing using this framework:

  • Praise – What do you like about my writing? What impressed you?
  • Question – What questions do you have about my writing? What is unclear?
  • Polish – What is needed to ensure my writing is polished? What tips do you suggest?

(ACELY1715)   (EN3-2A)

Considering Characters

Towards the end of William Bligh: a Stormy Story of Tempestuous Times (page 35) we jump forward 12 years in Bligh’s life. Here we learn about his court martial, promotion, career, the Rum Rebellion and his appointment as Governor of NSW. Further information is provided into his character and decisions as Governor. Explain to your students that character traits move along a continuum. Introduce this handout (PDF, 279KB) to the students, explaining traits with real life examples. Encourage students to make text-to-self connections where possible. Re-read the book and have students record their observations of Bligh’s character traits, listing examples from the text to support their ideas. Repeat this with other characters such as Fletcher Christian, John Macarthur and Major Johnston. Alternatively have students work in groups to record their observations and then share within a jigsaw structure.
(ACELT1613)   (EN3-8D)

Students are then required to create a paragraph using the PEEL (point, evidence, elaboration, link) technique. Using the title ‘Was Bligh a kind man?’ utilise a modelled writing approach to demonstrate how to use this technique. Students can plan their paragraph in their journal/workbooks by drawing columns or folding their page prior to drafting their paragraph.
(ACELT1800)   (EN3-2A)


Rich assessment task

For this experience students are required to respond to the question ‘Was ________ a fair leader?’ (insert your character’s name in the blank space). They will utilise their observations and the PEEL technique to craft a response for this exposition. Students are also encouraged to use their knowledge of authorial intrusion as a literary device.

Prior to students starting this experience, negotiate the success criteria for this task.
(ACELT1800)   (EN3-2A)