Standards for Teachers of English Language and Literacy in Australia
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2.1 Teachers plan for effective learning

2.2 Teachers create and maintain a challenging learning environment

How is accountability demonstrated for the planned learning and language development of all students?

How does the teacher sustain focus on significant learning outcomes?

  Information narrative... what's that?
Year 6
Janine Reardon

When this term was first bandied around in the early 90's I just nodded my head and went with the flow. All of a sudden, or so it appeared to me, specific language was being used in schools that labelled the different types of writing that the children were producing. Procedural text, persuasive writing, narratives etc. became the order of the day and these writing tasks were being closely linked with our integrated curriculum which was also sweeping the schools. All of a sudden literacy skills were being driven by the content of carefully written units of work - and it was a revelation. We were finally getting it right. The tasks we were giving children required specific skills that we teachers needed to develop in the children. But what did some of these terms mean?

The reality was that many of these terms clearly labelled different genres that we were already using in our curriculum (however this was sometimes conducted in a haphazard way). I could handle most of these but I really couldn't get the information narratives right. My first attempt in around 1992 with my Year 5/6 class resulted in a collection of simply written stories that contained a few facts that were randomly thrown in. I was appalled because they contained no creativity, no rich language and very little imagery. But I could hardly blame the students. I now know that I didn't guide the children at all. I gave them few tools to gather data, limited their research and really didn't clearly bring together their skills for writing well-planned and developed narratives with factual content. How dumb was I! Now with the help of my good friend and mentor, Lesley Wing Jan, who blew me away with the Picture Story books her children in Year 6 produced, and her fantastic book Write Ways, I truly believed that you too could be blown away by the books my students produce.

My Year 6 students now begin to prepare for the writing of their Information Narrative in Term Three. Using scrap-books, data charts and every form of reference material, they busily work away to become informed and knowledgeable authors before they embark on the task of writing their story. Once they are satisfied that they have researched all they need to know on this topic they then begin a story map identifying the orientation, complication and resolution, write character profiles and then plot and weave in their facts as they could naturally appear in their stories. These are drafted reworked and finally published, illustrated and presented to their parents as a wonderful Christmas present that would rival any book on the library shelves today! I'm a little biased here.

What this teaching approach has done for me is provide a legitimate task that brings together all of the literacy skills that I, and teachers before me, have worked so hard to develop in the children. This task brings together research skills, higher order thinking skills, creativity, imagination and artistic expression. Information Narrative & a fantastic way to integrate the curriculum& And they make me feel like a good teacher by the end of the process.

STELLA  Home Standards Statements Standards Keywords STELLA Narratives Research on Standards STELLA Sitemap
Australian Association for the Teaching of English A L E A ~ Australian Literacy Educators' Assoication
Department of Education & Training (Victoria) Education Department of Western Australia